Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Revenge Tragedy Talk at Harrow

Last week I gave a talk on Revenge Tragedy at Harrow. Happening on the school from the road is rather a wonderful experience: as if, turning a corner, you've left London and slipped into another world.

My lecture was, specifically, on Hamlet and The Duchess of Malfi. Revenge tragedy is such a fascinating concept: two people on a stage; one wrongs the other, and then everything spirals out from there. I looked at the origins of the genre, from the House of Atreus' first crimes to their absolution in Orestes; and at the threads that bind Orestes to Hamlet (with a sideglance at Titus Andronicus - and those poor Goths baked in a pie.) I discussed how Hamlet's attitude to revenge is very much linked to memory, and whether he really wants his revenge; and then looked at how The Duchess of Malfi isn't really a revenge play at all. There was plenty more to discuss, and meat (quite literally) for myriad articles.

I note now the aptness of talking about revenge at Harrow: the school of Lord Byron, whose heroes, moody, implacable and aware of their own villainy, can be seen as logical extensions of the revenger. And his links to vampires make it even more fitting: the vampire as revenant, seeking revenge from beyond the grave. Next time...