Tragedies end in death and this is obviously a consequence of violence. This violence is evident in several different ways. In Macbeth,there is a battle that take place with duals between characters. In Othello, it is Othello who murders his innocent wife by smothering her and then dies by his own hand. The violence in Tess of the D’Urbervilles is also carried out by Tess herself when she stabs Alec. However, this action is in response to the rape by Alec earlier in the novel and, also his manipulation of her so that she had believed Angel would never return.It is the villains who are often the ones who commit the most abhorrent violence, whether this is the killing of King Duncan in Macbeth or the gouging out of Gloucester’s eyes in King Lear.


Revenge is a factor in a number of tragedies. Revenge tragedies were a popular form in Shakespearean times with plays such as The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kidd appearing regularly. What is interesting is Shakespeare asking questions about revenge as is evident in Hamlet where Hamlet himself delays revenge and where Fortinbras’s desire for revenge is not always seen as a positive characteristic.

What are two of the actions you would expect to see in many tragedies?
Your answer should include: Violence / Revenge