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Main page / "Knowledge. Understanding. Skill" Journal / Contents / 2014 / No. 1

Mikeladze N. E. Hieronimo and Everyman: Tradition of the Medieval Religious Theatre in The Spanish Tragedy

(Lomonosov Moscow State University)

Abstract ♦ The article takes a look at the transformation of medieval theatre (morality plays, comic interludes and mystery plays) in Thomas Kyd’s “The Spanish Tragedy”. For the purpose of comparative analysis, we also pay attention to a popular ballad of Hieronimo, made at the end of the 16th century and inspired by the performance of Kyd’s tragedy.

The popularity of the play of the “hopeless father” Hieronimo was largely due to the analogy with Everyman the morality play protagonist, which a spectator must have easily noticed. In the prologue to his play, Kyd provides a double genre definition through the mouth of Revenge: the play is both “misterie” and “tragedie”. The plot of the “misterie” can be summarized with a following dictum: man is a subject to destiny. To provide some contrast, both Hieronimo the protagonist and a supporting character Pedringano are compared to Everyman (along the plot line of human fall — persisting unrepentance — retribution).

Combining various ethical ideas, Kyd creates a specific theatrical “world of revenge”, using it to inspire sympathy for Hieronimo’s sufferings in spectators’ minds. While the protagonist of a morality play progressed from sin to penance, that of the revenge tragedy moves from hope in heaven to crime by human frowardness. Hieronimo is Everyman turned inside out, the reverse side of the morality play protagonist.

In contrast with The Spanish Tragedy, the popular ballad of Hieronimo emphasizes social inequality as set against due equality before God. The epic tradition of Kyd’s time reveals itself as more conservative than the dramatic one. Transplanted from the morality play to Elizabethan drama, Everyman acquires new features of the Renaissance — “titanism” and “boundlessness”. Now capable of doubting and challenging heaven, and endowed with individualism, Everyman was nevertheless still recognizable for the audience.

Keywords: Hieronimo, Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy, Shakespeare, Everyman, morality play, mystery play, comic interlude, revenge tragedy.

Mikeladze Natalia Eduardovna, Doctor of Science (philology), professor of the Foreign Journalism and Literature Department, Lomonosov Moscow State University. Postal address: 9 Mokhovaya St., Moscow, Russian Federation, 125009. Tel.: +7 (495) 629-74-35. E-mail:


Citation: Mikeladze, N. E. (2014) Ieronimo i Everyman: prelomlenie traditsii srednevekovogo religioznogo teatra v «Ispanskoi tragedii» [Hieronimo and Everyman: Tradition of the Medieval Religious Theatre in The Spanish Tragedy]. Znanie. Ponimanie. Umenie, no. 1, pp. 232–242. (In Russ.).

Submission date: 25.10.2013.



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