Antithesis and Deliverance

  • Peter Mercer
Part of the Contemporary Interpretations of Shakespeare book series (CIS)


In Antonio’s Revenge the hero’s first success did not lead directly to the final act of revenge. The hysterical savagery of his murder of Piero’s child rather seemed to leave Antonio drained, not yet capable of the greater deed. The Ghost too insisted that now was the time to ‘assume disguise, and dog the court’. The rhythm of the tragic action seemed to require a pause. But the particular disguise that Antonio adopted, that of ‘a plump-cheek’d fool’, made it clear that the significances of this withdrawal from action were not only tactical. To his friends’ objections that the disguise was shameful, that it disgraced his ‘high resolve’, he replied that that was precisely the point — the ludicrous and demeaning appearance was exactly appropriate because it was so completely at odds with what he was in fact. And yet, as we have seen, that role of impotent fool, of one who is excluded from all the serious affairs of men, actually did express something real about Antonio’s position and his state of mind. His hold on the action really was now severely weakened, his quality shamefully diminished.


High Resolve Tragic Hero Ancient Theme Pirate Ship Passive Calm 
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Copyright information

© Peter Mercer 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Mercer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of East AngliaUK

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