‘Death's triumphal chariot’: Tragedy and Funeral
The action of revenge tragedy often manifests acute anxieties about the proprieties of burial. It is from the initial failure to honour Andrea's obsequies that the vindictive action of The Spanish Tragedy appears to spring; just as it is the dangerous persistence of unburied human remains in Hoffman and The Revenger's Tragedy that helps to produce their catastrophic holocausts; while in Hamlet the hero's vindictive rage against the King and Queen is triggered by the disgraceful ‘mirth in funeral’ that has disrupted the mourning ceremonies due to his dead father, and which seems directly related to the restless presence of the Ghost. Such preoccupations help to reveal how the Renaissance continued to preserve the ancient pagan superstition that happiness beyond the grave was somehow contingent upon proper disposal and preservation of one's mortal remains – a belief that is probably reflected in the formulaic curse protecting William Shakespeare's own tomb from disturbance.
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