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October 30, 2006

Enter Hieronimo

Enter Hieronimo, with a poniard in one hand, and a rope in the other.

Hieronimo carries ‘the stock “properties” of a would-be suicide’ in Elizabethan drama (Boas, fn 1 SD, p. 405). Hieronimo’s entrance is comparable to that of the repentant usurer in Greene and Lodge’s Looking Glass for London and England, who enters ‘with a halter in one hand, a dagger in the other’ (Edwards, fn III.12.0.1, p. 78). As Boas points out, in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (I, 9: 29), Despair offers Sir Trevisan ‘a rope’ and Sir Teruin ‘a rusty knife’ when persuading them to die, while in ‘Skelton’s Magnyfycence (l. 2312 ff.), Despair offers Magnyfycence a knife and a rope’ (Boas, fn 1, p. 405). Kyd’s stage directions also anticipate Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where the Prince talks of suffering men who might their ‘quietus make | With a bare bodkin?’ (III, 1: 75-6). Ironically they are also the two instruments that brought the death of his son, Horatio – stabbed and hanged in the garden.

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