chapter  Four
Cyril Tourneur
Pages 25

To form an estimate of Cyril Tourneur's contribution to English tragedy has been very difficult. Tourneur's answer to social corruption and human debasement is in a return to a primitive Christianity. In their moral fervour Tourneur's plays have been related to a tradition of complaint and satire extending back to the Middle Ages. In The Revenger's Tragedy Tourneur uses the devices of poetry to make his audience feel the insignificance of the present world in the light of eternity. The medievalism of the play is implicit in its studied artificiality. The unmitigated viciousness of the characters and the unrelieved sinfulness of the action become merely ludicrous when viewed in a naturalistic perspective. The paradox of Tourneur's moral position is that a doctrine of worldly withdrawal may lead at last to social regeneration. Tourneur emphasizes the intervention of God to destroy the wicked and protect the innocent.