Rowe, S. E. (2008). The Scales of Justice: Revenge and Forgiveness in Early Modern Revenge Tragedy. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.249
The early modern revenge tragedies are united by a unique quest for justice. In this genre, justice was defined as the perfect balance of crime and punishment, to be found originally in the equality of blood shed for blood. This is the balance that Hieronimo seeks in Kyd?s ?The Spanish Tragedy,? and Shakespeare and Marston mimic in ?Titus Andronicus? and ?Antonio?s Revenge,? respectively. When Laertes seeks Hamlet?s forgiveness, however, this launches a new breed of revenge tragedy, one which acknowledges the limitations of revenge and seeks a separate, less destructive alternative. Later plays renounced revenge entirely, seeking justice instead in the balance of pardon-for-blood. Forgiveness stepped in where revenge had reigned before, and the revenge tragedy was supplanted by the tragicomedy, which adopted the former?s quest for justice while rejecting revenge as the means to this end.