The Revenger’s Tragedy


Thomas Middleton

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Castiza Character Analysis

Castiza is the beautiful virgin sister of Hippolito and Vindice, and daughter of Gratiana. She is arguably the only truly virtuous character in the play, refusing to sacrifice her chastity to Lussurioso despite considerable pressure from Vindice (disguised as Piato) and Gratiana. Her name derives from the Italian casta, meaning “chaste.”

Castiza Quotes in The Revenger’s Tragedy

The The Revenger’s Tragedy quotes below are all either spoken by Castiza or refer to Castiza. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bloomsbury edition of The Revenger’s Tragedy published in 2009.
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

LUSSURIOSO: Attend me, I am past my depth in lust,
And I must swim or drown. All my desires
Are levelled at a virgin not far from Court,
To whom I have conveyed by messenger
Many waxed lines, full of my neatest spirit,
And jewels that were able to ravish her
Without the help of man: all which and more
She, foolish-chaste, sent back, the messengers
Receiving frowns for answers.

VINDICE: Possible?
'Tis a rare phoenix whoe'er she be.
If your desires be such, she so repugnant.

Related Characters: Vindice (speaker), Lussurioso (speaker), Castiza
Page Number: 88-99
Explanation and Analysis:

Now let me burst, I've eaten noble poison!
We are made strange fellows, brother, innocent villains:
Wilt not be angry when thou hear'st on't, think’st thou?
I'faith thou shalt. Swear me to foul my sister!
[Unsheathes his sword]
Sword I durst make a promise of him to thee,
Thou shalt dis-heir him, it shall be thine honour;
And yet, now angry froth is down in me,
It would not prove the meanest policy
In this disguise to try the faith of both.

Related Characters: Vindice (speaker), Hippolito, Lussurioso, Gratiana, Castiza
Page Number: 88-99
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

How hardly shall that maiden be beset
Whose only fortunes are her constant thoughts,
That has no other child's-part but her honour
That keeps her low and empty in estate.
Maids and their honours are like poor beginners:
Were not sin rich there would be fewer sinners:
Why had not virtue a revenue? Well,
I know the cause: 'twould have impoverished hell.

Related Characters: Castiza (speaker), Vindice, Lussurioso
Page Number: 1-8
Explanation and Analysis:

VINDICE: What think you now lady? Speak, are you wiser?
What said advancement to you? Thus it said:
The daughter's fall lifts up the mother's head.
Did it not madam? But I'll swear it does
In many places; tut, this age fears no man.
‘‘Tis no shame to be bad, because 'tis common.’

GRATIANA: Aye, that's the comfort on't.

VINDICE: The comfort on't!
I keep the best for last; can these persuade you
To forget heaven—
[Gives her money]

GRATIANA: Ay, these are they—

VINDICE [aside]: O!

GRATIANA: —that enchant our sex; these are the means
That govern our affections. That woman
Will not be troubled with the mother long,
That sees the comfortable shine of you;
I blush to think what for your sakes I'll do.

VINDICE [aside]: Oh suffering heaven with thy invisible finger
E'en at this instant turn the precious side
Of both mine eyeballs inward, not to see myself.

Related Characters: Vindice (speaker), Gratiana (speaker), Lussurioso, Castiza
Page Number: 111-127
Explanation and Analysis:

GRATIANA: O, if thou knew'st
What 'twere to lose it, thou would never keep it.
But there's a cold curse laid upon all maids,
Whilst others clip the sun they clasp the shades!
Virginity is paradise, locked up.
You cannot come by yourselves without fee,
And 'twas decreed that man should keep the key:
Deny advancement, treasure, the duke's son!

CASTIZA: I cry you mercy; lady I mistook you,
Pray did you see my mother? Which way went you?
Pray God I have not lost her.

Related Characters: Gratiana (speaker), Castiza (speaker), Vindice, Lussurioso
Page Number: 148-158
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

LUSSURIOSO: Well this night I'll visit her, and 'tis till then
A year in my desires. Farewell, attend,
Trust me with thy preferment.
[Exit Lussurioso. Vindice puts his hand to his sword]

VINDICE: My loved lord.—
Oh shall I kill him o'the wrong-side now? No,
Sword thou wast never a back-biter yet.
I'll pierce him to his face, he shall die looking upon me;
Thy veins are swelled with lust, this shall unfill 'em.

Related Characters: Vindice (speaker), Lussurioso (speaker), Gratiana, Castiza
Page Number: 85-91
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4, Scene 2 Quotes

Has not heaven an ear? Is all the lightning wasted?

Related Characters: Vindice (speaker), Lussurioso, The Duchess, Spurio , Gratiana, Castiza
Related Symbols: Natural Phenomena
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4, Scene 4 Quotes

GRATIANA: Are you so barbarous, to set iron nipples
Upon the breast that gave you suck?

VINDICE: That breast
Is turned to quarled poison.

GRATIANA: Cut not your days for't: am not I your mother?

VINDICE: Thou dost usurp that title now by fraud,
For in that shell of mother breeds a bawd.

GRATIANA: A bawd! Oh name far loathsomer than hell!

HIPPOLITO: It should be so, knew'st thou thy office well.

Related Characters: Vindice (speaker), Hippolito (speaker), Gratiana (speaker), Lussurioso, Castiza
Page Number: 5-12
Explanation and Analysis:

GRATIANA: Bethink again, thou know'st not what thou say'st.

CASTIZA: No—deny advancement, treasure, the duke's son?

GRATIANA: O see, I spoke those words, and now they poison me.
What will the deed do then?
Advancement? True, as high as shame can pitch.
For treasure? Who e'er knew a harlot rich
Or could build by the purchase of her sin
An hospital to keep their bastards in?
The duke's son! Oh when women are young courtiers,
They are sure to be old beggars;
To know the miseries most harlots taste
Thou'd'st wish thyself unborn, when thou’rt unchaste.

CASTIZA: Oh mother let me twine about your neck
And kiss you till my soul melt on your lips:
I did but this to try you.

GRATIANA: Oh speak truth!

CASTIZA: Indeed I did not;
For no tongue has force to alter me from honest.
If maidens would, men's words could have no power;
A virgin honour is a crystal tower,
Which, being weak, is guarded with good spirits:
Until she basely yields, no ill inherits.

Related Characters: Hippolito (speaker), Gratiana (speaker), Castiza (speaker), Lussurioso
Page Number: 134-154
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

ANTONIO: Bear 'em to speedy execution. […]

VINDICE: May not we set as well as the duke's son?
Thou hast no conscience: are we not revenged?
Is there one enemy left alive amongst those?
When murderers shut deeds close this curse does seal 'em:
If none disclose 'em, they themselves reveal 'em!
This murder might have slept in tongueless brass
But for ourselves, and the world died an ass.
Now I remember too; here was Piato
Brought forth a knavish sentence once:
No doubt, said he, but time
Will make the murderer bring forth himself.
'Tis well he died, he was a witch.—
And now my lord, since we are in for ever:
This work was ours, which else might have been slipped;
And if we list we could have nobles clipped
And go for less than beggars. But we hate
To bleed so cowardly: we have enough—
I'faith we're well: our mother turned, our sister true,
We die after a nest of dukes! Adieu.
Exeunt [Vindice and Hippolito, guarded)

ANTONIO: How subtly was that murder closed! Bear up
Those tragic bodies; 'tis a heavy season.
Pray heaven their blood may wash away all treason.

Related Characters: Vindice (speaker), Antonio (speaker), Hippolito, The Duke, Lussurioso, Gratiana, Castiza
Related Symbols: Natural Phenomena
Page Number: 106-130
Explanation and Analysis:
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Castiza Character Timeline in The Revenger’s Tragedy

The timeline below shows where the character Castiza appears in The Revenger’s Tragedy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Gratiana and Castiza arrive, the brothers’ mother and sister respectively. As they enter, Vindice notes to Hippolito that... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
Lust Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
...identity of the virgin. Much to his shock, it turns out to be his sister, Castiza. Lussurioso tells Vindice that if she continues to reject him Vindice should try to bribe... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Castiza enters, lamenting the way in which sin, rather than honor, seems to be rewarded by... (full context)
Lust Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Vindice gives Castiza a letter from Lussurioso and is swiftly rewarded with a smack on the ear—Castiza says... (full context)
Lust Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Castiza exits, and Vindice praises her for her chastity and honor. Gratiana, Castiza and Vindice’s mother,... (full context)
Lust Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
...bribe to pressure her further, which she says “enchant[s] our sex.” She promises to convince Castiza to give up her chastity for Lussurioso. Just at this moment, Castiza re-enters. Gratiana tells... (full context)
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Vindice tries to get Castiza imagine the lavish lifestyle she could have at court if only she’d change her mind.... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Lust Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Lussurioso desperately requests news about whether Vindice has broken Castiza’s resolve: “Hast thou beguiled her of salvation, / And rubbed hell o’er with honey? Is... (full context)
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
Lust Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
...learns from his servant that Lussurioso is about to travel to have his way with Castiza, and vows to kill Lussurioso in the act. (full context)
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
Lust Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
...a “cuckold.” Lussurioso comes back, requesting Piato’s (Vindice’s fake identity) presence on his trip to Castiza. Vindice and Hippolito toy with the idea of killing Lussurioso immediately, but instead inform him... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
Lust Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
...Vindice to kill Piato. He dishonestly recounts how Piato tried to set him up with Castiza, offering “jewels to corrupt your virgin sister.” Lussurioso says he refused, knowing her to be... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon the Duke’s son, and if that man had convinced her to “work our sister [Castiza] to his [Lussurioso’s] lust?” Gratiana denies the charge, but Vindice reveals that he was that... (full context)
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
...wonders how she was ever able to entertain the idea of prostituting her own daughter. Castiza then comes in. She appears to have changed her mind, now willing to do as... (full context)
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Gratiana pleads with Castiza not to sacrifice her chastity and honor. She explains that she has “recovered” from her... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
...“time to die” now that their enemies are dead. At least, he says, their sister, Castiza, is “true” and their mother, Gratiana, morally redeemed. (full context)