The Revenger’s Tragedy


Thomas Middleton

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Gratiana Character Analysis

Gratiana is the mother of Vindice, Hippolito, and Castiza. She deeply disappoints her children by accepting a bribe of jewels and money from Piato—Vindice in disguise—in exchange for pressuring Castiza to give up her chastity for Lussurioso, the Duke’s son. When Vindice reveals that he was Piato, Gratiana repents hysterically and is forgiven by her sons. Her name derives from the Italian gracia, meaning “grace”—perhaps intended by Middleton to be darkly ironic.

Gratiana Quotes in The Revenger’s Tragedy

The The Revenger’s Tragedy quotes below are all either spoken by Gratiana or refer to Gratiana. 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

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

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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Gratiana Character Timeline in The Revenger’s Tragedy

The timeline below shows where the character Gratiana 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... (full context)
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
Lust Theme Icon
Gratiana asks Hippolito for news from the court. Hippolito informs her that the Duchess’s youngest son... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
Lust Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
...Vindice that if she continues to reject him Vindice should try to bribe her mother (Gratiana). Vindice vows to carry out the task well, and Lussurioso exits. Vindice rages about what... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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, enters. Vindice, still in disguise, tries to persuade Gratiana to change... (full context)
Lust Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Vindice gives Gratiana a bribe to pressure her further, which she says “enchant[s] our sex.” She promises to... (full context)
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
...imagine the lavish lifestyle she could have at court if only she’d change her mind. Gratiana agrees, but Castiza is infuriated. She exits, telling Vindice (still dressed as Piato) to “perish... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Lust Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
...with honey? Is she a woman?” Vindice explains that Castiza is still resistant, but that Gratiana may be able to persuade her otherwise—and that Gratiana has said she would be happy... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
Lust Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
...Placing all the blame on Piato, Lussurioso continues that the pander then tried to bribe Gratiana too. (full context)
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
...his escape. They agree that this is a cunning plan. They then decide to visit Gratiana—in order to “conjure that base devil out of our mother.” (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Vindice and Hippolito enter with daggers in their hands, dragging Gratiana. She is distraught, oblivious to why they are treating her this way. She asks them,... (full context)
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Vindice asks whether Gratiana had talked with a man sent by the Duke’s son, and if that man had... (full context)
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Vindice and Hippolito put away their daggers, satisfied that Gratiana has shown herself to be truly repentant. Gratiana appeals to the heavens to cleanse her... (full context)
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Vindice and Hippolito leave; Gratiana wonders how she was ever able to entertain the idea of prostituting her own daughter.... (full context)
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Gratiana pleads with Castiza not to sacrifice her chastity and honor. She explains that she has... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
...enemies are dead. At least, he says, their sister, Castiza, is “true” and their mother, Gratiana, morally redeemed. (full context)