The Revenger’s Tragedy

Vindice Character Analysis

Vindice is the play’s protagonist and main avenger (though other characters have revenge motives too). He is brother to Hippolito and Castiza, and the son of Gratiana. His main target is the Duke, who nearly ten years earlier poisoned Vindice’s fiancée, Gloriana, when she refused his sexual advances. Vindice doesn’t merely want revenge, but what he sees as particularly poignant type of vengeance: he makes a special point of revealing his identity—disguised for most of the play—to both the Duke and Lussurioso when he kills them. He carries the skull of Gloriana with him, talking to it in the play’s opening scene and then later using it to trick the Duke into consuming poison. The fact that he has carried it so long, however, suggests that enacting the perfect revenge—rather than just revenge itself—has become an obsession for Vindice, his one true aim in life. Perhaps that’s why, in the play’s closing scene, he can’t help bragging about his success to Antonio, unwittingly condemning himself and his brother to speedy execution. “Tis time to die,” he says, suggesting his ultimate acceptance of his own fate as the doomed avenger. His name even translates to “avenger” in Italian, reinforcing the idea that he is defined by this single purpose.

Vindice Quotes in The Revenger’s Tragedy

The The Revenger’s Tragedy quotes below are all either spoken by Vindice or refer to Vindice. 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 1 Quotes

Duke—royal lecher! Go, grey-haired adultery;
And thou his son, as impious steeped as he;
And thou his bastard true-begot in evil;
And thou his duchess that will do with devil;
Four ex’lent characters.

Related Characters: Vindice (speaker), The Duke, Lussurioso, The Duchess, Spurio
Page Number: 1-5
Explanation and Analysis:
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[To the skull] Thou sallow picture of my poisoned love,
My study’s ornament, thou shell of death,
Once the bright face my betrothed lady,
When life and beauty naturally filled out these
These ragged imperfections,
When two heaven-pointed diamonds were set
In those unsightly rings […]
Thee when thou wert appareled in thy flesh
The old duke poisoned,
Because thy purer part would not consent
Unto his palsy-lust

Related Characters: Vindice (speaker), The Duke
Related Symbols: Gloriana’s Skull
Page Number: 14-34
Explanation and Analysis:
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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:
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O!
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:
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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:
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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:
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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:
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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:
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Act 3, Scene 5 Quotes

VINDICE: Look you brother,
I have not fashioned this only for show
And useless property, no — it shall bear a part
E'en in it own revenge. This very skull,
Whose mistress the duke poisoned with this drug,
The mortal curse of the earth, shall be revenged
In the like strain and kiss his lips to death.

Related Characters: Vindice (speaker), Hippolito, The Duke
Related Symbols: Gloriana’s Skull
Page Number: 98-104
Explanation and Analysis:
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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:
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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:
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Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

My lords, be all of music;
Strike old griefs into other countries
That flow in too much milk and have faint livers,
Not daring to stab home their discontents.
Let our hid flames break out, as fire, as lightning
To blast this villainous dukedom vexed with sin:
Wind up your souls to their full height again […]
And when they think their pleasures sweet and good,
In midst of all their joys, they shall sigh blood.

Related Characters: Vindice (speaker), The Duke, Lussurioso
Related Symbols: Natural Phenomena
Page Number: 1-22
Explanation and Analysis:
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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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Vindice Character Timeline in The Revenger’s Tragedy

The timeline below shows where the character Vindice appears in The Revenger’s Tragedy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Revenge and Justice Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
The play opens (and remains throughout) in a non-specified Italian court. Vindice appears on stage, holding the skull of his deceased fiancée, Gloriana. He watches from afar... (full context)
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Lust Theme Icon
Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
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Vindice addresses the skull of Gloriana, which he has carried around with him since her death.... (full context)
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Vindice’s brother Hippolito enters. Vindice asks whether Hippolito has sensed any opportunity for Vindice to enact... (full context)
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Vindice says he isn’t surprised to hear Lussurioso’s request, because the Duke’s eldest son is notoriously... (full context)
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Gratiana and Castiza arrive, the brothers’ mother and sister respectively. As they enter, Vindice notes to Hippolito that he would “stake” his “soul for these two creatures,” despite the... (full context)
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...Junior Brother, is rumored to have raped the wife of Lord Antonio, a court nobleman. Vindice says he must make “speedy travel.” Vindice and Gratiana briefly discuss the worthiness of Vindice’s... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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Vindice and Hippolito enter, with Vindice disguised as “Piato” the pander. Both are impressed with the... (full context)
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Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Vindice (as Piato) boasts of his achievements as a pander, telling Lussurioso he has been “witness... (full context)
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Lussurioso tells Vindice he is “past my depth in lust, And I must swim or drown.” He wants... (full context)
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Vindice is eager to help Lussurioso and asks after the identity of the virgin. Much to... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...by the world. Her servant announces that a man has arrived to speak with her. Vindice comes in, disguised as Piato the pander. (full context)
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Vindice gives Castiza a letter from Lussurioso and is swiftly rewarded with a smack on the... (full context)
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Castiza exits, and Vindice praises her for her chastity and honor. Gratiana, Castiza and Vindice’s mother, enters. Vindice, still... (full context)
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Vindice gives Gratiana a bribe to pressure her further, which she says “enchant[s] our sex.” She... (full context)
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Vindice tries to get Castiza imagine the lavish lifestyle she could have at court if only... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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...Hippolito enter, with the former praising the latter’s judgment in finding him a good pander. Vindice enters, and Hippolito leaves the two of them alone on Lussurioso’s instruction. (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Women and Misogyny Theme Icon
Lussurioso goes to leave, and Vindice wonders whether he should kill him there and then. He decides he’d rather “pierce him... (full context)
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...has heard about the affair between Spurio and the Duchess. Spurio enters with his servants; Vindice and Hippolito hide in order to eavesdrop. Spurio learns from his servant that Lussurioso is... (full context)
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Spurio and his servants exit. Vindice relishes the thought of the Duke being made a “cuckold.” Lussurioso comes back, requesting Piato’s... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
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Vindice (still in disguise) leads Lussurioso to the Duchess’s chamber. Lussurioso draws his sword, hoping to... (full context)
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...come to assassinate his own father. Sensing it best that they get out of there, Vindice and Hippolito make a swift exit. (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
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Vindice, still in disguise, enters with Hippolito, who is carrying a torch. Vindice is clearly excited... (full context)
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Hippolito is impressed by Vindice’s plan and asks where the woman is. Vindice tells him that this is the best... (full context)
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Vindice and Hippolito hear the Duke approaching, and Vindice instructs his brother to hide with the... (full context)
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Vindice, still disguised as Piato, explains to the Duke that the woman he has found for... (full context)
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Vindice tells Hippolito to back away with the torch and give him the skull. Vindice moves... (full context)
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Vindice gleefully reveals to the Duke the identity of the skull (that is, Gloriana). Hippolito stamps... (full context)
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The Duke’s tongue starts to dissolve from the poison. Vindice isn’t finished with the Duke yet, however, telling him that before he dies he will... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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Lussurioso and Hippolito enter. Lussurioso is angry with Hippolito for providing him with Piato (Vindice) the pander, who has proved to be a “knave.” Lussurioso recounts how Piato’s misinformation led... (full context)
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Vindice (still as Piato) comes in but is sent away immediately by Lussurioso for his misinformation... (full context)
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Hippolito exits to fetch Vindice. In the meantime, Lussurioso reveals that the proposed task for Vindice is to kill Piato... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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Hippolito and Vindice enter, with the latter no longer in his Piato disguise. To Vindice’s surprise, Hippolito informs... (full context)
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Lussurioso enters and meets Vindice. Lussurioso asks Vindice what has “made thee so melancholy?” Vindice improvises, explaining that it is... (full context)
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Lussurioso asks Vindice if he is short of money and gives him some gold; Vindice feigns excited gratitude.... (full context)
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Lussurioso wants Vindice to kill Piato. He dishonestly recounts how Piato tried to set him up with Castiza,... (full context)
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Vindice and Hippolito praise Lussurioso’s honorability, as Lussurio explains how he beat Piato up in anger... (full context)
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Lussurioso asks Vindice his name, which he then praises on account of it meaning “revenger.” Lussurioso says Vindice... (full context)
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Vindice rails against Lussurioso, aghast at how anyone could be so “impudent and wicked.” He again... (full context)
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Knowing Vindice would have to kill himself to kill Piato, Vindice and Hippolito hatch a plan: to... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
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Vindice and Hippolito enter with daggers in their hands, dragging Gratiana. She is distraught, oblivious to... (full context)
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Vindice asks whether Gratiana had talked with a man sent by the Duke’s son, and if... (full context)
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Vindice and Hippolito put away their daggers, satisfied that Gratiana has shown herself to be truly... (full context)
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Vindice and Hippolito leave; Gratiana wonders how she was ever able to entertain the idea of... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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Hippolito and Vindice enter, carrying the Duke’s body dressed in Vindice’s “Piato” disguise. They set the body to... (full context)
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Lussurioso enters, greeting Vindice and Hippolito. He instructs them to kill Piato. They ask for his assurance that he... (full context)
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...approaches the corpse, and suddenly realizes that it’s his father, the Duke. Lussurioso buys into Vindice and Hippolito’s plan, thinking that Piato must have killed the Duke and swapped outfits to... (full context)
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...asks them to “be witnesses of a strange spectacle.” In an aside to the audience, Vindice notes how “wit” can help a revenger to be the least culpable man around when... (full context)
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Vindice and Hippolito excitedly anticipate the final stage of their revenge, before leaving. Spurio, too, exits... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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Vindice and Hippolito enter with other lords. Vindice incites them to “blast this villainous dukedom vexed... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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Vindice, Hippolito, and their accomplices enter, disguised in costumes for the masque. Suddenly they draw their... (full context)
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Vindice and Hippolito re-enter, cunningly calling for help: “Pistols! Treason! Murder! Help! Guard my lord /... (full context)
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Vindice leans into Lussurioso, who is nearly dead. He whispers to him that it was he,... (full context)
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...Italy” now rests in his hands. Antonio vows to be a just and reasonable leader. Vindice says that the rape of Antonio’s wife has now been revenged; Antonio wonders “how the... (full context)
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Vindice announces to Antonio that it was he and Hippolito who orchestrated the murder of the... (full context)
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Vindice appeals to Antonio, saying that the murders served him well—but Antonio counters that “you that... (full context)
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Vindice and Hippolito are dragged away by guards, leaving Antonio alone on stage. He expresses his... (full context)