The strong character of the duchess in duchess of malfi a play by john webster

Their fears are in large part fuelled by anxieties about female sexuality in general and of widows in particular. He is also rather unremarkable when compared to the impressive Duchess.

the duchess of malfi critical analysis

He has a sensitive awareness of these inequalities and the play illustrates the ridiculous views taken by the community. Ferdinand reveals that he and the Duchess were twins, and that he had hoped, if she had remained a widow, to inherit all her wealth.

Referred to as a "mere stick of sugar candy" by the Duchess, he is yet another interchangeable courtier serving the sycophantic court.

discuss character of duchess in duchess of malfi

Antonio reveals that the Duchess has had two more children in the time Delio was gone. Metaphors, then, establish a much closer relationship between the two items being associated than similes do. But these attitudes are all bound up with their belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman which should be chosen not by the individual but by the family, and not for reasons of love but with a view to enhancing family power and maintaining elite exclusivity.

the duchess of malfi analysis

The fact that we know what the Duchess is up to, while Antonio remains in the dark until the Duchess slips the ring onto his finger, intensifies our awareness of his inferior position.

She keeps the secret faithfully, and in the end is killed by Bosola for doing so.

The duchess of malfi summary pdf

Indeed, her echo is literally to be heard in Act 5, Scene 3, and this whole last act is permeated with a powerful sense of her afterlife and continuing moral centrality in the play. Suspicious of her, they hire Bosola to spy on her. In this, despite the exotic Italian setting complete with its ostensibly corrupt religion , the play comes closer than we might at first imagine to representing the lived realities of early modern English widows and the constraints upon their sexual choices. He recounted the story of Antonio's secret marriage to Giovanna after death of her first husband, stating that it brought down the wrath of her two brothers, one of whom, Luigi d'Aragona , was a powerful cardinal under Pope Julius II. Like a Prince? Antonio is introduced into the play as an outsider to Amalfi, returning home along with his confidant Delio. The Duchess's defiant insistence on marrying Antonio, her second husband, is an action which shows that she has her own desires, and a more dominant will than anybody around her. When the Cardinal, Duchess, and Cariola enter to speak with Ferdinand, Antonio and Delio have a moment to themselves to discuss the Cardinal's character; he is found to be a very dishonest, disagreeable person, as is his brother, Ferdinand. He realizes what it means, and resolves to send it to the Duchess's brothers with Castruccio. His predicament shows that as well as creating him as a character in his own right, Webster is using him as a device with which to make points about the society of the time. Duchess: Fie, sir! You know how looking at a math problem similar to the one you're stuck on can help you get unstuck? Webster is drawing here on a particular kind of love poetry of the period, often termed Petrarchan, from its originator, the Italian poet Francesco Petrarca — Ferdinand constantly torments his sister with his madness.
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The Duchess of Malfi and Renaissance women