The Duchess of Malfi was performed by Shakespeare's company 'privately at the Blackfriars, and publicly at the Globe'. Antonio then describes Bosola as a man who satirizes and speaks against the court, but only because he lacks the wealth and power to truly participate. . She doesn't seem to get that Ferdinand's flying off the handle for a deeper reason: he could care less that she's married, that she's engaged in any kind of sexual activity that he can't control is more than enough to warrant the worst possible punishment. That, as I take it, is one of the modest functions of literature, reassuring us that we're all down here in the hole together, manning the pumps. .
Likewise, The Duchess of Malfi offers a rang Whilst The Duchess of Malfi isn't particularly progressive by the standards of the twenty-first century, I would consider it feminist text for the time published 1623 in which it was written. He decides that he will do everything in his power to save Antonio and get revenge on the brothers. On practically every page, I'd be struck by some neato sententia and glance down at the notes to find it had been lifted almost verbatim from Sydney or Donne or Florio. Shakespeare can dance effortlessly across so many different philosophies, emotions, perspectives etc and express each one, no matter how conflicting, with conviction and empathy. Nonetheless the Duchess' soul remains intact; no one has ever managed to weaken her resolve. However, the Duchess is in love with Antonio, one her servants. Before they return to Rome, Ferdinand and the Cardinal lecture the Duchess about the impropriety of remarriage.
She accepts them, and immediately becomes ill, rushing off to her bedroom. The Duchess of Malfi's description of a world bereft of moral values on its highest levels fascinates and scandalises us to this day. It may sound harsh to come down on the Duchess for being unpopular, but keep in mind that it's her job to effectively rule her people. Mind you, that last comment comes off as a little blunt. Born in 1580, Webster was younger than Shakespeare and came to prominence in the final years of Shakespeare's career.
In this, despite the exotic Italian setting complete with its ostensibly , 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. The Duchess was Giovanna d'Aragona, whose father, Arrigo d'Aragona, Marquis of Gerace, was an illegitimate son of Ferdinand I of Naples. Ferdinand, meanwhile, has been diagnosed with lycanthropia werewolf disease , and he begins acting like a madman, even attacking his shadow, clearly plagued by guilt. I started ov Other sins only speak, murder shreiks out: The element of water moistens the earth, But blood flies upwards and bedews the heavens. Bosola then mistakenly kills a returning Antonio, thinking him to be the Cardinal. It might, if it affects why Ferdinand tried to prevent his widowed sister from remarrying. Eventually, though, they are betrayed, and by a trusted friend, the desperately ambitious Bosola.
It also includes scenes offensive to the sensibilities of the time, such as the Cardinal using a poisoned Bible to murder his mistress. Antonio changes the subject as he sees Bosola, a former employee of the Cardinal and known murderer, entering the room. Now she is pregnant and in labor, finally delivered of a boy. The big question is whether Webster's play is more than simply a series of random, theatrically effective scenes and great characters, something that is actually held together by a point of view. Just read it again for the 2nd time around. .
So, the Duchess's sexuality is definitely a Thing, and you should keep your eye on how the play deals with it. This is an interesting play, and I have to admit, not my favourite. . Charles Kay and Michael Bryant round out the cast and are both brilliant - this is a clever play with modern relevance and is played beautifully here. .
Julia, Mistress to the Cardinal John Webb. There is the old cardinal looking into his fishpond, maybe thinking of a fat carp for supper, in the gloom of which he dimly perceives a devil with a rake poking at him-that is slapstick, come to think of it is he just looking at his own reflection in the pond? Ferdinand then enters, and, mistaking, his brother for the devil, stabs both the Cardinal and Bosola. The play ends with Antonio and the Duchess' eldest son taking his place as heir to Malfi. Notable productions in the modern era include Adrian Noble's 1980 production, with Helen Mirren as the Duchess. Just as the phenomenon of a crest in the sea is followed by that of a trough, so also Elizabethan Tragedy was followed by Jacobean tragedy, indicating a distinct falling off from the achieved standard of literary excellence. The Duchess herself is a superbly complex creation.
. I have been curious about this play ever since I first read Agatha Christie's as a teenager. It can't really be for inheritance because she has a son from her first marriage though he never appears. But Webster takes on the challenge of representing a woman who is both virtuous and sensual, and who embodies the virtues of a sexually fulfilling married life. She marries her steward and murdered with husband and children, first herself, then children and in the end her husband.
Into The Duchess of Malfi Webster apparently poured, not only his own poetic talent, but the accumulated treasures of his commonplace book, too. Life is a desperate business carried on by demented apes and ending in a welter of blood and shit. The Duchess and Antonio attempt to run away and Antonio and their eldest child manage to escape. But if you like plays from the period, and can appreciate the Duchess of Malfi for what it is, you'll like this version. However, up until the , the overwhelming weight of male critical opinion on the play held that The Duchess of Malfi lacked a centre and focus for its action because critics tended to equate tragic centrality with masculinity. Always melancholy and contemplative, Bosola laments the way he is being treated for his service to the Cardinal, which he compares to that of a soldier. These attitudes are reflected in the literature of the period.