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دوشس ملفی

More widely studied and more frequently performed than ever before, John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi is here presented in an accessible and thoroughly up-to-date edition. Based on the Revels Plays text, the notes have been augmented to cast further light both on Webster's amazing dialogue and on the stage action. An entirely new introduction sets the tragedy in the contMore widely studied and more frequently performed than ever before, John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi is here presented in an accessible and thoroughly up-to-date edition. Based on the Revels Plays text, the notes have been augmented to cast further light both on Webster's amazing dialogue and on the stage action. An entirely new introduction sets the tragedy in the context of pre-Civil War England and gives a revealing view of its imagery and dramatic action. From its well-documented early performances to the two productions seen in the West End of London in the 1995-96 season, a stage history gives an account of the play in performance. Students, actors, directors and theatre-goers will all find here a reappraisal of Webster's artistry in the greatest age of English theatre, which highlights why it has lived on stage with renewed force in the last decades of the twentieth century....

Title : دوشس ملفی
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789641853855
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 200 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

دوشس ملفی Reviews

  • BillKerwin
    2019-03-10 18:49

    This play, the finest Jacobean drama outside the Shakespeare canon, is not only a gem of poetry and wit, but also a meditation on the vanity of public life and the inevitability of death. The satiric prose is filled with such poetic imagery and the subtle verse is so sharp in its commentary that each individual use of language complements all the others. The reader is surprised to find in such a merciless play so much goodness and such tender love scenes. Perhaps that is part of the reason why, in spite of the absurdities of the plot and the decadent horror of many of its incidents, this play leaves the reader--as I believe Hamlet does too--with a sweet feeling of sadness and an increased reverence for struggling humanity.

  • Buck
    2019-03-24 13:59

    Life is a desperate business carried on by demented apes and ending in a welter of blood and shit. Everybody knows this, more or less, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded now and then. 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. Then again, I'm just a guy with a laptop and a Starbucks card, so what do I know?So here's another thing I learned from Webster: I happened to read The Duchess of Malfi in one of those high-minded scholarly editions with lots of variant readings and a running critical gloss, and it made me realize to what an extent books, even great and original books like this one, are made up of other books. 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. Into The Duchess of Malfi Webster apparently poured, not only his own poetic talent, but the accumulated treasures of his commonplace book, too.God, what a geeky thing for me to have taken away from a tragedy that features incest, severed body parts and mass murder (to say nothing of the lycanthropy business, already gleefully noted by a couple of other reviewers.) So, yeah, if that turns your crank, there's the usual Jacobean ultraviolence and a fair bit of sexual hysteria thrown in (male hysteria, for a change - the women in the play seem to have a much healthier attitude towards sex: they want it and don't mind asking for it.)A bloody and beautiful piece of work.

  • Jonfaith
    2019-02-25 12:58

    Other sins only speak, murder shreiks out:The element of water moistens the earth,But blood flies upwards and bedews the heavens.Oh mercy, revenge upon the cursed Vengeful in five sumptuous acts of poetry, racy bits and bloodshed. The initial revengers are a creepy pair of powerful brothers miffed that their sis has moved on from bereavement and is now happily shacking up. They enlist the world's most literate assassin for the wet work. I began this a month ago and made it half way. I started over and completed the piece this evening. Touch your caps to the lyrical wizardry of John Webster. Extra points should be awarded for use of a poisoned book.

  • Owlseyes
    2019-02-22 13:06

    "Black-birds fatten best in hard weather"It’s a still-performed play in our days. Though its best place for representation had been, for long, the Blacks Friars Theater. According to scholar James Shapiro, it’s a “story of intrigue and murder”…”a bloody dark work”of 1623. Webster surely based his story on a real one: the real Giovanna D’Aragona, who in 1493 married the regent, soon to die. She had two brothers. Yet Giovanna had a secret marriage and two children concealed. By 1510 she was quite talked about in Europe. She managed to escape, but was captured in 1511, sent to prison…and thereafter “never to be seen again”. "-how do you like the French court?Antonio:... admire it......the cardinal and brother are like fruit that grows crooked on plum trees....but only crows feed on them" (adapted)The play is about this intrigue involving the twin brother of the duchess, Ferdinand, who doesn't want her to marry again; he is “incestuously infatuated with his sister”; he's "obsessed about the purity of blood". The Duchess gets tormented by the brothers… one a cardinal. Ferdinand kills her. All major characters die in the end. The dark moments on the stage involve the exhibiting of “waxed cadavers” …and “a severed hand”. It seems that, on a biographical short note, Webster himself was born near a slaughterhouse, in 1580, in the 22nd year of the Elizabethan reign; a time when criminals were executed and dismembered. His vocabulary is yet very different from Shakespeare and Marlowe.

  • N.T. Embe
    2019-03-22 16:46

    First thoughts: THANK GOD THIS IS OVER WITH! AUGH.My God. My brain hurts.MY ANGER HURTS.**Also just a forerunner: Everything after this will be going full tilt into spoilers. So if you don't want to see them, skip ahead to where the bold asterisks mark the continuation spot please!**I read this play and I sit there and I'm like:NOTHING IS HAPPY. NOTHING. ALL OF IT IS BULL.And no, seriously. It's all bull. The entire story is about a woman who has been recently widowed and her two high ranking brothers. One is a prince, the other a cardinal. So they're both pretty high up there in terms of social status. But they're both corrupt as the devil. And the one brother, Ferdinand, is hell-bent on never letting his sister remarry. Why?I WISH I KNEW!!!! D8<<<They spew some crap about reputation in there and not soiling your social status, but the Duchess (our main character) doesn't listen to them. She's fallen in love with a man, and so she marries him posthaste and in secret, soon having three children by him. Unfortunately the brothers find out and the one goes batshit crazy and tries to kill her, her kids, her husband, exiles her from the country, takes all her fortune--AND SUCCEEDS.NO. No he's NOT. THEN, he conveniently goes insane... INSANE?! And he pretends to be a werewolf saying that they just don't know that he is because his fur is on the INSIDE of his skin and they can take their swords and cut him up and they'll see it then!........... ...wait what?To top it off, in the meanwhile his brother is going murder-happy too! And in the end just about everyone.... DIES. )8< So I'm sitting here, left thinking, "...so you did this all... for... reputation... Even though your sister MARRIED, THEN had kids, and was living a private, happy life, with NO infidelity or outrageous lewd and crazy schemes! But no. Apparently marrying--someone who the entire country totally loved and supported by the way--was BAAAAD for her. And because she tries to hide this secret husband's identity they were like, LE GASP. U NO TELL US WHO DA DADDY IS, DEN WE TEENK U A WHORE!" -_- ...my good God in Heaven, spare me.**Spoilers end here.**I cannot believe that I just toiled through a play, which, for the first half was dull to begin with, where nothing at all of import happened besides-- "You can't get married!" "I already am married!" "I won't stand for it!" "Well it's already happened so what are you going to do? I even have three children!" "Tell me who the father is!" "No!" --that. After that, all the vicious, unsupported, cruel, monstrous actions that the characters commit don't elicit a feeling of sorrow or despair like a tragedy is supposed to. This "tragic" play only made me angry. Watching the injustice of completely innocent characters being slowly and crudely destroyed is a pastime I can't stomach! I didn't even CARE for the characters that much! They were there for me, yeah, but they weren't even people I would consider dwelling on. Nothing interested me about them! They didn't catch my attention or my mind. But seeing even people who I don't care about being dragged down into the dirt and violently torn apart bit by bloody, vile, bit is too much for me! I'm not the type of person to just sit there and read about these poor people suffering, suffering things worse than death! And all for what? FOR WHAT? Because some GUY didn't LIKE it? THAT'S IT? That's it?!You can be the most heartless bastard, and still go stark-raving mad watching the absolute shit that these brothers did to their sister! Their SISTER. It's not like she was even a wife or some woman in the court--their SISTER! And they did such things to her!!What kind of BROTHERS are you?!I have no brothers, but I was raised close to my father, and I'm the firstborn. When you're put into the man's shoes in the house, and you have younger sisters to take care of, you would do anything to protect them, to make sure they're safe, to assuage all their fears and to see them truly, truly happy. These men, the Cardinal and Ferdinand, are monsters.My God. Just reading this play made me feel dirty, made me sick and disgusted. I feel like I've been covered in grime and slimy filth. UGH. I feel like I need to take a shower.The storyline aside, I've got more problems with this, and I'm only going to mention them in brief. One, the writing was tedious. Nothing happens, so you're dragging your feet through the play. Two, it was hard to pick up on meanings and what was going on sometimes. Being written in a more distant time period is no excuse. You can still write and make it so that people can follow along. But maybe in part because it was uninteresting, following along was made that much harder. Three, on the subject of time periods, dude. You're writing about a time period a century before your own. Thanks to footnotes, I get to hear about ALL the oblique references you've made throughout your play to your own time period. ...dude. That's not even worth considering for value. If you're writing about a certain time period, write accurately for that time period. Duh? Geez, give it to the guy to prove he's a bad writer in all aspects, why don'tcha.Mind you, that last comment comes off as a little blunt. He has his skillful moments, and there are some parts where I happily take a quote and say, "This. This is worthwhile. This is good." But the moments are too sparse for a story so bland. If it wasn't for the fact that I was getting increasingly pissed off as the tale continued, I probably would have been bored out of my wits come the end of the play.All in all, I didn't like it, though that should be pretty obvious. Was it atrocious and downright incomprehensible or indigestible? No. You can get through it. It's under a hundred pages in most versions, so it's not monstrous long. But I almost feel like just ushering you away from this play altogether. Maybe if you like this sort of thing, or you're a tragedy or play buff, you might see some worth in it. But for those who want to spare it a cursory glance? Let me save you the time. Just drop it. Move on. Don't buy it--save your money. You can probably Google it online if you tried and it'll be up there somewhere. But really? Don't waste your time on it. There are far better things for you to read out there. This? This was just absolutely pointless. You don't wanna go here.And yes, that's my final answer. Done!

  • Sean Smart
    2019-03-05 13:05

    A great play, I have been lucky enough to see it performed twice. The most recent was with the wonderful Gemma Artherton playing the lead role at the Wannamaker theatre.

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    2019-03-16 13:13

    Catching up with the classics #31Really almost a 2? I’m not really sure how I feel about this play? It just seemed like pointless violence and hatred.

  • Ana Rînceanu
    2019-03-16 11:15

    This was heartbreaking.

  • Bruce
    2019-03-25 10:59

    This play, the work of John Webster, a master of Jacobean tragedy, was first produced in London in 1614.Act I: Although there are characters here who are dangerous – Bosola, the Cardinal, Ferdinand – the most memorable are the Duchess herself, sister of the latter two and a young widow, and Antonio, her hired overseer. The dialogue between the Duchess and Antonio is delicate, lovely, and caring, a careful minuet in which the Duchess must take the lead by virtue of her superior social position but in which Antonio willingly follows. The relationship is tender and attractive, reflecting the yearning of two genuinely good and virtuous people, and it leads to their marital commitment to each other. Webster’s writing here is relatively devoid of the bitterness and darkness that we expect from him, although we also know that this is but a prelude to complications and probable disaster.Act II: Months have passed, the marriage of the Duchess and Antonio having been kept secret. Now she is pregnant and in labor, finally delivered of a boy. Antonio is distraught, fearful of the knowledge of the birth becoming general. The duplicitous Bosola discovers the truth and communicates it to the Cardinal and Ferdinand, the latter of whom is furious beyond all measure and reason, suggesting more than simple anger at a family’s disgrace, and threatens to kill both his sister and her unknown lover.Act III: A few more years have passed, the Duchess has had two more children, and still the fact of her marriage to Antonio and the knowledge that they have children seems generally unknown or only vaguely rumored. Ferdinand has bided his time and taken no action except to threaten his sister that he is about to find her a husband. When he begins to bring the issue to a head, however, the Duchess and Antonio feign that Antonio has stolen money from her in his capacity of overseer, and he arranges to leave town, she planning to follow him in a few days. Bosola, pretending sympathy to her, deceives her into revealing the truth and in turn plans to tell Ferdinand. At that the Duchess and Antonio know they are doomed. The trap closing, they part, Antonio leaving with their oldest son, the Duchess remaining with the two younger children, knowing that they will not meet again in this life. Bosola arrives to take the Duchess into captivity.Act IV: Bosola, at Ferdinand’s bidding, strangles the Duchess, her children, and her maid Cariola. Then, himself rejected by Ferdinand, he repents and weeps. The Duchess’s attitude and last words are reconciled to her fate, life without Antonio meaning nothing to her.Act V: Antonio does not know of the murders of his wife and children, having escaped with his eldest son. Ferdinand has gone mad with remorse, and the Cardinal incites Bosola to kill Antonio. Ultimately everyone involved is killed except the son of Antonio and the Duchess, who survives to carry on. The end reminded me of Hamlet, where all die except a final witness.There are some fine speeches in the play, Webster being a masterful writer and skilled crafter of plots. For all his gloom and violence, he also shows psychological subtlety and can be very tender. Here are almost the Duchess’ last words, when she knows she is about to die, spoken to Cariola, her servant, without knowing the Cariola and the children are going to be killed, too:“I pray thee look you giv’st my little boySome syrup for his cold, and let the girlSay her prayers, ere she sleep.”And in a Shakespearean echo, here are Antonio’s words as he lies dying:“In our quest for greatness,Like wanton boys whose pastime is their care,We follow after bubbles, blown in th’air.”I found this to be a wonderful play, filled with passion, populated by interesting characters, replete with wonderful language, the plot moving at a steady and convincing pace, and the psychological insights of the author being acute.

  • Yngvild
    2019-03-23 11:15

    Everybody’s favourite Jacobean tragedy (other than those by Shakespeare), really the only one that is played today with any regularity, The Duchess of Malfi has it all: a good story, great writing, enough comedy to keep it entertaining, complex characters, quotable lines and superb stagecraft. There is even horror, but not the gratuitous bloodiness of earlier plays. That severed hand with the ring is unbeatable. There is some problem with our not having a clean copy of the play. Even John Webster complained of other writers inserting their own text. That might explain at least some plot inconsistencies. Was Duke Ferdinand the older brother of the duchess, or her younger twin? Does it matter? It might, if it affects why Ferdinand tried to prevent his widowed sister from remarrying. He could not have been behaving like an older brother if he was her twin. Nor could he have felt they had some kind of mystical blood connection as twins if he was the first-born. Initially, Ferdinand refuses to explain his reason to trying to keep the duchess celibate, but later says it was to control her wealth. However, by the time he says this, we know that her first husband’s estate went to their son, leaving the duchess only her dower and making nonsense of the idea that she was immensely rich. Was Ferdinand the puppet of their older brother, the cardinal? Then what was his reason for secretly attempting to control her? If the duchess only owned her dower, she was not likely to be able to marry into the kind of powerful family that the cardinal implies is all he will accept. Some people have suggested an incestuous relationship between the duchess and at least one of her brothers, but my innocent mind can find no justification for that. Perhaps the audience of the day could fill in the gaps from their knowledge of the actual events on which this play was based. What I find intriguing is the way Webster can switch points of view like few other playwrights. When we see the duchess informing her choice of partner that she intends to marry him, we see a strong person; a prince assuming control of the situation, and treated by all those around her as such. She finds her brothers’ patronizing attitude amusing. When the brothers learn of her marriage, they see only a stereotypically weak woman.CARDINAL. Curs’d creature! Unequall nature, to place womens hearts So farre upon the left-side!FERDINAND. Foolish men,That ere will trust their honour in a barke, Made of so slight, weake bull-rush as is woman, Apt every minnit to sinke it!Then, of course, there is Webster’s glorious English. No wonder that it is actor’s play.BOSCOLA. Doe you not weepe? Other sinnes onely speake; murther shreikes out: The element of water moistens the earth,But blood flies upwards, and bedewes the heavens.FERDINAND. Cover her face. Mine eyes dazell: she di’d yong.--The Duchess of Malfi, John Webster (circa 1613)

  • Chandrakant Mhatre
    2019-03-05 15:58

    Instead of reading this Masterpiece as a FALLEN TRAGEDY, approach it as a SUBLIMALLY HEIGHTENED MELODRAMA and see the wonders! The play will open itself to unimagined readings!!! Must try.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-02-22 11:14

    BBC Radio 3: Sunday PlayBroadcast: Sunday 8th November 1992 @ 7:30 p.m.Blurb. The evils of greed and ambition overwhelm love, innocence, and the bonds of kinship in this dark tragedy concerning the secret marriage of a noblewoman and a commoner. John Webster's great Jacobean drama detailing the fiendish schemes of two brothers who desire their wealthy sister's title and estates ends with a bloody and horrifying climax."The Duchess of Malfi" is a meditation on power--political, religious, and sexual--and presents a bleak, violent, and fascinating world couched in some of the most beautiful language ever put on the stage. The Duchess of Malfi's description of a world bereft of moral values on its highest levels fascinates and scandalises us to this day.A macabre, tragic play, John Webster's "The Duchess of Malfi" was written in 1612–13. It was first performed privately at the Blackfriars Theatre, then before a more general audience at The Globe, in 1613-14. Published for the first time in 1623, the play is loosely based on true events that occurred between about 1508 and 1513, recounted in William Painter's The Palace of Pleasure (1567). The Duchess was Giovanna d'Aragona, whose father, Arrigo d'Aragona, Marquis of Gerace, was an illegitimate son of Ferdinand I of Naples. Her husbands were Alfonso Piccolomini, Duke of Amalfi, and (as in the play) Antonio Bologna.Fiona Shaw ............................... The Duchess of MalfiRoger Allam .................... Daniel de Bosola, a MalcontentAdrian Dunbar ..................... Ferdinand, Duke of CalabriaJohn Shrapnel ............... The Cardinal, Ferdinand's BrotherPatrick Brennan ....... Antonio Bologna, Steward to the DuchessSimon Harris .......................... Delio, Antonio's FriendHelen Griffin ................. Julia, Mistress to the CardinalJohn Webb ............................. Castruchio, an Old LordManon Edwards ............ Cariola, the Duchess of Malfi's MaidPeter Gunn .................. Roderigo, Lord attending the DukeRobert David .................. Silvio, Lord attending the DukeLawmary Champion ................................. The Old LadyThe music was composed by Tim RileyPerformed by Vicki Higginson, James Mainwaring, and Lynn PlowmanRecorded on location at Llancaiach Fawr Manor House, Wales.Directed by Alison HindellRe-broadcast on Sunday 2nd April 1995 @ 7:30 p.m.Duration: 2 hr. 26 min. 49 sec. (Stereo)

  • Vasha7
    2019-02-28 11:47

    I read this in high school, reread it recently, and finally appreciated just why it was truly radical in its day. It scathingly questions convention, morality, and hypocrisy. Clearly, Webster suggests that the title character is the only person in the play who didn't do anything wrong, even though other characters think she is a bad woman for marrying for love (below her station), and actually proposing marriage to the man she wants. Compare this with the treachery, venality, and violence of the rest of the court, including the protagonist Bosola. What an antihero -- a murderer-for-hire as protagonist?? It would take a skillful actor to keep the audience interested in, if not sympathetic to, this character; walking the line between appreciating his blunt cynicism, but frustrated at his refusal to refrain from doing things he claims to abhor -- he says he has no choice, but that isn't always believable. Anyway, good fodder for discussion.

  • Imogen Kathleen
    2019-02-27 10:58

    I know that it's not fair, but I can't help but compare Webster to Shakespeare... and Webster loses badly.Overall, this was an interesting read and certainly a book that I enjoyed looking at from an academic perspective. However, it wasn't at all fun to read (honestly it was just death and gloom and death and gloom on a cycle) and didn't hold the effortlessly clever nature of Shakespeare's works. Would recommend only to those with an interest in actually studying the play as opposed to reading it for enjoyment; those looking only for pleasure would probably prefer watching it acted out.

  • Ilana C. Myer
    2019-03-15 14:13

    I reread this recently, and have been thinking about it ever since. It has the kind of psychological complexity that sneaks up on you--in some ways, more subtle than Shakespeare. The character of Bosola is mercurial, impossible to pin down. The brothers are each monsters in their own ways--but the incestuous desires of one of them, dark and suppressed, are never articulated. That suppression is what makes him a monster.This work, more than most, brings to mind for me what Freud once said--that all his ideas were already to be found in literature.

  • Manu
    2019-03-05 19:15

    A revenge play, tragic and emotional, showing how good people can suffer but evil can not prevail too.Duchess is widow, young and beautiful abandoned from marriage by her brothers. She marries her steward and murdered with husband and children, first herself, then children and in the end her husband. But her brothers were also killed by the villain, whom they choose to do all the evils.All over tragedy and reality.To be read only for text books, as one can not enjoy such things as tragedy that much.

  • Shibam Karmakar
    2019-03-21 16:06

    If Elizabethan Tragedy was marked by exhilaration ; Jacobean tragedy was marked by decadence. 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. As a revenge tragedy, though less action oriented than The Spanish Tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi forms a class by itself. (full review will follow)..

  • teavious
    2019-03-16 17:00

    I am Duchess of Malfi still.

  • Roya
    2019-03-19 10:47

    ـامشب هوا بسیارطوفانی است.ـهیچ نبود جز مهربانی شیطانکه کودک خویش را در گهواره تکان می داد.

  • Esdaile
    2019-02-24 16:47

    Webster's language is quite remarkable. All critics, so far as I am aware, feel obliged to comment on the "horror" of Webster's plays but they ignore the obvious humour of his grotesque extravagence. I have a problem with this "horror" as I do with the "horror" of Bosch's paintings. Wasn't the real world of the time more full of horror? Disease, war and torture were far more horrible that Webster or Bosch's portrayals of the same. Webster seemed to have very little notion of religion and none of salvation. His rich imagery is of a kind completely different to Shakespeare and there is nothing anywhere quite like it."He and his brother are like plum trees, that grow crookedover standing pools, they are rich, and o'erladen with fruit,but none but crows, pies, and caterpillars feed on them."What an unforgettable description of the corruption of power and lobbies. Strangely, critics usually ignore or miss the humour. TS Eliot said nothing about Webster's humour but he writes not only Gothic revenge tragedy but at the same time, slapstick, albeit a dark slapstick. The play abounds in bawdy humour with references to "apricocks, the first our Spring yields" and a pistol concealed in a great codpiece. Don't lets take Webster too seriously!This play demonstrates a confrontation between an "innocent" middle class life and the cruel and corrupt yet magnificent world of late Medieval Roman Catholic Europe, especially Spain, a conflict of the natural and the contrived. If Webster had had psychological insight his malcontent Bosola could have become a fascinating character but even as he is portrayed in his perversity, he has the traits of the cruel servant who could have been good if fortune had treated him differently but,"We are merely the stars' tennis balls, struck and banded which way please them".It is not for intelligence and insight that anyone performs or reads Webster -his intelligence and insight has a way of parading itself as greater than it is- but for the richness and unforgettable strength, sometimes in perversity, of his poetic language. "The Duchess of Malfi" works better than the "The White Devil" because the plot is not so diffuse but both of them abound with startling images. The cardinal finds a guilty conscience "tedious" (just the right word to describe a guilty conscience for someone who is not fundamentally virtuous but fundamentally vicious) and "When I look into the fish-ponds in my garden,. Methinks I see a thing arm'd with a rake,. That seems to strike at me." That is a superb admixture of gloom and hilarity. 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? Murky fun all this. To be read with good friends out loud and recorded -with candles and wine in a gloomy old room.

  • June Louise
    2019-03-25 13:10

    "We are merely the stars' tennis balls, struck and bandied Which way please them". Hmmmm. This is an interesting play, and I have to admit, not my favourite. I have to study The Duchess as part of my Uni English course, and having read Othello immediately before it, I'm afraid I prefer the latter.I'm not sure what it is about old-fashioned playwrights, but in both Othello and Duchess, women seem to die twice. In Othello, Desdemona miraculously survives a smothering, only to say a few words and die gracefully moments later. In DOM, the Duchess does similar - amazingly surviving strangulation enough to ask about her husband, before doing the dying dramatically thing. Hmmmm.The themes of this play seem to be mainly class and marriage, the status of women in society, and even - dare I say it - an undertone of incest. Shocking!On the whole this play is about the Duchess's brothers (The Cardinal and Ferdinand, the Duke) who insist that the Duchess (who is a rich widow) must not, under any circumstances, marry again. Their reasons for this is that when she dies, they will inherit the extensive dowry she acquired in her marriage. The problem is that the Duchess is betrothed, and in fact, gets married in secret, to her Master of the Household, Antonio. What makes matters worse is that she rapidly becomes pregnant - and in this condition she is spotted by Bosola, an ex-convict who has been employed by the Duchess's brothers to spy on her.Well, all calamity strikes when the brothers get to hear of this (but as yet they are unaware of who the Duchess is married to), plots are hatched, people are murdered, one person even goes so mad that they believe they are a wolf. The play ends among a mass of carnage with two survivors who will carry the Duchess's legacy on into the next generation. "I account this world a tedious theatre, for I do play a part in't 'gainst my will".

  • Leslie
    2019-02-26 11:58

    The play itself deserves a higher rating but this free Kindle edition from Amazon was annoying in its formatting so I downgraded the rating. I have been curious about this play ever since I first read Agatha Christie's Sleeping Murder as a teenager. I knew very little about it other than what I gleaned from that reference... It is a tragedy very much in the style of Shakespeare's great tragedies, which is not surprising since Webster & Shakespeare were contemporaries, but without the 'comic relief' (a relief to me as I generally hate that part of Shakespeare!). I do have some questions about some of the motivations in the play especially one crucial point -- why do Ferdinand and his brother the Cardinal want to prevent their sister from marrying again (she is a young widow)?? It can't really be for inheritance because she has a son from her first marriage (though he never appears). Everything that happens stems from this one point.I also watched the 1972 performance on YouTube -- as is generally true, plays are better when seen than when read.

  • Amy
    2019-03-17 13:54

    The Duchess of Malfi was one of the texts I read for AS English Literature, and I loved it.The plot is slightly crazy; with The Duchess' husband having just died and her brothers the Cardinal and Ferdinand both petitioning her to re-marry a certain type of man. However, the Duchess is in love with Antonio, one her servants. Ferdinand, the Duchess' twin (who has some *complicated* feelings towards his sister) hires Bosola to spy on the Duchess; and he discovers that not only has the Duchess secretly married Antonio and is pregnant by him.As it is a Jacobean tragedy, all manner of crazy things happen, and invariably most of the leading characters end up dead, or crazy.I loved the Duchess as a character; it was such a surprise to read such a strong female character created by Webster during the Jacobean era. She is maybe one of my favourite characters that I have come across in English Lit classes.

  • Alice Payne
    2019-03-02 15:06

    WhilstThe Duchess of Malfiisn'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.The Duchess of Malfiis one of the very first tragedies that places a woman at the forefront of the play. Usually, a tragedy focused on a male character because it was generally thought in the seventeenth century, that only men could be heroic ie. Hamlet. Likewise,The Duchess of Malfioffers a range of women that challenge female stereotypes. In fact, the heroine, the Duchess, does not conform to any stereotypes attributed to her and she refuses to be idealised by the male characters within the play. The Duchess is not silent or obedient, she has power and she shows her strength right up until the end of the play. It is a wonderful play and a refreshing change from male-dominated tragedies.

  • John Burns
    2019-03-08 15:10

    It's a shame that one can't help but compare Webster to his near contemporary Bill Shakespeare. The all time great literary genius is a pretty tough person to have to be compared to. Webster seems very one dimensional by comparison. Shakespeare can dance effortlessly across so many different philosophies, emotions, perspectives etc and express each one, no matter how conflicting, with conviction and empathy. Webster's characters don't feel real, just cardboard puppets designed to express his scathing, brutal worldview. He lacks shakespeare's emotional dexterity and just ends up dressing his own limited agenda.I guess some people might like this sort of thing... Only really recommended for theatre nerds.

  • Melissa
    2019-03-15 18:01

    I don't really have much of an opinion on this other than what my textbooks and cliff notes have told me to think. It wasn't dreadful or bad in the least but I won't be reading it again. I feel like three stars is an educated rating for something like this due mainly to my indifference. But I'm well aware its mainly because I'm not a fan of reading plays, I much prefer to watch them be performed than have to analyse different ways the text can be performed. (Ian McKellen is in everything, isn't he?)But this was an educational read and it was okay to analyse and I didn't want to burn my copy afterwards which is always a bonus. I'd recommend watching the play than reading it if you can get away with it.

  • Adam Floridia
    2019-02-23 19:13

    Reading this really made me appreciate Shakespeare's plays that much more. This is one of the only other Elizabethan (or, technically Jacobean) plays I've read not by The Bard, and it is not nearly as good. Although there are a few interesting characters, I don't think they are developed quite enough. Julia, for example, comes in and out at the most random times simply to move the plot along. Also, Webster clearly preceded the neoclassical stress on unity of time. At times, this actually read like it was supposed to be a parody of a bad play. When Bosola is questioned about another character's death, he replies "I know not how/Such a mistake as I have often seen/In a play" (V 92-4).

  • Kristine
    2019-03-02 11:11

    The characters in the play are really well fleshed out! Up to now I'm still uncertain of who Bosola really was - a despicable villain? A villain with a change of heart? Just someone who got caught up in the puzzles life throws? All in all, it really depicts human nature and the intricacies of human existence. The language too is spot-on brilliant. Just to leave y'all with Ferdinand's dying words (he's finally sane then):"Whether we fall by ambition, blood or lust / Like diamonds we are cut with our own dust."You've been warned then. Everything you do has a consequence ;)

  • Paul Dinger
    2019-02-26 11:09

    It is lot more depraved that the White Devil and much less successful. It is one of those rare Jacobian tragedies where the women aren't the worst things ever. It works because of the title character who makes you believe why she would do something like marry beneath her station. Then literally all hell breaks loose, and we do mean hell. Her killer ironically becomes her avenger as depravity rules the stage. Why Webster is rarely staged amazes me, he would fit in with our modern films.

  • Caleb Liu
    2019-03-03 16:04

    This, along with King Lear and Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's tale constituted one of papers for English Literature at 'A' level. Webster was a contemporary (many would say a lesser one) of Shakespeare and this is your typical Elizabethen tragedy with the oddity that the main protagonist is female. [Please write an essay on the following: To what degree can the Duchess be seen to be the arbiter of her own destiny?]. Overall, it was good fun, with your usual malconents, blood, gore and revenge.