When John Webster sat down to write The Duchess of Malfi, he had several goals in mind. He was a professional playwright, trying to earn a living and support a large family by writing plays that people would pay to see. To achieve that goal, he needed a fascinating story with enough intrigue and violence to appeal to his audience. He wanted, as all artists do, to earn a reputation for quality. Although he was writing plays to be performed on the London stage during his lifetime (he never could have dreamed that five hundred...
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