Women Beware Women Questions and Answers
by Thomas Middleton

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Describe character of Leontio’s mother in Women Beware Women.

Leantio’s mother is generally presented as a very unsympathetic character in Women Beware Women. She’s a foolish woman who makes the mistake of escorting Bianca to the palace, thereby inadvertently becoming an unwitting accomplice to her daughter-in-law’s seduction. She’s also very slow on the uptake and therefore is easily outwitted by the evil Livia.

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At first, Leantio’s mother appears quite sympathetic, certainly by comparison with her son. Leantio is an insanely jealous husband; so jealous, in fact, that he has his new wife Bianca locked up while he’s away. To him, Bianca’s nothing more than a very valuable piece of property to be locked away from covetous eyes.

While her son’s away, it’s the widow’s job to ensure that Bianca remains locked up. However, Leantio’s mother is soon tempted to release Bianca from her imprisonment and take her to the royal palace. What initially seems like an act of basic decency and humanity quickly degenerates into an act of supreme folly, as the widow becomes an unwitting accomplice in Bianca’s subsequent seduction and rape.

The problem is that Leantio’s mother is simply not bright enough to realize what’s going on. Both she and her daughter-in-law are pawns in a giant game of chess being played by the Duke of Florence and the unspeakable Livia. In fact, it’s while the widow is playing a literal game of chess with Livia that the Duke seizes his opportunity and seduces Bianca. Leantio has failed in her duty of care towards Bianca, not to mention showing herself incapable of discharging her responsibilities towards her absent son.

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