How does Antonio accuse Cariola of betraying him and the Duchess?

Antonio accuses Cariola of betrayal when he believes her to have let Ferdinand into the duchess's chambers. Ferdinand enters the duchess's chambers presumably without permission, and he does not even announce himself prior to entering. As a result, Antonio's first inclination is to think that Cariola somehow gave access to Ferdinand. The audience later learns that she is innocent and that Ferdinand was given access through the gallery.

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Antonio's accusation of betrayal toward Cariola can be found in act 3, scene 2 of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfiwhen the duchess is getting ready for bed.

Her love, Antonio, who has a sense of humor, tells Cariola, the duchess's loyal servant, to step outside the chambers...

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Antonio's accusation of betrayal toward Cariola can be found in act 3, scene 2 of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi when the duchess is getting ready for bed.

Her love, Antonio, who has a sense of humor, tells Cariola, the duchess's loyal servant, to step outside the chambers and leave the duchess talking to herself. Antonio finds humor in this idea, and he wants to play a prank to the duchess, so to speak.

However, within that time period, her twin brother and nemesis, Ferdinand, enters the bedchamber, presumably without permission or announcement. In customary manner, he terrorizes, insults, and belittles the duchess; and, to add more insult, he gives her a knife in hopes that she will kill herself, since, in his opinion, she has tarnished her reputation.

When Antonio gets back to the bedchamber, carrying a pistol and in the company of Cariola, his first inkling is that Cariola let Ferdinand inside:

ANTONIO: Yes, we are
Betray'd. How came he hither? I should turn
This to thee, for that. [turns pistol on Cariola]


CARIOLA: Pray, sir, do; and when
That you have cleft my heart, you shall read there
Mine innocence.

We later find out that "the gallery" gave entry to Ferdinand and that Cariola is innocent.

However, here is the importance of this scene: it basically shows that both the duchess and Cariola, regardless of their status as a duchess and her loyal subject, respectively, are entirely vulnerable to the whims and actions of the men who surround them. The duchess was no safer from the rage of a powerful man than Cariola was from the accusations of Antonio. Both women seem to exist in a world where they have very little control of their safety and security. This makes this scene frightening and frustrating to the modern reader.

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