The main character, the Duchess, is shown to contravene gender roles in this play. She is shown to be a strong and wilful woman who acts independently of societal and familial expectations. Women of that time were expected to be submissive and dutiful to men, particularly in such an important business as marriage. Instead, the Duchess marries a man entirely of her own choice and one of lower social standing, an act which appears unforgivable in the eyes of her brothers. They set out to punish her for transgessing gender roles and thus let loose an orgy of destruction which envelops themselves also.