The Duchess of Malfi Questions and Answers

The Duchess of Malfi

Bosola is a somewhat Machiavellian character, used by Duke Ferdinand to spy on the Duchess of Malfi. Though ostensibly her stable manager, he is there to keep tabs on her movements at the behest of...

Latest answer posted March 22, 2021, 11:12 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

Gender is one of the most prominent themes that both provides the basic premise and structures the action of The Duchess of Malfi. First, the protagonist is female, which was unusual in Jacobean...

Latest answer posted October 11, 2018, 10:33 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

The Duchess of Malfi

The play Duchess of Malfi is named after the character and real life historical tragic figure of Duchess of Malfi who was the regent of the southern Italian town of Amalfi between 1498 and 1510....

Latest answer posted September 23, 2018, 9:43 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

John Webster’s play The Duchess of Malfi is historically significant for a number of different reasons, including the following: It exemplifies the emergence of Webster as an important successor to...

Latest answer posted October 10, 2011, 9:15 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

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...

Latest answer posted May 22, 2021, 2:33 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Duchess of Malfi

In act 1, scene 3 of John Webster's Jacobean revenge tragedy The Duchess of Malfi, the widowed Duchess defies her unstable twin brother, Ferdinand, the Duke of Calabria—who threatens her with their...

Latest answer posted June 18, 2020, 8:42 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

Julia is presented by Webster as very much the foil to the Duchess. Whereas the Duchess is given to us as a respectable aristocratic lady of the utmost refinement and constancy, Julia is portrayed...

Latest answer posted January 15, 2019, 8:25 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

Ferdinand says this is act 4, scene 2. Bosola, on Ferdinand's orders, has the duchess killed. He then takes Ferdinand in to see his sister's corpse. Ferdinand has been unmoved by the corpses of the...

Latest answer posted May 11, 2021, 11:31 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

In act 4, scene 2, imprisoned by Ferdinand, the Duchess of Malfi is first forced to watch madmen who are sent to her to howl and perform. Then Bosola comes and states that death is not such a...

Latest answer posted May 10, 2021, 12:43 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

Class and patriarchal privilege: Both Ferdinand and the cardinal are angered and affronted that anyone but high-born, highly privileged white males like themselves should have anything at all. They...

Latest answer posted May 10, 2021, 11:56 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The word decadence tends to denote a sense of decline or decay, specifically in regard to moral standards. Critics of The Duchess of Malfi often characterize it as a decadent play due to the...

Latest answer posted May 13, 2021, 1:27 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

In Aristotle's definition of the tragic hero, such a person must be highborn, have a fatal flaw, and engage the "pity," or sympathy, of audience members, who side with her and feel sorrow in her...

Latest answer posted May 10, 2021, 2:02 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

Julia is the aging courtier Castruccio's wife and the Cardinal's mistress. Her character is more or less one-dimensional. It is summed up at the end when Bosola calls her the "lustful" Julia. Julia...

Latest answer posted May 13, 2021, 11:59 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

Madness can be a useful device in literature: by abandoning the constraints of sanity and rationality, a character can explore grey areas which are not available to the sane. Elizabethan and...

Latest answer posted October 19, 2019, 4:30 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

This is during Act 5, Scene 5 of the play. At the beginning of the scene, the Cardinal is pondering the nature of hell when Bosola enters, along with a servant carrying Antonio's body. Bosola tells...

Latest answer posted January 27, 2018, 12:09 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

Bosola has the Duchess eat the apricots to confirm his suspicions that she is pregnant. Her pregnancy is confirmed when she throws up and goes into labor. It's suggested that they should say the...

Latest answer posted October 23, 2007, 6:05 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The play ends with the death of the Duchess's brothers, who had vied to take her fortune for themselves throughout the entire play. The brothers, having killed the Duchess and her daughters, get...

Latest answer posted November 15, 2019, 4:54 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

Bosola is a hired killer and spy, a man who did prison time for murder before being hired as an "intelligencer" (spy) by Ferdinand to infiltrate the duchess's household. What tempts him to take the...

Latest answer posted May 11, 2021, 12:00 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

One of the things that separates Ferdinand from his equally wicked brother, the Cardinal, is his inconsolable grief at the Duchess's death. Whereas the Cardinal expresses not the slightest...

Latest answer posted November 17, 2019, 9:55 am (UTC)

2 educator answers

The Duchess of Malfi

A revenge tragedy, made popular in Elizabethan and Jacobean Britain, typically tells the story of a protagonist seeking revenge against the murderous actions of an antagonist. Shakespeare's Hamlet...

Latest answer posted September 27, 2018, 10:59 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The Duchess of Malfi, a play written by John Webster, was first performed around 1613 and first printed in 1623. To briefly summarize, the Duchess of Malfi is a young widow who falls in love with...

Latest answer posted October 22, 2018, 10:25 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

After seeing his dead sister, Ferdinand is filled with grief and blames Bosola for her death, although he is the one who ordered Bosola to murder her. Bosola wants a reward; Ferdinand offers him...

Latest answer posted July 4, 2021, 1:20 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The nature of power in men like Cardinal and Ferdinand is physical, coercive, and assertive with all the manifest derivatives of control, manipulation, pressure, and authority. In The Duchess of...

Latest answer posted September 1, 2015, 7:42 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The Duchess of Malfi is set in Italy for several reasons. First, Webster based it on real events in Italian history. He would have been familiar with William Painter's compilation of French and...

Latest answer posted May 12, 2021, 12:24 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The Duchess of Malfi is set in early 16th century Italy and demonstrates the particularly challenging societal structures which limited the voice of women during this era. Within this historical...

Latest answer posted April 10, 2022, 11:18 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

In John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, Bosola is a somewhat ambiguous character who has no problem committing great evil with an extreme ruthlessness yet is also strangely drawn toward good by the...

Latest answer posted January 1, 2022, 8:50 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Duchess of Malfi

As you’re likely aware from having read or seen the play yourself, the Duchess of Malfi faces many hardships. Her sufferings don’t end until she is strangled to death by executioners in her own...

Latest answer posted August 20, 2020, 1:10 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The basic plot and characters of these two plays, The Duchess of Malfi and Othello, are quite dissimilar. If I had to pick one play of Shakespeare closest in technique and theme to Webster's...

Latest answer posted January 25, 2020, 6:52 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The difference between blank verse and prose lies in the rhythm, but it can certainly be more difficult to identify the difference between the two in the works of early modern writers other than...

Latest answer posted January 3, 2020, 8:42 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

The Duchess of Malfi

Bosola begins to suspect that the Duchess is pregnant when he notices that she is wearing loose dresses (which are not the fashion of the time). She has also been rather ill, which suggests morning...

Latest answer posted May 11, 2021, 1:08 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Duchess of Malfi

Webster's The Duchess of Malfi is a pretty accurate reflection of the society in which it was written. It presents us with a rigidly patriarchal society in which women are under the firm control of...

Latest answer posted April 20, 2021, 10:37 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The main similarity between The Duchess of Malfi and Macbeth is that they are both very bloody plays that deal with the catastrophic consequences of ambition. Macbeth comes to grief due to his...

Latest answer posted November 24, 2021, 9:35 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The Jacobean era lasted the duration of the reign of King James I from 1603 until 1625. Like the Elizabethan period before it, this era produced great drama, especially tragedies. Greater amounts...

Latest answer posted February 25, 2022, 11:42 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

Most of the play is written in blank verse and doesn't rhyme; but at times of heightened intensity, both the duchess and Bosola speak in rhyming verse. The duchess speaks in rhyming verse at the...

Latest answer posted May 15, 2021, 10:18 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

All three of these works portray individuals victimized by social injustices and prejudices, though it must be noted that Othello and The Duchess of Malfi, being tragedies, do this quite...

Latest answer posted April 18, 2021, 11:18 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

Bosola is a spy and so used to playing a part. When he comes to arrest the Duchess, with a troop of masked horsemen, that's effectively what he's doing. Earlier in the scene, when he brought...

Latest answer posted December 1, 2017, 8:17 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The Duchess of Malfi portrays its titular heroine as a strong-willed, dignified, and courageous woman. Compared to her brothers Ferdinand and the Cardinal, she is an authority figure with integrity...

Latest answer posted June 14, 2020, 12:15 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Duchess of Malfi

Webster, like Shakespeare and other Elizabethan dramatists, uses Italy as a dramatic setting as it allows him to explore sensitive domestic political themes. In that sense, The Duchess of Malfi can...

Latest answer posted January 30, 2018, 8:41 am (UTC)

2 educator answers

The Duchess of Malfi

In the first case, when Bosola tries to capture the Duchess, he's wearing a mask. This is a sign that he's simply carrying out Ferdinand's orders. He personally has come to admire the Duchess for...

Latest answer posted December 8, 2017, 2:00 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Duchess of Malfi

In The Duchess of Malfi, the audience has no misconceptions about Bosola, the malcontent, released from prison despite his part in a vicious murder. Bosola is not happy with his status in life and...

Latest answer posted June 30, 2014, 10:37 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The cardinal, a cold-blooded person, wants to be rid of Julia, his mistress and the wife of another man, because he has grown tired of her. He says would be "quit," or rid, of her "by any means."...

Latest answer posted May 10, 2021, 1:32 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Duchess of Malfi

The Duchess of Malfi contains elements of the revenge drama, a popular form in 17th century because audiences enjoyed the onstage violence and bloodshed. However, it also veers from the classical...

Latest answer posted August 7, 2016, 11:47 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers

The Duchess of Malfi

This Renaissance play paints the aristocracy is a mostly negative light. The brothers of the Duchess are jealous, hypocritical and vindicative. The Cardinal, supposedly a man of God, not only has...

Latest answer posted December 23, 2007, 11:30 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

In act I, scene 1, the Cardinal describes Antonio as very honest. The Cardinal tells Ferdinand that Antonio is "too honest." The Cardinal, the duchess's brother, is an evil and ruthless person, but...

Latest answer posted August 27, 2019, 3:14 pm (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

An important example of the intersection between the personal and the political occurs at the conclusion of the play. Antonio, the Cardinal, the Duke and Bosola lie in "this great ruin," with...

Latest answer posted July 26, 2016, 7:21 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

Revenge tragedies were a popular theatrical genre in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. These plays focus on a character who experiences a great wrong, such as the murder of a family...

Latest answer posted May 12, 2021, 1:07 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Duchess of Malfi

Act 3, scene 2 of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi shows the duchess being inconveniently visited by her brother and nemesis Ferdinand. Ferdinand is angry because rumors have reached him that...

Latest answer posted May 22, 2021, 3:11 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Duchess of Malfi

Webster's source for The Duchess of Malfi is the real-life story of the Duchess of Amalfi, a woman named Giovanna. This real duchess was the daughter of the King of Naples's half-brother and was...

Latest answer posted May 11, 2021, 12:46 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Duchess of Malfi

One might argue that in John Webster's play The Duchess of Malfi, the Duchess defeats her brothers in the end; but one might also argue that no one really wins. Let's look at both perspectives. The...

Latest answer posted December 9, 2021, 2:02 am (UTC)

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The Duchess of Malfi

The claim that there is no poet morally nobler than John Webster is impossible to prove, for that would require the person making the claim to analyze the morality of every other poet and then show...

Latest answer posted September 20, 2021, 3:19 pm (UTC)

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