Breakfast illustration of bacon, eggs, and coffee with the silhouetted images of the Duchess' evil brothers, one on each side

The Duchess of Malfi

by John Webster

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"Cover Her Face; Mine Eyes Dazzle; She Died Young"

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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 179

Context: The young and beautiful Duchess of Malfi, a widow, has been summarily warned against a second marriage by her villainous brothers, the Cardinal and Ferdinand. She, however, falls in love with the virtuous Antonio, steward of her household, and he with her. The two secretly marry. In due time Bosola, a spy the Cardinal and Ferdinand have placed in her household, discovers the Duchess's and Antonio's secret and informs the brothers that she has had a child, which they for a time believe to be illegitimate. Before they actually discover that she has married, she has had two more children. Finally, however, Ferdinand enters her room when Antonio is present and learns the truth. He has her imprisoned and then murdered. For a moment, as he looks at her dead face, he is conscience-stricken. The dialogue of the play at this point follows:

Do you not weep?
Other sins only speak: murder shrieks out;
The element of water moistens the earth,
But blood flies upward, and bedews the heavens.
Cover her face; mine eyes dazzle; she died young.

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