Duchess Of Malfi As A Revenge Tragedy Analysis

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Sr. Deena David
Webster’s Duchess of Malfi as a Revenge Tragedy
A revenge tragedy is one in which the tragedy is brought about by the pursuit and accomplishment of revenge. In other words, its blood asking for blood. The revenge tragedy was very popular during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, and it owned its popularity largely to the influence of Seneca, the ancient Roman dramatist. Revenge tragedy is different from other tragedies in the sense that the whole part of the tragedy will be based on revenge. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, though Macduff kills Macbeth to avenge the killing of his family, the play can’t be called a revenge tragedy as Macbeth himself is responsible for his own tragic end. The Duchess of Malfi by the English dramatist John
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There is no ghost but the echo from the Duchess’ tomb fulfils one of the functions of the ghost of revenge tragedy. The voice warns a doomed man of his danger and, at the same time, reveals the unknown fact of its own death. The play is sometimes ridiculed by modern critics for the excessive violence and horror. The severed hands of dead Antonio, the wax figures of the Duchess’ children, dance of the mad men, the appearance of the tomb maker, and the executioner with all the apparatus of death bring in the elements of horror in the play. In a typical revenge play, the protagonist directs his revenge towards an unjust action, but the vengeance is followed by a series of retributions, which ultimately lead to the death of many characters. The Duchess, Anotonio, Cardinal, Ferdinand, Julia, Bosola etc are all murdered for revenge. Though it begins as a love story it ends as a dreadful tragedy. The violence and the horror scenes give it the touch it needs to be a revenge tragedy. Though all the main characters are dead order is restored at the end. The Antonio’s eldest son is raised to the throne giving a sign of hope to the spectators after all the
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