Essay on The Duchess As a Very Remarkable Woman in a Man's World

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The Duchess As a Very Remarkable Woman in a Man's World The Duchess is clearly the central figure in the play and manages to dominate proceedings, despite the untouchable power of her brothers and the firmly established patriarchal system in early-16th century Italy. She displays many admirably qualities, although her courageous strength and passion could be perceived as threatening in a male-dominated society. The Duchess is the sole female figure with any sort of power and respect in Webster's play. This is unusual firstly, because he based The Duchess Of Malfi on a version by William Painter in which the Duchess was portrayed as too lusty in a sternly moralistic fashion honourable as opposed to…show more content…
The Duchess is a kind, grounded optimist, not a hardened realist who is cold and distant to emotions such as passion and love. She clearly cares very much about Antonio as is shown by their coyly shy and flirty courting ritual and the way she takes the impetus daringly risking herself by offering him her wedding ring - "I did vow never to part with it / But to my second husband." Again, this highlights how adept she is at coping in a world primarily controlled by men - as a high-ranking Duchess, it is she who must make the proposition. Similarly, notice how it is the Duchess, not Antonio, who later makes the plans for their escape. The Duchess is a very human figure who the audience can relate to much more easily than to the insecure megalomaniac Ferdinand or the cowardly Cardinal who carefully plots people's death. She evokes much sympathy with her emotional speech after offering her to Antonio with lines such as, "The misery of us, that are born great" and "This is flesh and blood, sir, 'tis not the figure cut in alabaster". However, she is a particularly tragic heroine because all the while she stretches out and desperately reaches for freedom from social constraints and her brothers' authority, she pulls death closer and

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