The Duchess of Malfi Essay

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The principal characters and their roles We follow after bubbles, blown in th'air. Pleasure of life, what is't? Only the good hours of an ague The Jacobean age was one of questioning and uncertainty about many issues, such as religion, politics and law. At the same time it was rediscovering the potency of Classical texts of Rome and Greece, and reinterpreting tragic form to suit its own ends. The Duchess of Malfi is a revenge tragedy, but Webster has used the form for much more than just its entertainment value; he has used it as a vehicle for the exploration of some themes relevant to the society of his time. Webster based his plot on a true story set in Italy, and kept the Italian setting because like Shakespeare and other…show more content…
He is a good man, but has been no match for the situation in which Webster placed him. Antonio is introduced into the play as an outsider to Amalfi, returning home along with his confidant Delio. Delio can be perceived as a more intelligent character than Antonio; almost the 'counsellors counsellor', and more down-to-earth than his friend. Their dialogue serves to introduce the audience to the theme of how a well-governed court could be run, which will contrast dramatically to the corrupt Antonio will find at Amalfi. At the court they encounter Bosola, the malcontent, who later likens the virtuous Antonio to a 'cedar planted by a spring', an image which contrasts to Bolola's view of the Aragon brothers (The Duchess's brothers: The Cardinal and Ferdinand) as, plum trees, that grow crooked [Act 1, Scene i] Being of lower social status, Antonio is perhaps an unlikely match for the scheming Duchess, and being an honest man he is uncomfortable with the plotting and deceit in which he becomes involved. Antonio is considered to be equal to the Duchess in that he has acquired the level of education necessary to be a counsellor; he has gained status, in terms of the Renaissance humanist tradition, by absorbing scholarship in order to improve himself, but as he well knows himself, he can never equal The Duchess in blood. His predicament shows that as well as creating him as a character in his own right, Webster is using him as a
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