The Dutchess Of Malfi

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade November 2001

download word file, 4 pages 0.0 1 reviews

Downloaded 1496 times

Because ¡§The Duchess of Malfi¡¨ is highly recommended by teacher, I started to read a few pages of it. It starts with conversations filled with easy and merry atmosphere. Everything seems so peaceful. When I heard the first clips of the three works, I find ¡§The Duchess of Malfi¡¨ interests me more because of the attractive background music and dramatic expression of voices. Therefore, I chose ¡§The Duchess of Malfi¡¨ as the work of my report.

¡§The Duchess of Malfi¡¨ may be plainly regarded as a tragedy of the Duchess. It also may be viewed as a love story of the Duchess and Antonio with a tragic ending. However, when looking deeper into the play and the characters themselves, I consider this play a good one which brings me more complicated ideas and vivid pictures. I wand to divide my report into two main parts.

In the first party, I want to discuss the play and the text in which it develops. In the second part, I want to say more my opinion of the characters who impress me most.

The story seems a simple one. The Duchess¡¦ husband died, which renders her a widow. Wanting to protect the fame of the family, his brothers, Ferdinand and Cardinal, ask her not to marry again. After all, a Duke¡¦s family is powerful locally and they have to sustain their fame. However, the Duchess still falls in love with her steward, Antonio and they have three children. Bosola is hired by her brother, Ferdinand, to keep her under surveillance, making sure that she would not remarry. Of course, her brothers know that the Duchess is not being chaste with Bosola¡¦s divulging the secret information. Ferdinand gives the order to kill Antonio and coop the Duchess up. The Duchess makes a plan to let Antonio flee away with their eldest child. Duchess is at last strangled. So are her maid and her two younger children. Ferdinand is regretful for what he has commanded that her sister be strangled and goes mad. Cardinal wants to hire Bosola to kill Antonio but he doesn¡¦t know that Bosola wants to save Antonio¡¦s life and cooperate with Antonio to punish the Dukes. However, Antonio is still mistakenly killed by Bosola. In great regret and grief, Bosola kills Cardinal, Ferdinand and in the end himself.

First, the Duchess¡¦ chastity is worthy of notice. In her contemporary time, a woman¡¦s chastity should be very important. In her family, her chastity is concerned with the family reputation. His brother, Ferdinand, is in great anger because in his opinion, the lost reputation can never be back. Indeed, it is not fair for the Duchess. Because of the restraints, she can not choose what she wants. She has no freedom to choose. Even though between the Duchess and Antonio is their true love, they can not marry. At that time, an unchaste woman has to be punished. What¡¦s ironic is that her brother, Cardinal, also has extramarital affairs with a hussy, Julia. Julia even lures Bosola in the later part of the story. It is she that should be punished because of being unchaste. However, she dies only because she knows the secret of Cardinal. The Duchess is pitiable that she is not allowed to love the one she loves. A person should have the right to own free will. Being able to live with the person we really love is more reasonable. Our own destiny should not be decided by others.

Next, what I remark is plenty of regret and remorse. Ferninand feel regret for his order of killing his sister and Bosola feel guilty after he kills so many people. In my opinion, regret is the most stupid thing in the world. Without a second thought, people sometimes do the things or make decisions which make them feel regret. Ferninand does not judge well the importance of blood relation and family reputation. He could not tell which is more important. At first, he is giddy-headed with his great anger and on impulse he orders Bosola to kill his sister. After he sees his sister¡¦s body, he feels sorrow and remorse. He wishes Bosola had not killed her. When it comes to Bosola, he also feels regret to kill the Duchess. Therefore, when he is ordered to kill Antonio, he refuses the order in his mind. On the one hand, he hadn¡¦t thought he could not get paid anything after he kills the Duchess. His greed results in his hatred toward the ¡§ungrateful¡¨ Dukes. On the other hand, maybe committing so many killings fills his heart with a sense of guilt. These tragedies could have been avoided if they had a clear mind and thorough consideration.

At the first glance of this work, I never regarded Bosola as one important character in this play. I thought he was only an unruly lackey whose eyes only can see money. John Webster arranges him as the main man-killer in this play. All the tragedies the Duke¡¦s family suffers are ¡§done¡¨ by him. The most crafty spy in this play, he uses his wit to cheat the Duchess. Money covers his mind. Bosola can be seen as a money-operated puppet in the former part of this story. At last, although his conscience starts to work, ironically, he still kills four more people, including he himself. He is guilty of the most heinous crimes. However, he is the most indispensable character of composing this great tragedy.

The Duchess of Malfi is a brave woman. She courageously chooses her love. When she faces her death, she dies a martyr's death, proclaiming her sacrifice for freedom to choose. She has her dignity. Before her death, she says ¡§I am Duchess of Malfi still.¡¨ This line indeed impresses me much. She does not deny her own existence as a Duchess. Despite his brothers¡¦ blame and Bosola¡¦s disrespect, she still has her pride. This makes her death greater than any other characters¡¦ death.