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Duchess of Malfi

ISBN-10: 0713667915
ISBN-13: 9780713667912
Edition: 4th 2001
List price: $14.95 Buy it from $1.23
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Description: One of the most haunting tragedies written in the Jacobean period, The Duchess of Malfi (1614) adapts the true story of a noble Italian widow who secretly marries her steward and has children with him. Her two brothers, enraged by this act of female  More...

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Book details

List price: $14.95
Edition: 4th
Copyright year: 2001
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 8/29/2003
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 192
Size: 5.00" wide x 7.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.484
Language: English

One of the most haunting tragedies written in the Jacobean period, The Duchess of Malfi (1614) adapts the true story of a noble Italian widow who secretly marries her steward and has children with him. Her two brothers, enraged by this act of female self-determination, begin to spy on the happy family, entrap them and subject their sister to fiendish psychological torture before they have her strangled. Unlike his sources, Webster does not condemn the Duchess for lasciviousness, nor does he allow her brothers to live. As the introduction to this edition shows, the play is replete with reverberations of earlier tragedies, most prominently Hamlet and Othello, and has few equals as a skilful and stirring rendition of Jacobean dramatic fashions.

Webster seems to have participated in many dramatic collaborations, but his undisputed work consists of only three plays: The White Devil (1612), The Duchess of Malfi (1614), and The Devil's Law Case (1623). His two great tragedies, The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi, are darkly poetic and brooding, especially in their sardonic villain-spokesmen, Flamineo and Bosola. As critic Robert Dent has shown, Webster plundered other authors for his laborious, jewel-like, sententious, and epigrammatic style, but the overall effect is one of a soaring and passionate poetry. Webster employs the full gamut of violent and sensational effects, especially in The Duchess of Malfi, to render a physical sense of horror. His plots are drawn from the political and amorous intrigues of Renaissance Italy.

Brian Gibbons is a distinguished scholar and editor of Shakespeare and other early modern dramatists. He is the author of many critical studies and a General Editor of the New Mermaids and the New Cambridge Shakespeare series.

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