• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Critical opinion about the ways Webster presents the Duchess is divided. Some critics blame her for being irresponsible, bold and too passionate. Others praise her for her courage in fighting against tyrannical authority.

Extracts from this document...


Critical opinion about the ways Webster presents the Duchess is divided. Some critics blame her for being irresponsible, bold and too passionate. Others praise her for her courage in fighting against tyrannical authority. Consider these two opinions in the light of your study of the play. What do you think of Webster's Duchess? In good pieces of literature such as Webster's Duchess of Malfi, an intriguing and captivating character should always have two sides, and with such a complex character critical opinion will always be divided. In this essay I will assess ways in which the character of the Duchess causes conflict in opinion, and show my opinion as to whether she is courageous or perhaps irresponsible. During the course of the play, the Duchess can be seen to commit a lot of irresponsible actions, ones, some might say eventually cause her own downfall and some what tragically, her death. ...read more.


Some critics would argue whether being too passionate was a flaw to the Duchess' character, yes passion and love is an important emotion to have, however the Duchess is often too passionate and in being this way she shows no awareness to other people and to the society she lives in. Her passion for Antonio causes her to neglect the rules of the 17th century society she lives in. It is ignoring these rules which cause her brothers anger, when she marries a man beneath her, which in turn leads to her death. Although there are some negative opinions about the Duchess, others would argue that she is an extremely courageous woman to fight against the tyrannical authority that faces her. She goes against her brother's even though she must realise what they are capable of doing to her. She shows courage in proposing to Antonio, she knows this relationship is against the order of society but for her, love prevails above anything else. ...read more.


She is courageous in her boldness and in her passion hence the Duchess is a character to be admired and respected. Webster uses the Duchess of Malfi, a historical figure, to highlight the problems and orders of the society. I believe the Duchess illuminates that there is goodness in the society and this was Webster's point in creating her. Webster's play hence is a statement against the society at the time, however the Duchess doesn't survive the society, therefore I think Webster is trying to point out that the corruption that occurs in such a society has to end before more innocent lives are tragically ended. In conclusion although opinion about Webster's Duchess of Malfi is critically divided, I would sooner praise her for her courage in fighting against tyrannical authority rather than blame her for her own death due to being irresponsible, bold and too passionate. I think Webster created his Duchess in order to show that the Jacobean society they lived in was corrupt and it takes a strong person like the Duchess of Malfi to stand dignified within it. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level John Webster section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level John Webster essays

  1. Explore the ways in which Webster introduces his characters and themes in the play ...

    of the fate that happens when malign figures wrest control of the state. The idea of these corruptions "spread(ing)" throughout Malfi suggests that it acts similar to a cancer, where one cell of disease can cause the failing of the whole.

  2. How and where does the Duchess distinguish herself as a very remarkable woman in ...

    thinking of the consequences but the audience is shown that, in fact, she is very aware of what she has done. Antonio's warning, "He's a fool that, being a-cold, would thrust his hands i'th' fire to warm them" is a reminder that she has set the ball rolling and that

  1. The Duchess Of Malfi - Commentary On Important Scenes

    The ideology of a perfect unchanging creation Vs The gradually decaying world. Webster - Discovers moral order in the dignity of humans as opposed to faith. Montaigne(French Essayist) - Challenged Rennaisance concept that humans are superior to animals. "On the wild benifit of nature live / happier than we" Animals

  2. "Webster's view of the world is utterly bleak." Use your knowledge of three specific ...

    The themes of social and gender inequality are further explored at the end of this scene whereby the Duchess attempts to seduce Antonio. Once again, the Duchess takes on a very forward tone, whilst Antonio remains more reserved; this switch in social conventions further highlights the inequalities that Webster's society was subject to.

  1. What impression does Webster create of courtly life in Malfi? How would a contemporary ...

    He is clearly an irritant to the smooth world of courtesy in which his hearers exist. On his exit, we see Delio immediately breaking into malicious gossip, as though to downgrade Bosola's comments: 'I knew this fellow seven years in the galleys for a notorious murder...'

  2. John Webster - Theatrical Language

    This illness represents Ferdinand's fiery personality and animal instincts with reference to his sister. * Bosola is a representation of the working class who witness the play in hopes of seeing a blood bath. Jacobean Theatre - Historical Context * Combination of several literary and philosophical conventions.

  1. The horrors of act IV, i are less important that the characters' reaction to ...

    Ferdinand's twisted perception depicts him in numerous r´┐Żles, as he endeavours to absolve his twin sister through murder, assisted by an undoubtedly twisted perspective: "For I account it the honorabl'st revenge / Where I may kill, to pardon" (l. 32-3).

  2. In The Duchess of Malfi, Act II Scene I, Bosola says to the Old ...

    Though the Duchess remains unaffected by the corruption of her brothers, she does corrupt convention within the play. By wooing and marrying her steward she inverses the tight Jacobean male/female roles and class restrictions. The Duchess' defiant insistence on marrying Antonio is an action that shows she has a more dominant will then anybody around her.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work