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

Act II, Scene 5: By looking closely at language and imagery, what impression is created of the brothers in the following dialogue? In what way is this scene significant in the play as a whole?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Act II, Scene 5: By looking closely at language and imagery, what impression is created of the brothers in the following dialogue? In what way is this scene significant in the play as a whole? Act II, Scene 5 of John Webster's, The Duchess of Malfi is a crucial point for both the plot and of the critical understanding of two of the play's main characters: the Aragonian Brothers, Ferdinand and Cardinal. The scene is a dialogue between the two brothers and has an abundance of imagery, providing an insight into the pair's differentiating mentalities, moods and motives. The significance of this scene can be explained in terms of the recent developments of the plot and how the two brothers react to and intended to deal with them. These developments are the recent news that Bosola has brought to Ferdinand in the form of a horoscope, telling that "The Duchess was deliver'd of a son" [II.3.56]. This must mean that the Duchess has allowed someone to "sway your [her] high blood" [I.2.218]. The revelation of the birth of a son asks the brothers whether or not they are going to carry out their previous threats: "This was my father's poniard: do you see, / I'll'd be loathe to see't look rusty," [I.2.251-2]. Ferdinand begins to suggest means in which to punish and eventually kill the Duchess and her children: "I'll bequeath this [his handkerchief] to her bastard / .............to make soft lint for his mother's wounds, / When I have hewn her to pieces." ...read more.

Middle

The Cardinal, however, is far more concerned about the damage that could be done to his family's reputation: "Shall our blood? / The royal blood of Aragon and Castile, / Be thus attained?" [II.5.21-3]. He blames women for the downfalls within the human race as he blames the Duchess for his family's loss of honour, and he speaks of women as an evil with "...hearts / So far upon the left side" [II.5.32-3]. When he says this, he is referring to the belief that hearts on the left side "are full of deceit, / Truth freedome and loyalty are rare unknowne and exiled qualities"2 He continues to state that women consciously try and cause the downfall of men, "Foolish men, / That e'er will trust their honour in a bark, / Made of so slight, weak bulrush, as is woman, / Apt every minute to sink it." He feels that, men who trust in women are self destructive. His feelings towards the Duchess are far from Ferdinand's passionate desires, he sees her as an animal, "curs'd creature!" [II.5.31], and perhaps as a tool the family can use as a show piece to society. Their reactions, springing from different issues and emotions, also show their varying personas. Ferdinand reacts passionately to the news of his sister giving birth. His physical obsession towards her erupts in violent ideas by which to punish her, he threatens to revenge her with a bloody death, and says he will not calm until he has seen her dead: "'Tis not your whore's milk, that shall quench my wild-fire / But your whore's blood" [II.5.48-9]. ...read more.

Conclusion

The happy family unit of the Duchess and Antonio is now under threat and the hourglass has been turned; there is only a matter of time before this fresh optimism will be forced to come to an end. I feel that Webster uses this scene in the play to show his feelings, as an English Protestant, of the Spanish Catholics in Italy. We are already aware that the Cardinal is far from the respectful clergy man he should be, by our knowledge of his mistress, Julia. Now we see Ferdinand's inner-rage and incestuous wishes he holds towards his sister. By knowing this, the scene persuades the audience to feel for the Duchess, a young woman only trying to live her life as she wishes, under the forceful control of her brothers. We feel proud for her courage to break away from their demanding requests and separate herself from them. At the time it may well have been expected for the widowed sister to do as her brothers said, and by showing us this insight into the brothers' conversation, Webster has led us to a greater understanding of the Duchess, giving us permission to sympathise with her. 1Information gained from: http://virtual-park.uga.edu/~cdesmet/sabrin/malfi.htm 2From Matthieu's "History of Lewis the Eleventh", found in New Mermaids "The Duchess of Malfi" edited by Elizabeth M Brennan. (3rd edition, 1993) 3 From New Mermaids "The Duchess of Malfi" edited by Elizabeth M Brennan. (3rd edition 1993) 4 Information taken from: www.britannica.com/seo/h/humour-1/ ?? ?? ?? ?? Juliet Cook 20th January 2001 4 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Blood Brothers 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 GCSE Blood Brothers essays

  1. blood brothers coursewrok

    When Mrs Johnstone was crying for her sons the audience felt her sadness and empathised her. However when the Lyons' came onto stage, the actors used levels to imply superiority and the audience felt cold towards. The play is then viewed as a flashback from the very beginning, recounted by the narrator.

  2. Blood Brothers, Review Of Play. A*

    The audience is knows that these two are brothers and there is a degree of dramatic irony taking place. Throughout all of Blood Brothers, we explore the Characters of Mickey and Eddie in great detail, their feelings and responses to all that is going on around them.

  1. The structure of the play ( bloodbrothers

    a Waltz, were as Mickey Dances to a disco music and Rocky music reflecting on the character as Edward dances a more mature and educated dance and Mickey dances a more playful Un educated dance which doesn't have much structure.

  2. Blood Brothers review

    Lighting was also used very effectively, such as when the narrator sang songs such as 'Shoes on the table', the light turned very cold using blues and whites, but also there was an undercurrent of red which seemed to me as though it was signifying the devil or hell.

  1. Blood Brothers

    However Edward was not, he was polite and behaved, unless he was lead by Mickey and Linda. Mrs Johnstone was again not well mannered and had many debts, however Mrs Lyons was well spoken and posh. No one seemed to have and religious beliefs.

  2. Blood Brothers

    We end the role play with them frozen while having both their hands on the bible. In this drama we were asked to do an abstract role play showing that the twins were born, but Mrs Johnstone refuses to give one to Mrs Lyons.

  1. Blood Brothers response

    Without a real enclosed space Jacob would have to pretend being trapped which could seem unrealistic. All these techniques contributed towards the effectiveness of the drama. Our second task was to create an alternative beginning to the "Blood Brothers" script.

  2. Blood Brothers

    and more affected by her own actions and the narrator also served a purpose, to not let her forget. The use of costume in the play also showed the differences between the rich and poor. To explain Mrs Lyons was always dressed in beautiful frocks and she changed her elegant attire many times during the play.

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