Critical review of the Duchess of Malfi

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Critical review of the Duchess of Malfi

The production of The Duchess of Malfi is a vibrant, swash-buckling Jacobean affair. It is appropriately seasoned to a modern audience by the use of ambitiously experimental sets and intermittently ‘fine’ utterances, subsequently giving more substance to what the characters say. As we uncovered the symbolic treasures of the play, it becomes richer, and the added use of stage directions, makes the production (according to TS Eliot), ‘possessed by death.’ Although I concur that without the addition of Bosola’s soliloquies, there would be something lacking.  

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The play takes place against the back-ground of the court where we are given an insight into the corrupt nature of the production. This is foreshadowed by Antonio; there are ‘sycophants’ and ‘death and diseases’ which ‘spread’ through ‘the land.’ Additionally, he makes references to France; they have ‘a judicious king’ and ‘works of heaven.’ This is set against the greedy avarice of the Malfi court where lust, corruption ‘sin and retribution(Federick Allen ) is rife throughout the play. It is a revenge tragedy which was popular amongst a Jacobean audience. Notwithstanding their attitudes towards vendettas (which was deemed unlawful ...

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