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

With reference to Act 2, show how 'The White Devil' is psychologically rather than graphically horrific.

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐With specific reference to act 2, how is the White Devil more psychologically, rather than graphically, horrific? In act 2, playwright John Webster uses a framed narrative to portray the deaths of Isabella and Camillo, creating a psychological horror rather than a graphical one. Through the use of a conjuror, Webster manages to show deaths via ?sophistic tricks? from the ?nigromancer?. By using this character as another narrator, a certain distance is created between the audience and the actions on scene, allowing the minds of the audience to wander, questioning the events that led up to the murders, and perhaps whether the conjuror?s visions were accurate or not. In addition, Brachiano?s indifferent response to the death, calling it ?excellent? may make the audience horrified by his ignorance of the brutal murders. Further horror is present in the irony of Isabella?s demise as she ?kisses?thrice? the portrait of the very man who plotted to murder her, a tragic end to a character who seemed to be completely pure. ...read more.


This contrasting set of character force the audience into a dichotomy, almost making them choose between heaven or h**l, all of which is done very subtly, and with no graphic imagery illustrating either side. This concept is relatable to the dark comedy and satire in this section of the play too. The state of Camillo?s corpse ?folded double as ?twere under the horse? is possibly a s****l reference to his s****l inadequacy and a humiliating way to show that he was cuckolded. The ease at which the conjuror planned this murder and the casual tone of conversation he has with Brachiano is almost unsettling, which makes one wonder what other perverted ideas does society think of that is not shared with the public. The sense that all these characters are part of a debauched society is present again when Brachiano refers to politcians as ?a***s in foot cloth[s]? and the conjuror says that Camillo has a ?politic face?. ...read more.


Entering into the dumb shows can certainly be described as transgression as now the audience lies watching, in voyeur of Isabella and Camillo?s private lives. Our positions as observers can be classified as just as immoral as the corrupt acts we are watching; horrific if you then question if we are hypocritical in judging the characters of the play. Light can be shed on this seemingly doomed society when the conjuror is left alone to say ?Both flowers and weeds spring when the sun is warm, and great men do great good, or else great harm.? Perhaps an indication, that once these murders become public knowledge, someone will respond with justice and corrupt leaders like Brachiano will be ?weed[ed]? out. This ends act 2 on an ambiguous note, with the audience now having to wait to learn about the effects of Isabella and Camillo?s death. Also, they are left with the consideration that religion may not provide them with what is humanly attainable, only hope of heaven once you have already died. ...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. How and where does the Duchess distinguish herself as a very remarkable woman in ...

    Antonio, not knowing any of this is happening, attempts a reconciliation with Ferdinand and the Cardinal. Meanwhile, Bosola, moved by the Duchess' death (and Ferdinand's refusal to pay him) seeks to kill the brothers. Spying on the Cardinal, he manages to obtain the keys to their house and sneaks in.

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

    This is the reason Webster cast Bosola, whose character is more easily recognised as being dubious. Antonio's "long" absence from Malfi also means that it is difficult for the writer to write a speech for Antonio where he deals with the corruption present in Malfi.

  1. Attitudes to women in "The White Devil" in Acts I and II

    The fact that Vittoria is thinking about her safety also shows that even if she is not entirely a willing mistress, she is wise enough to know that she will need protection. Vittoria though, is the only woman who holds any power out of those in the play.

  2. John Webster - Theatrical Language

    This evokes a sense of pity for her and a sense that she should not be punished in her quest for happiness. * In addition to pity, the Duchess commands respect. She accepts suffering as her "fate". This is emphasized as Bosola even respects the Duchess for her actions.

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

    The Duchess is warned that if she being caught, would be killed, thus Ferdinand's warning to her that 'your darkest actions, nay, your privatest thoughts will come to light'. The Cardinal's comment 'the marriage night is the entrance to some prison' are not prophecies, but threats.

  2. "Whether the spirit of greatness or woman reigns most in her, I know not, ...

    I will not die!' emphasises the courage of the Duchess. Also Julia's death, from kissing the Cardinal's Bible, not only exposes the utter cruelty and hypocrisy of the Cardinal (and essentially therefore, the Church) especially to the audience, as the religious dress of the Cardinal would make it even more apparent, but also serves again to contrast with the Duchess.

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

    Scene four is both a climax and a trigger point in the play - a pivot that defines the main individuals and determines the outcome of the tragedy. At the beginning, Bosola sums up the Duchess' conduct in response to her brother's callous deeds in one word; "nobly" (l. 2).

  2. By close consideration of two extracts of your choice, assess the importance of the ...

    This shows us just how powerful corrupt courts are. It strikes an ominous note, not filling us with the most hope for the Duchess 'stars' or fate. Against this backdrop of sleaze and rottenness, the Duchess hardly stands a chance - and so we come to our first passage (III.ii.305-320).

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