Sr. Deena David
Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi as a Revenge Tragedy
The revenge tragedy waswidespread during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, and it was greatly influenced by the ancient Roman dramatist, Seneca. The theme of revenge differentiates it from other tragedies. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, though Macduff kills Macbeth to avenge the killing of his family, the play can’t be called a revenge tragedy as Macbeth himself is responsible for his own tragic end.While inHamletthe motive of revenge is strong and servers as a true revenge tragedy. The English dramatist John Webster 's extraordinary capability of expression enabled him to be one the greatest masters of English revenge tragedy. According to Una Ellis-Fermor, Webster’s plays reveal “the transition from early to late Jacobean Drama” (170).The Duchess of Malfi and The white devil are his master pieces.This assignment focusses on The Duchess of Malfi as a revenge tragedy.
In Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy, Bowers defines Revenge tragedy as: Revenge constitutes the main action of the play in the sense that the audience is chiefly interested in the events which lead to the necessary revenge for murder, and then in the revenger’s actions in accordance with his vow.…show more content… Ferdinand’s lycanthropy is a result of his sense of guilt and shame. That which he tries to afflict her sister with, finally befalls on him. Ferdinand intends to torture his sister by sending madmen to her quarters, but finally he is tortured by madness. The Duchess dies with dignity, welcoming death and proclaiming her identity, “I am Duchess of Malfi still” (72), whereas Ferdinand, her torturer dies a madman’s death. Brennan comments, “The trappings or conventions of madness and the masque are combined in the dance of madmen, which forms part of the complicated mental torture to which the Duchess is subjected by