The Duchess of Malfi: A True Villain Essay

1525 Words 7 Pages
According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of ‘villain’ is “a character in a story, movie, etc., who does bad things” (Merriam-Webster). In John Webster’s play, The Duchess of Malfi, the plot line revolves around a duchess and her two brothers. The Duchess of Malfi is a very twisted and complicated story where the characters are not as they seem. One of the most significant parts of the story line is that the characters that appear to be the villains are not actually the villains. This makes the story complex, but eventually ties it together in unexpected ways. When first reading the play, it is easy to come to the conclusion that the duchess’s two brothers, The Cardinal and Ferdinand, are the villains. However, the Duchess lies and …show more content…
However, it is possible that perhaps she is trying to have a secret marriage just so her brothers, who are obviously very corrupt and evil, would find out and become angry with her. This is possible to assume because she sees all of the inappropriate actions that her brothers are taking part in, such as the Cardinal having an affair, and Ferdinand being deeply in love with her. She knew that her own actions would only cause trouble and chaos. The Duchess is specifically trying to manipulate her brothers into anger. Antonio asks, knowing that it was not a good idea for the Duchess to get remarried, and says, “But for your brothers?” and the Duchess, knowing that it will anger her brothers to the highest extent responds, “Do not think of them, all discord without this circumference is only to be pitied, and not feared; Yet, should they know it, time will easily scatter the tempest” (Webster1.3.170-174). Antonio is uneasy about the situation, but the Duchess tries to persuade him to believe that everything will be fine. This once again highlights her deceitful ways. The manipulation of her brothers and Antonio prove her deceitfulness for her own gain, and characterize her as the true villain in the story.
The Duchess not only tries to hide her marriage, but hide her children as well. She tries to convince Antonio that she has only good intentions

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