Innovation and experiment in Webster's the Duchess of Malfi

HOPKINS, Lisa (2020). Innovation and experiment in Webster's the Duchess of Malfi. Voprosy literatury (2), 157-166.

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This essay argues that Webster was more than just the dramatist 'much possessed by death' depicted by T. S. Eliot but a bold and innovative writer. Taking advantage of the emergence of an exceptionally gifted boy actor, he brought a new and more realistic type of woman to the English Renaissance stage, and also two unusually disturbed and psychologised male characters, one who thinks he is a Wolf and one who looks into water and sees a monster. He also benefited from the King's Men's move to an indoor theatre, the Blackfriars, when the Globe burned down soon after the first performances of The Duchess of Malfi, not least because one of those who lived near the new theatre had been Lady Arbella Stuart, whose story chimed very closely with that of the Duchess. Finally he astonished by the richness of his imagery, which together with his recurrent use of sententiae (pithy sayings) creates a sense that the play has a language all of its own. Eliot was right to identify Webster as violent, but he was also much more, and in the Duchess herself he has given us a moving and haunting female hero.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online date taken from hidden metadata
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2005 Literary Studies
Identification Number:
Page Range: 157-166
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2022 17:40
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2022 14:30

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