Analyse the behaviour of the Duchess in Act 4.1+2
Webster presents the Duchess as a strong and noble yet vengeful character in the scenes before her death. Webster mainly does this through her dialogue with the malcontent Bosola, the author also uses Cariola’s hysterical manners to further exemplify the composed nature of the Duchess. The Duchess defies social norms as she behaves in a calm manor when faced with death, the audience of the Jacobean era would view women as the weaker sex, therefore would expect the Duchess would be expected to behave in a hysterical manner.
To begin with, the Duchess’s noble manners as reflected through her dialogue with Bosola who is a misogynistic malcontent. Bosola describes the Duchess has been acting “nobly” when asked by Ferdinand, the verb shows evidence that Bosola is impressed with the Duchess’ behaviour, this would shock the reader as Bosola is known to be misogynistic. Bosola is also shocked by the braveness of the Duchess as he questions “doth not death fright you?” the heroic nature of the Duchess would shock the Jacobean audience as well, as women were expected to be weaker and inferior, however the Duchess challenges stereotypes. Likewise, Bosola’s admiration is further exemplified as he Ferdinand, who is the older twin sibling, that “it seems like she was born first” and states “she seemed to have years too many”. Bosola is evidently shocked and appreciates her wisdom as she seems wise beyond her years which would further shock the Jacobean audience as women were not expected to be intelligent. Bosola is evidently surprised by the unexpected behaviour of the Duchess who is calm and accepting of her death.
Furthermore, the Duchess shows that she is vengeful and fuming of what has been done to her by her brothers, the Cardinal and Ferdinand. The Duchess displays her vengefulness as she expresses she wants her brothers to be remembered “for the ill they have done”, the verb “ill” shows that she wants their reputation be ruined to the extent that even “Churchmen forget them”, “churchmen” are supposed to forgive people for their sins however she implies that her brothers have committed an unforgivable sin. The Duchess states to be “full of daggers”, the noun “daggers” connote violence and death which further illustrate...