Who is the most courageous character in the play? Defend your choice.
The most courageous character in the Duchess of Malfi is the Duchess as she defies the Jacobean expectations and ideologies of women being mentally and physically inferior. Webster presents The Duchess’ courageousness through her interactions with the male characters in the play, Webster also uses Cariola to emphasize and contrast the Duchess’ noble nature.
Webster presents the Duchess as powerful through her interactions with her brother, Ferdinand and the Cardinal. The Duchess states that she “winked and chose a husband”, this demonstrates her valiant behaviour, as she was warned by her brothers that “such wedding may more properly be said/ To be executed than celebrated.” The Duchess’ disregard of Ferdinands’ warning is a clear display of her courageous behaviour, as she challenges the male authority. The verb “winked” shows the Duchess disobeyed her brothers with ease, thus reinforcing she is not concerned about the consequences she will face. During the time of which the play was set, it was expected of women to obey male authority, however, the Duchess refuses to give into social pressure and goes against her brothers’ command. Furthermore, The Duchess still refuses to be submissive to Ferdinand even after being a victim of his direct abuse towards her, this is demonstrated when she curses Ferdinand stating “You violate a sacrament o'th'Church/ Shall make you howl in hell for't”. This highlights her courageous behaviour as she curses Ferdinand rather than begging for her life, thus defying the stereotype and social expectations of women being mentally inferior. The Duchess’ defiant behaviour solidifies the fact that the Duchess is the most courageous character as she is not afraid of the consequences that she will face for going against her brothers.
Furthermore, the Duchess’ courageous nature is exemplified through her dialogues with Antonio, her husband. In the Jacobean era it was expected of men to be wooing the women, however the Duchess also challenges this as she proposes to Antonio as “[she puts her ring upon his finger]”, this highlights the Duchess’ courageous behaviour as she does not give into the social expectations of the man proposing to the woman. The Duchess’ proposal also shows that she is not afraid of rejection or negative stigma from Antonio thus reinforcing her as the most...