The Duchess Of Malfi

The Duchess of Malfi - John Webster First thoughts: THANK GOD THIS IS OVER WITH! AUGH.

My God. My brain hurts.


**Also just a forerunner: Everything after this will be going full tilt into spoilers. So if you don't want to see them, skip ahead to where the bold asterisks mark the continuation spot please!**

I read this play and I sit there and I'm like:

And no, seriously. It's all bull. The entire story is about a woman who has been recently widowed and her two high ranking brothers. One is a prince, the other a cardinal. So they're both pretty high up there in terms of social status. But they're both corrupt as the devil. And the one brother, Ferdinand, is hell-bent on never letting his sister remarry. Why?

I WISH I KNEW!!!! D8<<<<br/>
They spew some crap about reputation in there and not soiling your social status, but the Duchess (our main character) doesn't listen to them. She's fallen in love with a man, and so she marries him posthaste and in secret, soon having three children by him. Unfortunately the brothers find out and the one goes batshit crazy and tries to kill her, her kids, her husband, exiles her from the country, takes all her fortune--AND SUCCEEDS.


NO. No he's NOT. THEN, he conveniently goes insane... INSANE?! And he pretends to be a werewolf saying that they just don't know that he is because his fur is on the INSIDE of his skin and they can take their swords and cut him up and they'll see it then!

...........image ...wait what?

To top it off, in the meanwhile his brother is going murder-happy too! And in the end just about everyone.... DIES. )8< So I'm sitting here, left thinking, " you did this all... for... reputation... Even though your sister MARRIED, THEN had kids, and was living a private, happy life, with NO infidelity or outrageous lewd and crazy schemes! But no. Apparently marrying--someone who the entire country totally loved and supported by the way--was BAAAAD for her. And because she tries to hide this secret husband's identity they were like, LE GASP. U NO TELL US WHO DA DADDY IS, DEN WE TEENK U A WHORE!" -_- good God in Heaven, spare me.

**Spoilers end here.**

I cannot believe that I just toiled through a play, which, for the first half was dull to begin with, where nothing at all of import happened besides-- "You can't get married!" "I already am married!" "I won't stand for it!" "Well it's already happened so what are you going to do? I even have three children!" "Tell me who the father is!" "No!" --that. After that, all the vicious, unsupported, cruel, monstrous actions that the characters commit don't elicit a feeling of sorrow or despair like a tragedy is supposed to. This "tragic" play only made me angry. Watching the injustice of completely innocent characters being slowly and crudely destroyed is a pastime I can't stomach! I didn't even CARE for the characters that much! They were there for me, yeah, but they weren't even people I would consider dwelling on. Nothing interested me about them! They didn't catch my attention or my mind. But seeing even people who I don't care about being dragged down into the dirt and violently torn apart bit by bloody, vile, bit is too much for me! I'm not the type of person to just sit there and read about these poor people suffering, suffering things worse than death! And all for what? FOR WHAT? Because some GUY didn't LIKE it? THAT'S IT? That's it?!

You can be the most heartless bastard, and still go stark-raving mad watching the absolute shit that these brothers did to their sister! Their SISTER. It's not like she was even a wife or some woman in the court--their SISTER! And they did such things to her!!

What kind of BROTHERS are you?!

I have no brothers, but I was raised close to my father, and I'm the firstborn. When you're put into the man's shoes in the house, and you have younger sisters to take care of, you would do anything to protect them, to make sure they're safe, to assuage all their fears and to see them truly, truly happy. These men, the Cardinal and Ferdinand, are monsters.

My God. Just reading this play made me feel dirty, made me sick and disgusted. I feel like I've been covered in grime and slimy filth. UGH. I feel like I need to take a shower.

The storyline aside, I've got more problems with this, and I'm only going to mention them in brief. One, the writing was tedious. Nothing happens, so you're dragging your feet through the play. Two, it was hard to pick up on meanings and what was going on sometimes. Being written in a more distant time period is no excuse. You can still write and make it so that people can follow along. But maybe in part because it was uninteresting, following along was made that much harder. Three, on the subject of time periods, dude. You're writing about a time period a century before your own. Thanks to footnotes, I get to hear about ALL the oblique references you've made throughout your play to your own time period. ...dude. That's not even worth considering for value. If you're writing about a certain time period, write accurately for that time period. Duh? Geez, give it to the guy to prove he's a bad writer in all aspects, why don'tcha.

Mind you, that last comment comes off as a little blunt. He has his skillful moments, and there are some parts where I happily take a quote and say, "This. This is worthwhile. This is good." But the moments are too sparse for a story so bland. If it wasn't for the fact that I was getting increasingly pissed off as the tale continued, I probably would have been bored out of my wits come the end of the play.

All in all, I didn't like it, though that should be pretty obvious. Was it atrocious and downright incomprehensible or indigestible? No. You can get through it. It's under a hundred pages in most versions, so it's not monstrous long. But I almost feel like just ushering you away from this play altogether. Maybe if you like this sort of thing, or you're a tragedy or play buff, you might see some worth in it. But for those who want to spare it a cursory glance? Let me save you the time. Just drop it. Move on. Don't buy it--save your money. You can probably Google it online if you tried and it'll be up there somewhere. But really? Don't waste your time on it. There are far better things for you to read out there. This? This was just absolutely pointless. You don't wanna go here.

And yes, that's my final answer. Done!