The Duchess of Malfi

The Duchess of Malfi and a Certain Fish Story

There are many complex personalities in John Webster's classic play, "The Duchess of Malfi". Webster's character named "Bosola" is perhaps the most complex of any. Throughout the play, one may notice a variety of emotional traits in each of the main characters. There is the greed and resentment of Ferdinand and the Cardinal, the nobility of the Duchess, and the psychological onion that is Bosola. I use the metaphor of an onion to represent the many different layers of Bosola's personality that are peeled away throughout the text. In the beginning, Bosola fit the description bestowed upon him by Antonio in Act I, "(Bosola)...Would be as lecherous, covetous, or proud, Bloody, or envious, as any man, If he had means to be so"(Norton, p1434). However, as the waters of life and circumstance sweep below the bridge that is Bosola, a noble metamorphosis transpires: a "lecherous, covetous, and proud" man becomes a martyr for all the plebes that have been trod upon by the nobility.

Through the first three acts of the play, I thought to myself that Bosola was the most unlikable of all the villains in the play. He is a greedy servant who will do anything to please his master. He begins as...

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