The Duchess of Malfi

Death in Context: Analyzing the Characters of The Duchess of Malfi 12th Grade

In ‘The Duchess of Malfi’ the characterisation of the protagonists allows the concept of death to be explored deeply. Webster’s portrayal of the Duchess marks her embracement of death as she appears to be prepared for her fate, whereas the Cardinal is shown to be terrified when truly exposed to the idea of mortality. This is due to their contrasting beliefs with regards tot the afterlife - as the Duchess has faith that she will united with her loved ones after death, whereas the Cardinal shows no ushc beliefs. This suggests that although the characters are shown to be aware of death, their unawareness of what may await after impacts the way in which they perceive their end.

Webster captures the characters' awareness of death via their ability to embrace their end - this is particularly apparent with regards to the Duchess’ execution scene. Despite the fact that the Duchess is fully conscious of her inevitable end, she remains composed and ‘kneels’ to her death. She then simply states ‘come violent death’ - this marks her collected nature, as Webster suggests that she is almost content with her sentence. The Duchess’ unfazed attitude is marked by her cry ‘I am the Duchess of Malfi still’ which again demonstrates that although...

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