The Duchess of Malfi

do you think the death of the Duchess and the aftermath indicates a significant change in the social world of malfi ?

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hough the play is mostly overwrought with evil, it does end on a hopeful note. One member of the Duchess’s family survives, her and Antonio’s oldest son. The representatives of evil have all destroyed each other, and “These wretched eminent things/Leave no more fame behind ‘em than should one/Fall in a frost, and leave his print in snow” (5.5.112-4) which will melt in the sun. They can do no more harm from beyond the grave, but though the Duchess is also dead, she can do good, for it is in the Duchess’s “right” (5.5.112) that Delio and the surviving gentlemen intend to raise the son, this symbol of hope, who the Duchess and Antonio created in and left as a testament to their love. The only dark spot on this otherwise hopeful ending is the worldview that Webster paints so vividly, one where evil and human self-interest is the status quo, and so even what starts pure has the potential to grow corrupt.