The Duchess of Malfi

The Duchess of Malfi

The character of Duchess

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At the opening of the play, the Duchess of Malfi, sister to the Cardinal and twin sister to Ferdinand, has just been widowed in her youth. Though she promises her domineering brothers that she won’t remarry, she almost immediately proposes to Antonio, a decision that ultimately leads to the destruction of her entire family, save their oldest son. The Duchess is strong-willed, brave, passionate, proud, and a loving wife and mother. In the opening of the play, Antonio speaks of her incredible virtue, and though she marries him against custom and her brothers’ wishes, her goodness and vitality stand in stark contrast to her brothers’ evil.