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Webster and the theatre of cruelty : a theatrical context for the Duchess of Malfi Buckle, Reginald Wallace 1966

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WEBSTER AND THE THEATRE OF CRUELTY: A THEATRICAL CONTEXT FOR THE DUCHESS OF MALFI by REGINALD WALLACE BUCKLE B.A., University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1961  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  i n the Department of English  We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August, 1966  In  presenting  thesis  an advanced degree  for that  the  Library  study,  I  thesis  for  Department or  this  further  at  in partial  the U n i v e r s i t y  s h a l l make i t agree  that  freely  purposes  or  representatives.  publication  of  this  thesis  for  ENGLISH  The U n i v e r s i t y Vancouver  8,  of  British  Columbia  Canada  Date___Augtt£LL_31 19-6JL 1  of  British  available  for  It  is  financial  the  requirements  Columbia, I reference  extensive  may b e g r a n t e d b y t h e  w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n .  Department of  of  permission-for  scholarly by h i s  fulfilment  understood gain s h a l l  and  copying  Head o f  of  this  my  that not  agree  be  copying allowed  ABSTRACT  The The  p u r p o s e o f t h i s t h e s i s i s t o examine W e b s t e r ' s  Duchess o f M a l f i ,  a r e p r e s e n t a t i v e example o f t h e  Jacobean " h o r r o r " p l a y , ship t o Antonin theory The  chiefly  i n terms o f i t s p o s s i b l e  Artaud's Theatre  of Cruelty, a  p r o p o u n d e d i n The T h e a t e r  of a Theatre  and i t s Double.  o f C r u e l t y a s p o s t u l a t e d by A r t a u d ,  a t t e m p t s t o show why, i n v i e w o f r e c e n t ments, Webster's p l a y might p r o f i t a b l y t h i s twentieth The  century  first  why he makes f u l l device  personal  two c h a p t e r s  The thematic  proceed t o a d i s c u s s i o n of  form, attempting  t o show how a n d and t h e a t r i -  t o a i d i n the presentation  o f man a n d s o c i e t y .  examined i n t h e c o n t e x t a Theatre  experi-  be i n v e s t i g a t e d w i t h i n  use o f any a v a i l a b l e dramatic  and convention  vision  theatrical  and  context.  W e b s t e r ' s complex t h e a t r i c a l  to  dramatic  i n t r o d u c t o r y s e c t i o n o u t l i n e s t h e b a s i c aims a n d p r i n -  ciples  cal  relation-  The p l a y i s t h u s  of T o t a l Theatre,  a principle  ofh i s first basic  of Cruelty. c e n t r a l chapters  lines  of the t h e s i s investigate the  i n The D u c h e s s o f M a l f i ,  a n d a t t e m p t t o show  how i n s p i t e  o f t h e many components f r o m w h i c h t h e p l a y i s  constructed,  there nevertheless  ent  vision.  in  dramatic  emerges a u n i f i e d  This vision  t h r e e ways, s e p a r a b l e  i s seen as being  and coherdeveloped  f o r purposes o f d i s c u s s i o n but  iii ultimately verbal  c l o s e l y i n t e r - r e l a t e d , namely v i s u a l imagery,  i m a g e r y and  characters-in-action.  t i o n t h r o u g h v i s u a l and ter of  verbal  I I I , w h i l e C h a p t e r IV  Thematic  presenta-  imagery i s d i s c u s s e d  deals  i n Chap-  i n more d e t a i l w i t h  aspects  characterization. The  method o f  argument a d v a n c e d i n C h a p t e r IV  Evil  c o n t r a s t , w i t h the  as  opposed F o r c e s or symbols.  as  opposed F o r c e s ,  The  of the The  themes as final  explored  somewhat more g e n e r a l  terms.  An  presentation  tures play  satire.  attempt  i s imperfect  of tragedy, the related  theory  p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y t o the  A b s u r d , on w h i c h t h e formative  verbal  imagery.  play  in  genres—tragedy,  the  i s advanced t h a t  the  i s made t o r e l a t e c .  of  forms i s d i s c u s s e d .  i f measured a g a i n s t  seen  presenta-  t h e s i s examines t h e  Webster's p a r t i c u l a r use  of these t r a d i t i o n a l  of  the  v i s u a l and  D u c h e s s o f M a l f i t o more t r a d i t i o n a l  comedy and  developed  in action,  strengthening  i n the  chapter of the  characters  characters  constitute a third  c e n t r a l t h e m e s , w o r k i n g w i t h and  The  Webster's  c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n i s b a s e d on what i s b a s i c a l l y a  s i m p l e Good and  tion  i s that  certain feaBecause  accepted  i t might  conventions  be  viewed  contemporary Theatre of  T h e a t r e o f C r u e l t y has  had  the  as  the  considerable  influence.  Throughout the tion,  references  ideas  are  discussion  t o A r t a u d and  o f themes and  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of  i n c l u d e d wherever p o s s i b l e t o  ness of the  characteriza-  r e l a t i o n s h i p between The  point  out  Artaud's the  Duchess o f M a l f i  closeand  iv Artaud's Theatre of C r u e l t y . is not  that  the play  contains within  f o r m a l l y advanced  century.  The t h e s i s a d v a n c e d  In e f f e c t ,  suggested as e x i s t i n g Concluding  a Jacobean Theatre o f C r u e l t y i n fact  remarks  s e e n t o be a v a l i d  Jacobean  elements which  a s a n a p p r o a c h t o drama u n t i l  suggest that  this i s being  i f the f e l t  relation-  and t h e T h e a t r e o f C r u e l t y  one, a n i n v e s t i g a t i o n  d r a m a t i s t s might  were  i f n o t i n name.  s h i p between The Duchess o f M a l f i is  itself  throughout  o f o t h e r works by  p r o v e o f u s e i n g i v i n g meaning and  s i g n i f i c a n c e t o much o f t h e v i o l e n c e , h o r r o r a n d g r o t e s q u e r y which the  appears i n the p l a y s o f the p e r i o d .  The r e s p o n s e o f  J a c o b e a n d r a m a t i s t s t o t h e i r t i m e s c a n be s e e n a s i n many  ways a n a l o g o u s t o t h e r e s p o n s e t o t h e human c o n d i t i o n dramas o f t h e c o n t e m p o r a r y  avant-garde.  i n the  TABLE  OF  CONTENTS  Chapter  Page  INTRODUCTION  I.  II.  III.  1  W E B S T E R ' S T H E A T R I C A L FORM  T H E DUCHESS  THEMATIC  OF M A L F I  UNITY  Including:  IV.  V.  CHARACTERS  " . . .  IN THE  A FASHIONABLE  THEATRICAL  AS T O T A L T H E A T R E  .  DUCHESS OF M A L F I  A Digression  AS F O R C E S  7  on V e r b a l  IN THE  MIXTURE  INGREDIENTS  .  .  .  .  14  .  .  33  Cruelty  .  DUCHESS OF M A L F I  OF A L L T H E  AROUND.  . .  .  $8  .  65  BEST .  .  .  86  CONCLUSIONS  102  NOTES  108  BIBLIOGRAPHY  117  INTRODUCTION The that for  f o l l o w i n g study  a theory  o f drama and  the twentieth century  understanding of  Antonin  of  essays  its  an  early  i s based  t h e a t r e w h i c h was can be  f o r a form  o f man  ment—and, through techniques,  be  the  r e s t r a i n t s and  brought  into  On t h e  on t h e  break  superficial environ-  stage the fears,  anarchic—man Drama was  i n n e r c o n d i t i o n o f man,  and  stage inner  obses-  stage, the t r u e nature violent,  and  t o be  to this  of  man  freed an end a l l  t e c h n i c a l r e s o u r c e s o f t h e t h e a t r e were t o p l a y t o work t o w a r d s t h e  senses  t o be  largely  annihilation  by a d i r e c t  r a t h e r than t o the  c o m m u n i c a t i o n was  f u n c t i o n was  Theater  of r e a l i s t i c  subconscious  obligations.  were r e l e g a t e d t o a s u b o r d i n a t e and  theories  collection  comprehensible  on d e l i n e a t i n g  spectator's acquired inhibitions and  The  The  of outer l i f e — t h e  revealed—irrational,  p h y s i c a l and  rational  and  c o m p l e t e abandonment  proclivities.  social  nerves  in interpreting  century play.  in a realistic,  concentrate  expression of the the  and  o f t h e a t r e which would  o f man—man's r e p r e s s e d and  s i o n s , and  assumption  written in  p u b l i s h e d i n E n g l i s h under the t i t l e  representation  of  o f use  seventeenth  completely with the p o r t r a y a l  w o u l d be  initial  (1895-1948), a s p r e s e n t e d i n t h e  Artaud  Double"*" c a l l e d  life  on t h e  appeal to  intellect.  To  abandoned; s p e e c h position,  and  the  the  this  since their  d i s c u r s i v e r a t h e r than  of  end,  dialogue origin  intuitive.  2 The  reasoning  p r o c e s s , at l e a s t w h i l e the s p e c t a t o r was  the t h e a t r e , was Theatre  in  t o be abandoned. such as Artaud wanted i t t o be thus becomes  an o u t l e t f o r our r e p r e s s i o n s ; our eyes, r a t h e r than l o o k i n g a n a l y t i c a l l y at a r e a l i s t i c r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of man  in a social  context, are turned inwards and we  look upon our i n n e r s e l v e s  as p o r t r a y e d on the stage.  called h i s theatre a  Theatre  Artaud  of C r u e l t y , a term i n c l u s i v e not only of s u b j e c t mat-  t e r and v i s u a l stage r e p r e s e n t a t i o n , but a l s o — a n d  more impor-  t a n t l y i n f a c t — o f a d e s i r e d e f f e c t on the s p e c t a t o r s .  In  t h i s l a t t e r sense, he compared the t h e a t r i c a l experience  to  the presence of a plague i n a community: . . . the t h e a t e r , l i k e the plague, i s a d e l i r i u m and i s communicative. . . . i t i s not only because i t a f f e c t s important c o l l e c t i v i t i e s and upsets them i n an i d e n t i c a l way. In the t h e a t e r as i n the plague t h e r e i s something v i c t o r i o u s and v e n g e f u l : we are aware t h a t the spontaneous c o n f l a g r a t i o n which the plague l i g h t s wherever i t passes i s nothing e l s e than an immense l i q u i d a t i o n . A s o c i a l d i s a s t e r so f a r - r e a c h i n g , an organic d i s o r d e r so m y s t e r i o u s — t h i s overflow of v i c e s , t h i s t o t a l exorcism which presses and impels the s o u l t o i t s u t m o s t — a l l i n d i c a t e the presence of a s t a t e which i s n e v e r t h e l e s s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by extreme s t r e n g t h . . . . . . . t h e r e can be t h e a t e r only from the moment when the impossible r e a l l y begins and when the poetry which occurs on the stage s u s t a i n s and superheats the r e a l i z e d symbols. I t i s impossible t o o f f e r a s a t i s f a c t o r y capsule t i o n of the Theatre tions.  of C r u e l t y and  i t s far-reaching implica-  Artaud's essays, reviews and notes are only  represented  defini-  by the c o l l e c t i o n t i t l e d The:- Theater  partially  and i t s  3  Double.  3  He  repeats  and  frequently contradicts himself,  ap-  p r o a c h e s t h e same p r o b l e m o r t h e same c o n c e p t i n a number o f d i f f e r e n t ways. an i n i t i a l  The  b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n above s h o u l d  i n d i c a t i o n of the  o f M a l f i i s t o be Cruelty w i l l  be  serve  c o n t e x t w i t h i n w h i c h The  as  Duchess  examined; v a r i o u s f a c e t s of t h e T h e a t r e  e l a b o r a t e d upon d u r i n g t h e  course  of  of  the  discussion to follow. Artaud and  seemed t o h a v e an a d m i r a t i o n  J a c o b e a n drama.  T h e r e i s an u n s t a t e d  for Elizabethan  implication that  s e n s e d i n many o f t h e p l a y s o f t h o s e  somewhat c h a o t i c  something of the  e x p r e s s i o n w h i c h he  q u a l i t y of dramatic  eras  t h e modern d r a m a , w i t h i t s o v e r - d e p e n d e n c e on r e a l i s m , bility  o f c h a r a c t e r and  m o r a l i s s u e s , had 'Tis  lost.  P i t y S h e ' s A Whore.  p l o t and  p r e s e n t a t i o n of  For example, Artaud G i o v a n n i , he  he  felt  credi-  palatable  admired  Ford's  observes:  . . . d o e s n o t w a v e r an i n s t a n t , d o e s n o t h e s i t a t e a m i n u t e , and t h e r e b y shows o f how l i t t l e a c c o u n t a r e a l l t h e b a r r i e r s t h a t c o u l d be o p p o s e d t o h i m . He i s h e r o i c a l l y c r i m i n a l and a u d a c i o u s l y , o s t e n t a t i o u s l y h e r o i c . E v e r y t h i n g d r i v e s h i m i n t h i s d i r e c t i o n and i n f l a m e s h i s e n t h u s i a s m ; he r e c o g n i z e s n e i t h e r e a r t h n o r h e a v e n , o n l y the f o r c e of h i s convulsive passion, t o which the r e b e l l i o u s and e q u a l l y h e r o i c p a s s i o n o f A n n a b e l l a d o e s n o t f a i l t o respond. " I weep," she s a y s , " n o t w i t h r e m o r s e b u t f o r f e a r I s h a l l n o t be a b l e t o s a t i s f y my p a s s i o n . " They a r e b o t h f o r g e r s , h y p o c r i t e s , and l i a r s f o r t h e s a k e o f t h e i r s u p e r h u m a n p a s s i o n w h i c h l a w s o b s t r u c t and condemn b u t w h i c h t h e y w i l l put beyond the law.4 I n h i s proposed program f o r a Theatre of C r u e l t y , Artaud gested  s t a g i n g an a d a p t a t i o n  o f a work f r o m t h e t i m e  of  sug-  4 Shakespeare, " . . . a work e n t i r e l y c o n s i s t e n t w i t h our p r e s 5  ent t r o u b l e d s t a t e o f mind. . . ."  such as Arden o f Feversham,  or something e l s e from the same p e r i o d — " W o r k s from the E l i z a bethan t h e a t e r  s t r i p p e d o f t h e i r t e x t and r e t a i n i n g only the  accouterments of p e r i o d , s i t u a t i o n s , c h a r a c t e r s , and a c t i o n . " In u s i n g Artaud's t h e o r i e s as a b a s i s f o r a study o f The Duchess o f M a l f i I am thus assuming, and attempting t o show, t h a t the p l a y contains  elements o f Artaud's Theatre o f C r u e l t y  which have always been t h e r e , which were i n f a c t put t h e r e by Webster h i m s e l f .  What has i n t r i g u e d me has been the f a c t  except f o r one important f a c t o r — t h e d i a l o g u e — n e i t h e r  that  Webster's  p l a y nor Artaud's t h e o r i e s need be d i s t o r t e d or q u a l i f i e d t o any great  extent  f o r the f e l t r e l a t i o n s h i p o f one t o the other  t o be e s t a b l i s h e d as a v a l i d one. Two f u r t h e r p o i n t s should  be noted at the o u t s e t , one  i n r e l a t i o n t o Artaud, t h e other t o Webster.  I t i s important  t o remember t h a t Artaud's o r i g i n a l manifesto f o r a Theatre of C r u e l t y was and i s l a r g e l y t h e o r e t i c a l ; i n — a n d tially  because o f — i t s  indeed par-  extreme form i t never became an a c t u a l  7  realized fact. full  Even Artaud was d o u b t f u l about e f f e c t i n g a  r e a l i z a t i o n of h i s personal  c o u l d and should  be.  v i s i o n o f what the t h e a t r e  However, h i s w r i t i n g s have had an impor-  t a n t i n f l u e n c e i n two r a t h e r l a r g e areas;  first,  avant-garde movement i n contemporary drama  on the e n t i r e  and, more r e l e v a n t  t o t h e f o l l o w i n g d i s c u s s i o n , as an i n f l u e n c e on t h e r e - i n t e r p r e t a t i o n and s t a g i n g of more t r a d i t i o n a l w o r k s — p l a y s i n  5 which dialogue and language remain an important f a c t o r .  The  use which can be made o f t h e b a s i c philosophy o f c r u e l t y i n the  t h e a t r e , combined w i t h s t a g i n g t e c h n i q u e s which use t h e  v e r b a l , p o e t i c imagery inherent i n a g i v e n work as an a d d i t i o n a l element of c r u e l t y t o support and u n d e r l i n e t h e v i s u a l and s p e c i f i c a l l y t h e a t r i c a l d e l i n e a t i o n o f c r u e l t y has been r e c e n t l y r e v e a l e d i n Peter Brook's productions f o r t h e Royal Shakespeare Company o f King Lear  (1956-57)  (1962),  T i t u s Andronicus  and Peter Weiss' The P e r s e c u t i o n and A s s a s s i n a t i o n  of Marat as performed by t h e inmates of t h e Asylum o f Charenton under t h e d i r e c t i o n of t h e Marquis de Sade  (1964-65).^  In  these p r o d u c t i o n s , the p l a y s as w r i t t e n have o b v i o u s l y been f e l t t o c o n t a i n , i n t r i n s i c a l l y , elements which t h e t h e o r i e s of  Artaud have f o r m u l a t e d i n non-dramatic and t h e o r e t i c a l  terms.  Hence t h e p l a y s as produced have made use o f Artaud's  w r i t i n g s , admittedly d i l u t e d , as an i n t e r p r e t i v e and product i o n guide.  I see no reason why the same i n t e r p r e t i v e  prin-  c i p l e s cannot be a p p l i e d t o Webster's The Duchess o f Malfi', or  f o r t h a t matter, t o many other works from Webster's  period.  As Robert O r n s t e i n observes: For a few b r i e f hours i n t h e t h e a t r e , the demons t h a t haunted the Jacobean a r t i s t i c mind assumed a f l e s h and blood as w e l l as p o e t i c r e a l i t y . 1 0 Secondly, i n r e l a t i o n t o Webster, w i t h t h e notable e x c e p t i o n o f John R u s s e l l Brown's i n t r o d u c t i o n t o t h e Revels Plays e d i t i o n of The Duchess of M a l f i ,  1 1  c r i t i c a l w r i t i n g on  6 Webster seems t o have concentrated l i t e r a t u r e , and  on the work as  dramatic  i n s u f f i c i e n t a t t e n t i o n seems t o have been  g i v e n t o the p l a y as a p i e c e of t h e a t r e , w r i t t e n f o r p e r f o r mance and f u l l y e f f e c t i v e only i n performance.  As  dramatic  l i t e r a t u r e , which presumably presupposes the l e i s u r e t o r e f l e c t and  contemplate, The  Duchess of M a l f i can r a p i d l y f a l l  t o p i e c e s , p a r t i c u l a r l y i f one t o the p l a y — t h e the cause and  motivations  and  c o n s i s t e n c y of c h a r a c t e r s , of  I f e e l t h a t Webster wrote f o r immediate  e f f e c t i v e n e s s , and t h a t any attempted e v a l u a t i o n  of the p l a y must keep t h i s i n mind. t i o n are undeniably  The  flaws of  construc-  present , but become minimal i n the  acy of a stage performance. cerns of Artaud's Theatre what one  of r e a l i s m  e f f e c t development of p l o t , the c r e d i b i l i t y  the work as a whole. impact and  a p p l i e s standards  F u r t h e r , when standards  or con-  of C r u e l t y are a p p l i e d t o the  sees through l i t e r a r y a n a l y s i s as dramatic  come, perhaps p e r v e r s e l y , t h e a t r i c a l v i r t u e s . the f a c t , as noted i n Don  immedi-  play,  flaws  In t h i s  be-  regard,  D. Moore's recent a r t i c l e "Webster  12 i n the Modern T h e a t r e , "  t h a t productions  of The  Duchess of  M a l f i , by approaching the p l a y l a r g e l y as a p i e c e of r e a l i s t i c drama, have had r e i n f o r c e s my  only l i m i t e d success  on the modern stage  theory t h a t i n the w r i t i n g s of Antonin  Artaud  l i e both i n t e r p r e t i v e and s t a g i n g approaches t o the play which have remained l a r g e l y unexplored.  only  CHAPTER I WEBSTER'S THEATRICAL FORM The for  concept of a Theatre of C r u e l t y i s  E l i z a b e t h a n and  been o f t e n  un-  j u s t l y c r i t i c i z e d f o r i t s l a c k of s t y l i s t i c homogeneity.  In  this i n i t i a l  Jacobean drama, which has  tailor-made  chapter,  I would l i k e t o suggest a more t o l e r a n t  a t t i t u d e be taken t o Webster's methods of composition. i s , t o be sure, l i t t l e  There  case t o be made f o r a s t y l i s t i c  of the dramatic or t h e a t r i c a l content  of The  unity  Duchess of M a l f i .  F o r t u n a t e l y , however, not a l l c r i t i c s of Webster are  as  bothered by h i s s t r u c t u r a l chaos as i s someone l i k e W i l l i a m Archer. is  In h i s condemnatory c r i t i c i s m , he i n s i s t s t h a t  simply  Malfi.  too much u n a s s i m i l a t e d m a t e r i a l i n The  there  Duchess of  Webster mistakes q u a n t i t y f o r q u a l i t y , Archer f e e l s ,  although he admits t h a t " T h i s attempt t o apply r a t i o n a l canons of dramatic c o n s t r u c t i o n t o an E l i z a b e t h a n doubtless  'masterpiece' w i l l  be regarded i n many q u a r t e r s as l i t t l e 2  sacrilegious."  S a c r i l e g i o u s only i n t h a t the  a t t i t u d e t o the E l i z a b e t h a n dramatists Drama and the New^ E l i z a b e t h a n and  takes l i t t l e  derogatory  as r e f l e c t e d i n The  account of the f a c t  Jacobean audiences were not  Ibsen or Shaw-like c o n s i s t e n c y ,  l e s s than  but  that  interested i n  i n v a r i e t y — a s much of i t  as p o s s i b l e — w i t h i n a g i v e n p l a y , o r , f u r t h e r , t h a t there i s no compositional  while  u n i t y i n a p l a y such as The  of M a l f i , there i s n e v e r t h e l e s s  Old  a definite  Duchess  compositional  3 p a t t e r n or s t r u c t u r e present, and  l o g i c a l progression  a l b e i t devoid  of the  rational  of events which Archer demands i n  dramatic s t r u c t u r e . As M u r i e l Bradbrook suggests, an E l i z a b e t h a n p l a y was expressed i n imagery and  the only t r u e u n i t y of  i t s poetic unity, a unifying v i s i o n language, a v e r b a l m o t i f which under-  l i e s and u n d e r l i n e s a l l the d i s p a r a t e v i s u a l and elements u t i l i z e d  i n the a c t u a l composition  t i o n of a work such as The c o u l d be n e g l e c t e d , of events, not  larity.  Duchess of M a l f i .  telescoped  or expanded.  so important i n any r e a l i s t i c  expected and  s i n c e the dramatists  e n c e s — t o i n c o r p o r a t e so much.  drama, was  She  impossible,  compares the  by a v a r i e t y  one  required,  degree of reguBradbrook audi-  resulting  of a modern  u n i f y i n g theme  of t h e a t r i c a l means.^  e f f e c t of a work would thus be both immediate and The  not  were e x p e c t e d — b y t h e i r  revue, which o f t e n does have, of course, repeated  space  A c a u s a l sequence  form of E l i z a b e t h a n drama t o the h e t e r o g e n e i t y  r e v e a l e d and  stage r e a l i z a -  Time and  c e r t a i n l y not f o l l o w e d t o any  A s t r i c t l y l o g i c a l framework was  suggests,  and  theatrical  cumulative.  Duchess of M a l f i works upon us i n much the same way;  dividual  scenes have an immediate and powerful e f f e c t ,  working w i t h i n us at the same time i s a cumulating which i s f e l t only a f t e r the f i n a l scene has  The  inbut  effect  ended.  Webster b u i l d s h i s play through drawing f r e e l y upon whatever best s u i t s h i s needs at the moment. work has  Much c r i t i c a l  bsen done on Webster's commonplace book method of  9 composition, h i s f r e e borrowing other w r i t e r s t o s u i t h i s own  and adapting of passages from  p o e t i c needs.  5  But he i s a l s o  a great borrower and adapter of t h e a t r i c a l d e v i c e s and tions.  T h i s h a b i t has been c i t e d by T.S.  E l i o t as  conven-  "artistic  g r e e d i n e s s , " r e s u l t i n g , a d m i t t e d l y , i n an impure a r t form. why  need t h i s be regarded as a f a u l t ?  f u l l y controlled  and handled  In the t h e a t r e , care-  as i t i s i n The Duchess of M a l f i ,  t h e r e i s no r e a l need t o condemn . n  . . their [i.e.,  E l i z a b e t h a n d r a m a t i s t s ] d e s i r e f o r every s o r t  the  of e f f e c t t o -  gether, t h e i r u n w i l l i n g n e s s t o accept any l i m i t a t i o n and by i t . " ^  I f we  of d e v i c e s and  But  do condemn Webster f o r h i s e x c e s s i v e conventions, he becomes, as E l i o t  abide  mixture  calls  him,  ". . . a very great l i t e r a r y and dramatic genius d i r e c t e d t o ward chaos.", a remark which, I t h i n k , combines p r a i s e f o r h i s particular  dramatic  v i s i o n w i t h condemnation f o r the chaos of  "7 h i s dramatic  form.  As F.L. Lucas notes i n the i n t r o d u c t i o n t o h i s  edition  of Webster, we must r e g a r d the p l a y s l e s s as c o n s i s t e n t wholes than as a s e r i e s  of great s i t u a t i o n s ,  and i n the  and u l t i m a t e t h e a t r i c a l r e a l i z a t i o n of these g r e a t  composition situations,  we must see Webster, u n a p o l o g e t i c a l l y , as an i n v e t e r a t e borrower and p l a g i a r i z e r .  There was,  as M u r i e l Bradbrook notes,  a common pool of stock m a t e r i a l — t h e m e s ,  c h a r a c t e r types,  v i s u a l d e v i c e s , t h e a t r i c a l e f f e c t s and t r i c k s — t o which E l i z a bethan d r a m a t i s t s a l l c o n t r i b u t e d and from which they a l l drew. Out  of t h i s evolved a vast number of u n s a n c t i f i e d ( i n the sense  10 t h a t they were not w r i t t e n down and formulated as r u l e s ) but accepted conventions; a body o f t h e a t r i c a l m a t e r i a l which was the common p r o p e r t y o f t h e d r a m a t i s t s and r e c o g n i z e d and accepted as such by t h e audiences. Miss Bradbrook's  approach,  Accepting t h e t r u t h of  does not t h e i n t e r e s t then c e n t r e  on t h e p a r t i c u l a r use t o which an i n d i v i d u a l d r a m a t i s t , such as Webster, put t h e v a r i o u s conventions i n conveying h i s own p e r s o n a l v i s i o n of l i f e ? There i s an undeniable u n i t y i n The Duchess o f M a l f i —a  thematic u n i t y t o which Webster adheres and t o which a l l  the d i v e r s e t h e a t r i c a l and dramatic elements contribute.  of the play  M a r t i n E s s l i n i n The Theatre o f the Absurd  a s u g g e s t i o n f o r e v a l u a t i n g t h e form o f works by w r i t e r s  offers such  as Ionesco and Beckett which i s a l s o u s e f u l as an approach t o Webster's method o f composition.  Overall unity, E s s l i n  r i g h t l y says, i s one o f theme and/or e f f e c t , thus echoing Miss Bradbrook's dramas.  d i s c u s s i o n of t h e p o e t i c u n i t y o f t h e E l i z a b e t h a n  I t develops out o f  . . . an i n d i v i d u a l human being's i n t u i t i o n o f t h e u l t i mate r e a l i t i e s as he experiences them; t h e f r u i t s o f one man's descent i n t o t h e depths o f h i s p e r s o n a l i t y , h i s dreams, f a n t a s i e s and nightmares. . . . one poet's most i n t i m a t e and p e r s o n a l i n t u i t i o n o f t h e human s i t u a t i o n . . . . T h i s i s the s u b j e c t matter of the Theatre o f t h e Absurd, and i t determines i t s form. . . . 9 In e f f e c t , t h e author's form i s t h e end r e s u l t of whatever he chooses t o use i n p r e s e n t i n g h i s s u b j e c t matter.  There a r e  no p r e s c r i b e d r u l e s t o observe, anything i s a l l o w a b l e i f i t  11  c o n t r i b u t e s i n i t s own way t o the f i n a l  statement.  To t h i s end, t h e n — t h e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f h i s p e r s o n a l i n t u i t i o n of the b a s i c t r u t h o f the human s i t u a t i o n — W e b s t e r a v a i l s h i m s e l f of any t h e a t r i c a l convention which w i l l a i d i n conveying h i s v i s i o n t o the audience, anything which w i l l c o n t r i b u t e t o a thorough involvement o f t h e i r a t t e n t i o n .  Thus,  a concept o f T o t a l Theatre as p o s t u l a t e d by Artaud can be d i s t i n c t l y r e l e v a n t t o The Duchess o f M a l f i : " . . . the Theater of C r u e l t y i n t e n d s t o r e a s s e r t a l l the t i m e - t e s t e d magical means o f c a p t u r i n g the s e n s i b i l i t y . "  1 0  The Theatre o f Cruelty,  concerned as i t i s w i t h thorough involvement through a c o n t i n u a l barrage o f seemingly d i s p a r a t e elements d i r e c t e d towards the conscious and subconscious responses o f an audience, makes a v i r t u e of c o m p o s i t i o n a l d i v e r s i t y r a t h e r than a f a u l t .  "In  a g i v e n time, t o the g r e a t e s t p o s s i b l e number o f movements, we w i l l j o i n the g r e a t e s t p o s s i b l e number o f p h y s i c a l images and meanings a t t a c h e d t o those movements."  11  T o t a l Theatre  a l l o w s f o r the use o f a l l the elements of the stage t o serve the d r a m a t i s t ' s i n t e n t i o n : The t h e a t e r w i l l never f i n d i t s e l f a g a i n . . . except by f u r n i s h i n g the s p e c t a t o r with the t r u t h f u l p r e c i p i t a t e of dreams, i n which h i s t a s t e f o r crime, h i s e r o t i c o b s e s s i o n s , h i s savagery, h i s chimeras, h i s Utopian sense of l i f e and matter, even h i s c a n n i b a l i s m pour out on a l e v e l not c o u n t e r f e i t and i l l u s o r y , but i n t e r i o r . In other terms, the t h e a t e r must pursue by a l l i t s means a r e a s s e r t i o n not only o f a l l the aspects o f the o b j e c t i v e and d e s c r i p t i v e e x t e r n a l world but o f the i n t e r n a l world; t h a t i s , o f man c o n s i d e r e d m e t a p h y s i c a l l y . 1 2  12 Enough has now been s a i d , I f e e l , t o suggest t h a t we may p r o f i t a b l y view Webster i n a l i g h t o f a p p r o v a l than disapproval f o r h i s t h e a t r i c a l v a r i e t y .  rather  In o u t l i n i n g  t h i s v a r i e t y below, my concern f o r t h e moment i s s i m p l y  with  t h e v a r i e t y i n and o f i t s e l f , and o f t h e e f f e c t i v e n e s s o f i n d i v i d u a l d e v i c e s and c o n v e n t i o n s c o n s i d e r e d themselves.  The r e l e v a n c e  i n and f o r  of seemingly d i s p a r a t e  elements  t o t h e t o t a l t h e m a t i c u n i t y o f t h e work w i l l be made c l e a r , I hope, i n t h e f o l l o w i n g c h a p t e r s .  A l s o , I make no attempt  t o t r a c e any a c t u a l o r p o s s i b l e s o u r c e s o f t h e elements used."'" To c l a r i f y my c o n t e n t i o n t h a t The Duchess o f M a l f i may be seen w i t h i n a c o n t e x t  of Total Theatre, a twentieth  a n a l o g y seems r e l e v a n t a t t h i s p o i n t .  century  As mentioned e a r l i e r ,  t h e f u l l e s t contemporary r e a l i z a t i o n o f A r t a u d ' s concept o f T o t a l T h e a t r e has been i n P e t e r Brook's 1964 p r o d u c t i o n o f W e i s s ' Marat/Sade.  In his introduction to the English text  of t h e p l a y , Brook n o t e s : Weiss not o n l y uses t o t a l t h e a t r e , t h a t time-honoured n o t i o n o f g e t t i n g a l l t h e elements o f t h e s t a g e t o s e r v e t h e p l a y . H i s f o r c e i s not o n l y i n t h e q u a n t i t y of i n s t r u m e n t s he u s e s ; i t i s above a l l i n t h e j a n g l e produced by t h e c l a s h o f s t y l e s . One o f t h e London c r i t i c s a t t a c k e d t h e p l a y on t h e ground t h a t i t was a f a s h i o n a b l e m i x t u r e o f a l l t h e best t h e a t r i c a l ingredients around^-Brechtian—didactic-a b s u r d i s t — T h e a t r e o f C r u e l t y . He s a i d t h i s t o d i s p a r a g e but I r e p e a t t h i s as p r a i s e . Weiss saw t h e use o f every one o f t h e s e i d i o m s and he saw th&t he needed them a l l . And,  f r o m h i s work i n t r a n s f e r r i n g t h e t e x t t o t h e s t a g e ,  Brook  13 felt  t h a t Weiss had s u c c e s s f u l l y a s s i m i l a t e d t h e many d i s -  parate  elements used:  From our p r a c t i c a l experience I can r e p o r t t h a t the f o r c e of t h e performance i s d i r e c t l y r e l a t e d t o t h e imaginative r i c h n e s s o f the m a t e r i a l : the i m a g i n a t i v e r i c h n e s s i s the consequence of the amount of l e v e l s t h a t a r e working simultaneously: t h i s simultaneity i s the d i r e c t r e s u l t of Weiss's d a r i n g combination o f so many c o n t r a d i c t o r y techniques.14 For Weiss, l e t us t e m p o r a r i l y  read Webster, f o r g e t t i n g the  Marat/Sade and c o n s i d e r i n g the relevance The  Duchess o f M a l f i .  o f the statement t o  The e x e r c i s e i s a l l t h e more p r o f i t a b l e  i f one notes t h a t Brook's i n d i c a t i o n o f ". . . t h e best r i c a l i n g r e d i e n t s around. . . . " a r e a l l present of M a l f i .  theat-  i n The Duchess  The B r e c h t i a n element, at l e a s t p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y , i s  as much Webster's as i t i s Brecht's, elements a r e a l s o present  and d i d a c t i c and a b s u r d i s t  i n the play.  F o r the moment, however,  l e t us concern o u r s e l v e s w i t h the s p e c i f i c a l l y dramatic and t h e a t r i c a l elements of t h e p l a y which represent indigenous t o Webster's own time.  conventions  This represents,  I feel,  T o t a l Theatre as i t was i n e f f e c t p r a c t i c e d i f not a c t u a l l y so named by a Jacobean  dramatist.  CHAPTER THE  DUCHESS OF MALFI AS TOTAL THEATRE  Assuming t h a t The noted, " . . .  II  one  Duchess of M a l f i i s , as previously-  poet's most i n t i m a t e and  of the human s i t u a t i o n .  personal  intuition  . . .","*" i t seems l e g i t i m a t e t o sug-  gest t h a t d e s p i t e i t s I t a l i a n s e t t i n g , the p l a y i s meant t o be a microcosmic r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of l i f e s p e c i f i c a l l y of l i f e  everywhere, but more  i n the England Webster l i v e d i n .  Hence  the p l a y attempts t o p l a c e on the stage as f u l l and v a r i e d a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n as p o s s i b l e of the manifold complex s o c i e t y : scenes of p u b l i c and with  concerns of a  court l i f e a l t e r n a t e  domestic, p r i v a t e scenes, the f o r m a l i t y of the p u b l i c  scenes c o n t r a s t i n g with the i n f o r m a l i t y of the domestic scenes. I n t e r i o r s and  e x t e r i o r s are used: r e c e i v i n g chambers, bedrooms,  c o r r i d o r s , a c o u r t y a r d , the open c o u n t r y s i d e , a p r i s o n , a graveyard, a r e l i g i o u s shrine. stage allowed  The  f o r such constant  f l e x i b i l i t y of the  Elizabethan  movement and a c t i v i t y ,  and  throughout the p l a y , Webster p l a c e s h i s c e n t r a l group of c h a r a c t e r s w i t h i n the l a r g e r context s o c i a l machine.  of a busy and  There i s an undeniable aura of s p e c t a c l e i n  the p l a y j u s t on the l e v e l of movement and a c t i v i t y Spectacle scene ( I l l . i v ) ,  complex  alone.  of a more s p e c i f i c nature i s used i n the  a l s o i n v o l v i n g r i t u a l and  pageantry, of the  C a r d i n a l ' s i n v e s t i t u r e as a s o l d i e r , a scene which i s not completely  necessary t o the a c t u a l p l o t , but which v i s u a l l y  15  makes an extremely important c o n t r i b u t i o n to the theme. we  over-all  Immediately f o l l o w i n g the C a r d i n a l ' s i n s t a l l a t i o n ,  have i n dumb-show the r e p r e s e n t a t i o n  the Duchess and  Antonio, a scene which depends e n t i r e l y  pantomime, g e s t u r e and This p a r t i c u l a r establish  is, first  point i n the play i s a u s e f u l one inter-play  l e v e l s of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  and most simply,  and  a basic plot  to  of a number  response.  There  s i t u a t i o n : the  s a f e t y at the s h r i n e where the  takes p l a c e , t h e i r banishment by the C a r d i n a l . l e v e l , we mally  have a v i s u a l r e p r e s e n t a t i o n  p u t t i n g a s i d e the garb of a man  up the dress  of a f i g h t e r .  In one  t i o n of h i s t r u e nature as we play; a v i s u a l confirmation i s one who nature.  Carand  ceremony  On a  character  of the C a r d i n a l  for-  of the Church and  taking  sense, t h i s g i v e s a r e v e l a -  have seen i t developing  of our f e e l i n g that the  i n the Cardinal  uses r e l i g i o n only as a cloak t o d i s g u i s e h i s t r u e  In the garb of a s o l d i e r , he somehow looks much more  appropriate,  p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the context  symbolic and  ritualistic  delivering and  on  help  d i n a l i n s t a l l e d i n the h a b i t of a s o l d i e r , h i s s i s t e r her husband seeking  of  p h y s i c a l movement f o r i t s e f f e c t .  some i d e a of the frequent  of d i f f e r e n t  of the banishment  of the  accompanying  a c t i o n s of h i s attendants  up h i s c r o s s , hat, robes and  r i n g at the  i n v e s t i n g him with sword, helmet, s h i e l d and  "... shrine,  spurs;  . . .  (III.iv.8).  On a more complex l e v e l of response, i t seems s i g n i f i cant that the banishment of the Duchess and immediately f o l l o w i n g t h i s ceremony, and  Antonio takes place  on l o o k i n g back, we  16 can  realize that  i t i s at t h i s point that the  the  Duchess b e g i n s i n e a r n e s t .  From t h e  sense a deeper i m p l i c a t i o n of the d i s s o l u t i o n of the  l a r l y , a l s o i n pantomime (we p i l g r i m ' s comments a f e w  are  Cardinal's  l i n e s l a t e r ) , we  of the  of another e s t a b l i s h e d i n s t i t u t i o n or All  of the  the  foregoing  The  f o r c e of gesture The  ensuing dialogue  n e c e s s a r y , and  p e r f o r m a n c e , he  and  the  Cardinal  finger.  imminent  Here  we  destruction  A f t e r seeing  discontinuous  a k i n d of d i r e c t p h y s i c a l appeal  verbal  be  comment; un-  spectacular e f f e c t i v e -  I n The  w r i t e s of the  of gesture;  cannot  P i l g r i m s i s i n many ways  ....  T h e a t e r and  strong  one  noted i n h i s impressions  g e s t i c u l a t i o n s and  the  f a c i a l expression  just taken place.  expressiveness  Simi-  i s suggested i n purely v i s u a l  o f t h e two  power o f mime a c t i o n s .  tible  see  s c e n e a c t u a l l y n e e d s no  Double, Artaud repeatedly  a religious  custom.  a c t u a l l y decreases the  n e s s o f what h a s  by  the  must assume i t s p r e s e n c e f r o m  Duchess' wedding r i n g from her  under-estimated.  actions:  of  can  e v e n by r e l i g i o n i t s e l f .  offered a v i s u a l suggestion  terms.  p a n t o m i m e , we  protection usually provided  s h r i n e , p e r h a p s more g e n e r a l l y  t e a r i n g the  persecution  Its  communicative  p a r t i c u l a r mime "...  the  In the  animated  unfolding  irresis-  o f images t h e r e  . . . w h i c h memory w i l l  never  2  release."  A f t e r a p e r f o r m a n c e o f The  d o u b t t h a t we  w o u l d remember a s i n g l e w o r d o f t h e  commentary, but banishment.  Duchess o f M a l f i ,  we  w o u l d u n d o u b t e d l y remember t h e  is  I  pilgrims' dumb-show  17 We  should  a l s o bear i n mind t h a t yet another l e v e l of  response would be i n o p e r a t i o n  due  to the presence of  accompaniment and the r i t u a l chanting  musical  of the Churchmen, form-  ing  almost a mocking counter e f f e c t t o our v i s u a l responses.  The  scene r e p r e s e n t s  f o l d i n g a c t i o n , and vey  a s i g n i f i c a n t t u r n i n g p o i n t i n the  un-  i t i s of note t h a t Webster chose t o con-  i t e n t i r e l y i n t h e a t r i c a l t e r m s — v i s u a l l y r a t h e r than  verbally. R i t u a l elements are a l s o i n v o l v e d i n the scene of I . i and the b e t r a y a l of J u l i a i n V . i i , a l s o depending h e a v i l y on the v i s u a l f o r f u l l In f a c t , i t i s d i f f i c u l t t o t h i n k of any  betrothal both scenes  realization.  important scene i n  the p l a y which does not depend h e a v i l y on t h e a t r i c a l  realiza-  t i o n f o r i t s e f f e c t i v e n e s s : the b e t r o t h a l scene, the  confron-  t a t i o n of Antonio and  Bosola i n the c o u r t y a r d , the i n t r u s i o n  of Ferdinand i n t o the Duchess' bedroom, the scene at Ancona, the t o r t u r e and  death of the Duchess, Ferdinand's mad  the echo scene, the death of J u l i a , and and  i n t r i g u e s at the c l o s e of the In h i s f i r s t  scene,  the v a r i o u s murders  play.  manifesto f o r a Theatre of C r u e l t y ,  Artaud, who  had  l i t t l e use  f o r the modern t h e a t r e ' s  on dialogue  t o convey meaning, advocated i n h i s planned pro-  gram the s t a g i n g of "Works from the E l i z a b e t h a n s t r i p p e d of t h e i r t e x t and  r e t a i n i n g only the  dependency  theater  accouterments 3  of p e r i o d , s i t u a t i o n s , c h a r a c t e r s revealed  and  action."  As  further  i n h i s short d i s c u s s i o n of the p h y s i c a l impact  of  18 Ford's  ' T i s P i t y She's A W h o r e d Artaud seemingly had a s t r o n g  sense of the importance  of the v i s u a l image as a v i t a l  con-  t r i b u t i n g f a c t o r t o the audience's apprehension of thematic i m p l i c a t i o n s of a g i v e n work. s i d e r j u s t how  What i s s u r p r i s i n g i s t o con-  much of the t o t a l e f f e c t of The Duchess of  M a l f i depends on v i s u a l r e a l i z a t i o n , d e s p i t e the f a c t  that  Webster's p o e t i c imagery  i s what has brought him  r e c o g n i t i o n and p r a i s e .  The poetry of the p l a y supports and  extends the i m p l i c a t i o n s of the v i s u a l imagery.  enduring  I f the p l a y  i n o u t l i n e form were t o become the b a s i s f o r a mime s c e n a r i o and were consequently played as such i t would, I t h i n k , r e t a i n i t s thematic i m p l i c a t i o n s as r e v e a l e d through v i s u a l image and character i n action.  The onus would be p l a c e d on the expres-  s i v e power of g e s t u r e and movement t o convey the meaning of key scenes.  S t r i p p e d of i t s t e x t u a l ambiguity, the  revenge  of Ferdinand a g a i n s t h i s s i s t e r might  be then seen i n i t s  essence as pure, m o t i v e l e s s c r u e l t y .  I t s t e r r o r would not be  l e s s e n e d , but g r e a t l y heightened due t o the complete  absence  of a v e r b a l d i r e c t i o n of the audience's r e a c t i o n s and sympathies.  In the p l a y , v i s u a l and v e r b a l images seem t o run  p a r a l l e l t o each o t h e r , so t h a t i n e f f e c t we have a double statement  of theme: one v i s u a l , one v e r b a l , and a l s o a double  r e v e l a t i o n of c h a r a c t e r : one v i s u a l , one v e r b a l . r e t u r n t o t h i s i d e a i n the next chapter.  For the moment, l e t  us continue t o look at the t h e a t r i c a l elements of M a l f i .  I will  of The Duchess  19 It  i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o note that f o l l o w i n g the scene at  Ancona, r i t u a l elements, normally a s s o c i a t e d w i t h order harmony, are used f o r p e r v e r t e d versions  purposes and  become grotesque  of our u s u a l a s s o c i a t i o n s of r i t u a l f u n c t i o n s .  k i s s e s the B i b l e , a r i t u a l c o n f i r m a t i o n she has  and  of the oath of  Julia secrecy  j u s t g i v e n ; the book i s poisoned, and her l i f e  ends.  In I V . i , the Duke o f f e r s the Duchess h i s hand t o k i s s , a r i t u a l s i g n of a c c e p t i n g  and  r e c e i v i n g f o r g i v e n e s s , but  hand t u r n s out t o be the severed hand of a dead man; ing  inherent  i n the ceremony i s mocked, p e r v e r t e d  Indeed, a strange p a t t e r n of p e r v e r t e d underline  a l l of the t o r t u r e scenes ( I V . i and  minate i n the death of the Duchess.  the  the mean-  and  nullified.  r i t u a l seems t o i i ) which c u l -  T h i s r i t u a l m o t i f has  i n t e r p r e t e d i n a v a r i e t y of ways, a l l of them s u g g e s t i v e ,  been none  5  r e a l l y conclusive. useful.  C l i f f o r d Leech's suggestions are most  R i t u a l , he f e e l s , . n  . . schematises human b e l i e f  or  a s p i r a t i o n or need, thus both a s s e r t i n g the mental c o n d i t i o n it  expresses and  . ...  at the same time unburdening t h a t  So Ferdinand and  black mass."^ of I V . i and  condition.  Bosola arrange t h e i r v a r i a n t of a  I t seems p o s s i b l e t o see the  e n t i r e sequence  i i as a r i t u a l i z a t i o n by Ferdinand of h i s d e s i r e s  and needs and  as a v i s u a l a s s e r t i o n of h i s mental c o n d i t i o n .  Leech makes a f u r t h e r r e l e v a n t  point:  And f o r us, who have been f a s c i n a t e d and tormented by the ceremony but never acquiescent i n i t , the e f f e c t i s no l e s s complex, no mere t h r i l l of h o r r o r . I t i s informed  20 by our r e a l i z a t i o n of i t s source i n the minds of those who have stage-managed i t , and by a growing sense of what i t w i l l do t o them.7 In r e l a t i o n t o the concept of c r u e l t y i n the t h e a t r e ,  Leech's  note of our f a s c i n a t i o n by the r i t u a l / c e r e m o n y i s h i g h l y i n formative.  The machinations of Ferdinand e l i c i t ,  I t h i n k , an  unformed, u n i n t e l l e c t u a l empathy i n the audience.  Theatre of  C r u e l t y p r o v i d e s an o u t l e t f o r our r e p r e s s i o n s . comparing munity  In h i s essay  the t h e a t r i c a l experiencefc.6'the presence i n a com-  of a plague, Artaud suggests:  The plague takes images that are dormant, a l a t e n t d i s o r d e r , and suddenly extends them i n t o the most extreme g e s t u r e s ; the t h e a t e r a l s o takes g e s t u r e s and pushes them as f a r as they w i l l go: . . . . I t r e c o v e r s the n o t i o n of symbols and archetypes which act l i k e s i l e n t blows, r e s t s , l e a p s of the h e a r t . . . inflammatory images t h r u s t i n t o our a b r u p t l y wakened heads." Much has been made of the s o - c a l l e d Senecan h o r r o r d e v i c e s used by Webster i n the p e r s e c u t i o n scene.  But,  r e g a r d l e s s of whatever s p e c i f i c t r a d i t i o n s he drew upon, Webster does not i n c l u d e a severed hand, r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s of dead b o d i e s , madmen, murder and t o r t u r e simply as t i t i l l a t i o n s f o r the audience.  extraneous  T h i s i s not t o say t h a t he  unaware of t h e i r t h e a t r i c a l e f f e c t i v e n e s s and p o p u l a r i t y . p o i n t becomes, r a t h e r , why  were such t h i n g s so popular?  mentioned, i n I V . i and i i we  was The  As  seem c l o s e t o Artaud's concept  of t h e a t r e as an o u t l e t f o r , and an e x t e r n a l i z a t i o n o f , our repressions. notes:  In "The Theater and the Plague," Artaud f u r t h e r  21 . . . l i k e the plague, i t [ i . e . , the t h e a t r e ] i s the r e v e l a t i o n , the b r i n g i n g f o r t h , the e x t e r i o r i z a t i o n of a depth of l a t e n t c r u e l t y by means of which a l l the perverse p o s s i b i l i t i e s of the mind, whether of an i n d i v i d u a l or a people, are l o c a l i z e d It releases c o n f l i c t s , disengages powers, l i b e r a t e s p o s s i b i l i t i e s , and i f these p o s s i b i l i t i e s are dark, i t i s the f a u l t not of the plague nor of the t h e a t e r , but of l i f e . 9 One  can begin t o p e r c e i v e here the i m p l i c a t i o n s of  t h i s h o r r o r show which we deniable f a s c i n a t i o n .  as audience members watch i n un-  I f a m i r r o r were suddenly h e l d i n f r o n t  of our f a c e s as we watched, perhaps we would be h o r r i f i e d the s i g h t of our own murder represented  by  engrossment i n c r u e l t y , t o r t u r e and  before us.  We would thus have a sudden and  p a i n f u l insight into ourselves.  In the Theatre  of C r u e l t y ,  the stage area becomes t h i s m i r r o r ; a r e f l e c t i o n of our l a t e n t and  suppressed p r o c l i v i t i e s .  T h i s , I t h i n k , was  was  t r y i n g t o do i n t h i s long f o u r t h act s e q u e n c e — t r y i n g  reach a deeper l e v e l of awareness than one i n t e r e s t i n p l o t and use  characters.  of the t h e a t r e and  As we  what Webster to  of s u p e r f i c i a l  To do t h i s , he made f u l l  i t s resources t o evoke the  insight.  s h a l l see i n a l a t e r s e c t i o n , h i s dialogue and  poetic  imagery were a l s o working f o r t h i s e f f e c t , i n harmony with the v i s u a l imagery. T.S.  E l i o t senses i n E l i z a b e t h a n drama a r e l e a s e i n  the t h e a t r e of t a s t e s and a t t i t u d e s which were h e l d under tenuous r e s t r a i n t i n everyday l i f e .  Tastes g r a t i f i e d i n the  t h e a t r e are always l a t e n t i n the audience, he f e e l s .  A point  he makes about Seneca's i n f l u e n c e i s most r e l e v a n t t o the  22  f o r e g o i n g argument: The worst t h a t can be urged a g a i n s t Seneca, i n the matter of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r what i s d i s g u s t i n g i n E l i z a b e t h a n drama, i s t h a t he may have provided the dramatist w i t h a p r e t e x t or j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r h o r r o r s which were not Senecan a t a l l , f o r which t h e r e was c e r t a i n l y a t a s t e , and t h e t a s t e f o r which would c e r t a i n l y have been g r a t i - -,Q f i e d a t that time whether Seneca had ever w r i t t e n or not. Thus, Seneca's r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the h o r r o r and bloodshed o f a p l a y such as The Duchess of M a l f i can be seen as minimal; he, by way o f e a r l i e r E n g l i s h d r a m a t i s t s such as Kyd, undoubtedly p r o v i d e d t h e conventions, but t h e reason f o r t h e i r use by Webster i s because o f t h e i r d i s t i n c t r e l e v a n c e t o h i s view of man and s o c i e t y .  F u r t h e r support f o r t h i s view i s found i n  Lord David C e c i l ' s essay on Webster: "The w i l d and bloody conventions o f E l i z a b e t h a n melodrama p r o v i d e d a most  appro-  p r i a t e v e h i c l e f o r conveying h i s h e l l - h a u n t e d v i s i o n o f human e x i• s t* e n c e . "n  i l  Another t h e a t r i c a l t r a d i t i o n i s a t work i n a t l e a s t p a r t o f t h e p e r s e c u t i o n sequence, namely Webster's i n c l u s i o n of a dance o f madmen.  There i s a p a r a l l e l between Webster's  use o f dancing and h i s use o f r i t u a l .  Just as t h e comforts  and order normally a s s o c i a t e d w i t h r i t u a l a r e s t r i p p e d away i n t h e p l a y , so the t r a d i t i o n a l ideas o f o r d e r , balance and harmony as expressed by the d a n c e — p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the f o r m a l masque f o r m — a r e  here r e v e r s e d .  The dance o f madmen expresses  d i s o r d e r , a l o s s o f balance and harmony i n t h e world o f the play.  In one sense t h i s dance i s a key image i n t h e p l a y ,  23 again v i s u a l , and a n a t u r a l consequence of the e a r l i e r image of the abandonment of t r a d i t i o n and order as suggested Ancona dumb-show.  i n the  As w i t h t h i s e a r l i e r image, the importance  of the dance f o r m as g e s t u r e , movement and e x p r e s s i o n must be noted.  In The E l i z a b e t h a n World P i c t u r e , E.M.W. T i l l y a r d  mentions the i d e a of the cosmic dance, the  concept—adopted  i n the masque f o r m — o f harmony and order r e f l e c t e d i n movement, 12 the order of the u n i v e r s e seen as a dance. t r a d i t i o n of the anti-masque evolved as  Presumably, the  contrast—disharmony  which would be c o n t r a s t e d w i t h the order of the masque proper. In The Duchess of M a l f i , we have only an anti-masque.  What  f o l l o w s i s not an o r d e r l y e x p r e s s i o n of harmony t o reassure us, but r a t h e r the entrance Duchess  1  executioners.  of Bosola and,  soon a f t e r , the  In her extremely u s e f u l a r t i c l e ,  •Impure A r t ' of John Webster," Inga-Stina Ekeblad t h i s sequence i n terms of i t s masque elements, and t h a t the dance " . . . the in-coherence  a c t s as an ideograph  of the Duchess* world.  of the  "The  examines observes dis-unity,  I t a c t s as a v i s u a l  and a u r a l image of what the a c t i o n of the p l a y has l e d t o . . 13 . ."  As an e x p r e s s i o n i n dance of a world-gone-mad-motif,  Webster has o b v i o u s l y brought another  l e v e l of response  p l a y through h i s use of another form of t h e a t r e .  into  Clifford  Leech f e e l s t h a t the madmen's scene and dance represent a concrete image of the p l a y as a whole i n t h a t they  signify  the f i n a l d i s s o l u t i o n of an a p p a r e n t l y  ( i . e . , deceptively)  ordered w o r l d . ^  point, i n that i t  T h i s i s an important  24 a l l o w s us t o see the r e l e v a n c e of Act V t o the t o t a l p l a n of the p l a y .  D e s p i t e i t s l o o s e s t r u c t u r e , i t i s not  but shows a world t o t a l l y without order and v a l u e .  extraneous, We  should  a l s o keep i n mind the concept of the stage as microcosm.  The  dance of the madmen comments on the world of the p l a y , and i n t u r n , as we have noted, the world of the p l a y i s intended as a r e f l e c t i o n of the world o u t s i d e the t h e a t r e . I f Act IV depends h e a v i l y on stage performance f o r full tent.  e f f e c t i v e n e s s , Act V i s every b i t as t h e a t r i c a l i n conF r e q u e n t l y regarded as somewhat extraneous and  be-  l a b o u r e d , i t i s r a t h e r an e x t e n s i o n of the i m p l i c a t i o n s of the dance of madmen and ensuing death of the Duchess i n Act IV. I t i s a h i g h l y p h y s i c a l act—movement, a c t i v i t y , c o n f u s i o n are constant.  I f the a c t seems d i s o r g a n i z e d and fragmentary, per-  haps i t i s i n t e n t i o n a l l y so; i t m i r r o r s the c o n d i t i o n of the M a l f i world.  In a sense the act i s an e l a b o r a t e development  of a remark made by Bosola j u s t before he stabs the C a r d i n a l : . . . when thou k i l l ' d ' s t thy s i s t e r , Thou t o o k ' s t from J u s t i c e her most equal balance, And l e f t her naught but her sword.  (V.v.39-41) The sword i s the most predominant  stage prop throughout Act V.  The outcome of e v e r y t h i n g i s death.  But v i s u a l l y an important  point can be made; one which i s made t e x t u a l l y , but which can only be f u l l y a p p r e c i a t e d i n performance.  The deaths are  extremely g r o t e s q u e - - J u l i a d i e s k i s s i n g a poisoned book; Bosola stabs Antonio by mistake; the C a r d i n a l ' s c l e v e r p l a n t o a l l o w  2  5  him t o dispose of J u l i a ' s body i s the cause of h i s downfall on Bosola's sword, who beforehand;  has a l s o k i l l e d a servant  immediately  Ferdinand, i n h i s madness, g i v e s h i s b r o t h e r  another death blow, a l s o stabs Bosola, who  i n t u r n manages  t o s t a b Ferdinand before he d i e s h i m s e l f .  Condensed as above,  the a c t i o n i s not only grotesque  but almost  movements; i t i s "comic" but i n a way r e a l l y funny. statement  comical i n i t s  too t e r r i b l e t o be  The sequence conveys the t r u t h of Kernan's  t h a t i n The Duchess of M a l f i "The metaphors which  the s a t i r i s t t r a d i t i o n a l l y uses t o d e s c r i b e the and i d i o c y of mankind now  filthiness  become l i t e r a l r e a l i t i e s  before  15 our eyes."  Admittedly, t h e r e i s a p r e c a r i o u s balance  tween the grotesque  and the merely  from p r o d u c t i o n t o p r o d u c t i o n .  be-  s i l l y which would vary  What i s important  theatri-  c a l l y i s t o convey v i s u a l l y the obvious f a c t t h a t nobody merely passes away q u i e t l y - - t h e Duchess and C a r i o l a i n Act IV and J u l i a , Antonio, the C a r d i n a l , Ferdinand and Bosola i n Act V a l l d i e n o i s y , v i o l e n t , c r u e l a n d — r e l e v a n t t o a l a t e r d i s c u s s i o n but worth n o t i n g here—man i n f l i c t e d deaths.  This  i s a s o c i e t y c o n t r o l l e d , o r g a n i z e d , operated and destroyed by man  alone.  I t h i n k a v i s u a l s u g g e s t i o n of t h i s has been  g i v e n much e a r l i e r i n the p l a y — i n the symbolic  implications  of the C a r d i n a l abandoning the robes of r e l i g i o n and t a k i n g on the garb of an a c t i v e , f i g h t i n g man  of the world.  The v a r i o u s t h e a t r i c a l elements o u t l i n e d above work i n c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h v a r i o u s dramatic elements ( i . e . , conven-  26 t i o n s o f c h a r a c t e r and p l o t ) which a r e a l s o not a l l o r i g i n a l w i t h Webster, but a r e n e v e r t h e l e s s put t o o r i g i n a l use by him.  On one l e v e l , The Duchess o f M a l f i i s a l o v e s t o r y , and  we see Webster again u s i n g the s t r u c t u r a l p r i n c i p l e o f cont r a s t , analogous t o h i s c o n t r a s t s between t r a d i t i o n a l and p e r v e r t e d r i t u a l s and masque and anti-masque, t o d i f f e r e n t i a t e between the normal and h e a l t h y l o v e o f the Duchess and Antonio and the l u s t and s e x u a l i t y o f the r e l a t i o n s h i p between J u l i a and the C a r d i n a l , or J u l i a i n a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h Bosola and Delio.  Character c o n t r a s t s a r e , o f course, a l s o i m p l i e d .  The M a c h i a v e l l i a n stage f i g u r e i s used by Webster i n h i s c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n o f the C a r d i n a l and, t o a l e s s e r  extent,  Ferdinand, although the l a t t e r might be as e a s i l y seen as Webster's v e r s i o n o f a Humour Character.  T h e i r work i s c a r -  r i e d out by a t o o l v i l l a i n , a stock f i g u r e c r e a t e d a f r e s h by Webster i n the c h a r a c t e r o f Bosola.  I n t r i g u e and d e c e p t i o n ,  standard p l o t d e v i c e s o f revenge tragedy, are u t i l i z e d out the p l a y , but here again the important as microcosm i s r e l e v a n t .  concept  through-  o f the p l a y  I t i s not only t h a t t h i s type o f  p l o t was t h e a t r i c a l l y i n t e r e s t i n g ; t o Webster i t was, as everyt h i n g , r e l e v a n t t o h i s view o f s o c i e t y . Three somewhat more g e n e r a l concerns d i s c u s s i n g the t h e a t r i c a l composition  need mention i n  o f a work l i k e The  Duchess o f M a l f i : the importance of music, l i g h t i n g and a c t i n g i n the o v e r - a l l r e a l i z a t i o n o f the work as T o t a l Theatre. We should, I t h i n k , r e g a r d the use o f music as o f primary  27 importance t o Webster. j u s t how  We have no way  of knowing, o f course,  much i n c i d e n t a l music appeared throughout the a c t i o n .  In a modern p r o d u c t i o n of the work, one attempting t o r e a l i z e the t h e o r i e s of Artaud, music would be g r e a t l y used. set a mood or atmosphere  I t can  almost i n s t a n t a n e o u s l y , i t can under-  score dramatic a c t i o n throughout, u n d e r l i n e or punctuate c e r t a i n s i g n i f i c a n t passages.  A l s o , i t s appeal i s , i n keeping  w i t h Artaud's concept of t h e a t r e , p r i m a r i l y sensory r a t h e r than i n t e l l e c t u a l .  In a work l i k e The Duchess of M a l f i i t  can and should be made t o work upon the nerves of the s p e c t a tor.  An i n d i c a t i o n o f t h i s f u n c t i o n i s g i v e n at the opening  of I V . i i :  "What hideous n o i s e was  t h a t ? " the Duchess asks,  i n d i c a t i n g t o an a s t u t e d i r e c t o r t h a t at t h i s  particular  p o i n t i n the p l a y , d i s c o r d a n t music could have an important emotional impact on an audience. However, even i n Webster's  time t h e r e i s c o n s i d e r a b l e  reason t o suspect t h a t music was much more used than the t e x t s o f s u r v i v i n g works a c t u a l l y i n d i c a t e .  In M a l f i , the  i n s t a l m e n t of the C a r d i n a l i n the garb of a s o l d i e r , and the ensuing dumb show banishment  of the Duchess and Antonio  was,  as suggested i n the t e x t , e n t i r e l y underscored w i t h music and v o c a l c h a n t i n g :  . . during a l l which ceremony, t h i s  d i t t y i s sung, t o v e r y solemn music, by d i v e r s Churchmen; . . . ." ( I l l . i v . s . d . below 1 . $ ) .  There i s ample o p p o r t u n i t y  f o r i t s use throughout I V . i and i i .  "Here, by a Madman, t h i s  song i s sung, t o a d i s m a l k i n d of music." the d i r e c t i o n s  28 i n d i c a t e at I V . i i . 6 0 . " ^  L a t e r i n the scene ( 1 . 1 1 2 ) , the dance  o f madmen t a k e s p l a c e , " . . . unto.  w i t h music answerable t h e r e -  . . .", and music would presumably accompany t h e Execu-  t i o n e r ' s e n t r a n c e w i t h the c o f f i n .  Beyond t h e s e  specific  i n d i c a t i o n s , one can o n l y s p e c u l a t e on t h e amount of i n c i d e n t a l music a c t u a l l y used. considerable.  I p r e f e r t o s p e c t u l a t e t h a t i t was  I t seems h i g h l y l i k e l y ,  f o r example, t h a t the  Echo sequence i n V . i i i would have had some form o f m u s i c a l underscoring. The  importance of l i g h t i n g t o c o n t r i b u t e t o mood,  atmosphere and s e t t i n g o f a modern p r o d u c t i o n i s so t h a t i t need not be e l a b o r a t e d upon. ing  obvious  However, i t i s i n t e r e s t -  t o s p e c u l a t e on t h e p o s s i b i l i t y of r u d i m e n t a r y  experimen-  t a t i o n w i t h some t y p e o f l i g h t i n g e f f e c t s being p o s s i b l e i n a p r o d u c t i o n o f The  Duchess o f M a l f i i n Webster's own  In h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n t o the p l a y , John R u s s e l l Brown  time. suggests  t h i s p o s s i b i l i t y a t l e a s t w i t h r e s p e c t t o e a r l y performances at  t h e p r i v a t e and i n d o o r B l a c k f r i a r s T h e a t r e .  For example,  . . . t h e i n c i d e n t of the dead man's hand, f o l l o w i n g t h e l i n e 'Take hence t h e l i g h t s ' i n IV. i . of The Duchess, has a shock e f f e c t t h a t depends on a p a r t i a l l y darkened stage What would be d i f f i c u l t , clumsy, and g r o t e s q u e a t t h e G l o b e , X30uld be t h r i l l i n g and s e n s i t i v e i n t h e darkened a u d i t o r i u m of the B l a c k f r i a r s . 1 7 C o n s i d e r a b l e v i s u a l i n t e r e s t c o u l d be added t o a scene such as I I . i i i when A n t o n i o and B o s o l a meet i n the c o u r t y a r d i f , at  t h e B l a c k f r i a r s , i t was  p l a y e d on a darkened s t a g e w i t h  some use made o f l a n t e r n s and t o r c h e s ; an atmospheric  effect  29 would be evoked which would be i m p o s s i b l e on the stage at the Globe.  Although the Globe s p e c t a t o r s were of course accus-  tomed t o r e c e i v i n g atmosphere through the poet's language, i t i s obvious t h a t the emotional response would be enhanced i n a darkened a u d i t o r i u m .  S i m i l a r l y , the l a s t two scenes of the  p l a y , a n i g h t s e t t i n g abounding  with f u r t i v e f i g u r e s scurry-  i n g about and i d e n t i t i e s mistaken i n the darkness would be g r e a t l y enhanced by some type of l i g h t i n g e f f e c t , however rudimentary. The v i o l e n c e of the s t o r y l i n e of The Duchess of M a l f i , the v i o l e n c e of stage b u s i n e s s , n e c e s s i t a t e s a c o r responding v i o l e n c e and energy i n the a c t i n g .  I t i s important  t o keep i n mind the p h y s i c a l i t y of E l i z a b e t h a n a c t i n g s t a n dards, the amount of energy e x p e l l e d not o n l y i n v o c a l express i o n , but a l s o i n movement and g e s t u r e .  I t i s a s t y l e which  i s r i g h t f o r the p l a y , and yet one which modern audiences, c o n d i t i o n e d t o r e a l i s m i n a c t i n g , f i n d s t i l t e d and ing.  Yet, the p h y s i c a l i t y and f o r m a l nature  of E l i z a b e t h a n a c t i n g , the importance  embarrass-  (by our standards)  of b o d i l y movement and  g e s t u r e , are not u n r e l a t e d t o the q u a l i t i e s i n a c t i n g which Artaud f e l t n e c e s s a r y f o r a Theatre of C r u e l t y : an a c t i n g s t y l e which i s exaggerated and extremely dependent on v i o l e n t and extravagant g e s t u r e s .  M u r i e l Bradbrook  mentions the im-  portance of g e s t u r e , pose, f a c i a l d i s t o r t i o n i n E l i z a b e t h a n a c t i n g , much of i t r e s u l t i n g , l o g i c a l l y , from the p a r t i c u l a r n e c e s s i t i e s of a c t i n g i n open a i r c o n d i t i o n s .  30  Throughout t h i s chapter I have been concerned primari l y with the content variety of The Duchess of M a l f i and the p a r t i c u l a r effectiveness of Webster's use of various conventions and forms.  No attempt has yet been made to relate  disparate elements and momentary effects to a t o t a l i t y of effect.  The next chapter attempts to make some integration  of the various elements outlined above into a u n i f i e d whole. I have chosen to approach the theme of the play i n t h i s manner because of the e a r l i e r mentioned idea of cumulative effect.  In performance, assuming complete ignorance of the  work before we entered the theatre, our reaction would build slowly.  Individual scenes and segments of dialogue, which  we may have seen or heard before, would have an immediate effect on us, and yet only at the end of the play could we make any attempt at an assessment of what we had just seen, any attempt to draw a coherent theme from the unfolding pattern.  A further quotation from E s s l i n ' s Theatre of the  Absurd i s of use at t h i s point.  A play which i s centered  around a poetic image i s constructed i n a somewhat different manner from a r e a l i s t i c play attempting to reproduce a segment of l i f e on the stage: The t o t a l action of the play, instead of proceeding from Point A to Point B, as i n other dramatic conventions, gradually builds up the complex pattern of the poetic image that the play expresses. The spectator's suspense consists i n waiting f o r the gradual completion of t h i s pattern which w i l l enable him to see the image as a whole. And only when that image i s assembled—after the f i n a l curtain—can he begin to explore, not so much i t s meaning as i t s structure, texture, and impact.19  31  I suggested e a r l i e r t h a t the most important moments of the play were expressed i n v i s u a l images which could stand by themselves without supporting v e r b a l comment.  I f e e l that  the image which best expresses the play as a whole i s — assuming i t could be " f r o z e n " and l i f t e d from the play t o be looked at i n i s o l a t i o n — t h e i n s t a n t of the Duchess' death. However, t o f u l l y understand t h i s image, and a l l that has l e d up t o i t and subsequently evolves from i t , Webster has u t i l i z e d a v a r i e t y of methods t o present, i n pantomime, i n dance, i n song, i n dialogue, i n a c t i o n , a whole complex of images which rebound o f f t h i s c e n t r a l v i s u a l image.  Esslin  i s again u s e f u l at t h i s p o i n t : . . . i n a dramatic form t h a t presents a c o n c r e t i z e d poetic image the play's extension i n time i s purely i n c i d e n t a l . Expressing an i n t u i t i o n i n depth, i t should i d e a l l y be apprehended i n a s i n g l e moment, and only because i t i s p h y s i c a l l y impossible to present so complex an image i n an i n s t a n t does i t have t o be spread over a period of time. The formal s t r u c t u r e of such a play i s , t h e r e f o r e , merely a device t o express a complex t o t a l image by u n f o l d i n g i t i n a sequence of i n t e r a c t i n g elements.20 In e f f e c t , what has been s a i d about the v i s u a l image of the Duchess' death as expressive of the meaning of the play must be q u a l i f i e d somewhat i n the l i g h t of E s s l i n ' s statement. This c e n t r a l image, i n i s o l a t i o n , would not be understood. But, i n r e l a t i o n t o the complex of images throughout the p l a y , as presented i n a v a r i e t y of ways, the image becomes c l e a r l y understandable.  A f u l l d i s c u s s i o n of Webster's t o t a l image  i s the concern of the f o l l o w i n g chapter.  32 The the  p o i n t o f t h e p r e c e d i n g c h a p t e r has b e e n t o d e v e l o p  contention  that i n the t h e a t r i c a l r e a l i z a t i o n of h i s  v i s i o n , Webster uses a T o t a l Theatre concept which a l l o w s f o r the  inclusion  compositional  of seemingly incongruous elements.  Thus i f a  u n i t y i s s e e n t o be i m p o s s i b l e , we must  l o o k f o r t h e u n i t y o f t h o u g h t a n d / o r theme o u t o f w h i c h t h e v i s u a l a n d t h e v e r b a l i m a g e r y o f The evolved.  now both  Duchess o f M a l f i  has  CHAPTER I I I THEMATIC UNITY IN THE DUCHESS OF MALFI The b a s i c purpose of t h i s c h a p t e r i s t o show d e s p i t e t h e g r e a t d i v e r s i t y o f h i s m a t e r i a l , Webster  how, main-  t a i n e d a c o n s i s t e n t p o i n t o f view throughout The Duchess o f M a l f i t h r o u g h a c l o s e c o r r e l a t i o n between v i s u a l and v e r b a l images w i t h i n a coherent t h e m a t i c p a t t e r n .  Thematic u n i t y  i s o f p r i m a r y importance t o t h e concept o f T h e a t r e o f Cruelty.  As George E. W e l l w a r t h n o t e s i n h i s c h a p t e r on  A r t a u d i n The T h e a t e r o f P r o t e s t and Paradox: " . . .  Artaud  sees drama as a s e t of i m p o r t a n t themes f l o a t i n g around amorp h o u s l y , ready t o be shaped i n t o whatever form t h e a l l p o w e r f u l m e t t e u r en scene (a c o m b i n a t i o n o f p r o d u c e r , d i r e c t o r , and a u t h o r i n A r t a u d ' s system) wishes t o g i v e them.""*' We have a l r e a d y seen t h e v a r i o u s t h e a t r i c a l and d r a m a t i c d e v i c e s used i n The Duchess o f M a l f i .  These elements a l l  c o n t r i b u t e t o a form o f u n i t y w h i c h M a d e l i n e Doran  calls  2  ". . . q u a l i t a t i v e u n i t y . "  I n Endeavors o f A r t she makes  r e f e r e n c e t o t h i s t y p e of u n i t y as i t appears i n Shakespeare's p l a y s , but a l s o a t t e s t s t o i t s presence i n t h e work o f Marlowe, Jonson, Chapman and  Webster:  In t h i s f i e l d , Shakespeare i s once more t h e master. He l e a r n e d how t o r e l a t e h i s songs i n theme o r tone t o t h e a c t i o n o f h i s p l a y s , how t o g i v e a p l a y i t s own p e c u l i a r e m o t i o n a l c o l o r i n g w i t h t h e dominant imagery, how t o weave a p a t t e r n of echoes and c o n t r a s t s i n words and  34  images which everywhere works with the action, how to vary verse and prose not merely with the rank and nature of the characters, according to the rules of decorum, but also with changes i n attitude, i n emotional tension, i n the tone desired f o r the scene.3 From the above statement, we should note the a p p l i c a b i l i t y of two phrases to Webster, both of which denote the primary concerns of t h i s chapter: ". . . dominant imagery. . . . "  and  . . a pattern of echoes and contrasts i n words and images which everywhere works with the action.  ..."  C e c i l W. Davies suggests that the play's themes are presented twice, once i n the action and again i n the poetic imagery: . . . the two modes of expression being superimposed the one on the other, and fused i n the appropriate l i n g u i s t i c medium, which thus communicates a single experience to the audience.4 He concludes: The themes are dramatically embodied i n characters and i n the developing situations between them, while a consist e n t l y and suitably textured vehicle of language i s used not simply to convey t h e i r story i n dramatic dialogue, but also to involve these characters, i n our imagination, i n a world of imagery also associated with the themes.5 Hereward T. Price takes a comparable view of Webster's technique, seeing a double construction through the inter-actions of figure i n action and figure i n language, the one r e i n f o r c 6  ing the other.  What, then, are these themes which are  revealed by both the characters i n action ( i . e . , the v i s u a l  35 imagery) and the p o e t i c imagery? B a s i c a l l y , I am concerned with how f u l l y The Duchess of M a l f i r e v e a l s a working  out, a l b e i t w i t h i n a n a r r a t i v e  context, o f the b a s i c thematic aim o f a Theatre o f C r u e l t y : As Artaud saw i t , what was wrong w i t h drama, as w e l l as w i t h a l l t h e other a r t s , was c u l t u r e . By " c u l t u r e " Artaud meant t h e o v e r l a y o f a r t i f i c i a l i t i e s t h a t c i v i l i z a t i o n had imposed upon human nature. The essence o f human nature, i t s b a s i c and i n t r i n s i c q u a l i t y , had become obscured by t h e u n r e a l f o r m a l m a s k s — t h e s o c i a l l y a c c e p t a b l e behaviour p a t t e r n s a r b i t r a r i l y imposed on us by custom and t r a d i t i o n . Since a r t i s r e a l i t y , t h e a r t i s t ' s t a s k was t o s t r i p away t h e l a y e r s of a r t i f i c i a l i t y and expose t h e core o f r e a l i t y t h a t had been h i d den f o r so l o n g . To Artaud t h i s core was pure emotion; and t h e emotion was l a t e n t , i n s t i n c t u a l savagery. He p e r c e i v e d t h a t men a r e , as they always have been, b a s i c a l l y barbaric, that the t h i c k p r o t e c t i v e w a l l s of urbane, c i v i l i z e d behaviour they have a c q u i r e d through c e n t u r i e s o f h i d i n g from p s y c h o l o g i c a l s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n i s e a s i l y crumbled by a f o r c e f u l appeal t o i r r a t i o n a l emotion.7  During the course o f t h e a c t i o n o f Webster's p l a y , t h e p r o t e c t i v e w a l l s o f c i v i l i z e d behaviour crumble,  one by one, u n t i l ,  i n t h e f i n a l scenes o f t h e p l a y , t h e essence of human nature i s revealed.  Webster's p l a y d e a l s i n i t s f i n a l two a c t s w i t h  i n s t i n c t i v e human d e s i r e s — a n g e r , hate, l u s t , p h y s i c a l c o n t a c t , w i t h man seen as animal. Davies sees t h e scene i n v o l v i n g the dance of t h e madmen as a key t o t h e meaning of the p l a y , and i t i s u s e f u l t o begin an i n v e s t i g a t i o n o f Webster's themes with t h i s  scene,  s i n c e i t p r o v i d e s such an e x c e l l e n t example of the p a r a l l e l f u n c t i o n i n g o f v i s u a l and v e r b a l imagery. last  As noted i n the  chapter, t h e dance o f madmen expresses an anti-masque  36 m o t i f o f a w o r l d gone mad, a w o r l d w i t h o u t o r d e r o r harmony. D a v i e s comments on t h e g r o t e s q u e q u a l i t i e s o f i t s i m a g e r y , w h i c h r e m i n d h i m o f t h e f a n t a s t i c images We s h o u l d n o t e t h a t t h e p o e t i c i m a g e s  o f Hieronimus  Bosch.  e x p r e s s e d b y t h e madmen  a l s o i n d i c a t e a w o r l d gone mad, w i t h o u t c o m f o r t o r s e c u r i t y ; a w o r l d i n w h i c h g r o s s a n d demoniac  forces  predominate:  As r a v e n s , s c r e e c h - o w l s , b u l l s , a n d b e a r s , W e ' l l b i l l and bawl o u r p a r t s , T i l l irksome n o i s e have c l o y ' d y o u r e a r s And c o r r o s i v ' d y o u r h e a r t s . (IV.ii.65-68) i n d i c a t e s a madman i n t h e e n t r y s o n g . i n t r u d e r s then proceed t o b i l l  The i m a g e s w h i c h t h e  and bawl a r e a l l e x t r e m e l y  p h y s i c a l , g r o t e s q u e a n d somewhat r e v o l t i n g .  The a p p e a l o f  the  i m a g e r y i s s e n s o r y ; i t seems meant t o w o r k u p o n o u r n e r v e s  or,  a s t h e madman i n t i m a t e s i n h i s s o n g , t o c l o y o u r e a r s a n d  corrode our hearts.  One madman c a n n o t s l e e p ; h i s p i l l o w i s  stuffed with a l i t t e r of porcupines. of  Another sees a v i s i o n  h e l l w h e r e " . . . t h e d e v i l s a r e c o n t i n u a l l y b l o w i n g up  women's s o u l s , on h o l l o w i r o n s , a n d t h e f i r e n e v e r g o e s o u t . " A n o t h e r madman s u g g e s t s t h a t h i s p o t h e c a r y " . . . makes a l u m of  h i s w i f e ' s u r i n e , and s e l l s i t t o p u r i t a n s t h a t have s o r e  throats with over-straining." of  The t h i r d madman i s a c c u s e d  b e i n g a ". . . s n u f f l i n g k n a v e , t h a t w h i l e he shows t h e  t o m b s , w i l l h a v e h i s h a n d i n a wench's p l a c k e t . "  The d e v i l ' s  n a i l s h a v e b e e n p a r e d , r o a s t e d i n r a v e n ' s eggs a n d u s e d t o c u r e a g u e s ; t h r e e h u n d r e d m i l c h - b a t s a r e n e e d e d t o make a  37 sleeping posset.  And i n t h e midst o f a l l t h i s , o r immediately  f o l l o w i n g , they break i n t o t h e i r grotesque dance. 113.) the  (IV.ii.73-  Here, as Davies says, i s a-scene which i s c e n t r a l t o  p l o t and image s t r u c t u r e o f t h e p l a y , one which presents  both v i s u a l l y and v e r b a l l y t h e concept o f a world gone mad— and i t i s t h i s world which d e s t r o y s t h e Duchess.  Madness  surrounds the Duchess i n h e r f i n a l hours, and she seems t o r e c o g n i z e h e r s o l i t u d e amidst i t .  When t h e E x e c u t i o n e r s  a r r i v e , C a r i o l a advises her t o c a l l f o r help.  "To whom? t o  our next neighbours? they a r e mad-folks." she r e p l i e s (IV.ii.19S).  T h i s can, I t h i n k , be construed not o n l y as a  s p e c i f i c note o f the presence o f the eight madmen who have j u s t v i s i t e d her, but as a g e n e r a l awareness o f the omnipresence of v i o l e n c e and d i s o r d e r . I f we take t h e scene o f t h e dance o f madmen and the immediately f o l l o w i n g e x e c u t i o n o f t h e Duchess as a c e n t r a l statement of b a s i c thematic l i n e s i n t h e p l a y , f o u r i d e a s emerge.  They a r e t o some extent i n t e r - r e l a t e d , but I t h i n k  enough d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n i s p o s s i b l e t h a t they can be d i s c u s s e d separately.  Present i n the scene, and o p e r a t i v e throughout  The Duchess o f M a l f i a r e t h e f o l l o w i n g : a.  The i d e a o f a world without order and harmony, i n l a r g e measure r e s u l t i n g f r o m —  b.  The breakdown o f t r a d i t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n s and s a f e guards .  c.  The h e l p l e s s n e s s o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l i n a world o f v i o l e n c e where t r a d i t i o n a l safeguards no l o n g e r afford protection.  d.  The concept o f man as animal.  38 The whole i d e a o f The Duchess o f M a l f i as r e l a t e d t o the concept o f a world o f madness and v i o l e n c e i s b a s i c t o the p l a y ' s a s s i m i l a t i o n i n t o t h e framework o f a Theatre o f C r u e l t y , a form of t h e a t r e which wishes t o convey the h o r r o r and  b r u t a l i t y o f a s o c i e t y which, o u t s i d e t h e t h e a t r e , i n -  dulges i n h o r r o r and b r u t a l i t y .  In h i s opening speech,  Antonio observes t h a t . . . a p r i n c e ' s court Is l i k e a common f o u n t a i n , whence should flow Pure s i l v e r drops i n g e n e r a l : but i f ' t chance Some curs'd example poison ' t near t h e head, Death, and d i s e a s e s through t h e whole l a n d spread. _ ^ ( I # i < 1 1  The  1  )  r e s t of t h e p l a y shows t h e t r u t h of Antonio's aphorism.  Near t h e head of t h e court a r e the C a r d i n a l and Ferdinand: ".  . . l i k e plum-trees, t h a t grow/crooked over standing  pools;  they a r e r i c h , and o'erladen/ with f r u i t , but none but crows, p i e s , and c a t e r p i l l a r s feed/on them. . . . " (I.i.49-52). ensuing misuse o f power and u s u r p a t i o n  Their  of t h e i r s i s t e r ' s rights  as head o f t h e court shows how w i t h i n t h e p l a y they a r e t h e concrete  and v i s i b l e causes o f t h e world's madness: "The manner  i n which t h i s v i o l e n t a t t a c k on the everyday i s t o be accomplished involves a f a n t a s t i c , l a r g e r - t h a n - l i f e callousness t h a t enables t h e c h a r a c t e r s t o d i s r e g a r d t h e amenities of 9 s o c i a l behaviour. . . ."  The s i t u a t i o n i s f u r t h e r  cated by the f a c t t h a t one brother  compli-  i s a representative of the  Church, and h i s misuse o f power causes an even f u r t h e r breakdown i n t r a d i t i o n a l  institutions.  39 Webster's d e l i n e a t i o n o f a world without harmony i s echoed and repeated the p l a y .  order and  i n v a r i o u s ways throughout  V i s u a l l y , i t i s centered i n Act IV, i n the sequence  a l r e a d y noted, and, a f t e r t h e death o f t h e Duchess, becomes the dominant image o f Act V, i n which v i o l e n c e and i n t r i g u e are everywhere. recurring motif.  In the v e r b a l imagery, i t i s a c o n s t a n t l y Just before d e c l a r i n g h e r l o v e t o Antonio,  the Duchess asks h e r maid t o : — w i s h me good speed For I am going i n t o a w i l d e r n e s s , Where I s h a l l f i n d nor path, nor f r i e n d l y clew To be my guide. (I.i.358-360) The  Duchess thus seems aware t h a t there w i l l be r e p e r c u s s i o n s  from h e r d e f i a n c e o f h e r b r o t h e r s , although concept  she has no r e a l  of t h e r e a l i t y of t h e w i l d e r n e s s which we a r e t o see  manifested  i n the play.  The connotations  of wilderness  us an e a r l y i n k l i n g o f t h e d i s o r d e r t o f o l l o w .  give  It i s inti-  mated again by the p o s i t i o n of t h e s t a r s when Antonio c a l c u l a t e s t h e horoscope o f h i s newborn son: The l o r d o f the f i r s t house, Being combust i n the,ascendant, s i g n i f i e s s h o r t l i f e : and Mars being i n a human s i g n , j o i n e d t o the t a i l o f t h e Dragon, i n t h e e i g h t h house, doth t h r e a t e n a v i o l e n t death; . . . . (II.iii.60-63) Here we should note the t e n s i o n g e n e r a t i n g combust, s h o r t l i f e , the t a i l death.  connotations o f  of the Dragon, t h r e a t e n , v i o l e n t  40 The beginning of the a c t u a l breakdown of o r d e r , the i n i t i a t i o n of the madness which i s t o dominate u n t i l the c l o s e of the p l a y occurs i n I I . v when Ferdinand and the C a r d i n a l l e a r n of t h e i r s i s t e r ' s a c t i o n s .  An image Webster g i v e s us  b r i l l i a n t l y foreshadows what i n e f f e c t happens l a t e r i n the play: Card. Ferd.  Why do you make y o u r s e l f So w i l d a tempest? Would I c o u l d be one, That I might t o s s her palace 'bout her e a r s , Root up her goodly f o r e s t s , b l a s t her meads, And l a y her g e n e r a l t e r r i t o r y as waste As she hath done her honours. (II.v.17-21)  T h e r e a f t e r , Ferdinand's rage c a r r i e s him "As men  convey'd  by  witches through the a i r , / O n v i o l e n t w h i r l w i n d s . . . ." ( I I . v.49-50).  When he l e a v e s h i s s i s t e r ' s r e s i d e n c e t h i s image  i s a g a i n repeated: Bos.  The duke your b r o t h e r i s ta'en up i n a w h i r l w i n d , Hath took horse, and's r i d post t o Rome. (III.ii.161-162)  Reason, t o l e r a n c e and moderation  disappear from Webster's  dramatic world and the madmen take over.  In terms of a  Theatre of C r u e l t y one c o u l d thus say t h a t the veneer of c i v i l i z e d behaviour i s s t r i p p e d away and i n s t i n c t takes over from reason: hence C r u e l t y , the m a n i f e s t a t i o n of i r r a t i o n a l and u n c o n t r o l l a b l e impulses, appears  i n f u l l force.  In t h i s  context, i t i s important t o note that Ferdinand h i m s e l f goes  41 insane a f t e r h i s s i s t e r ' s death, but t h a t i n essence  this  " i n s a n i t y " i s only a l a b e l g i v e n by s o c i e t y t o one whose subhuman impulses are no l o n g e r h e l d under r e s t r a i n t . i n - A c t V i s Webster's view of q u i n t e s s e n t i a l man, one would expect would a l s o have been presented ally  i n the dance of "madmen" i n Act The  Ferdinand a view which  choreographic-  IV.  c o n f u s i o n and t e n s i o n of a world without  order and  harmony i s f u r t h e r r e v e a l e d i n the b r i e f but i n c i s i v e t i o n by the Duchess ". . .—my  hair tangles.", just  observa-  before  the entrance of her b r o t h e r ( I I I . i i i . 5 3 ) , and, a f t e r he l e a v e s : I stand As i f a mine, beneath my f e e t , were ready To be blown up. (III.ii.155-157) In  p h i l o s o p h i c a l terms, Webster's d e p i c t i o n of a world  devoid of order amounts t o a smashing of what we  could c a l l ,  a f t e r E.M.W. T i l l y a r d ' s d e f i n i t i v e study, the E l i z a b e t h a n World P i c t u r e .  Degree and harmony are absent  i n the  later  s e c t i o n s of The Duchess of M a l f i , and i n Act V there i s no governing f o r c e l e f t but f o r c e i t s e l f .  As Alexander  Allison  observes: Though no subsequent happenings can a t t a i n the mystery and t e r r o r of the duchess's murder, m a l i c i o u s and d e c e i t f u l motives then m u l t i p l y and the i n t e r a c t i o n between them becomes the p l a y ' s s o l e business.10 I would suggest t h a t i t i s not the Duchess who by a marriage  upsets degree  beneath her s t a t i o n , but r a t h e r Ferdinand  and  42 the C a r d i n a l , w i t h Bosola's a s s i s t a n c e , who no heed t o t h e i r s i s t e r ' s p r e r o g a t i v e s  do so by paying  as a r u l e r .  As  was  p r e v i o u s l y noted, the disharmony of the M a l f i world r e s u l t s from t h e i r t a k i n g the law  i n t o t h e i r own  hands—or  from t h e i r complete d i s r e g a r d of the law. r e a l mistake was invulnerability.  The  rather  Duchess' only  perhaps i n p l a c i n g too much f a i t h on  her  What she l e a r n s i s by i m p l i c a t i o n what the  audience i s supposed t o l e a r n .  Artaud would put  i t as  follows: We are not f r e e . And the sky can s t i l l f a l l on our heads. And the t h e a t e r has been c r e a t e d t o teach us t h a t f i r s t of a l l . 1 1  In Webster's own  day,  t h i s i d e a was  most memorably i n Shakespeare's T r o i l u s and  expressed probably Cressida:  0, when degree i s shak'd, Which i s the l a d d e r t o a l l high designs, The e n t e r p r i s e i s s i c k . . . . Take but degree away, untune t h a t s t r i n g , And hark, what d i s c o r d follows.' Each t h i n g meets In mere oppugnancy. Strength should be l o r d of i m b e c i l i t y , And the rude son should s t r i k e h i s f a t h e r dead. Force should be r i g h t ; or r a t h e r , r i g h t and wrong, Between whose endless j a r j u s t i c e r e s i d e s , Should l o s e her names, and so should j u s t i c e t o o . Then everything i n c l u d e s i t s e l f i n power, Power i n t o w i l l , w i l l i n t o a p p e t i t e , And a p p e t i t e , an*. u n i v e r s a l wolf, So doubly seconded w i t h w i l l and power, Must make p e r f o r c e an u n i v e r s a l prey And l a s t eat up h i m s e l f . 1 2 A l b e i t w r i t t e n e a r l i e r than The  Duchess of M a l f i , we  might  43 p r o f i t a b l y read t h i s Shakespearean passage as a very condensed summation of the theme of Acts IV and V of Webster's The rude son does not s t r i k e h i s f a t h e r dead, but two do d e s t r o y t h e i r s i s t e r who them.  play. brothers  i s , i n terms o f degree, above  Right and wrong do cease t o be o p e r a t i v e terms, power  becomes e v e r y t h i n g , Ferdinand's "madness" i s diagnosed as l y c a n t h r o p y , and, t o complete the r e l e v a n c e of the q u o t a t i o n , at the end of The Duchess of M a l f i we see e v i l d e s t r o y i n g s e l f by p r e y i n g on i t s own k i n d .  it-  One i s reminded of Jan  K o t t ' s comment on King L e a r , which seems even more r e l e v a n t t o our p l a y : A l l bonds, a l l laws, whether d i v i n e , n a t u r a l or human, are broken. S o c i a l Order, from the kingdom t o the f a m i l y , w i l l crumble i n t o dust. There are no l o n g e r king and subj e c t s , f a t h e r s and c h i l d r e n , husbands and wives. There are only huge Renaissance monsters, devouring one another l i k e beasts of prey.13 Webster g i v e s one e x p r e s s i o n of the d i s c o r d i n the f o l l o w i n g words of the Duchess: I am not mad y e t , t o my cause of sorrow. Th'-' heaven o'er my head seems made o f molten b r a s s , The earth of f l a m i n g s u l p h u r , yet I am not mad: . . . . (IV.ii:. .24-26) He g i v e s us a p l a y intended t o convey t h i s o v e r - a l l chaos of l i f e without order through the d e l i n e a t i o n of v i o l e n c e and chaos on the stage. of the f o u r t h a c t .  V i s u a l l y , we have the extended t o r t u r e s V e r b a l l y we have such images as:  44 Ferd.  I would have t h e i r bodies Burnt i n a c o a l - p i t , with the ventage stopp'd, That t h e i r curs'd smoke might not ascend t o heaven: Or d i p the sheets they l i e i n , i n p i t c h or s u l p h u r , Wrap them i n ' t , and then l i g h t them l i k e a match; Or e l s e t o b o i l t h e i r b a s t a r d to a c u l l i s , And g i v e 't h i s lecherous f a t h e r , t o renew The s i n of h i s back.  (II.v.67-73) A breakdown or absence of order and harmony i n s o c i e t y , with the ensuing dramatist,  triumph of i r r a t i o n a l f o r c e s , when f e l t  can r e s u l t t h e a t r i c a l l y i n one  of two  by a  things: a  wish t o r e a s s u r e us as t o the eventual r e t u r n of permanent laws and human "dignity'/, or a wish t o shock us i n t o an awareness of c o n d i t i o n s as they are.  I f e e l t h a t g e n e r a l l y whereas  Shakespeare chooses the former approach, Webster chooses the latter.  Webster's i n s t r u c t i o n comes through h i s attempts t o ,  i n terms of a Theatre  of C r u e l t y , s h a t t e r the  complacencies  of the s p e c t a t o r and shock h i s s e n s i b i l i t i e s at the same time; t o b r i n g the s p e c t a t o r t o an awareness of the t r u t h s of s o c i e t y , of h i m s e l f , and  of l i f e i n g e n e r a l .  a t t i t u d e i s , I f e e l , not so much one of an i n t e n s e p e r c e p t i o n of and h o r r o r and u g l i n e s s .  Webster's  of d i s g u s t with l i f e  concern with i t s b r u t a l i t y ,  H i s i s an a n a r c h i c view of l i f e , but i t  i s not t o t a l l y n i h i l i s t i c .  In h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n t o the  John R u s s e l l Brown notes a u n i t y i n The  play,  Duchess of M a l f i of  ". . . e m p i r i c a l , r e s p o n s i b l e , s c e p t i c a l , u n s u r p r i s e d , deeply  and  p e r c e p t i v e concern f o r the c h a r a c t e r s and s o c i e t y  portrayed.  as  45 Returning torture  t o t h e image o f t h e d a n c e o f madmen a n d t h e  o f t h e Duchess, t h e presence of t h e second major  theme o f t h e p l a y — t h e  breakdown o f t r a d i t i o n a l  and s a f e g u a r d s — i s a p p a r e n t when we n o t e t h a t of  t h e Duchess i s c a r r i e d  the persecution  o u t by h e r b r o t h e r s .  regarded as a fundamental nucleus a r e o f no m e a n i n g i n W e b s t e r ' s  Family  o f any s o c i a l  dramatic  B o s o l a ' s summation o f t h i s  272).  In Webster's  plays,  much f a i t h  i s at issue.  bilities laws  by h e r b r o t h e r s .  He i s r e a d y  This  it  idea,  enough t o abandon has r e s p o n s i -  t h e Duchess from h a r s h  relation-  a n d was t o r e -  W e b s t e r seemed t o f e e l  of the s o c i a l structure  and u s u a l l y  i n the  treatment  the emptiness of f a m i l y  Law-Case.  wife to  becomes s o when h i s own  h a d a l r e a d y a p p e a r e d i n The W h i t e D e v i l  a p p e a r i n The D e v i l ' s  basic  in  o f a husband and  a s a h u s b a n d t o s a v e h i s own n e c k , t r u s t i n g  the rottenness  brother  become empty  The one e x c e p t i o n  responsibilities  or at least  of kinship to preserve  ships,  sister,  A n t o n i o d o e s n o t seem t o r e c i p r o c a t e ;  h i m i s a n empty t e r m , safety  they  (IV.ii.270-  c o n s i d e r a t i o n i s t h e D u c h e s s , who p l a c e s t o o  i n the protective  her brothers.  truth,  such terms as mother,  o f a d d r e s s , n o t h i n g more.  t h e work u n d e r  structure,  a s p e c t o f t h e theme  a n d h u s b a n d c e a s e t o have a n y r e a l v a l u e ; nominatives  values,  world.  You h a v e b l o o d i l y a p p r o v ' d t h e a n c i e n t T h a t k i n d r e d commonly do w o r s e a g r e e Than r e m o t e s t r a n g e r s . is  institutions  that  e x t e n d e d t o i t s most  most s t a b l e a n d i n v i o l a b l e  unit:  46  Perhaps men would l i k e t o b e l i e v e t h a t the i n s t i t u t i o n s of r e l i g i o n , law, and f a m i l y are expressions of u n i v e r s a l decorum; but these i n s t i t u t i o n s seem f r a g i l e defenses a g a i n s t the anarchy of human p a s s i o n . . . . Before s e x u a l and mercenary a p p e t i t e s and before the b r u t a l c o e r c i o n s of wealth and p l a c e , t r a d i t i o n a l s a n c t i t i e s are meaning--, l e s s : b r o t h e r , s i s t e r , husband, w i f e become empty terms. The  i n s t i t u t i o n s of r e l i g i o n and  by Webster's v i l l a i n s . play.  The  He  law are a l s o misused  suggests t h i s very  e a r l y i n the  Cardinal  . . . i s a melancholy churchman; the s p r i n g i n h i s f a c e i s nothing but the engendering of toads; where he i s j e a l o u s of any man, he l a y s worse p l o t s f o r them than ever was imposed on H e r c u l e s , f o r he strews i n h i s way f l a t t e r e r s , panders, i n t e l l i g e n c e r s , a t h e i s t s , and a thousand such p o l i t i c a l monsters. He should have been Pope; but i n s t e a d of coming t o i t by the p r i m i t i v e decency of the church, he d i d bestow b r i b e s so l a r g e l y , and so impudently, as i f he would have c a r r i e d i t away without heaven's knowledge. (Ant.  I.i.157-166)  w h i l e w i t h r e g a r d t o the workings of the law,  Ferdinand  . . . speaks w i t h o t h e r s ' tongues, and hears men's s u i t s With o t h e r s ' ears; w i l l seem t o s l e e p o'th' bench Only t o entrap o f f e n d e r s i n t h e i r answers; Dooms men t o death by i n f o r m a t i o n , Rewards by hearsay. (Ant.  and  I.i.172-176)  thus  Then the law t o him Is l i k e a f o u l black cobweb t o a s p i d e r — He makes i t h i s d w e l l i n g , and a p r i s o n To entangle those s h a l l f e e d him. (Delio. I.i.177-lSO) By t h e i r a c t i o n s throughout the p l a y , the two  brothers  reveal  47  t h e i r inner corruption. As was  mentioned e a r l i e r , the dumb-show banishment  scene conveys i n v i s u a l terms t h e d e c e p t i v e n e s s  of t r a d i t i o n a l  safeguards associated w i t h r e l i g i o n , a r e l i g i o n which, at l e a s t i n terms o f what we  s e e , has a p e r s o n l i k e the  as i t s h i g h e s t r e p r e s e n t a t i v e . as c e n t e r e d  Cardinal  R e l i g i o n i n Webster's p l a y ,  i n the C a r d i n a l , seems c o n t r o l l e d by the  T h i s i s s u g g e s t e d i n a v a r i e t y of ways.  devil.  I n imagery, t h e  p r e s e n c e of t h e d e v i l ' s i n f l u e n c e i s suggested e a r l y i n the p l a y when A n t o n i o observes of the C a r d i n a l : They t h a t do f l a t t e r him most say o r a c l e s Hang a t h i s l i p s : and v e r i l y I b e l i e v e them; For t h e d e v i l speaks i n them. (I.i.184-186) I n the p r i s o n s c e n e , B o s o l a t e l l s t h e Duchess she must l i v e ; she t h e n equates her w o r l d w i t h h e l l , where the t o r t u r e i s t h a t s o u l s must c o n t i n u e cannot d i e ( I V . i . 7 0 - 7 2 ) .  greatest  t o l i v e and s u f f e r , and  A l s o , t h e s i t u a t i o n of t h e Duchess  i s s u r e l y i m p l i e d i n the madman's image f o r m e r l y c i t e d : i s a mere g l a s s - h o u s e ,  "Hell  where t h e d e v i l s / a r e c o n t i n u a l l y  b l o w i n g up women's s o u l s , on h o l l o w / i r o n s , and t h e f i r e n e v e r goes o u t . "  (IV.ii.77-79•)  L a t e i n the p l a y , t h e  Cardmnaliis  p u z z l e d by a r e c u r r i n g v i s i o n : When I l o o k i n t o the f i s h - p o n d s , i n my g a r d e n , M e t h i n k s I see a t h i n g , arm'd w i t h a r a k e That seems t o s t r i k e a t me:— (V.v.5-7)  4 8  The  i m p l i c a t i o n s of h e l l on e a r t h , or of the earth as  d e v i l ' s t e r r a i n , seem present  the  throughout the p l a y , both as a  m o t i f i n the imagery and as an u n d e r l y i n g p r i n c i p l e of the action. and  T h i s allows one,  c r u e l t y of The  i f he so wishes, t o see the v i o l e n c e  Duchess of M a l f i , the d e l i n e a t i o n of the  workings of the i r r a t i o n a l , as the work of the D e v i l .  It i s  a c r e d i t t o Webster t h a t t h i s work can be meaningfully  inter-  preted i n r e l i g i o u s terms as w e l l as p s y c h o l o g i c a l and philosophical. Webster w i s e l y does not  commit h i m s e l f one way  or the  other on the presence of the D e v i l or the absence of God h i s dramatic  world.  in  But the i m p l i c a t i o n seems obvious f o r  those who want i t . As O r n s t e i n notes . . . we must remember t h a t the e t h i c a l and i n t e l l e c t u a l substance of a Jacobean tragedy i n c l u d e s more than the sum of ideas expounded or r e f e r r e d t o i n i t s pages. The d r a m a t i s t ' s v i s i o n i s a l s o , and more i m p o r t a n t l y , expressed i n c h a r a c t e r , i n p l o t , and i n the t o t a l p o e t i c impression of l i f e which h i s p l a y creates.1° In t h i s context, Lord David  C e c i l sees Webster's world  i n terms  of an extreme G a l v i n i s t p o i n t of view, i . e . , e v i l i s i n n a t e , more p e r v a s i v e and powerful  than the f o r c e s of good.  C e c i l sees The Duchess of M a l f i as a simple good and  In  effect,  s t r u g g l e between  e v i l — o r , i n t h e o l o g i c a l terms, between Heaven and  17 Hell. we  T h e a t r i c a l l y , t h i s i s an extremely r e l e v a n t p o i n t i f  keep i n mind t h a t i n as heterogeneous an audience as a t -  tended the t h e a t r e i n Webster's day,  or f o r t h a t matter  our  49 own,  the v a r i o u s thematic i m p l i c a t i o n s o f a work such as The  Duchess o f M a l f i a r e not going t o be r e a d i l y grasped by everyone.  But i n i t s simplest  form, t h e o p p o s i t i o n between f o r c e s  of good and e v i l , the meaning o f t h e p l a y , and i t s o v e r a l l i m p l i c a t i o n s i n r e l a t i o n t o a world o u t s i d e the t h e a t r e , i s a v a i l a b l e t o everyone.  I w i l l r e t u r n t o t h i s p o i n t i n more  d e t a i l i n discussing characterization. worth n o t i n g  One f u r t h e r point i s  i n considering the implications i n the play of  the p e r v a s i v e n e s s o f t h e i n f l u e n c e s o f E v i l , t h e D e v i l , H e l l , the i r r a t i o n a l , t h e i n s t i n c t u a l — o r whatever one p e r s o n a l l y chooses t o name t h e i n f l u e n c e .  I f I were asked t o p l a c e  Webster w i t h i n a r e l i g i o u s scheme or t r a d i t i o n ,  Calvinism  would seem most l o g i c a l : "Webster i s i m i t a t i n g a f a l l e n man-  18 kind i n a f a l l e n world."  However, i t i s a l s o tempting, how-  ever erroneous i n f a c t , t o see him as Manichean, with a b e l i e f i n t h e e a r t h as the d e v i l ' s t e r r a i n , the inherent  e v i l tenden-  c i e s of man and matter, and the accompanying b e l i e f i n t h e f o r c e s o f darkness e v e n t u a l l y triumphing over l i g h t . To r e t u r n t o the c e n t r a l i s s u e , there  i s thus  present  as a thematic i m p l i c a t i o n i n The Duchess o f M a l f i a sense of the breakdown o f t r a d i t i o n a l values  inherent  law and order, and i n t h e f a m i l y u n i t .  i n religion, i n  These a r e t h e r e s -  t r a i n t s which Artaud f e l t must be broken through t o r e v e a l man i n h i s t r u e l i g h t .  Ornstein  o f f e r s t h e best summation o f  t h i s p a r t i c u l a r thematic l i n e , n o t i n g t h a t we a r e l e f t with a t e r r i f y i n g sense o f t h e f r a g i l i t y o f the s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e :  50 . . . we a r e made t o f e e l how v u l n e r a b l e a r e t h e w a l l s — the p o l i t i c a l , r e l i g i o u s , l e g a l and f a m i l i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s — w h i c h seek t o check or c o n t a i n t h e u n c i v i l i z e d f u r y o f c i v i l i z e d man.19 The m o t i f of t h e world gone mad, and t h e corresponding s u g g e s t i o n o f t h e breakdown o f t r a d i t i o n a l safeguards o f law and o r d e r , extending even t o the s a n c t i t y o f the f a m i l y u n i t , l e a d s t o a b r i e f c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f a t h i r d aspect of Webster's t o t a l v i s i o n , namely t h e sense o f t h e h e l p l e s s n e s s o f t h e sane/rational individual chaos.  ( i . e . , the Duchess) i n t h e midst of  I n d i f f e r e n c e and concomitant h o s t i l i t y towards the  Duchess a r e m a n i f e s t e d on t h r e e l e v e l s .  Muriel  Bradbrook  f e e l s t h a t cosmic malignancy i s suggested i n t h e c o n f i g u r a 20  t i o n s r e v e a l e d i n t h e horoscope cast by Antonio,  and o f  course we have t h e o f t e n quoted words o f B o s o l a : We a r e merely t h e s t a r s ' t e n n i s - b a l l s , s t r u c k and banded Which way p l e a s e t h e m — (V.iv.54-55) In a d d i t i o n , cosmic i n d i f f e r e n c e t o the s u f f e r i n g s o f man seems e x p l i c i t i n Bosola's "Look you, t h e s t a r s s t i l l  shine:"  ( I V . i . 9 9 ) , which C l i f f o r d Leech c a l l s " . . . t h e completest a s s e r t i o n i n Jacobean drama of man's impotence, of t h e 21  remoteness, t h e i m p e r s o n a l i t y o f t h e cosmic powers."  We  have f u r t h e r i n s t a n c e s o f s o c i e t y ' s i n d i f f e r e n c e t o man, and on the i n d i v i d u a l l e v e l , man's i n d i f f e r e n c e t o h i s f e l l o w man.  The Duchess' p r o g r e s s through the p l a y c o n s i s t s of the  development  o f a f u l l awareness  o f t h i s i n d i f f e r e n c e and  51  hostility.  G r a d u a l l y , a l l t h e i l l u s i o n s o f p r o t e c t i o n and  s a f e t y a r e taken from her: t h e p r e r o g a t i v e s and perhaps assumed i n v u l n e r a b i l i t y of h e r p o s i t i o n as Duchess, t h e safeguards  o f law and r e l i g i o n , t h e p r o t e c t i o n o f a husband,  the a f f e c t i o n o f her b r o t h e r s : "My l a u r e l i s a l l w i t h e r e d . " (III.v.93). side.  When she d i e s , only h e r servant remains by h e r  She i s , i n e f f e c t , alone w i t h only an a f f i r m a t i o n o f  her i d e n t i t y t o t e n a c i o u s l y c l i n g t o : i n s p i t e o f e v e r y t h i n g , "I  am Duchess o f M a l f i s t i l l . "  (IV.ii.142).  M u r i e l Bradbrook  sees I V . i i i n t h i s way: The scene i s not l a i d i n a d e f i n i t e p l a c e : i t i s , as i t were, i n a d i f f e r e n t dimension; t h e r e i s a c u r i o u s s t i l l ness and hush about t h e scene, a s t a t i c q u a l i t y and a sense o f t i m e l e s s n e s s . 2 2 In t h i s scene t h e Duchess i s a b l e t o see the t r u t h about  life  and about h e r s i t u a t i o n , coming f i n a l l y t o r e c o g n i z e and accept t h e omnipresence o f e v i l ,  ergo l i f e as compounded o f  v i o l e n c e and c r u e l t y : Persuade a wretch t h a t ' s broke upon t h e wheel To have a l l h i s bones new s e t ; entreat him l i v e To be executed again:—who must despatch me? I account t h i s world a t e d i o u s t h e a t r e , For I do p l a y a p a r t i n ' t 'gainst my w i l l . Go howl them t h i s : and say I long t o b l e e d : It i s some mercy, when men k i l l w i t h speed. (IV. i i . 81-8$;  The  Duchess, Bradbrook f e e l s , concentrates  109-110)  t h e meaning o f t h e  whole p l a y i n t o h e r s e l f , and can thus express  the t o t a l  a t i o n as though she were standing o u t s i d e the a c t i o n ,  situ-  observ-  52 ing  i t with disdain, with " . . .  t h e detachment  of a  feeling  23  w h i c h has  passed  The discern is  f o u r t h and  i n The  a l l important thematic  Duchess o f M a l f i  i s that  the e n d - r e s u l t of the thematic  the r e s t r a i n t s is  beyond hope o r d e s p a i r . . . ."  the  are broken,  c e n t r a l purpose  lines  l i n e which  o f man  I  as a n i m a l .  It  d i s c u s s e d above.  After  man's t r u e n a t u r e i s r e v e a l e d .  of a Theatre of  It  Cruelty:  . . . t h e s p e c t a t o r i s c o n f r o n t e d w i t h t h e madness o f t h e human c o n d i t i o n , i s e n a b l e d t o s e e h i s s i t u a t i o n i n a l l i t s g r i m n e s s and d e s p a i r , and t h u s , i n s t r i p p i n g him o f i l l u s i o n s o r v a g u e l y f e l t f e a r s and a n x i e t i e s , e n a b l e s him t o f a c e i t c o n s c i o u s l y , r a t h e r t h a n f e e l i t v a g u e l y below t h e s u r f a c e o f euphemisms and o p t i m i s t i c i l l u s i o n s .  I earlier gives  used  a q u o t a t i o n from Shakespeare  i n b r i e f the i m p l i c a t i o n s  of a world without  harmony as d e p i c t e d i n The  Duchess o f M a l f i .  analogy  to the  now  seems r e l e v a n t  as an a n a l o g y  concept  a t the asylum  of Charenton  o f man  i n Weiss'  and  A more r e c e n t  A c t s IV and V o f W e b s t e r ' s p l a y a r e e f f e c t i v e l y a patient  order  which  as  animal.  summed up Marat/Sade:  A mad a n i m a l Man's a mad a n i m a l I'm a t h o u s a n d y e a r s o l d and i n my t i m e I've h e l p e d commit a m i l l i o n m u r d e r s The e a r t h i s s p r e a d The e a r t h i s s p r e a d t h i c k w i t h s q u a s h e d human g u t s We few s u r v i v o r s We few s u r v i v o r s w a l k o v e r a q u a k i n g bog o f c o r p s e s always under our f e e t e v e r y s t e p we t a k e r o t t e d bones a s h e s m a t t e d h a i r  by  53 under eur f e e t broken t e e t h s k u l l s s p l i t A mad animal 25 I'm a mad animal  open  In The Duchess o f M a l f i man as animal i s a m o t i f i n t h e imagery as constant as t h a t of t h e world gone mad p a t t e r n which runs throughout t h e p l a y .  In f a c t , t h e two c o n c e p t s —  madness and man as a n i m a l — j o i n v i s u a l l y and p o e t i c a l l y i n the f i n a l a c t when Ferdinand imagines h i m s e l f t o be a w o l f . Here we have an e x p l i c i t l y v i s u a l and d e l i b e r a t e l y grotesque c o n f i r m a t i o n of the theme: One met the duke, 'bout midnight i n a lane Behind S a i n t Mark's church, w i t h the l e g o f a man Upon h i s s h o u l d e r ; and he howl'd f e a r f u l l y ; S a i d he was a w o l f , only t h e d i f f e r e n c e Was, a w o l f ' s s k i n was h a i r y on the o u t s i d e , His on t h e i n s i d e ; . . . . (V.ii.13-18) T h i s marks t h e c u l m i n a t i o n and c o n c r e t i z a t i o n of a p a t t e r n o f imagery used throughout t h e p l a y i n which the c h a r a c t e r s a r e l i n k e d w i t h animals.  For example:  . . . c o u l d I be one o f t h e i r f l a t t e r i n g panders, I would hang on t h e i r ears l i k e a h o r s e - l e e c h t i l l I were f u l l , and then drop o f f : . . . .  (Bos.  I.i.52-54)  I would sooner eat a dead pigeon, taken from the s o l e s o f the f e e t o f one s i c k o f t h e plague, than k i s s one o f you fasting.  (Bos.  Mark P r i n c e Ferdinand: A v e r y salamander l i v e s i n ' s eye, To mock t h e eager v i o l e n c e o f f i r e .  (Pes.  II.i.3S-40)  III.iii.4^-50)  54 That c a r d i n a l . . . ;  he l i f t s up's nose, l i k e a f o u l p o r p o i s e before a s t o r m — (Sil. III.iii.51-53) W i t h i n t h e same p a t t e r n , t h e Duchess i s l i n k e d w i t h trapped and c a p t i v e animals: A l a s , your shears do come untimely now To c l i p t h e b i r d ' s wings t h a t ' s a l r e a d y f l o w n ! (Duch. III.ii.8V8&) I would have you t e l l me Whether i s t h a t note worse t h a t f r i g h t s the s i l l y b i r d s Gut o f t h e corn, or t h a t which doth a l l u r e them To the nets? you have hearken'd t o t h e l a s t t o o much. (Bos. III.v.101-104) Bos. Duch.  Your b r o t h e r s mean you s a f e t y , and p i t y . Pity.' With such a p i t y men preserve a l i v e Pheasants and q u a i l s , when they a r e not f a t enough To be eaten. (III.v.109-112) I f we c o n s i d e r the t o t a l e f f e c t o f the thematic  lines  present i n The Duchess o f M a l f i , we observe t h a t d e s p i t e the d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n which can be made, Webster was working  towards  a s i n g l e cumulative e f f e c t : t h e e v i l of t h e world, t h e c r u e l t y of  l i f e , the a n i m a l i t y o f man.  The p o i n t o f view i n the p l a y  i s a d m i t t e d l y l i m i t e d , a pre-determined  and, as A l v i n Kernan  notes, a p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y b i a s e d p o i n t o f view.  Webster, Kernan  observes, makes a shambles o f accepted i d e a l s o f reason, order, 26 l o v e and c o n t r o l .  The p l a y i s a view o f what man is_.  important t o note t h a t , f o r the purpose  It i s  o f t h i s view, how man  became t h i s w a y — i . e . , how the Ferdinands and Bosolas and C a r d i n a l s o f s o c i e t y were molded and formed i n t o t h e i r u l t i m a t e  55  animal s t a t e — i s  essentially irrelevant.  Webster's concern  i s w i t h the r e s u l t s r a t h e r than the causes, with the here now  and  of h i s dramatic world, and a background f o r h i s characters,  or even a c a r e f u l c o n s i s t e n c y of m o t i v a t i o n and a c t i o n i n the course o f the p l a y becomes secondary t o the p r e s e n t a t i o n of what O r n s t e i n d e s i g n a t e s as the d r a m a t i z a t i o n of the  myster-  27  IOUS workings  of the i r r a t i o n a l w i l l .  Thus t o a  critic  l i k e W i l l i a m Archer, who  f e e l s Webster shows " s i n g u l a r i n 2g expertness" i n t e l l i n g h i s story w e l l , our r e t o r t can only  be t h a t p l o t was  secondary t o theme i n the w r i t i n g of The  Duchess of M a l f i . 29 where,  Webster found h i s b a s i c p l o t l i n e  else-  but he adapted and a l t e r e d i t t o i l l u s t r a t e a pre-  determined t h e s i s .  As T r a v i s Bogard notes, " . . .  the com-  p l e t e r e v e r s a l of P a i n t e r ' s and B e l i e f o r e s t ' s d i s a p p r o v a l of the Duchess of M a l f i i s c l e a r l y an a l t e r a t i o n t o f i t an i n d i v i d u a l conception of the b a s i c materials."-^ seems i n t e r e s t e d i n making men  Webster  aware of t h e i r i n n a t e , a l b e i t  submerged, i r r a t i o n a l and a n a r c h i c t e n d e n c i e s .  Bronson  Feldman makes an i n t e r e s t i n g p o i n t i n t h i s connection when he suggests of Webster's two major p l a y s as w e l l as of O t h e l l o , The Maid's Tragedy  and The  Broken Heart:  P a i n t i n g the hot-blooded personages of these p l a y s i n Mediterranean r a c i a l c o l o r s enabled the d r a m a t i s t s t o u t t e r more f r e e l y the emotions of the E n g l i s h men and women they were concerned with i n a c t u a l i t y . 3 1 As Theatre o f C r u e l t y , the p l a y i n consequence can become, i n Artaud's words,  56 . . . b e n e f i c i a l , f o r i m p e l l i n g men t o see themselves as they a r e , i t causes the mask t o f a l l , r e v e a l s the l i e , the s l a c k n e s s , baseness, and h y p o c r i s y of our world; . . . and i n r e v e a l i n g t o c o l l e c t i v i t i e s of men t h e i r dark power, t h e i r hidden f o r c e , i t i n v i t e s them t o t a k e , i n the f a c e of d e s t i n y , a s u p e r i o r and h e r o i c a t t i t u d e they would never have assumed without it.32 Or,  i n much simpler terms, The  Duchess of M a l f i q u a l i f i e s  as  33  ".  . . an exorcism t o make our demons FLOW.",  u n r e l a t e d t o Leech's a s s e r t i o n of ".  an i d e a not  . . the extension  of  grasp t h a t the play makes a v a i l a b l e t o us."-^ It  i s only i f we  equate the t h e a t r e with  entertainment  which i s intended  to amuse and d i v e r t but not t o arouse or  stimulate u s — o r ,  i f i t does upset us, i t w i l l c e r t a i n l y  t o i t t h a t we t h a t we  are reassured  before we  leave the  see  auditorium—  have d i f f i c u l t y a c c e p t i n g the thematic i m p l i c a t i o n s  of a work l i k e The tury c r i t i c  Duchess of M a l f i .  Thus a nineteenth  cen-  such as S i r W i l l i a m Watson can say of the  Jacobeans i n g e n e r a l and Webster i n p a r t i c u l a r : These men had no sober v i s i o n of t h i n g s . Theirs i s a world t h a t r e e l s i n a ' d i s a s t r o u s t w i l i g h t ' of l u s t and blood. We r i s e from Shakespeare enlarged and i l l u m i n e d . Webster i s f e l t as a c o n t r a c t i n g and b l u r r i n g i n f l u e n c e . . . . V i r t u e i n t h i s d i s o r d e r e d world i s merely wasted, honour bears not i s s u e , nobleness d i e s unto i t s e l f . 3 5 As F.L.  Lucas p o i n t s out, Watson's o b s e r v a t i o n s  are p e r f e c t l y  c o r r e c t , but the i n t e n t i o n of the remark i s approbation  for  Webster's l a c k of reassurance t h a t l u s t and blood are r a r e exceptions  r a t h e r than constant  presences.  I f Webster's play  i s read i n the l i g h t of theory about the f u n c t i o n s of a  57 Theatre o f C r u e l t y , Watson's c r i t i c i s m s cease t o have a derogatory  effect.  The mind which has come by b i t t e r experience t o l o a t h the 'painted comforts' t h a t hide t h e c r u e l t y o f t h e world i s the r e a d i e r i n i t s r e a c t i o n t o dwell almost l o v i n g l y on the grim r e a l i t i e s behind. They at l e a s t are t r u e , and b e t t e r than pretence.36 One f i n a l p o i n t should be made.  There i s , t o be sure,  token reassurance of the r e t u r n of order and harmony g i v e n a t the end of t h e p l a y .  I t i s a b r i e f scene o f some f i f t e e n  l i n e s i n which D e l i o e n t e r s w i t h Antonio's son and suggests: Let us make noble use Of t h i s g r e a t r u i n ; and j o i n a l l our f o r c e To e s t a b l i s h t h i s young, h o p e f u l gentleman In's mother's r i g h t . (V.v.110-113) However, i n view o f a l l that has taken p l a c e , i n view o f the c r u e l t y and chaos o f the preceding f i v e a c t s — e s p e c i a l l y t h e l a s t two, which a r e s t i l l  s t r o n g e s t i n our minds, the e f f e c -  t i v e n e s s o f t h i s f i n a l t a c i t reassurance i s d o u b t f u l . all  To  e f f e c t s and purposes, t h e p l a y ends, and i t s meaning i s  f i n a l l y summed up, i n Bosola's dying speech which  immediately  precedes t h e entrance o f D e l i o : 0 t h i s gloomy world.' In what a shadow, or deep p i t o f darkness, Doth womanish and f e a r f u l mankind l i v e ! Let worthy minds ne'er stagger i n d i s t r u s t To s u f f e r death, o r shame f o r what i s j u s t — Mine i s another voyage. (V.v.100-105)  53 VERBAL CRUELTY IN THE  DUCHESS OF MALFI (A DIGRESSION)  The f u n c t i o n of p o e t i c imagery i n a scheme which attempts  t o i n t e r p r e t The Duchess of M a l f i i n the l i g h t of a  t w e n t i e t h century theory of t h e a t r e needs some f u r t h e r separate c o n s i d e r a t i o n .  As was  and  shown i n the preceding chapter,  Webster's p o e t i c images work c l o s e l y with h i s v i s u a l images i n the r e a l i z a t i o n of a thematic p o i n t of view analogous the d e s i r e d content of Artaud's dramas of c r u e l t y . h i m s e l f would be l i t t l e  to  Artaud  i n t e r e s t e d i n a concern f o r the r o l e  of the v e r b a l image; s i n c e i n e f f e c t the v e r b a l images perform a d u p l i c a t i n g f u n c t i o n , r e p e a t i n g i n words ideas and  attitudes  which are present v i s u a l l y , h i s approach t o the p l a y would be to do without most of the d i a l o g u e and concentrate on the t h e a t r i c a l r e a l i z a t i o n of the themes v i s u a l l y . explains i t i n t h i s  Wellwarth  way:  E v e r y t h i n g t h a t has ever been done i n the t h e a t e r s i n c e a n c i e n t Greece has been p r e d i c a t e d on the assumption t h a t the f u n c t i o n of the t h e a t e r i s communication through speech. But speech—communication of r a t i o n a l t h o u g h t s — i s the very t h i n g t h a t does not and cannot d i s t i n g u i s h the t h e a t e r from anything e l s e — w h i c h makes i t , i n s h o r t , merely a branch of l i t e r a t u r e . I f r a t i o n a l communication through speech i s r e a l l y the u l t i m a t e g o a l of the t h e a t e r , then, a c c o r d i n g t o Artaud, t h e r e i s no\ p o i n t at a l l i n going t o the enormous t r o u b l e and expense of producing a p l a y : i t i s o b v i o u s l y enough simply t o read i t . One can o b t a i n i n f o r m a t i o n from the w r i t t e n word j u s t as e a s i l y as from the spoken. Theater, Artaud decreed, must be t h e a t r i c a l , and speech i s not t h e a t r i c a l , but l i t e r a r y . T h e r e f o r e we must concentrate e x c l u s i v e l y on those elements of the t h e a t e r p e c u l i a r t o i t alone.-'' However, t h e r e i s a way i f we  out of t h i s dictum which we must take  are going t o do j u s t i c e t o Webster without  doing an  59 i n j u s t i c e t o Artaud. "the  communication  That i s the d e s i g n a t i o n o f speech as  of r a t i o n a l thoughts."  That does not  seem t o me t o be the primary f u n c t i o n of the language of The Duchess o f M a l f i , at l e a s t the language which a v a i l s of  imagery.  itself  Another point made by Wellwarth i s u s e f u l here  i n e s t a b l i s h i n g the context f o r t h i s approach: Speech might s t i l l be used i n the t h e a t e r , but not f o r the communication of ideas and not i n such a way as t o make i t an end i n i t s e l f . Words can be used on the stage as sound per s e — a s i n t o n a t i o n s . As such, t h e i r purpose would no l o n g e r be t o communicate thought, but to b r i n g about an emotional e f f e c t . 3 ° The use o f words and images t o e l i c i t an "emotional e f f e c t " seems t o be o f d i s t i n c t r e l e v a n c e t o the work under tion.  considera-  Without denying t h a t much o f Webster's dialogue i s  d i r e c t l y communicative  and f u n c t i o n s on a p u r e l y n a r r a t i v e  l e v e l , the f a c t remains t h a t whenever a p o e t i c image i s brought i n , i t s o r i e n t a t i o n i s u s u a l l y not t o the i n t e l l e c t but primari l y t o the senses.  I f we look at the p o e t i c content of The  Duchess o f M a l f i i n terms of i t s sensory o r i e n t a t i o n , and i t s a n a r c h i c and i r r a t i o n a l images, i t should be seen t h a t  lan-  guage becomes yet another of the many d e v i c e s used by Webster i n the o v e r a l l p r e s e n t a t i o n — a n i n d i s p e n s i b l e part of the T o t a l Theatre approach t o the p l a y .  As Moody P r i o r observes  ". . . the remarkable f e a t u r e of Webster as a w r i t e r of dramatic v e r s e i s h i s e f f e c t i v e use of the instruments of 39  poetry t o i l l u m i n a t e and develop h i s d i f f i c u l t  materials."^'  We must a l s o keep i n mind t h a t i n Webster's time, without the  6G modern t e c h n i c a l r e s o u r c e s on which Artaud's Theatre of C r u e l t y i s so dependent, the main way phere c o u l d be c r e a t e d on stage was l i n g u i s t i c medium.  Poetry was  i n which mood and atmos-  through f u l l use of the  an i n d i s p e n s i b l e part of  Webster's Theatre of C r u e l t y . Many of the images i n The Duchess of M a l f i seem i n t e n tionally revolting—just  as much so as the v i s u a l images.  They a i d and abet the a t t a c k on the emotions audience.  and nerves of an  Webster's word p i c t u r e s p l a y on s i g h t , sound, taste,  touch: as such they are not o n l y immediately e v o c a t i v e but i n t e n s e l y p h y s i c a l : "Often h i s v i s u a l symbols suggest a f e a r ful  immediacy, an i c y touch, a s u f f o c a t i n g embrace, a p h y s i c a l  contact w i t h the h o r r i b l e . " ^  Indeed, t h i s i s the q u a l i t y of  many of the images presented i n the preceding chapter, and i n t h e i r context t h e r e , they can be seen as i n s e p a r a b l e from f u l l d i s c u s s i o n of the p l a y ' s themes. should s u f f i c e at t h i s  any  A few more examples  point:  You do tremble: Make not your heart so dead a p i e c e of f l e s h To f e a r , more than t o l o v e me: . . . . (Duch. I.i.450-452) There was a l a d y i n France, t h a t having had the smallpox, f l a y e d the s k i n o f f her f a c e t o make i t more l e v e l ; and whereas b e f o r e she looked l i k e a nutmegg r a t e r , a f t e r she resembled an a b o r t i v e hedgehog.  (Bos. I I . i . 2 6 - 2 9 )  Bos. Duch. Bos. Duch: Bos.  W i l l not your grace pare them? No, they t a s t e of musk, methinks; indeed they d o : — I know not: yet I wish your grace had par'd 'em:— Why? I f o r g o t t o t e l l you the knave gard'ner (Only t o r a i s e h i s p r o f i t by them the sooner) Did r i p e n them i n horse-dung.  (II.i.135-140)  61 . . . your k i s s i s c o l d e r Than t h a t I have seen an h o l y a n c h o r i t e Give t o a dead man's s k u l l . (Duch. III.v.88-90) I f they would b i n d me t o t h a t l i f e l e s s trunk And l e t me f r e e z e t o death. (Duch. IV.i.68) Thou a r t a box of worm-seed, at b e s t , but a s a l v a t o r y of green mummy:—what's t h i s f l e s h ? a l i t t l e crudded m i l k , f a n t a s t i c a l p u f f - p a s t e ; our bodies are weaker than those paper p r i s o n s boys use t o keep f l i e s i n ; more cont e m p t i b l e , s i n c e ours i s t o preserve earth-worms. (Bos. IV.ii.124-128) What would i t p l e a s u r e me t o have my t h r o a t cut With diamonds? or t o be smothered With c a s s i a ? or t o be shot t o death w i t h p e a r l s ? (Duch. IV.ii.216-218) One  c o u l d go on, but the examples g i v e n c o n s t i t u t e a r e p r e s e n -  t a t i v e sampling of the p l a y ' s imagery.  V e r b a l and  visual  c r u e l t y work t o g e t h e r throughout.  Salingar's  response  is  L.G.  indicative: . . . the agonies of the t o r t u r e - c h a m b e r — b a t t e r i n g , choki n g , f l a y i n g , beheading; toothache, insomnia, f e v e r ; the s t i n g i n g of bees; p r e s s i n g t o death w i t h weights. . . . every s e n s a t i o n i s i n f l a m e d , every emotion becomes an orgy . . . . Storming, d e f y i n g , b e w a i l i n g , s p a r t a n i z i n g ; the set t e e t h , the b o l d f r o n t and the i n t o l e r a b l e pang: these are almost the whole of Webster's t r a g i c a l r e p e r t o r y . When spoken language  i s used i n the t h e a t r e , Artaud  suggests, i t must be used i n a s p e c i a l , non-communicative  way:  True poetry i s , w i l l y n i l l y , metaphysical and i t i s j u s t i t s metaphysical b e a r i n g , I should say, the i n t e n s i t y of i t s metaphysical e f f e c t , t h a t comprises i t s e s s e n t i a l worth.  62  To make metaphysics out o f a spoken language i s t o make the language express what i t does not o r d i n a r i l y express: to make use o f i t i n a new, e x c e p t i o n a l , and unaccustomed f a s h i o n : t o r e v e a l i t s p o s s i b i l i t i e s f o r producing p h y s i c a l shock.^ 2  There i s thus a fundamental anarchy a t the root o f a l l t r u e poetry; an anarchy f e l t  i n t h e new r e l a t i o n s h i p s which a r e  e s t a b l i s h e d between o b j e c t s , between forms and s i g n i f i c a t i o n s . In Webster's  p l a y , t h e u t i l i z a t i o n o f unexpected  relationships  between o b j e c t s i s a primary b a s i s o f the imagery. speaks o f having h e r t h r o a t cut w i t h diamonds, to  death w i t h p e a r l s ; compares h e r husband's  an a n c h o r i t e k i s s i n g a dead man's s k u l l .  The Duchess  or being shot  k i s s t o t h a t of  Further:  murder s h r i e k s o u t : The element o f water moistens the e a r t h , But blood f l i e s upward, and bedews t h e heavens. (Bos. IV.ii.261-263) We seem t o sweat i n i c e , and f r e e z e i n f i r e . (Bos. IV.ii.338) You s h a l l see me wind my tongue about h i s h e a r t , Like a skein of s i l k . (Julia. V.ii.222-223) One  cannot do j u s t i c e t o miost o f Webster's  images i f  one attempts t o " e x p l a i n " them; t o express t h e i r e f f e c t i n r a t i o n a l , a n a l y t i c a l terms.  The images a r e comprehended best  on an emotional l e v e l , and thus work w e l l i n a form o f t h e a t r e which i s p r i m a r i l y aimed a t a f f e c t i n g the emotions. to  There i s ,  be s u r e , minimal i n t e l l e c t u a l content i n The Duchess o f  M a l f i , i n the sense o f d i s c u s s i o n s w i t h i n t h e p l a y of concepts  63 of good and e v i l , or any of the other thematic concepts which are  r e v e a l e d i n the v i s u a l and v e r b a l images.  But the p o e t i c  imagery does have a cumulating emotional e f f e c t ; Webster i s fond of i t e r a t i v e images, and when one attempts t o c a t e g o r i z e the  images, as Moody P r i o r does t o some degree i n The Language  of Tragedy, the frequency of images d e a l i n g i n one way  or  another w i t h blood, death, demons, s i c k n e s s and d i s e a s e , predatory animals, warfare, decay and sex becomes apparent. P r i o r notes t h a t storm and tempest  imagery—so  fundamental  to the i d e a of anarchy and chaos i n the p l a y ' s thematic pattern—appears frequently: The suggestions of v i o l e n c e i n the storm images, supplemented by r e f e r e n c e s t o thunder, earthquakes, and the l i k e , are a l s o s u s t a i n e d by f i g u r e s d e r i v e d from b a t t l e s and implements of w a r f a r e . ^ The best example has p r e v i o u s l y been d i s c u s s e d i n r e l a t i o n t o theme: Card. Ferd.  Why do you make y o u r s e l f tempest? Would I c o u l d be one, That I might t o s s her palace 'bout her e a r s , Root up her goodly f o r e s t s , b l a s t her meads, And l a y her g e n e r a l t e r r i t o r y as waste As she hath done her honours. (II.v.16-21) So w i l d a  P r i o r a l s o notes: But t h i s i s not merely an e v i l and v i o l e n t world; i t i s corrupt and gross and unhealthy. T h i s impression grows from the p e r s i s t e n t use of such words as f o u l , dark,rank, r o t t e n , p e s t i l e n t . . . and from m u l t i p l i c a t i o n of images bearing on d i s e a s e , drugs, and decay.45.  64 P r i o r ' s d i s c u s s i o n i s a l s o u s e f u l i n n o t i n g how c h a r a c t e r s are a s s o c i a t e d w i t h c e r t a i n types of images, which w i l l be an important c o n s i d e r a t i o n i n the next chapter.  The primary  purpose o f t h i s b r i e f d i g r e s s i o n between c o n s i d e r a t i o n s of theme and c h a r a c t e r has been t o emphasize the f a c t t h a t  poetic  imagery i s an e s s e n t i a l u n i f y i n g element i n The Duchess of M a l f i , and t h a t the fundamentally a n a r c h i c  and emotional  q u a l i t i e s of t h i s imagery makes mandatory i t s i n c l u s i o n i n c o n s i d e r i n g the relevance play.  Verbal  of a Theatre of C r u e l t y t o Webster's  c r u e l t y supports and deepens the e f f e c t i v e n e s s  of t h e v i s u a l c r u e l t y i n The Duchess of M a l f i .  CHAPTER IV CHARACTERS AS FORCES IN THE The  DUCHESS OF MALFI  f o l l o w i n g d i s c u s s i o n of c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n i n  Duchess of M a l f i i s i n t e n t i o n a l l y l i m i t e d i n approach. p r i m a r i l y concerned with suggesting  an approach t o  The I  am  character  which seems r e l e v a n t t o the i n v e s t i g a t i o n of the t o t a l dramat i c work as Theatre of C r u e l t y .  Moreover, some of the  follow-  i n g p o i n t s w i l l be unavoidably r e p e t i t i v e , i n t h a t I f e e l c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n c o n s t i t u t e s a t h i r d approach t o theme, which depends f o r f u l l understanding on v i s u a l and imagery, but which, at l e a s t f o r purposes of t h i s w i l l be t r e a t e d  one  verbal discussion,  separately.  At an e a r l i e r p o i n t i n t h i s paper, I suggested t h a t the thematic core of the p l a y was pressed  c e n t r a l i z e d and  best  v i s u a l l y i n the death scene of the Duchess.  could stop the a c t i o n , and  ex-  I f we  f r e e z e the stage p i c t u r e at  the  p o i n t i n I V . i i at which the Duchess, k n e e l i n g , i s s t r a n g l e d by the two  Executioners,  each h o l d i n g an end  probably one  of the  would have a c h a r a c t e r  her,  cord t h a t i s looped about her neck,  w i t h the c o f f i n c l o s e by and we  on each s i d e of  Bosola l o o k i n g on  dispassionately,  image which r e p r e s e n t s  the meaning  and a l s o the r e s u l t s of the thematic concerns suggested i n the! last  chapter:  gone mad;  the breakdown of order and harmony; the world  the h e l p l e s s n e s s  i r r a t i o n a l f o r c e s ; man  of the r a t i o n a l i n d i v i d u a l a g a i n s t  as animal.  The  death image a l s o suggests  66 a b a s i c o v e r a l l conception  of c h a r a c t e r which has  of these separate thematic l i n e s .  evolved  out  I t i s thus tempting t o  see  the Duchess costumed i n white and the Executioners  and  Bosola  i n b l a c k , but perhaps t h i s would be a l i t t l e too blatantlysymbolic.  But  at i t s core, the p l a y can be seen as  w i t h a c o n t r a s t between Good and  concerned  E v i l , more s p e c i f i c a l l y  be-  tween the dominating f o r c e s of E v i l and the dominated f o r c e s of Good; an E v i l which overpowers and  destroys  Good.  It i s  on t h i s r a t h e r d e c e p t i v e l y simple a n t i t h e s i s t h a t I f e e l Webster has  developed h i s c h a r a c t e r s .  characters  seen as symbols can provide  Consequently, the another approach t o  theme. Suggesting a Good-Evil c o n t r a s t i n the c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n of The  Duchess of M a l f i l e a v e s the way  open f o r s e v e r a l l e v e l s  of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n : r e l i g i o u s , i n t h a t the c h a r a c t e r s  could  p r o f i t a b l y be regarded i n terms of the Good and E v i l  contrasts  inherent  i n the t r a d i t i o n a l E n g l i s h m o r a l i t y p l a y ;  1  politi-  c a l l y , i n t h a t the play c o u l d be seen as a t h e a t r i c a l i z a t i o n of the  ( a l b e i t misunderstood) d o c t r i n e s of M a c h i a v e l l i ; psycho-  l o g i c a l , i n t h a t the p l a y could be read as a r e a l i z a t i o n the stage of the i r r a t i o n a l and a n a r c h i c  tendencies of  on man.  In r e l a t i o n t o a Theatre of C r u e l t y , the l a t t e r approach i s of course most a p p l i c a b l e , but  i n the f o l l o w i n g d i s c u s s i o n of  c h a r a c t e r , the other p o s s i b i l i t i e s need not be t o t a l l y cluded.  ex-  In speaking of a c o n t r a s t between Good and E v i l ,  am merely choosing t o use the two  most b a s i c r e f e r e n t s  I  avail-  6 7  able.  As was  suggested e a r l i e r , the Good/Evil  dichotomy i s  of great use t h e a t r i c a l l y ; s i n c e i t s i m p l i f i e s the meaning of the p l a y s u f f i c i e n t l y t o make i t r e a d i l y comprehensible t o all;  the degree of complexity  on i n d i v i d u a l p e r c e p t i v e n e s s  added t o the play w i l l depend and  interpretation.  Alexander A l l i s o n suggests the e t h i c a l design i n the play i s one antagonists. fills  of p o l a r c o n t r a s t between the Duchess and The  E v i l represented  i n the e n t i r e world: "The  her  by her a n t a g o n i s t s  duchess's tragedy  t h a t t h e r e i s a power abroad which can  ...  time, d r i v e value from the earth  gradually  informs us  at l e a s t f o r a  And,  a l l the  the a c t i o n i s accompanied by a c h o r i c descant upon the  while, pre-  2  dominance of e v i l i n the world. . . . "  The  i d e a of Good  being d r i v e n from the e a r t h , as A l l i s o n expresses i t , l e a d s me  t o suggest we  as f o r c e s .  might p r o f i t a b l y view Webster's  In The  characters  Cankered Muse, A l v i n Kernan sees  Ferdinand  and the C a r d i n a l i n these terms; as f o r c e s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e  of  3  unrestrained anarchic  individualism.  Artaud used symbols as  h i s o p e r a t i v e term: The t h e a t e r r e s t o r e s us a l l our dormant c o n f l i c t s and a l l t h e i r powers, and g i v e s these powers names we h a i l as symbols: and behold! before our eyes i s fought a b a t t l e of symbols, one charging a g a i n s t another i n an impossible melee. . . . 4 T h i s view i s perhaps a l i t t l e too d r a m a t i c a l l y s t a t e d f o r our purposes; i n The  Duchess of M a l f i the f o r c e s or symbols do  not r e a l l y charge a g a i n s t  each o t h e r — t h e  process  i s rather  68 one o f the slow but steady advance of the f o r c e s o f unres t r a i n e d impulse, savagery, h a t r e d and anarchy as manifested i n v a r y i n g degrees  i n the c h a r a c t e r s o f Ferdinand, the Car-  d i n a l and Bosola a g a i n s t the r a t h e r h e l p l e s s and p a s s i v e " f o r c e s " o f o r d e r , reason and normal l i f e r e p r e s e n t e d by the Duchess.  I f the c o n f l i c t  b a t t l e , i t i s an extremely Webster's purposes.  can i n any way be construed as a one-sided one; n e c e s s a r i l y so f o r  The only r e a l a i d e s t o the Duchess'  cause a r e the r a t h e r i n e f f e c t u a l Antonio and the f a i t h f u l but d i s p e n s a b l e C a r i o l a , while t h e o p p o s i t i o n i s able t o draw unto i t s e l f a s s i s t a n c e from a l l q u a r t e r s — t h e Church, the law, and as i s s u r e l y i n t i m a t e d i n the c r o s s - s e c t i o n of s o c i e t y r e p r e s e n t e d by the madmen, most o f mankind; mankind which, as f u r t h e r symbolized  and concentrated i n t o the c h a r a c t e r of  B o s o l a , i s always ready t o do anything f o r money or the promise of s o c i a l  preferment.  Before l o o k i n g i n some d e t a i l a t the two opposing o r c o n t r a s t e d f o r c e s present i n The Duchess o f M a l f i i t i s necess a r y t o o f f e r some q u a l i f i c a t i o n t o t h i s d i v i s i o n o f charact e r s i n t o what may seem a t f i r s t t o be two completely groupings—one  E v i l , the other Good.  separate  T h i s o f course i s not  the case; almost a l l the c h a r a c t e r s a r e n e i t h e r completely Good nor E v i l , but have v a r y i n g and c o n s t a n t l y s h i f t i n g of both q u a l i t i e s .  In a predominantly  mixtures  E v i l world, not even a  c h a r a c t e r as e s s e n t i a l l y Good as the Duchess i s f r e e from c o r r u p t i o n , nor i s a c h a r a c t e r as e s s e n t i a l l y r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of  69 the f o r c e s of E v i l as i s Duke Ferdinand e n t i r e l y without  our  sympathy or h i s moments of s a n i t y i n the midst of h i s  general  insanity.  of  I t i s t h i s ambiguity and  constant  p e r s p e c t i v e which makes Webster's c h a r a c t e r s esting  (and r e a l ) as people and  shifting both so  inter-  so d i f f i c u l t t o comprehend.  I t i s i n t h i s area of ambiguity i n c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n t h a t most c r i t i c a l study on The  Duchess of M a l f i has  concentrated,  and  s e v e r a l c o n f l i c t i n g p o i n t s of view are a v a i l a b l e t o us on d i s c e r n e d good and Ferdinaimd and  bad  Antonio.  q u a l i t i e s of the Duchess,  broader o u t l i n e s c o n t i n u a l l y i n mind.  the v a r i o u s  Bosola,  These w i l l be d e a l t w i t h i n t u r n below.  At t h i s point i t seems wise t o suggest that we  t e r c o n t r a s t s may  a l s o keep the  Black and white charac-  seem too simple and melodramatic, but  shadings Webster has g i v e n h i s c h a r a c t e r s  d e s i r a b l e complexity and,  add  l i g h t dichotomy i s c l e a r and  c l o s e i n on the play and  the f i n e r p o i n t s of c h a r a c t e r characters  a  be seen as a  f a i r l y c l e a r o p p o s i t i o n between black and white types. a d i s t a n c e , t h i s dark and  while  I t h i n k , an i n t e n t i o n a l ambiguity  t o the p l a y , h i s b a s i c s t a r t i n g p o i n t should  t i n c t ; only when we  the  do we  From dis-  begin t o examine  see that a l l the major  emerge as v a r i e g a t e d mixtures.  In the  theatre,  however, Webster keeps h i s p l a y moving so q u i c k l y , and  in his  v i s u a l and v e r b a l images seems t o make i t so apparent that h i s characters  are i n essence opposed and  contrasted  that the f i n e r p o i n t s of behaviour which we  forces,  can d i s c e r n i n  the study would be of l e s s concern t o us i n the  immediacy of  70 the t h e a t r e . The This  Duchess l i v e s  i s made c l e a r  surrounded  by e v i l  i n the a l l important  and c o r r u p t i o n .  first  few m i n u t e s o f  t h e p l a y , a s a l l t h e m a i n c h a r a c t e r s make t h e i r f i r s t ances. that  W e b s t e r c h a r a c t e r i z e s q u i c k l y , a n d i t i s o f some  our f i r s t  introduced play. ian  impressions  Travis  tragedy  dividuals life."  Bogard suggests  The E v i l  tragedy  i s broadly s o c i a l , with i n examples o f W e b s t e r ' s  lishes this.  In h i s f i r s t  i s human  L e t u s s e e how c a r e f u l l y W e b s t e r speech,  Antonio  evil,  a corrupt court.  concomitants  Now B o s o l a e n t e r s , a n d c o m p l a i n s  s e r v i c e s rendered.  expects  The C a r d i n a l ,  r e p u l s e s him, and B o s o l a  estab-  alludes t o the  a n d d i s e a s e w h i c h he s e e s a s t h e i n e v i t a b l e  C a r d i n a l of being neglected--he for  conception  i n c h a r a c t e r , a n d n o t i n some r e m o t e , a b s t r a c t a n d force.  of  "Shakespear-  generality of  i n The Duchess o f M a l f i  unseen cosmic  death  f o rthe entire  o f W e b s t e r ' s method:  s e r v i n g as normative  manifested  definitively  i s i n d i v i d u a l , with a suggested  5  note  o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s as they a r e  e s t a b l i s h e s t h e i r type  a p p l i c a t i o n ; Websterian  of  appear-  to the  payment a n d p r e f e r m e n t  c o l d and e n i g m a t i c ,  observes:  I w i l l t h r i v e some way: b l a c k b i r d s f a t t e n b e s t i n h a r d w e a t h e r ; why n o t I , i n t h e s e dog-days?  (I.i.37-395 Our  first  right  impressions  o f t h e two c h a r a c t e r s p r o v e  ones: t h e C a r d i n a l remains  throughout  cold, sinister  the play, while Bosola's  constant  t o be t h e  and e n i g m a t i c  complaint i s  71 that  he  i s n e g l e c t e d , w i t h t h e accompanying note  n e s s t o do spoils. to  any  sort  of unpleasant  In the speech  c i t e d a b o v e , he  a blackbird—the implications  p r o b a b l y meant t o be t h e r e — a n d come, i n h i s own  terminology,  . rich,  p i e s , and two  and  they  o'erladen/with  power, p o s i t i o n and  fruit,  but  flesh;  p l a y and  mouths.  cations  horse-leech, are  none but  crows,  (I.i.50-52).  caterpillars  Webster i s c a r e f u l l y  We  are  building  on a s s o c i a t i v e  o f d i s e a s e and  decay. first  t o a h o s p i t a l , the  animal The  exit;  The  have—  same  are also  o n l y a few  time  an  carrion minutes  taste  in  initial  i d e a i s put his parting  into  our  response  imagery c a r r y i n g into line  courtiers to patients.  d i s e a s e seem i n e x t r i c a b l y  Malfi's  at the  a l r e a d y t h e r e i s an u n p l e a s a n t  context with Bosola's court  be-  i n imagery w i t h r o t t e n n e s s , c o r r u p t i o n , p u t r e -  c r o w s , p i e s and  c h a r a c t e r based  are  has  C a r d i n a l , who  but  i n the  carrion  l a t e r he  ..."  prestige,  f e e d e r s , as a r e h o r s e - l e e c h e s .  to  impli-  another likens  Again,  j o i n e d w i t h t h e Duchess  the  death  of  court. The  is  lines  the  c a t e r p i l l a r s f e e d on them.  are l i n k e d  fying  and  and  share  compared h i m s e l f  o f f e e d i n g on a few  willing-  b r o t h e r s seem t o have e v e r y t h i n g B o s o l a d o e s n ' t  wealth,  the  has  can  a blood-sucking  attaching himself to Ferdinand .  t a s k i f he  of  next  scenic unit  i n t r o d u c e s us t o F e r d i n a n d .  worth n o t i n g t h a t , although  in this  handled  lightly,  jesting  interchanges with Castruchio.  first  scene  It  it is  there i s a strong sexual under-current  to his  What i s p e r h a p s more  72 important and he  t o our f i r s t  view o f him i s t h a t h i s f i e r y ,  u n p r e d i c t a b l e temperament suddenly  t u r n s on S i l v i o ,  taking their  cue f r o m  the g u l l i b l e  Castruchio:  i s displayed. Roderigo  Without  and G r i s o l a n ,  him, have j o i n e d  quick warning,  who,  i n on t h e b a i t i n g o f  Why do y o u l a u g h ? Methinks you t h a t a r e c o u r t i e r s s h o u l d be my t o u c h - w o o d , t a k e f i r e , when I g i v e f i r e ; t h a t i s , l a u g h when I l a u g h , were t h e s u b j e c t n e v e r so witty— (I.i.122-235) The  s u d d e n u n e x p e c t e d n e s s w i t h w h i c h he q u a s h e s h i s a t t e n d a n t s  is  an e a r l y h i n t  to  keep h i m s e l f u n d e r c o n t r o l .  character prove  i n such  as t o h i s u n p r e d i c t a b i l i t y  introduces the  s u s p i c i o n s about him  t o be a s a c c u r a t e a s t h o s e we have f e l t  follows  just  Webster thus  a way t h a t o u r e a r l y  d i n a l and B o s o l a .  the  and h i s i n a b i l i t y  about t h e Car-  Further c o n f i r m a t i o n o f our s u s p i c i o n s  immediately  i n t h e e x c h a n g e between A n t o n i o  and D e l i o ;  C a r d i n a l , we l e a r n , u s e s r e l i g i o n t o s e r v e h i s own as F e r d i n a n d  makes a c o r r e s p o n d i n g  ends,  use o f t h e law.  The  Cardinal  W i l l p l a y h i s f i v e t h o u s a n d crowns a t t e n n i s , d a n c e , C o u r t l a d i e s , a n d . . . h a t h f o u g h t s i n g l e combats. (I.i.154-155) He i s a man o f t h e w o r l d ,  h a r d l y o f t h e Church.  "a most p e r v e r s e , a n d t u r b u l e n t n a t u r e :  . . . " . ' ( I . i . l 6 9 ) , an  o b s e r v a t i o n w h i c h g i v e s us a v e r b a l a f f i r m a t i o n have i n f a c t  just  seen.  Ferdinand has  o f what we  73 The Antonio's that  she  description i s the l a s t  W e b s t e r has and  i n t r o d u c t o r y movement o f t h e p l a y c o n c l u d e s  carefully  o f t h e Duchess.  significant  m a j o r c h a r a c t e r t o be  described to  us.  d e l i n e a t e d the world  i n w h i c h she  lives,  i t i s h a r d l y a p l e a s a n t one.  contamination i s "the r i g h t  Her That Are Let And  I t seems  with  noble  In the midst  of  surrounding  duchess—":  days a r e p r a c t i s ' d i n such n o b l e v i r t u e s u r e h e r n i g h t s — n a y more, h e r v e r y s l e e p s — more i n h e a v e n t h a n o t h e r l a d i e s ' s h r i f t s . a l l sweet l a d i e s b r e a k t h e i r f l a t t ' r i n g g l a s s e s , dress themselves i n her.  (I.i.201-204) S u r e l y Webster's i n i t i a l be  regarded  audience  as  every b i t as i n d i c a t i v e  o f what a t t i t u d e  the  i s t o t a k e t o w a r d s h e r as has  been h i s i n i t i a l  swift  characterizations effect very in  o f The  first  o f F e r d i n a n d , t h e C a r d i n a l and  Duchess o f M a l f i  clear-cut  this  c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n o f t h e Duchess i s t o  rests,  I feel,  few  "able to possess  the g r e a t e s t d e v i l , "  Ferd. Bos.  of  on  The the  elicits  minutes o f the p l a y ; the r i g h t - n o b l e Duchess, t u r b u l e n t Ferdinand, the  truths  largely  a t t i t u d e s t o c h a r a c t e r which Webster  t h e p e r v e r s e and  malcontent  Bosola.  Bosola, completely without  enigmatic  (I.i.46)  and  illusions  Cardinal, the  as t o  slighted the  life:  There's  gold. So: What f o l l o w s ? N e v e r r a i n ' d s u c h show'rs as W i t h o u t t h u n d e r b o l t s i n t h e t a i l o f them; Whose t h r o a t must I c u t ?  (I.i.247-249)  these  74 I have dwelt at some l e n g t h on the opening moments of the  p l a y because they seem e s s e n t i a l i n e s t a b l i s h i n g audience  attitude.  F u r t h e r , i f we w i l l accept Webster's i n i t i a l  descrip-  t i o n s of h i s c h a r a c t e r s , many of the problems r e l a t e d t o motivat i o n s and the seeming  ambivalence  of Webster's a t t i t u d e t o h i s  c h a r a c t e r s are somewhat minimized. the  Let us now  look i n t u r n at  two opposed f o r c e s of the p l a y as r e p r e s e n t e d by c h a r a c t e r s . As Alexander A l l i s o n notes, the Duchess i s a noble woman  whom Webster c a r e f u l l y d i s t i n g u i s h e d from the sum and d e c e i t a r r a y e d a g a i n s t her.  of m a l i c e  "In her death scene she be-  comes a lone embodiment o f v a l u e : a s i n g l e b r i g h t spot, as Webster's imagery would have i t , i n the surrounding dark."^ Throughout  the p l a y she denotes l i g h t , h e a l t h , normal  and i n s t i n c t s ; reason and order.  appetites  But, as R i c h a r d Sewall notes, 7  ". . . her l i t t l e  l i g h t was  soon e x t i n g u i s h e d . "  T h i s t o me  i s the whole point of the p l a y .  Harold Jenkins suggests t h a t  The Duchess of M a l f i i s ". . . a  revenge p l a y without a crime.";  he sees the Duchess as completely i n n o c e n t , and f e e l s i t i s erroneous t o r e g a r d her i n any context of g u i l t , i n c l u d i n g her p e r s o n a l consciousness of g u i l t , f o r her s e c r e t remarriage t o a person of lower rank.  The e x p l i c a t i o n s of the  Duchess'  c h a r a c t e r by S t o l l and Leech both concentrate t o a l a r g e on the assignment Duchess.  degree  of g u i l t and consciousness of g u i l t t o the  They base t h e i r d i s c u s s i o n s on the assumption  that o  the  Duchess has committed  a d e f i n i t e crime by marrying Antonio.  T h i s mode of approach s t r i k e s me p r i m a r i l y as an attempt t o  75 f i n d some j u s t i f i c a t i o n , no matter how  s l i g h t , f o r the  savagery of the punishment meted out by her b r o t h e r s .  If this  cannot be done, the Duchess* punishment becomes h o r r i f y i n g i n i t s anarchic  i m p l i c a t i o n s ; meaningless d e s t r u c t i o n with  r a t i o n a l l y j u s t i f i a b l e cause.  And,  I t h i n k , that i s e x a c t l y  what Webster wanted t o show happening. Leech seem t o overlook  no  What both S t o i l  and  i s that the Duchess does not seem t o  regard her marriage as a crime, but r e g r e t s r a t h e r the compromising  p o s i t i o n i t f o r c e s her i n t o ; r e g r e t s t h a t the world  she l i v e s i n f o r c e s her t o r e s o r t t o subterfuge in  order t o l i v e a normal, h e a l t h y  and  duplicity  life:  0 misery! methinks unjust a c t i o n s Should wear these masks and c u r t a i n s , and not (III.ii.158-1591 The end, one.  Duchess maintains her p e r s o n a l  never admitting  t o any  i n t e g r i t y to  crime because she has not  She welcomes death not as j u s t punishment f o r her s i n s ,  wishes t o l i v e .  I t has  longer  become a "tedious t h e a t r e " (IV.i.84).  Death does not f r i g h t e n her; she  223),  the  committed  but as a r e l e a s e from a world of E v i l i n which she no  for  we:—  i s w i l l i n g t o d i e "any  heaven sake,/So I were out of your whispering."  (IV.i.222-  and her f i n a l words r e v e a l a f u l l awareness of the  t o t a l i t y of v i o l e n c e and  c r u e l t y i n the w o r l d :  Go t e l l my b r o t h e r s , when I am l a i d They then may f e e d i n q u i e t .  out,  (IV.ii.236-237)  way,  76 P.F.  Vernon p e r c e i v e s a d e f i n i t e moral flaw i n the  Duchess and Antonio;  because of t h e i r d u p l i c i t y they become  as c u l p a b l e as t h e i r p e r s e c u t o r s . i n t h e i r honest end  T h e i r methods " . . .  . . . are i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e from the  cunning schemes of the court M a c h i a v e l l i a n s . " add,  except  1 0  Should we  not  however, t h a t the d u p l i c i t y i s u n w i l l i n g l y undertaken,  but a b s o l u t e l y necessary t o remain completely t h r i v e s on subterfuge i n our own,  for survival?  innocent  I t seems impossible  and u n t a i n t e d i n a world which  and d e c e p t i o n .  In Webster's world, as  the s u r v i v a l i n s t i n c t i s i n n a t e .  In the d e l i n e a -  t i o n of what one must do i n order t o s u r v i v e , Webster and B e r t o l t Brecht  seem t o have an analogous philosophy:  The  Duchess i s a d i s t a n t r e l a t i v e of Shen Te i n The Good Woman of Setzuan who  at the c l o s e of Brecht's  p l a y speaks t o the  t h r e e h o p e l e s s l y i n e f f e c t u a l Gods as f o l l o w s : Your former i n j u n c t i o n t o be good and yet t o Tore me l i k e l i g h t n i n g i n h a l v e s . I don't know how i t happened. To be good t o others and t o m y s e l f — I couldn't do both at the same time. For who could long r e f u s e t o be bad when he eats no meat must d i e ?  live  who  A l o a d of good i n t e n t i o n s weighed- ! me down t o the ground. Yet when I was unjust I walked m i g h t i l y about and ate good meat I Something must be wrong w i t h your world. Why i s malice w e l l rewarded? Why do punishments await the g o o d ? H -  Between Webster's p l a y and remained much the same.  Brecht's, mankind seems t o have  From two  completely  different  plays  77  we  can e x t r a c t a comparable j u s t i f i c a t i o n of wrong  i t may  behaviour:  not be moral or d e s i r a b l e , but i t i s p r a c t i c a l .  Fur-  t h e r , i t i s i n e v i t a b l e i n a m o r a l l y c h a o t i c world which, as Ferdinand notes, i s ". . . but a dog-kennel:"  (V.v.67).  Turning t o the E v i l f o r c e s i n the p l a y , we f i n d t h a t Brecht can a l s o supply us w i t h a r e l e v a n t summation of an a t t i t u d e t o l i f e which i s d i s t i n c t l y t h a t of Webster's Bosola: For what keeps a man a l i v e ? He keeps a l i v e by every hour T o r t u r i n g , s t r i p p i n g , a t t a c k i n g , t h r o t t l i n g , and devouring h i s f e l l o w man. A man j u s t keeps a l i v e by completely -^2 Being a b l e t o f o r g e t t h a t he's a human being too.  Bosola i s completely without  i l l u s i o n s as t o the meanness of  l i f e , and i s p e r f e c t l y w i l l i n g t o undertake  any  j o b , be i t  spy, h i r e d a s s a s s i n , t o r t u r e r or e x e c u t i o n e r , so long as t h e r e i s something i n i t f o r him. of  being i l l - u s e d , u n a p p r e c i a t e d , i n s u f f i c i e n t l y rewarded by  those he has served w e l l . ing of  His constant complaint i s  his first  As noted, t h i s i s e s t a b l i s h e d dur-  appearance i n the p l a y , and becomes a keynote  h i s character.  Antonio does n o t i c e t h a t :  'Tis g r e a t p i t y He should be thus n e g l e c t e d — I have heard He's very v a l i a n t : t h i s f o u l melancholy W i l l poison a l l h i s goodness. . . . (I.i.74-77)  He can thus reasonably be seen as ". . . a n man  who  e s s e n t i a l l y moral  has y i e l d e d t o the pressures of c o r r u p t i o n .  ..."  13  78 but  e x c e p t f o r r a r e moments o f d i s t a s t e f o r what he  w o r l d has  f o r c e d him  For All  t o become, s u c h  the  as  0, t h a t t o a v o i d i n g r a t i t u d e good d e e d you h a v e done me, I must i l l man can invent.'  the the  feels  do  (I.i.273-275) he  seems a b l e  to  ignore  the  reality  been h i r e d t o  do  a job,  and  f e e l i n g s o f h u m a n i t y and  t i o n are  suppressed.  best  death of the the  face  possible  D u c h e s s , by  of t o r t u r e  and  of h i s a c t i o n s ;  A d m i t t e d l y , he the  compuncthe  displays  However, I f i n d  to agree with I r v i n g Ribner's contention  death p r e c i p i t a t e s Bosola»s  has  i s u n n e r v e d by  show o f c o u r a g e she  suffering.  he  it  that  in  imher  reformation:  When B o s o l a r e c o g n i z e s t h e v a l u e o f t h e D u c h e s s ' s ' • i n t e g r i t y o f l i f e , ' i t i s no l o n g e r p o s s i b l e f o r him t o l i v e by t h e code w h i c h had l i n k e d him t o t h e A r r a g o n i a n brothers. W h i l e g o o d i s p o s s i b l e , he must s e e k f o r v a l u e s i n l i f e , and t h u s he comes t o s t a n d f o r j u s t i c e and t h e r e s t o r a t i o n o f o r d e r . . . . Her ' f a i r s o u l , ' b r i g h t and u n c h a n g i n g l i k e t h e s h i n i n g s t a r s , l e a d s him out o f t h e d a r k n e s s o f a w o r l d w i t h o u t v a l u e t o an a f f i r m a t i o n o f t h e d i g n i t y o f l i f e f o r w h i c h she had s t o o d and f o r w h i c h he now comes t o stand.14 Is i t r e a l l y dignity  of l i f e  Duchess' death? of l i f e .  possible  i n the  B o s o l a as  remainder of the  Better  B o s o l a i n Act  perhaps t o  personal  revenge f o r the  services  as  say  V i s r e a l l y no  B o s o l a o f A c t s I t h r o u g h IV.  he  t o see  He  play he  affirming  following  affirms  the  d i f f e r e n t from  i s as much c o n c e r n e d  ingratitude  of Ferdinand f o r  i s w i t h revenge a g a i n s t  him  f o r what he  the  the reality the with his had  79 commissioned Bosola t o do t o the Duchess.  In f a c t , one  pects t h a t the l a t t e r revenge motive i s r e a l l y only a i n g pretence f o r the former.  The  sus-  justify-  e f f e c t of the p l a y as a  m a n i f e s t a t i o n of c r u e l t y and anarchy would be weakened i f Bosola i n Act V suddenly became p e n i t e n t and moral.  In a c t u a l  f a c t , h i s a c t i o n s tend t o deny h i s s t a t e d i n t e n t i o n s ,  thus  denying a l s o the v a l i d i t y of Ribner's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the f i n a l act. it,  Bosola's way  of doing "good," as Ribner would name  i r o n i c a l l y and i n d i c a t i v e l y i n v o l v e s the same t e c h n i q u e s ,  the same deceptiveness and cunning t h a t had been necessary i n c a r r y i n g out the job a s s i g n e d him by Ferdinand at the beginning of the p l a y .  As C l i f f o r d Leech  observes:  In t h i s l a s t act we have seen him drawn over i n t o sympathy w i t h Antonio and h i s dead w i f e , yet s l a y i n g an innocent servant without compunction, m i s t a k e n l y k i l l i n g Antonio, complaining always of being n e g l e c t e d . As an instrument of j u s t i c e he i s p i t i f u l l y i m p e r f e c t , w h i l e he had shown address as tormentor and e x e c u t i o n e r . 1 5  Throughout Act V, Bosola continues as b e f o r e , and Webster's p o i n t here may  be t h a t i n a t o t a l l y c h a o t i c world the  ordered  d i s t i n c t i o n s between the Good and E v i l are no l o n g e r o p e r a t i v e ; i r r a t i o n a l and a n a r c h i c f o r c e s have taken over  completely.  The v i s u a l image of the death of the Duchess i m p l i e s the o b l i t e r a t i o n of the concept  of Good, w i t h i t s connotations of  order, reason, t r u s t and happiness, from the world. t u r n s the i m p l i c a t i o n i n t o v i s u a l f a c t ; man r a t i o n a l c r e a t u r e , but merely animal.  Act V  i s no l o n g e r a  I t i s a dog eat  dog  so w o r l d , a n d when p a s s i o n t a k e s o v e r f r o m become somewhat e x t r a n e o u s  reason, moral  and i r r e l e v a n t .  concerns  Thus O r n s t e i n a s k s :  How c a n r e v e n g e a c t i o n be r e g a r d e d a s v i r t u o u s i n an e v i l w o r l d when t h a t a c t i o n i t s e l f must be d e v i o u s , p o l i t i c , or t a i n t e d with e v i l ? l 6 In r e l a t i o n t o t h e a p p r o a c h Duchess o f M a l f i t a k e n  i n this  to characterization  discussion, Alvin  i n The  Kernan s T  o b s e r v a t i o n s o f B o s o l a a r e by f a r t h e most u s e f u l , i . e . : . . . h i s p s y c h o t i c h a t r e d o f t h e f l e s h which i s mixed w i t h f a s c i n a t i o n , h i s s i c k c o n c e n t r a t i o n on d i s e a s e a n d t h e b o d i l y p r o c e s s e s , and h i s s a d i s t i c j o y i n t o r t u r i n g others.17 Bosola s T  c o n f u s i o n f o l l o w i n g t h e death  profitably ability  be r e g a r d e d a s a c o n f u s i o n r e s u l t i n g  t o d r a g h e r down t o h i s l e v e l ,  her see t h e f i l t h i n e s s triumph by  t o make  h i s eyes.  o f t h e D u c h e s s i s t h a t she r e f u s e s t o be Thus when B o s o l a s a y s  The  contaminated "Now,  by my  I p i t y y o u . " ( I V . i . 8 8 ) , t h e p i t y n e e d n o t be i n t e r -  preted as p i t y f o r h e r s u f f e r i n g , faith  from h i s i n -  his inability  o f t h e world through  Bosola or her brothers.  life,  o f t h e Duchess might  and goodness.  but r a t h e r f o r h e r i n t r e p i d  Throughout t h e p r i s o n scene  he c o n s t a n t l y  mocks h i s c a p t i v e ; t h e r e s u r e l y must be p e r v e r s e c y n i c i s m intended i n h i s various i n t e r j e c t i o n s : ber/You a r e a C h r i s t i a n . " .  "0 f i e I d e s p a i r ? remem-  ( I V . i . 7 4 ) ; "0 f i e . '  . . . 0 fearful!  . . F i e l a d y ! . . . 0, u n c h a r i t a b l e ! " ( I V . i . 9 6 t h r o u g h 110).  Bosola t i r e s win.  o f t h e game b e c a u s e he s e e s he i s n o t g o i n g t o  Thus he a s k s F e r d i n a n d t o s t o p t h e t o r m e n t ,  asks  never  81 t o have t o see h e r a g a i n .  However, i t i s d i f f i c u l t  r e g r e t and genuine repentance point.  t o admit  into h i s character at t h i s  He i s o n l y t e m p o r a r i l y amazed by t h e way i n which t h e  Duchess welcomes death.  H i s words immediately  s t r a n g l e d a r e very t e l l i n g  a f t e r she i s  i n t h e i r c o l d and b u s i n e s s - l i k e  import: Where's t h e w a i t i n g woman? Fetch h e r : some other s t r a n g l e t h e c h i l d r e n . (IV.ii.237-238) And,  a few l i n e s l a t e r , when C a r i o l a t r i e s t o a v o i d d y i n g : D e l a y s : — t h r o t t l e her.  F i n a l l y , i n answer t o Ferdinand: She You'd have her:  " I s she dead?" i s what  . . . (IV.ii.256)  The  "repentance"  o f Bosola only occurs a f t e r Ferdinand a t -  tempts t o deny r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r what Bosola has done, and because Ferdinand r e f u s e s t o reward him.  I f Ferdinand i s not  going t o f u l f i l l h i s part o f t h e b a r g a i n , Bosola wishes he had known i n advance.  naturally  L i k e any h i r e d k i l l e r , he  expects t o be p a i d . Bosola i s t h e r a t i o n a l and conscious executor of orders which have o r i g i n a t e d i n t h e i r r a t i o n a l , deranged mind of Ferdinand.  Thus Bosola's a c t i o n s a r e i n a very t r u e sense t h e  p h y s i c a l and v i s u a l r e a l i z a t i o n o f t h e subconscious  and sup-  82  pressed—hence imperfectly understood—desires of Ferdinand.  Within  Ferdinand  and f a n t a s i e s  i s the l a t e n t v i o l e n c e and  c r u e l t y which t h e Theatre o f C r u e l t y would have us r e a l i z e i s l a t e n t i n us a l l .  H i s a c t i o n s can be seen as r e p r e s e n t i n g  the workings o f t h e i n s t i n c t u a l and t h e i r r a t i o n a l . q u e n t l y , t h e r e i s a problem i n comprehending him.  ConseThere i s  more t o understanding Ferdinand's a c t i o n s than simply c e r n i n g i n him a long suppressed incestuous  dis-  passion f o r h i s  s i s t e r which provokes h i s vengeance a g a i n s t her disobedience. I n i t i a l l y , we r e a l i z e t h a t Ferdinand's a c t i o n s r e s u l t from a perverted  l o v e which manifests  i t s e l f as h a t r e d and c r u e l t y .  We note t h a t he c o n s t a n t l y t h i n k s of h i s s i s t e r i n sexual terms, as i n  Duch. F e  And women l i k e t h a t part which, l i k e t h e lamprey, Hath ne'er a bone i n ' t . Fie s i r ! r d N a y , I mean t h e tongue: v a r i e t y o f c o u r t s h i p ; — What cannot a neat knave w i t h a smooth t a l e Make a woman b e l i e v e ? F a r e w e l l , l u s t y widow. (I.i.336-340)  and Methinks I see h e r l a u g h i n g — E x c e l l e n t h y e n a ! — t a l k t o me somewhat, q u i c k l y , Or my imagination w i l l c a r r y me To see her, i n t h e shameful act o f s i n .  ( I I . v. 38-4D  However, what seems important f o r us t o r e a l i z e i s t h a t h i s revenge a c t i o n i s only a r a t i o n a l i z e d p r e t e x t ; once he l o s e s c o n t r o l and g i v e s way t o h i s l a t e n t emotions, t h e predetermined  33 m o t i v e and  i t s end  result i s lost  F e r d i n a n d becomes an ing  uncontrollable  reactions  irrational  force  o f f a s c i n a t i o n and  r e a l i z a t i o n that play's  the  completely,  force, finally  i n t o complete animal i r r a t i o n a l i t y .  vance of t h i s  the  s i g h t of  r e v u l s i o n , and  s i t u a t i o n i s w i l d l y out  effectiveness rests.  degenerat-  I t i s i n our  i n a c t i o n , i n our  obser-  uneasy mixed  i n our of  and  growing  control  that  Ferdinand  . . . t a k e s t h e i n i t i a t i v e and i n v e n t s e v e r y r e f i n e m e n t of c r u e l t y i n the t o r t u r e of h i s s i s t e r . . . . w h i l e W e b s t e r r e p e a t e d l y s t r e s s e s t h e p a i n and t h e f u r y w h i c h l i e b e h i n d F e r d i n a n d ' s o u t b u r s t s , he c o n s i s t e n t l y dec l i n e s t o i n t e r p r e t them, and i t i s a t l e a s t a r g u a b l e t h a t t h e p e c u l i a r e f f e c t o f t e r r o r and s u f f e r i n g w h i c h he s o u g h t t o c o n v e y demanded t h a t t h i s i s s u e s h o u l d r e m a i n a m y s t e r y : i n f a c t t h e D u c h e s s ' s o r d e a l becomes t h e more h o r r i f y i n g b e c a u s e o f t h e v e r y l a c k o f an e x p l i c i t m o t i v e on t h e p a r t o f h e r t o r m e n t o r s . 1 3  Thus we fully  encompass him  realize is can  no  are  that  longer  he  puzzled with  i s out  g u i d e d by  comprehend him  our  of  standing tial,  but  intellects.  to  once  we which we  s y m p a t h i z e w i t h him,  something of o u r s e l v e s  m o t i v e s and  and,  i n him.  rational comprehension—full  of a character's empathy i s .  But,  cannot  control, a destructive force  sufficiently  Theatre of C r u e l t y ,  F e r d i n a n d b e c a u s e we  p r i n c i p l e s of reason or s a n i t y ,  however r e l u c t a n t l y , see the  by  a c t i o n s — i s not  As W e l l w a r t h o b s e r v e s , much o f  In  underessenan  a u d i e n c e ' s e x p r e s s e d d i s t a s t e o f a v a n t - g a r d e drama comes  as  . . . an i n e v i t a b l e r e s u l t o f t h e c o n f u s i o n c r e a t e d i n t h e human mind by i t s a c q u i r e d f e a r o f i n s t i n c t and i t s i n g r a i n e d habit of analyzing a c t i o n . The s p e c t a t o r i s c o n f u s e d b e c a u s e he s h i e s away f r o m o v e r t d i s p l a y s o f  84 h i s own i n s t i n c t u a l s e l f a n d b e c a u s e he t r i e s t o a n a l y z e , i . e . , u n d e r s t a n d , i n s t e a d o f r e s p o n d i n g and p a r t i c i p a t i n g emotionally.19  Of earlier. part  the Cardinal, l i t t l e  n e e d be a d d e d t o what was s a i d  He r e m a i n s c o l d , r e m o t e a n d e n i g m a t i c ,  y e t he i s  o f t h e same u n c o n t r o l l a b l e f o r c e s y m b o l i z e d by  The  force i s visually  and  Bosola,  ground.  presented  b u t we c a n n o t l e a v e  When he c o n f e s s e s  i n the actions  of  Ferdinand.  Ferdinand  t h e C a r d i n a l i n t h e back-  to Julia:  By my a p p o i n t m e n t , t h e g r e a t D u c h e s s o f M a l f i , And two o f h e r young c h i l d r e n , f o u r n i g h t s s i n c e Were s t r a n g l e d .  (V.ii.267-268)  we s h o u l d he  n o t be t o o s u r p r i s e d .  i s a b l e t o keep h i m s e l f  A true Machiavellian  under c o n t r o l , t o hide  f e e l i n g s f r o m t h e w o r l d much more t h a n h i s b r o t h e r this  i s e s s e n t i a l l y the only r e a l  figure,  h i s true i s , and  d i f f e r e n c e between them:  Y e s — I c a n be a n g r y Without t h i s rupture: there i s not i n nature A t h i n g t h a t makes man s o d e f o r m ' d , s o b e a s t l y , As d o t h i n t e m p e r a t e a n g e r : — (II.v.55-53) Enough h a s p e r h a p s been i n d i c a t e d t o a l l o w pretation the  o f Webster's c h a r a c t e r s  and  as opposing f o r c e s ,  Duchess as t h e main r e p r e s e n t a t i v e  which i s extinguished  f a c e t s by F e r d i n a n d ,  with  of a positive force  by t h e s u p e r i o r i t y — i n r a n k ,  number—of the forces of E v i l  the inter-  represented  t h e C a r d i n a l and B o s o l a .  strength  i n i t s various In h i s  d e l i n e a t i o n of c h a r a c t e r ,  Webster has thus o f f e r e d another  means of t o t a l comprehension.  The thematic i m p l i c a t i o n s of  The Duchess o f M a l f i , as d i s c u s s e d  i n an e a r l i e r chapter i n  terms of r e a l i z a t i o n i n v i s u a l and v e r b a l  images, are  f u r t h e r borne out i n the p o l a r d e l i n e a t i o n of  character.  CHAPTER V " . . . A FASHIONABLE MIXTURE OF ALL THE THEATRICAL INGREDIENTS AROUND. . . ." Thus f a r i n t h i s how  discussion  The  Duchess o f M a l f i  to suggest  that  At t h e same t i m e ,  a l t h o u g h A r t a u d was  concept  of Theatre of C r u e l t y ,  theatre  or form  T h e a t e r and effect  amounted t o a new  comparison that  comedy and  forms.  legitimate  perhaps  Artaud avoided the forms t o h i s concept  v a r i a t i o n s on t h e s e two  was  c o n s i d e r a t i o n s of genre  interest  but  The  specific o f drama, Cruelty  basic  s i n c e Webster's p l a y i s , i n f a c t , and  was  the  elements  irrelevant,  freedom  a d e s i r e d response.  disparate theatrical  of  o f no r e l e v a n c e t o  of p a r t i c u l a r value to the examination  seemingly  and  were somewhat  t o be a l l o w e d c o m p l e t e  ing h i s materials to e l i c i t  Malfi,  tried  a  o f t h e a t r e where a n y t h i n g  i n a p a r t i c u l a r genre  o f academic  such  l o n g b e f o r e he w r o t e  i f i t contributed to the r e a l i z a t i o n  d r a m a t i s t who  is  practise  r e l a t i o n s h i p s of the Theatre of  i n a form  dramatist's v i s i o n , allowable  genre,  t r a g e d y , and  In e f f e c t ,  I have  been  I n s e e k i n g t o e s t a b l i s h what i n  o f more t r a d i t i o n a l  i s , the possible  verbal  the formulator of the  i n actual  o f drama e x i s t e d  i t s Double.  v i s u a l and  t o show  c a n be r e l a t e d t o what has  named t h e T h e a t r e o f C r u e l t y .  to  I have a t t e m p t e d  i n f o r m , theme, c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n and  imagery,  BEST  o f The  the  i n organizThis  attitude  Duchess o f  s u c h an amalgam o f  dramatic  elements.  This  87 amalgam c o n t a i n s elements  of the t r a d i t i o n a l forms of tragedy  and comedy, and i t i s t o these and t h e i r use by Webster t h a t I now  turn. Tragedy u s u a l l y poses p o s i t i v e v a l u e s , i n t h a t a nor-  mal, ordered world i s seen as exj&ing b e f o r e and a f t e r the p e r i o d of time covered by the a c t i o n of the p l a y , i f not during i t .  In Webster's p l a y , t h e r e i s l i t t l e  sense of a  normal world e x i s t i n g b e f o r e or a f t e r , even though he does set  h i s a c t i o n w i t h i n such a frame of r e f e r e n c e by means of  the opening a l l u s i o n t o the order and harmony of the French court and the c l o s i n g note of hope which accompanies the i n s t a l l a t i o n of the young son of the Duchess as her s u c c e s s o r . However, t h i s seems t o be a very nominal i n d i c a t i o n of order surrounding d i s o r d e r , or of order e v o l v i n g out of d i s o r d e r . The reassurance at the end of the p l a y , which we  usually  a s s o c i a t e with the c l o s e of a tragedy, seems p e r f u n c t o r y and at  best only tenuous.  One might  suggest t h a t Webster was  not  o v e r l y concerned w i t h o f f e r i n g reassurance t o h i s audience; his  dramatic v i s i o n of l i f e ,  developed throughout the p l a y ,  has been one i n v o l v i n g a b a t t l e of f o r c e s i n which the s t r o n g , by v i r t u e of t h e i r s u p e r i o r s t r e n g t h and w i l l i n g n e s s t o f o r e go a l l t r a d i t i o n a l s a n c t i t i e s i n order t o s a t i s f y t h e i r i n nate urges, trample on and d e s t r o y those who  are weaker.  As  we have seen, the s t r o n g f o r c e s have been E v i l , the Good have been d e p i c t e d as weaker, and i n consequence have been s u c c e s s f u l l y annihilated.  The view of man  as animal, of the world  agin  c h a o s , as  developed  o r e x p l a i n e d by t h e  i n Acts few  l i n e s o f The  g i v e n us  any  pacifying  not  M a l f i world  i s t o be  regarded  His t r a g i c  vision  rule.  V i s hardly  last  W e b s t e r has  the  I through  as t h e  nullified  Duchess o f  indication  Malfi.  that  exception rather  i s negative  r a t h e r than  rather than  optimistic,  a vision  rather than  o r d e r a s an  inescapable  concomitant  about  a personal v i s i o n  is  i t i s a statement  r i g h t f u l l y s e e n as a t r a g i c  legitimately that  regarded  and  If light  we  play  offers  indication social  agony but  we  any  not  are hard  laws.  like  Evil  reconciliation  play  put,  As  which be  Jenkins  suggests  stressing  or f o r g i v e n e s s .  Duchess o f M a l f i  1  i n the  Jacobean e x p e c t a t i o n s of the I t h i n k , t o f i n d where  nature the  or s p e c i f i c  predatory  pointlessness  animals.  i n the  of the  the  Good, t h e y t u r n on  The  m o r a l l y good  because of t h e i r goodness. d e s t r u c t i o n of the  p h i l o s o p h i c a l context  r e a l sense,  W e b s t e r d e p i c t s , and likeable  and  characters destroy themselves i n t h i s  have d e s t r o y e d  i n part destroyed  thoroughly  Harold  of l i f e .  r e a l l y convincing moral i n s t r u c t i o n  The  other  In a v e r y  can t h e  anarchy  o f God's p u n i s h m e n t f o r t r a n s g r e s s i o n s o f m o r a l  once t h e y  play  but  sensing  death-oriented,  f u r t h e r c o n s i d e r The  play;  are  v i s i o n was  o f E l i z a b e t h a n and  a tragedy,  one,  as a t r a g e d y ?  Webster's t r a g i c  suffering  of  life,  than positive,  pessimistic  such,  the  the yet  i s the  character i n the  The  of the  Duchess i s a m i s f i t she  characters very  Duchess p l a c e s  of Theatre  the  Absurd.  i n the s o c i e t y  only thoroughly play.  each  decent,  A relationship  to  89 Brecht  was  suggested  seem t o s e n s e t h e ing  i f good—in  earlier,  i n t h a t b o t h W e b s t e r and  impossibility  a c h a o t i c and  of remaining  Brecht  good—or  predominantly e v i l  surviv-  world:  Caresses t u r n to s t r a n g u l a t i o n . The s i g h o f l o v e t u r n s t o a c r y o f f e a r . Why a r e t h e v u l t u r e s c i r c l i n g o v e r t h e r e ? A g i r l i s g o i n g t o meet h e r l o v e r . 2  It  is difficult  t o perceive moral i n s t r u c t i o n  i n which e v e r y t h i n g of emulation  which i s r e c o g n i z a b l e  i s s e n s e l e s s l y destroyed.  cating  of tragedy  a particular  as  ".  . .a  Providence,  very  and  se  in a  a s g o o d and  The  would thus h a r d l y f i t i n t o Augustan c r i t i c designation  per  worthy  Duchess o f John  play  Malfi  Dennis'  solemn l e c t u r e , i n c u l -  showing i t p l a i n l y  pro-  3 tecting  the  g o o d and  Webster's p l a y F a t a l Secret dinal  c h i l d r e n and v e r s i o n and to s a t i s f y Antonio. of J u l i a  the  who  has  sub-plot  He  original  Theobald  p l a y i n t o an  Webster:  The  the  do  Car-  their  Duchess  (off-stage)  t o r t u r e scene, the  of her  making B o s o l a  brothers,  as  and  then returns her  a f f a i r with  such a good c o n t r a s t t o the  D u c h e s s ) , and  i s what  been washed c l e a n i n T h e o b a l d ' s  I n o m i t t i n g most o f t h e  restrained  Ferdinand  Antonio l i v e ,  F e r d i n a n d ' s commands.  (hence t h e  This  Theobald's adaptation,  i n which  D u c h e s s and  bad."  only pretends t o s t r a n g l e the  against her the  1735),  Bosola,  which provides the  becomes i n L o u i s  (publ.  d i e , but  c h a s t i s i n g the  the  love  piece  character Cardinal  of Antonio  champion o f t h e  congratulated  acceptable  the  to  himself  and  Duchess on  of t h e a t r e ,  making having  90 . . . with f r i e n d l y Chains Such as a prudent Parent, s o f t and m i l d , Tho g r i e v ' d , yet f o r c ' d , puts on a F r a n t i c k  , Child.  f  In  the o r i g i n a l , however, Bosola i s t h e agent of Ferdinand  (hence the i r r a t i o n a l ) u n t i l a f t e r the r e f u s a l of payment, and then becomes an avenging agent i n and f o r h i m s e l f . c o n v i n c i n g a f f i l i a t i o n w i t h a D i v i n e Providence.  He has no  To be s u r e ,  God, t h e Gods, or any k i n d of e x t e r i o r c o n t r o l l i n g f o r c e seems d i s t i n c t l y absent from Webster's world.  H i s world i s con-  t r o l l e d by man, and i f we l i n k t h i s with the p o i n t l e s s d e s t r u c t i o n o f the Duchess, we can, I t h i n k , see a v i s i o n of l i f e emerging  which moves the p l a y away from tragedy towards  the area o f the absurd. M a r t i n E s s l i n s u p p l i e s a good b r i e f d e f i n i t i o n of a b s u r d i t y as i t i s meant t o be used i n e s t a b l i s h i n g a p h i l o s o p h i c a l p o i n t of view: "'Absurd' o r i g i n a l l y means 'out of harmony' i n a m u s i c a l context.  Hence i t s d i c t i o n a r y d e f i n i t i o n : 'out  of harmony with reason o r p r o p r i e t y ; incongruous, unreasonable, 5  illogical.'"  The r e l a t i o n s h i p of t h e Absurd t o Theatre o f  C r u e l t y i s a c l o s e one: when man i s f r e e d of s o c i a l and h i s i n n e r impulses c o n t r o l h i s a c t i o n s , v a l u e s  restraints, crumble,  reason and p r o p r i e t y no l o n g e r govern h i s r e l a t i o n s with h i s f e l l o w man and, as r e v e a l e d i n a work l i k e The Duchess of M a l f i , what ensues i s incongruous, unreasonable and i l l o g i c a l — b u t u l t i m a t e l y e x p l a i n a b l e i n terms of the i r r a t i o n a l .  However,  the term absurd s t i l l has u n f o r t u n a t e c o n n o t a t i o n s , and i t i s perhaps w i s e r t o designate Webster's v i s i o n of l i f e as  91 e s s e n t i a l l y grotesque  r a t h e r than absurd,  i n that  he  r e v e a l t h e m o n s t r o u s c r u e l t y , u g l i n e s s and v i o l e n c e rather than i t s t o t a l problem to  be  in this  a r e a , but  saying that  meaning when man seen as truth for  meaninglessness.  life  i s valueless  i n that  meaning .  as Webster d e p i c t s  of  becomes a  v a l u e s have  life  itself  i s not  difficult  many p e o p l e t o a c c e p t , t h u s a t v a r i o u s t i m e s he has  d e n o u n c e d f o r h i s show o f d e c a d e n c e ,  Malfi  can be  seen  i n the l i g h t  the nature of the grotesque's "Grotesque because  pessimism  of l i f e ,  and  The  relationship to  been  nihilism.  Duchess o f  of Jan K o t t ' s s u g g e s t i o n  i s more c r u e l t h a n t r a g e d y , " he  about  tragedy:  suggests,  i n t h e g r o t e s q u e w o r l d t h e r e i s o n l y man  c a t a s t r o p h e and  no  However, t h e m e a n i n g , o r  i t i s h a r s h and  As a p l a y d e a l i n g w i t h t h e c r u e l t y  life  whereas W e b s t e r seems  loses his self-control,  completely without  of l i f e  I f e e l that  Semantics  seems t o  partially  t o blame f o r  suffering:  The t r a g i c and t h e g r o t e s q u e w o r l d s a r e c l o s e d , and t h e r e i s no e s c a p e f r o m them. I n t h e t r a g i c w o r l d , t h i s comp u l s o r y s i t u a t i o n h a s b e e n imposed i n t u r n by t h e Gods, F a t e , t h e C h r i s t i a n God, N a t u r e and H i s t o r y t h a t h a s been endowed w i t h r e a s o n and i n e v i t a b i l i t y . On t h e o t h e r s i d e , o p p o s e d t o t h i s a r r a n g e m e n t , t h e r e was a l w a y s man. If N a t u r e was a b s o l u t e , man was u n n a t u r a l . . . . In the world o f t h e g r o t e s q u e , d o w n f a l l c a n n o t be j u s t i f i e d by, o r b l a m e d on, t h e a b s o l u t e . 0  The  grotesque world,  and  influence  s e e n as a w o r l d  i s , I feel,  Duchess of M a l f i , nancy of Fortune  the kind  cut o f f from  outside help  of world depicted i n  The  d e s p i t e frequent r e f e r e n c e s t o the maligor the s t a r s .  T h e s e f o r c e s a r e n o t s o much  92 m a l i g n a n t as i n d i f f e r e n t , and i n t h e p l a y as performed we a r e g i v e n ample v i s u a l i n d i c a t i o n t h a t man i s t h e c o n t r o l l i n g and d e s t r o y i n g f o r c e a t work. The view o f man i n a c t i o n which t h e p l a y g i v e s us makes i t d i f f i c u l t t o agree w i t h O r n s t e i n ' s  contention  that  t h e p l a y u l t i m a t e l y r e a f f i r m s t h e d i g n i t y o f man: And i f i t i s t r u e t h a t t h e Duchess i s a threnody f o r t h e dying Renaissance, then i t i s a l t o g e t h e r f i t t i n g that i t s h o u l d r e a f f i r m t h a t i n e f f a b l e q u a l i t y o f t h e human s p i r i t which t h e Renaissance d e f i n e d as t h e d i g n i t y o f man. 7 O r n s t e i n has u n d o u b t e d l y reached t h i s c o n c l u s i o n because o f t h e t r i u m p h o f t h e Duchess i n t h e death scene: "Her murderers would drag h e r down and open h e r eyes t o t h e ' r e a l i t i e s '  which  t h e y p e r c e i v e ; t h e y would have h e r share t h e h o r r o r o f t h e i r lives. heaven."  They b r i n g h e r t o h e r knees, but i t i s t h e p o s t u r e o f To be s u r e , t h e r e i s d i g n i t y and t r i u m p h h e r e , but  we s t i l l have t h e e n t i r e f i f t h a c t t o contend w i t h .  By t h e  t i m e t h e p l a y ends, man's t r u e n a t u r e has been r e v e a l e d , and d i g n i t y has been l e f t f a r b e h i n d . Richard Sewall's  observations  i n The V i s i o n o f Tragedy  are u s e f u l f o r e s t a b l i s h i n g an absurd/grotesque c o n t e x t f o r The  Duchess o f M a l f i .  S e w a l l suggests t h a t t r a d i t i o n a l  tragedy,  i n s p i t e o f i t s d e l i n e a t i o n s o f e v i l and s u f f e r i n g , u l t i m a t e l y ennobles and e x a l t s l i f e .  S u f f e r i n g has a meaning when i t  l e a d s t o t h e r e - o r d e r i n g o f l o s t o r usurped v a l u e s o r t h e establishment  o f new ones.  However,  93  . . . when the values that s u s t a i n tragedy begin t o d i s i n t e g r a t e and the 'nerve' f a i l s , the dramatist (who i s to some degree the creature as w e l l as the creator of h i s times) may r e s o r t t o another a l t e r n a t i v e : i r o n y . The dramatist then often becomes and anatomist of e v i l , and . . . may make whole plays out of one of the many elements ( l i k e irony) which tragedy even at i t s best holds i n uneasy c o n t r o l : pathos, melodrama, the 'absurd'. A l l these tendencies, which we are pleased t o c a l l 'modern', are symptomatic of the default of tragedy and are d i s c e r n i b l e i n the t r a g i c drama of the d e c l i n i n g Jacobean stage. Underlying them a l l i s frank despair i n the face of the human condition.9 As E s s l i n suggests of today's Theatre of the Absurd, The hallmark of t h i s a t t i t u d e i s i t s sense that the c e r t i tudes and unshakable basic assumptions of former ages have been swept away, that they have been t e s t e d and found wanting, that they have been d i s c r e d i t e d as cheap and somewhat c h i l d i s h i l l u s i o n s . 1 0 ]h some ways, then, the subject matter and thematic i m p l i c a t i o n s of The Duchess of M a l f i can be seen as analogous t o the depict i o n of the human c o n d i t i o n i n t w e n t i e t h century Theatre of the  Absurd cum Grotesque; a thematic and p h i l o s o p h i c a l point  of view develops from the play which has evolved out of the Theatre of C r u e l t y elements of the work, i . e . , the a c t u a l d e l i n e a t i o n of the anarchic savagery of man and the c r u e l t y of l i f e f r e e d of r e s t r a i n t s . Although Theatre of C r u e l t y does not seek t o o f f e r the reassurance which t r a d i t i o n a l tragedy does, i t does e f f e c t or aim t o e f f e c t a c a t h a r s i s which i s d i s t i n c t l y r e l a t e d t o t r a d i t i o n a l t h e a t r i c a l concepts of purgation of the emotions:  94 ".  . . l i k e the plague, the theater has been created to drain  abscesses c o l l e c t i v e l y . " i s one way i n which Artaud expresses the idea of purgation.  As has been noted, the world gone mad  motif of the l a t t e r h a l f of The Duchess of Malfi—the torture scenes of Act I? and the chaos and slaughter of Act V—and the view of man as mad animal as manifested i r r a t i o n a l l y i n Ferdinand and r a t i o n a l l y i n Bosola and the Cardinal, presumably reveals to the spectator a view of his submerged s e l f — ".  . . his taste for crime, his erotic obsessions,  savagery,  his chimeras,  his  . . . even his cannibalism,  . . . "  Frightening and cruel as t h i s i s , i n terms of Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty, i t i s ultimately b e n e f i c i a l : Whatever the c o n f l i c t s that haunt the mind of a given period, I defy any spectator to whom such violent scenes w i l l have transferred t h e i r blood, who w i l l have f e l t i n himself the t r a n s i t of a superior action, who w i l l have seen the extraordinary and essential movements of his thought illuminated i n extraordinary deeds—the violence and blood having been placed at the service of the v i o lence of the thought—I defy that spectator to give hims e l f up, once outside the theater, to ideas of war, r i o t , and blatant murder. 1 As Wellwarth observes of Artaud's ideas of cruelty:  "This  cruelty i s seen to some extent as viciousness between human beings.  But such scenes must be presented i n a manner calcu-  lated to purge the spectator of the corresponding emotions 12  i n him rather than to arouse i n him the desire to  imitate."  Thus the Theatre of Cruelty can be seen as using violent methods to achieve b e n e f i c i a l e f f e c t s :  ".  . . b y confronting  the audience with a picture of d i s i n t e g r a t i o n , i t sets i n  95  motion an a c t i v e process of i n t e g r a t i v e f o r c e s i n the mind of 13 each i n d i v i d u a l s p e c t a t o r . "  J  T h i s can become the r a i s o n  d'etre of the v i o l e n c e , the bloodshed, the dramatic  and  t h e a t r i c a l d i v e r s i t y of a work such as The Duchess of M a l f i : The t h e a t e r i s the only p l a c e i n the world, the l a s t g e n e r a l means we s t i l l possess of d i r e c t l y a f f e c t i n g the organism, and, i n p e r i o d s of n e u r o s i s and p e t t y s e n s u a l i t y l i k e the one i n which we are immersed, of a t t a c k i n g t h i s s e n s u a l i t y by p h y s i c a l means which i t cannot withstand.14 I f the i d e a of p u r g a t i o n i s thus allowed as a v a l i d g o a l of the Theatre presence i n The  of C r u e l t y , and we  Duchess of M a l f i , we  a l s o acknowledge i t s  a r r i v e not too f a r out  of l i n e with M u r i e l Bradbrook's c o n t e n t i o n t h a t the bethan p l a y was  expected  Eliza-  t o o f f e r moral i n s t r u c t i o n which  was 15  f u r t h e r expected While what we  t o have an immediate and powerful  effect.  are o f f e r e d i n The Duchess of M a l f i i s not  s e n t e n t i o u s moral i n s t r u c t i o n per se, i t i s n e v e r t h e l e s s i n s t r u c t i o n , and  i t does have an immediate and  powerful  effect.  Perhaps t h i s i s thus a much more v a l i d and  t o r y way  of attempting  than arguing pro and  t o sum  satisfac-  up the f i n a l e f f e c t of the p l a y  con on whether or not t h e r e i s a d e f i n i t e  moral commitment present  i n the work.  There i s a point of  view presented, which we  as s p e c t a t o r s are t o see, r e l a t e t o  o u r s e l v e s and our s o c i e t y , and presumably leave the t h e a t r e i f not ennobled, r e a s s u r e d or s a t i s f i e d by once again  seeing  v i r t u e triumph over e v i l , at l e a s t e n l i g h t e n e d , shaken, perhaps shocked and  confused,  but, h o p e f u l l y , i n c l i n e d t o  do  96 some thinking about what we have just seen revealed of ourselves. In addition to the threads of absurdity, grotesquery, cruelty and catharsis which are woven into the texture of The Duchess of M a l f i , our t o t a l response to the play i s f u r ther complicated  by the presence of elements of comedy or  near-comedy and s a t i r e i n the M a l f i world.  The term black  comedy has come into frequent use as c r i t i c s attempt to evaluate many works of the contemporary Theatre of the Absurd. I suggested e a r l i e r i n t h i s study that much of Act V i s comic i n i t s e f f e c t , a l b e i t too t e r r i b l e f o r laughter.  I f laughter  i s present, i t i s the type of uncomfortable laughter which emerges when an audience i s placed i n an equivocal position — h o r r i f i e d but fascinated; embarrassed, tense and nervous. This i s what happens i n the l a s t two acts of The Duchess of Malfi.  A bad production of the play w i l l e l i c i t only laughter,  a laughter which s i g n i f i e s a lack of involvement and further implies d e r i s i o n f o r and rejection of the extremity of the dramatist's point of view.  What i s meant to be grotesque and  t e r r i f y i n g degenerates into s i l l y horror and melodrama.  A  good production, and they appear to have been few and f a r between,  might s t i l l e l i c i t laughter, but i t would hopefully  be of a much more uncertain variety, the form of laughter which evolves from the t e r r i b l e grotesqueness of the action, from the constantly s h i f t i n g blend of the p a i n f u l , the i r o n i c and the perversely comic so that the audience never quite  97 knows how  i t should react.  V as examples: the death i s the death almost to  kill  Consider three i n c i d e n t s of  o f J u l i a i s p a i n f u l and  ironic,  b e f o r e he  i s e v e n s u r e who  he  is killing.  Bosola Soon a f t e r ,  o f the C a r d i n a l p l a y s even f u r t h e r w i t h t h e s e  conflicting developing  elements,  somewhat m i n i m i z i n g t h e p a i n f u l  three  and  e v e n f u r t h e r t h e u n f u n n y humour a r i s i n g f r o m  the  d e l i b e r a t i o n s of t h e C a r d i n a l ' s a t t e n d a n t s as t o whether n o t he r e a l l y i s i n d a n g e r o r o n l y p r e t e n d i n g t o b e , a s had  t o l d t h e m he m i g h t do t o t e s t them.  stage s i t u a t i o n develops a r e a , and  as  of A n t o n i o , which goes a s t e p f u r t h e r i n being  comic because o f the i n c r e d i b l e eagerness o f  the death  Act  he  A marvellously tense  from a murder b e i n g executed  a d i s c u s s i o n about whether or not  b e i n g h e l d a t t h e same t i m e  in  and h e a r t h e d i s c u s s i o n , and  We  one  i t i s a murder  i n a s e c o n d a r e a by a g r o u p  r a t h e r simple-minded court attendants.  or  of  see t h e murder,  t h e v e r y u n c e r t a i n t y o f how  we  s h o u l d r e a c t i s what c r e a t e s t h e e f f e c t i v e n e s s o f t h e moment. The has  under-current  o f comedy i n The  been p e r c e i v e d by a t l e a s t one  before the chaotic f i f t h the subject matter  act.  Jane Marie  Malfi  as emerging  long  Leucke notes  that  o f t h e e a r l y s c e n e s o f t h e p l a y i s more  u s u a l t o comedy t h a n t r a g e d y : ling  critic  Duchess o f  "The  of scenes during the f i r s t  o f comedy, f o r a l t h o u g h  v e r y manner o f t h e  hand-  t h r e e a c t s i s i n t h e manner  s u s p e n s e i s b u i l t up  ...  a  logical  17 sequence would have c a l l e d f o r a happy e n d i n g . " i s a v a l i d one,  b u t we  '  The  point  should n o t i c e t h a t the v e r b a l imagery  98 has i n f a c t g i v e n an i n d i c a t i o n of the non-comic t o come long before they a c t u a l l y happen.  developments  F u r t h e r , we should  note Miss Leucke's i n d i c a t i o n t h a t " . . . a l o g i c a l  sequence  would have c a l l e d f o r a happy ending.", t h e point of the p l a y of course being t h a t t h i s world, when i t g e t s out o f c o n t r o l , i s completely i l l o g i c a l .  N e v e r t h e l e s s , a case could be made  f o r ambiguity o f r e a c t i o n t o the play from the o u t s e t — i n s u b j e c t matter, the e a r l y scenes might suggest comedy, but i n v e r b a l imagery and d i a l o g u e we a r e p u l l e d i n q u i t e a d i f f e r e n t direction. it  One must suggest t h a t the ambiguity i s i n t e n t i o n a l ;  i s so c a r e f u l l y c o n t r o l l e d and developed t h a t i t seems  r i d i c u l o u s t o accuse Webster o f muddled t h i n k i n g and poor dramaturgy. Leucke  The p l a y i s complex, but not confused.  Miss  c r i t i c i z e s Webster f o r h i s i n j u d i c i o u s mixing of . . . n  comic elements f r a u g h t with t r a g i c overtones, or t r a g i c e l e -  18 ments t h a t tend t o l a u g h t e r . " ,  whereas I f e e l t h i s i s essen-  t i a l l y what makes t h e p l a y so e n g r o s s i n g . Miss Leucke f u r t h e r suggests that t h e blend of comedy and tragedy i n The Duchess o f M a l f i r e s u l t s i n s a t i r e as the dominant genre i n t h e p l a y .  emerging  S a t i r e i s undeniably p r e s -  ent i n Webster's w r i t i n g , a l b e i t a harsh and b i t t e r  satire  which, f o r F.L. Lucas, suggests a comparison w i t h S w i f t , both seen as a l i k e i n "The b i t t e r n e s s , the savage w i t , the almost morbid rage t o s t r i p t h e mask from the baseness o f human l i f e , 19  the u n u t t e r a b l e d e s p a i r .  ..."  7  I t should be noted that  the elements o f s a t i r e which a r e undeniably present i n The  99 Duchess o f M a l f i and  i n the  Bosola,  c e n t r a l i z e d almost  l a n g u a g e and  entirely  v e r b a l images put  in  dialogue,  i n t o t h e mouth  of  whom A l v i n K e r n a n s u g g e s t s i s a t e x t b o o k m o d e l o f  malcontent side  are  satirist,  of l i f e .  one  . . .",  who  and  s e e s ".  . . the  i s completely  extreme  despaired  a  satiric  o f man  and  20 of honesty.  Because B o s o l a s  utterances  T  tently vile  and  r e p u l s i v e , the  linked with  the  idea of v e r b a l c r u e l t y i n the  cussed  earlier  i n the  g e n r e a t work i n t h e plexity  see  tration  that  The  o f T.S.  As  so  inherent  satire,  consis-  i n them may imagery  dis-  i . e . , as y e t  another  i t adds f u r t h e r d e n s i t y and  a w h o l e , and  a further level  be  com-  of  spectator.  Thus i n t h e can  play,  t o t h e work a s  response f o r the  we  paper.  satire  are  e x a m i n a t i o n o f o n l y a few  basic  Duchess o f M a l f i  atypical  Eliot's  contention  i s a not  elements, illus-  t h a t E l i z a b e t h a n and  Jaco-  21 bean drama i s an The  Theatre  ally  so.  tragedy,  "impure" a r t form.  o f C r u e l t y i s a l s o an  I n W e b s t e r ' s p l a y , we  have  impure a r t  can  form—intention-  d i s c e r n elements  and  absurdity.  A l l of these  drawn i n t o t h e  Theatre  of Cruelty, a perverse  vorous genre which  engulfs  and  other  f o r m s o f drama w h i c h c a n  of the man,  observed,  of  o f comedy o r d a r k comedy, s a t i r e , melodrama,  t i o n a l i s m , grotesquery are  As we  dramatist's  presented  images c r u s h  personal  i n ".  and  . .a  hypnotize  a s s i m i l a t e s any be  vision theater the  o f use  i n the  of the  inner  elements  and  aspects  omniof  realization condition  i n which v i o l e n t  sensibility  sensa-  of the  of  physical  spectator  100 seized The  by t h e t h e a t e r a s by a w h i r l w i n d o f h i g h e r f o r c e s . "  vision  p r e s e n t e d i n The Duchess o f M a l f i  be r e j e c t e d tion  by many.  A definitive  epitome  i s one w h i c h  of spectator  o f v i o l e n c e a n d c r u e l t y h a s been i n c l u d e d  22 will  rejec-  i n the Marat/  Sade:  I a l w a y s t h o u g h t p l a y s were meant t o be e n t e r t a i n i n g , But how c a n e n t e r t a i n m e n t d e a l i n s a r c a s m and v i o l e n c e ? I always thought poets s t r o v e t o a c h i e v e pure beauty, But what i s b e a u t i f u l a b o u t w h i p p i n g a n d c o r p s e s ? And I was a l w a y s t a u g h t p h i l o s o p h y ' s i n t e n t i o n was t o e l e v a t e man above t h e b e a s t s , B u t , M o n s i e u r de Sade, y o u r p h i l o s o p h y seems c o l d — almost savage. ?3 And w o r s t o f a l l — p e s s i m i s t i c . An answer t o s u c h c r i t i c i s m , w h e t h e r i t be d i r e c t e d extremity  of the vision  o f The D u c h e s s o f M a l f i  work s u c h a s t h e M a r a t / S a d e , Double.  o r a t a modern  i s f o u n d i n The T h e a t e r and i t s  I have u s e d t h e r e f e r e n c e  repeating.  at the  A work l i k e W e b s t e r ' s  earlier,  but i t bears  The D u c h e s s o f M a l f i ' s e e n  as T h e a t r e o f C r u e l t y  . . . r e l e a s e s c o n f l i c t s , d i s e n g a g e s powers, l i b e r a t e s p o s s i b i l i t i e s , and i f t h e s e p o s s i b i l i t i e s and powers a r e dark, i t i s t h e f a u l t not o f . . . t h e t h e a t e r , but o f life.24  S u r e l y t h e r e i s no need t o d e s i g n a t e W e b s t e r a d e c a d e n t b e cause porary  of h i s vision.  As M a r t i n E s s l i n  s u g g e s t s o f contem-  theatre,  U l t i m a t e l y , a phenomenon l i k e t h e T h e a t r e o f t h e A b s u r d does n o t r e f l e c t d e s p a i r o r a r e t u r n t o d a r k i r r a t i o n a l f o r c e s b u t e x p r e s s e s modern man's e n d e a v o u r t o come t o  101  terms w i t h t h e world i n make h i m f a c e u p t o t h e to f r e e him from i l l u s i o stant maladjustment and  I  do n o t f e e l  ing  we  would  w h i c h he l i v e s . I t attempts t o human c o n d i t i o n a s i t r e a l l y i s , n s t h a t a r e bound t o cause condisappointment.25  be f a r wrong  t o d o much t h e same t h i n g  uncertain era.  i f we  saw W e b s t e r  i n a n d f o r h i s own  attempt-  chaotic  and  CONCLUSIONS The preceding d i s c u s s i o n has attempted t o e s t a b l i s h a r e l a t i o n s h i p between one Jacobean p l a y and a t w e n t i e t h century theory o f drama. v a l i d , i n that Artaud s T  I f t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p i s allowed as t h e o r i e s h e l p t o p o i n t out q u a l i t i e s  i n The Duchess of M a l f i which were present i n i t on t h e o c c a s i o n o f i t s f i r s t performance, i t seems reasonable t o suggest  t h a t other works from the p e r i o d might p r o f i t a b l y be  viewed i n a comparable context. s e n s a t i o n a l i s m and grotesque  Presumably, t h e h o r r o r ,  q u a l i t i e s o f many E l i z a b e t h a n  and Jacobean dramas c o u l d be seen as an attempt by t h e i r authors t o express, independently  and y e t u t i l i z i n g  a common  p o o l o f standard dramatic and t h e a t r i c a l m a t e r i a l s , t h e i r v i s i o n s o f t h e human c o n d i t i o n as they f e l t t h e i r era. of  One might thus suggest  i t existed i n  t h a t a Jacobean Theatre  C r u e l t y e x i s t e d i n f a c t i f not i n name, and t h a t T o t a l  Theatre, even i f not o f f i c i a l l y  designated as such, was  p r a c t i s e d on the stages of t h e Globe and t h e B l a c k f r i a r s and elsewhere. In t h e t h e a t r e o f t h e Jacobean p e r i o d , works by a number o f authors seem t o r e v e a l analogous t r a i n s o f thought, comparable p e r c e p t i o n s o f the fundamentally of  violent  nature  man, t h e anarchy and c r u e l t y of e x i s t e n c e which was h e l d  under tenuous c o n t r o l by t h e r e s t r a i n t s of law, r e l i g i o n and morality.  The advantage of time allows us t o look at t h e  103  J a c o b e a n drama a s a w h o l e and a p o i n t come t o  and s e e i n  of view towards  life  t e r m s w i t h t h e meaning o f  comparable t o  the points  to  which,  in  its  existence,  in twentieth  individual  d r a m a t i s t s may v a r y ,  r e a d works  by w r i t e r s  such as W e b s t e r ,  theories, truths  t o name o n l y certain  be p e r c e i v e d w h i c h tieth  century  Pinter  playwrights,  such as Brecht  i n the l i g h t  effect,  this  a reappearance of  we were  of  Artaud's of  basic  to  life of  Ionesco,  what  is  represents  i d e a s and a t t i t u d e s  called  w h i c h have been  drama i s  b e i n g r e - e v a l u a t e d and f r e e d f r o m t h e  writers sibly  e x p l a i n why t h e  c r i t i c i s m o f n i n e t e e n t h and e a r l y  rapport  Jacobean  twentieth  with the  more r e a d i l y  of recent  developments i n the t h e a t r e ,  Jacobean d r a m a t i s t s '  points-of-view  established in a spectator  t h e n and now T h e a t r e s  of  Cruelty  or reader.  (and o f t h e A b s u r d  cen-  century  s u c h a s S i r W i l l i a m Watson and W i l l i a m A r c h e r .  as a r e s u l t  the  i n some ways  This  suring  and  from A r t a u d .  expressed before. gradually  twen-  since Artaud,  influence  suggests that  may h e l p  could  who h a v e e x p r e s s e d c o m p a r -  o f any s p e c i f i c  continuity  if  such as B e c k e t t , G e n e t ,  a v a n t - g a r d e movement i n drama r e a l l y only  but  drama.  or r e - e m e r g e i n t h e works  and J a r r y ,  i d e a s independent  society  century  and f u n d a m e n t a l a t t i t u d e s  continue  to  F o r d , M a r s t o n and  a n d W e i s s , who have d e v e l o p e d l a r g e l y  others, able  a few,  expression  i n many ways  elemental themes, expressions  o f human n a t u r e  of  attempts  is  of  Middleton,  In  a quality  o f v i e w a b o u t man and h i s  w h i c h have emerged i n d e p e n d e n t l y The s t y l e s  it  is Both or  Posa now the  104 Grotesque)  can be s e e n a s r e p r e s e n t i n g a n a l o g o u s  artistic  r e s p o n s e s t o t h e human c o n d i t i o n , be i t s o c i a l ,  political,  r e l i g i o u s , m o r a l , o r any  Although  approach  combination of these.  h a s y e t t o be e x p l o r e d i n d e p t h , a more  a p p r a i s a l of the Jacobean i n g i t w i t h contemporary  " h o r r o r " p l a y may  the  satisfactory  evolve from  d r a m a t i c e x p r e s s i o n t h a n has  link-  hither-  t o b e e n p o s s i b l e t h r o u g h r e g a r d i n g i t a s a d e v i a t e and  deca-  dent form o f t r a g e d y . F u r t h e r study of the Jacobean an i n t e r p r e t i v e g u i d e might ing the analogous  drama u s i n g A r t a u d a s  t h u s be c o m p a r a t i v e ,  t h e n a n d now  investigat-  r e s p o n s e s t o t h e human c o n d i -  t i o n , and a l s o e x p a n s i v e , l o o k i n g a t t h e Jacobean w h o l e t o s e e how  T h i s s t u d y o f The  Duchess o f M a l f i has i n  many ways b e e n e x p l o r a t o r y i n i n t e n t , t o t e s t t h e  feasibility  two w i d e l y s e p a r a t e d e r a s o f drama a n d  dramatic  t h e o r y , and a t t h e same t i m e t o s u g g e s t t h e p o s s i b i l i t i e s u s i n g t h e n e w e r drama a n d t h e o r y t o e x p l a i n and the  a  e x t e n s i v e and v a r i e d t h e r e s p o n s e s were  w i t h i n the period.  of comparing  drama a s  of  re-interpret  older. Some i n i t i a l  p o i n t s of comparison  h a v e been  i n t h e p a p e r , n o t a b l y t h o s e between W e b s t e r and t h e b a s i s of t h e i r comparable  a t t i t u d e s to the  suggested  B r e c h t , on impossibility  o f r e m a i n i n g good i n a c o r r u p t w o r l d , and between W e b s t e r W e i s s i n t h e i r u s e o f T o t a l T h e a t r e and t h e c o n c e p t animal.  F o r The  D u c h e s s o f M a l f i we  might  o f man  a l s o note i n  p a s s i n g t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p between Webster's F e r d i n a n d  and  and as  105 Jarry's King Ubu as comparable delineations of i r r a t i o n a l man. C r i t i c a l descriptions of Ubu remind one of Webster's Duke: Wellwarth c a l l s him " . . . the prototype of the elemental figure unencumbered by i n h i b i t i o n or respect f o r the veneer of law and order.", while E s s l i n observes that He i s a t e r r i f y i n g image of the animal nature of man, h i s cruelty and ruthlessness. . . . He i s mean, vulgar, and incredibly brutal, a monster that appeared ludicrously exaggerated i n 1896, but was f a r surpassed by r e a l i t y by 1945Once again, an i n t u i t i v e image of the dark side of human nature that a poet had projected onto the stage proved prophetically t r u e . l Webster's Act V delineation of a world gone mad, with man seen as a predatory animal freed of s o c i a l r e s t r a i n t s and i n h i b i t i o n s , appears again i n a new form i n the l a s t act of Ionesco's Rhinoceros (1953).  The resultant meaninglessness of t r a d i t i o n -  a l values and safeguards associated with the law and r e l i g i o n , which we noted as an important thematic l i n e i n The Duchess of M a l f i , i s one of the themes discernible i n Genet's The Balcony (I960).  Also, Webster's play owes much of i t s t e r r o r to the  lack of discernible and d e f i n i t e l y stated motives f o r the machinations of Ferdinand and the Cardinal; t h i s technique of mystification and equivocation, used by Webster to show that we cannot expect to understand the workings of the i r r a t i o n a l , i s one of the basic c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the plays of Harold Pinter, most notably used i n The Birthday Party (i960) and A Slight Ache (1961).  These few examples might suggest that a  comparative study of Jacobean and Contemporary dramas could  106 prove  of interest  and  value.  W i t h i n the Jacobean an a i d t o d i s c e r n i n g  t r e n d s and  s e e t h a t W e b s t e r ' s The theatrical did  not  tation  freak.  exist and  dividually.  t e n d e n c i e s , one  Duchess o f M a l f i  As n o t e d ,  i n name, and  approach  works, each  p e r i o d , using Artaud's theory  i s n o t an  a Jacobean  f o r The  Theatre of  However, a t t h i s  gest  a few works w h i c h m i g h t  part  to the  Whore, a d m i r e d ther  and  examination,  important  an  be r e l a t e d  either  entirely  of C r u e l t y , the Absurd/Grotesque  directed Mellida gest  in this  area.  as does h i s The  of Bosola, deserves  possibly  investigation  R o w l e y ' s The  the  Jacobean  intrinsic  o f Chapman's B u s s y and  Tourneur's  examining  so  i n the  each  and  might  also  sug-  d'Ambois, M i d d l e t o n The  obvious  could, I f e e l ,  fur-  Marston,  Antonio  Revenger's  and  Tragedy.  choices, although suggest  T h u s , by g o i n g d i r e c t l y  p e r i o d and  m e r i t s , we  Heart.  One  i n v e s t i g a t i o n would undoubtedly  consideration.  She's A  considerable attention,  A n t o n i o ' s Revenge.  Changeling  for  profitably  'Tis Pity  Malcontent,  T h e s e seem t h e most i m m e d i a t e and detailed  Broken  or i n  Certainly  on W e b s t e r , p a r t i c u l a r l y  i n p a r t i c u l a r a t The and  Ford's  sug-  and  d i s c u s s e d by A r t a u d , seems w o r t h y o f  influence  characterization  to other  s t a g e i t seems p o s s i b l e t o  W e b s t e r ' s o t h e r m a j o r work, The W h i t e D e v i l w o u l d investigation  interpre-  considered i n -  T o t a l Theatre p o s t u l a t e d f o r Webster's p l a y .  bear  Cruelty  Duchess o f M a l f i  p l a y w o u l d o b v i o u s l y have t o be  quickly  isolated  i n extending the type of  adopted  concepts  could  as  o t h e r works  t o t h e dramas o f  p l a y on i t s own  d i s c e r n an a t t i t u d e  to  107 l i f e and a means of g i v i n g a r t i s t i c  expression t o the d i s c o r d  and u n c e r t a i n t y inherent i n t h i s a t t i t u d e of which The Duchess o f M a l f i i s r e a l l y only one example.  FOOTNOTES INTRODUCTION A n t o n i n A r t a u d , The T h e a t e r and i t s D o u b l e , t r a n s . Mary C a r o l i n e R i c h a r d s (New Y o r k , 1 9 5 8 ) . Whenever q u o t i n g d i r e c t l y f r o m t h i s work, I w i l l u s e t h e t r a n s l a t o r ' s s p e l l i n g of t h e a t e r . Elsewhere, t h e a t r e i s used. 2  Artaud,  pp.  27-28.  3 F u r t h e r s h o r t e s s a y s , n o t e s and l e t t e r s on t h e t h e a t r e by A r t a u d a r e p r i n t e d i n " S t a t e s o f M i n d : 1 9 2 1 - 1 9 4 5 , " T u l a n e Drama Review, V I I I ( W i n t e r 1 9 6 3 ) , 3 0 - 7 3 This issue a l s o c o n t a i n s two c r i t i c a l a r t i c l e s on A r t a u d : P a u l A r n o l d , "The A r t a u d E x p e r i m e n t , " 1 5 - 2 9 and Remain W e i n g a r t e n , "Reread Artaud," 7 4 - 8 4 . ^"Artaud, p.  28.  5  Artaud,  p.  99.  6  Artaud,  p.  100.  7 In 1 9 3 5 , Artaud d i r e c t e d h i s a d a p t a t i o n of the Cenci, c o m b i n i n g t e x t s by S h e l l e y and S t e n d h a l , t h e o n l y p r o d u c t i o n o f h i s p l a n n e d T h e a t r e o f C r u e l t y . The p r o d u c t i o n was r e g a r d e d as an i n t e r e s t i n g f a i l u r e . Also of i n t e r e s t are A r t a u d ' s p l a y The S p u r t o f B l o o d and h i s p r o d u c t i o n s c e n a r i o f o r S t r i n d b e r g ' s Ghost Sonata, both p r i n t e d i n t h e Tulane Drama Review a r t i c l e c i t e d a b o v e . The f a c t t h a t " A l l o f t h e p l a y s o f t h e c u r r e n t a v a n t g a r d e e x p e r i m e n t a l drama have a common s o u r c e i n t h e t h e o r i e s o f A n t o n i n A r t a u d . . . . " i s d i s c u s s e d i n George E. W e l l w a r t h ' s c h a p t e r on A r t a u d i n The T h e a t e r o f P r o t e s t and P a r a dox: D e v e l o p m e n t s i n t h e A v a n t - G a r d e Drama (New Y o r k , 1 9 6 4 ) , pp. 1 4 - 2 7 . Q u o t a t i o n s f r o m t h i s work w i l l a l s o a d h e r e t o t h e American s p e l l i n g o f t h e a t e r . o B r o o k ' s p r o d u c t i o n o f K i n g L e a r i s d i s c u s s e d by C h a r l e s M a r o w i t z , " L e a r L o g , " T u l a n e Drama Review, V I I I (Wint e r 1963), 101-123• I t i s perhaps only a c c i d e n t a l t h a t t h i s a r t i c l e appeared i n the Artaud i s s u e . Brook's p r o d u c t i o n o f T i t u s A n d r o n i c u s i s a p p r a i s e d by Jan K o t t i n S h a k e s p e a r e Our C o n t e m p o r a r y , " t r a n s . B o r e s l a w T a b o r s k i (New Y o r k , 1 9 6 4 ) , pp. 229-236. W e i s s ' p l a y , t r a n s . G e o f f r e y S k e l t o n (London, 1965) w i l l h e r e a f t e r be r e f e r r e d t o as t h e M a r a t / S a d e .  109 The Moral Vision of Jacobean Tragedy (Madison, Wise., 1965),  p.  24.  J o h n Webster, The Duchess of M a l f i , ed. John Russell Brown (Cambridge, Mass., 1 9 6 4 ) • A l l quotations from the play are from t h i s edition (The Revels Plays), and a l l documentat i o n w i l l be given i n the text. 11  1 2  In  Educational Theatre Journal, XVII ( 1 9 6 5 ) ,  314-321.  CHAPTER ONE Throughout t h i s and the following chapter, I use dramatic to specify elements i n the play which are not f u l l y dependent on a stage performance f o r effectiveness or comprehension. Theatrical i s used i n a much wider sense to mean elements which need stage r e a l i z a t i o n f o r proper e f f e c t i v e ness. Thus Webster's use of a Machiavellian figure would be regarded as a dramatic device, whereas the masque of madmen i n I V . i i would be t h e a t r i c a l . It i s at best an arbitrary d i v i s i o n which remains f l e x i b l e . "'The Duchess of M a l f i ' , " 19th Century, LXXXVII (1920), p. 132. 2  1923).  -^William Archer, The Old Drama and the New (Boston,  ^"Throughout t h i s section I have made considerable use of Miss Bradbrook's work Themes and Conventions of Elizabethan Tragedy (Cambridge, 1957)1 chs. I-V. Also of use was Madeleine Doran, Endeavors of Art: A study of form i n Elizabethan drama (Madison, 1964). 5 Most notable f o r The Duchess of Malfi are the studies of Gunnar Boklund, 'The Duchess of M a l f i ' : Sources, Themes, Characters (Cambridge, Mass., 1962) and Robert W. Dent, John Webster's Borrowings (Berkeley, I960). ^"Four Elizabethan Dramatists," i n Selected Essays (London, 1951), p. 116. 7 "Dramatists," i n Essays, p. 117.  g The Complete Works of John Webster, ed. F.L. Lucas (London, 1927), I, p. 21.  110 9  Martin  7  1961),  p.  293.  Esslin,  "^Artaud,  p. 1 2 5 .  Artaud,  p. 1 4 2 .  1 1  The T h e a t r e  o f t h e Absurd  (New Y o r k ,  12  A r t a u d , p. 9 3 .  Italics  mine.  13 ^ D r a m a t i c d e b t s a n d s o u r c e s h a v e b e e n t r a c e d by E . E . S t o l l , J o h n W e b s t e r : The P e r i o d s o f H i s Work a s D e t e r m i n e d by H i s R e l a t i o n s t o The Drama o f H i s Day ( B o s t o n , 1 9 0 5 ) . 1 / f  M a r a t / S a d e , p. [ 6 ] ,  CHAPTER TWO  p. 2 9 3 -  Esslin,  2 A r t a u d , p . 1 4 5 . The a r t i c l e i s a r e v i e w o f a mime c r e a t e d b y J e a n - L o u i s B a r r a u l t , b a s e d on W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r ' s As I L a y D y i n g , p e r f o r m e d i n P a r i s i n 1935. 3  Artaud,  p.  ^Artaud,  pp.  100. 28-30.  5 In a d d i t i o n t o Leech's a n a l y s i s , d i s c u s s e d i n t h e t e x t , t h e f o l l o w i n g a r e o f some i n t e r e s t : James L . C a l d e r w o o d , "'The D u c h e s s o f M a l f i ' : S t y l e s o f Ceremony," E s s a y s i n C r i t i c i s m , X I I (1962), 1 3 3 - 1 4 7 , s u g g e s t s t h a t F e r d i n a n d s e e k s t h e r i t u a l p u r g a t i o n o f h i s own t a i n t e d b l o o d i n t h e r i t u a l p u r g a t i o n o f h i s s i s t e r , i . e . , p u r g a t i o n by p r o x y ; J.R. M u l r y n e , "'The W h i t e D e v i l ' a n d 'The D u c h e s s o f M a l f i ' , " i n J a c o b e a n T h e a t r e , e d . J o h n R u s s e l l Brown a n d B e r n a r d H a r r i s (London, I960), p p . 2 0 1 - 2 2 5 , s u g g e s t s , w i t h o u t d e v e l o p i n g t h e i d e a , that the long r i t u a l i s a f r u s t r a t e d substitute f o r the sex act. B o t h M u r i e l B r a d b r o o k i n Themes a n d C o n v e n t i o n s a n d McD. E m s l i e , " M o t i v e s i n ' M a l f i ' , " E s s a y s i n C r i t i c i s m , I X (1959), 391-405, s e e , w r o n g l y I t h i n k , t h e D u c h e s s s u b m i t t i n g t o t h e p e r s e c u t i o n as a r i t u a l e x p i a t i o n o f h e r offence against her b r o t h e r s and h e r people. T h i s assumes t h a t t h e D u c h e s s i s g u i l t y o f two c r i m e s — r e m a r r i a g e , a n d r e m a r r i a g e below h e r station. As I D e v e l o p i n C h a p t e r I V , I am n o t p r e p a r e d t o a c c e p t t h i s p o i n t o f view. Clifford  Leech, Webster:  (London, 1963), p . 6 l . Ibid.,  p. 6 1 .  'The D u c h e s s o f M a l f i '  Ill Artaud, p. 27. Artaud, pp. 30-31. 10 T.S. E l i o t , "Seneca i n Elizabethan Translation," i n Selected Essays, p. 82. 9  L o r d David C e c i l . "John Webster," i n Poets and S t o r y t e l l e r s (London, 1949), p. 40. 1 1  E.M.W. T i l l y a r d , The Elizabethan World Picture (London, I 9 6 3 ) . This idea i s developed i n Chapter VIII. 13 ^Inga-Stina Ekeblad, "The 'Impure Art' of John Webster," Review of English Studies, IX (1958), p. 260. "^Leech's discussion of the scene i s i n John Webster: A C r i t i c a l Study (London, 1951), PP« 81-86. 12  1 5  A l v i n Kernan, The Cankered Muse (New Haven, 1959),  p. 233. "^Appendix I I of the Revels Plays edition of The Duchess of M a l f i has a t r a n s c r i p t i o n of a surviving manuscript copy of the song sung by the Madmen. See pp. 210-213. Brown, p. x x i i i . 18 Themes and Conventions, pp. 20-22. Also of interest i s C l i f f o r d Leech, "The acting of Marlowe and Shakespeare," The Colorado Quarterly, XIII (I964), pp. 25-42. E s s l i n , p. 306. 1 9  2 0  E s s l i n , pp. 294-295.  CHAPTER THREE  1  New York, 1964, 2, "Doran, p. 294.  p. 22.  ^Doran, p. 293. ^"The Structure of 'The Duchess of M a l f i ' : An Approach," English, XII (1958), p. 90. 5  ^Davies, p. 93.  112 °»The Function of Imagery i n Webster," PMLA, E X X  (1955), P P . 717-739. n  'Wellwarth, p. 16.  g  Davies, p. 91. 9  Wellwarth, p. 17.  " E t h i c a l Themes i n 'The Duchess of M a l f i * , " Studies in English Literature, IV (1964), p. 270. 1 0  11  A r t a u d , p. 79.  I . i i i . 1 0 1 - 1 2 4 , Yale edition (New Haven, 1956). 13 Shakespeare Our Contemporary, p. 110. "^Brown, p. x l i x . 15 ^Ornstein, p. 135"^Ornstein, p. 7. 17 ' C e c i l , p. 32 et passim. " ^ A l l i s o n , p. 273. 19 Ornstein, p. 44. The comment i s made as a general view of a thematic implication i n Jacobean tragedy as a whole, but i t s s p e c i f i c relevance to The Duchess of M a l f i seems worthy of notice. 12  20  "Fate and Chance i n 'The Duchess of M a l f i ' , " i n Shakespeare's Contemporaries, ed. Max Bluestone and Norman Rabkin (New Jersey, 19bl), p. 216. J o h n Webster: A C r i t i c a l Study, p. 83. 22 Themes and Conventions, p. 197. 21  23  ^Themes and Conventions, p. 136. 2 4  2  E s s l i n , p.  303.  ^Marat/Sade, pp. 40-41.  (Act I, Scene 15.)  The Cankered Muse, p. 251. ^ T h i s i s the main point made i n Ornstein's excellent discussion of Webster, pp. 128-150. 2  113 Of}  * Archer, "'The Duchess of M a l f i ' , " p. 1 2 6 . Archer dwells at l e n g t h on a l l the g l a r i n g flaws and i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s he has d i s c e r n e d i n p l o t development, c h a r a c t e r a c t i o n and motivation. 29 T h i s i s f u l l y d i s c u s s e d by John R u s s e l l Brown i n the i n t r o d u c t i o n t o the Revels Plays e d i t i o n of The Duchess of M a l f i , pp. x x v i i - x l i . 7  3  ° T h e T r a g i c S a t i r e of John Webster (Berkeley,  1955),  p.  154.  of  " T h e Yellow Malady: Short S t u d i e s of F i v e Tragedies J e a l o u s y , " L i t e r a t u r e and Psychology, ¥1 ( 1 9 5 6 ) , p. 5 1 . 3 1  3 2  A r t a u d , pp.  31-32.  33 Artaud, p. 60. ^Webster:  'The Duchess of M a l f i ' , p. 6 l .  35 Quoted by Lucas i n Works, I , p. 15. 3 6  37  I b i d . , p. 3 0 . W e l l w a r t h , p. 2 0 .  ^^Wellwarth, p. 22. 39 1947), p.  Moody P r i o r , The Language of Tragedy (New York, p. 1 3 1 . ^Ian S c o t t - K i l v e r t , John Webster (London, 1 9 6 4 ) ,  34.  ^ " T o u r n e u r and the Tragedy of Revenge," i n The Age of Shakespeare, ed. B o r i s Ford (London, 1 9 5 5 ) , p. 3 5 0 . ^ A r t a u d , p. 4 4 ; p. 4 6 . 2  ^0f some i n t e r e s t here would be the unpubl. d i s s . (Syracuse, 1962) by S.V. S t e r n l i c h t , "John Webster's Imagery," which, as o u t l i n e d i n D i s s e r t a t i o n A b s t r a c t s , XXIII ( 1 9 6 3 ) , 2 9 0 5 - 2 9 0 6 , d e a l s w i t h i t e r a t i v e images and image c l u s t e r s i n The Duchess of M a l f i and The White D e v i l . 4/f  4 5  T h e Language of Tragedy, p. 1 2 8 .  I b i d . , p. 1 2 9 .  114 CHAPTER FOUR "'"Of i n t e r e s t here would be the unpubl. d i s s . (Arkansas, 1957) by M u r i e l West, "The D e v i l and John Webster," which, as o u t l i n e d i n D i s s e r t a t i o n ^ A b s t r a c t s , XVII ( 1 9 5 7 ) , 1 0 7 7 - 1 0 7 8 , d i s c u s s e s d e v i l imagery i n Webster's two major p l a y s . 2  A l l i s o n , p. 271.  ^Kernan, p. 238. ^Artaud, p. 27. 5 Bogard, p. 39. 6  A l l i s o n , p. 270.  T h e V i s i o n o f Tragedy (New Haven, 1962), p. 81. "The Tragedy o f Revenge i n Shakespeare and Webster," Shakespeare Survey, XIV (1961), p. 537  Q  S t o l l f o r example sees Webster as t h e " . . . s t e r n j u s t i c e r o f human e r r o r — o f the f o l l y of Antonio and the Duchess." John Webster, p. 192. 1 0  " T h e Duchess o f M a l f i ' s G u i l t , " Notes and Queries,  n.s., X ( 1 9 6 3 ) ,  p. 3 3 7 .  I n Parables f o r the T h e a t e r , t r a n s . E r i c and Maja Apelman (New York, 1948), p. 103. 1 1  Bentley  12  B e r t o l t Brecht, The Threepenny Opera, t r a n s . Guy S t e r n , E n g l i s h l i b r e t t o i n c l u d e d w i t h Die Dreigroschenoper, Columbia Records #02L 257 ( 1 9 5 8 ) , p. 3 4 . 13  -'Seymour L. Gross, "A Note on Webster's T r a g i c t u d e , " Notes and Queries, n.s., VI ( 1 9 5 9 ) , p. 3 7 5 . "^Jacobean Tragedy "^Webster: "^Ornstein, 1 7  (London, 1 9 6 2 ) , pp. 114-115.  'The Duchess o f M a l f i ' , p. 27. p. 23.  K e r n a n , p. 2 3 7 . S c o t t - K i l v e r t , p. 26.  Atti-  115 19  W e l l w a r t h , p. 17.  CHAPTER FIVE "''Jenkins, p. 54. o B e r t o l t Brecht, The Good Woman o f Setzuan, i n Parables f o r t h e Theater, p. 53. ^Quoted i n S c o t t - K i l v e r t , p. 5. ^"Lucas, I , p. 7. A l s o o f i n t e r e s t here i s the short a r t i c l e by B.L. Joseph, " L o u i s Theobald and Webster," Comp a r a t i v e L i t e r a t u r e S t u d i e s , XVII ( 1 9 4 5 ) , 2 9 - 3 1 . 5 E s s l i n , p. x i x . K o t t , p. 74; p. 92.  6  7 O r n s t e i n , p. 150. O r n s t e i n , p. 147. 9  S e w a l l , p. 8 2 .  " ^ E s s l i n , p. x v i i i . 1:L  12  1 3  A r t a u d , p. 31; p. 9 2 ; p. 82.  W e l l w a r t h , p. 2 0 . E s s l i n , p. 302.  1Zf  A r t a u d , p. 8 1 .  "^Bradbrook, Themes and Conventions, p. 7 6 f f . As d i s c u s s e d by Don D. Moore, "Webster i n the Modern T h e a t r e , " E d u c a t i o n a l Theatre J o u r n a l , XVII ( 1 9 6 5 ) , 3 1 4 - 3 2 1 . 17»tThe Duchess o f M a l f i ' : Comic and S a t i r i c Confusion i n a Tragedy," S t u d i e s i n E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e , IV ( 1 9 6 4 ) , p. 277. l g  Leucke,  p. 279.  "^Lucas, I , p. 4 6 . * Kernan, p. 237.  116 21 "Four E l i z a b e t h a n D r a m a t i s t s , " i n Essays, p. 114. pp  Artaud, pp. 82-83. 23  ^ T h i s passage was a p p a r e n t l y added d u r i n g the New York performances o f the p l a y , and appears o n l y i n t h e r e corded v e r s i o n (Caedmon TRS- 312) spoken by Coulmier a t t h e end o f Act I , Scene 20. Arrangement and punctuation o f the passage i s consequently my own, although guided, by the s t y l e of t h e p u b l i s h e d t e x t . 2  ^ A r t a u d , p. 31.  2  ^ E s s l i n , p. 316.  CONCLUSIONS Wellwarth, p. 17; E s s l i n , pp. 225-226.  A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY A l l i s o n , A l e x a n d e r W. " E t h i c a l Themes i n 'The D u c h e s s o f Malfi'." S t u d i e s i n E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e , I V (1964),  263-273.  Archer, William. .  '"The  The O l d Drama a n d t h e New. Duchess o f M a l f i ' . "  B o s t o n , 1923.  19th C e n t u r y , L X X X V I I  ("1920), 126-132. Artaud, Antonin. The T h e a t e r and I t s D o u b l e . Translated f r o m t h e F r e n c h by Mary C a r o l i n e R i c h a r d s . New Y o r k , 1953. Bogard, T r a v i s .  1955.  The T r a g i c S a t i r e o f J o h n W e b s t e r .  Berkeley,  B o k l u n d , G. 'The D u c h e s s o f M a l f i ' : S o u r c e s , Themes, Characters. 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" F o u r E l i z a b e t h a n D r a m a t i s t s " (1924); " S e n e c a i n E l i z a b e t h a n T r a n s l a t i o n " (1927); " S h a k e s p e a r e a n d t h e S t o i c i s m o f S e n e c a " (1927). A l l i n Selected Essays. London, 1951.  Ellis-Fermor,  Una.  E m s l i e , McD.  "Motives i n ' M a l f i ' . "  1964.  The J a c o b e a n Drama.  (1959), 391-405.  Esslin,  Rhythm."  165-176.  C1957),  Eliot,  Constructional  Martin.  4th  ed.  New Y o r k ,  E s s a y s i n C r i t i c i s m , IX  The T h e a t r e o f t h e A b s u r d .  New Y o r k ,  1961.  F e l d m a n , A. B r o n s o n . "The Y e l l o w M a l a d y : S h o r t S t u d i e s o f Five Tragedies of Jealousy." L i t e r a t u r e and Psychology  VI (1956), 38-52.  F o a k e s , R.A. " S u g g e s t i o n s f o r a New A p p r o a c h t o S h a k e s p e a r e ' s Imagery." S h a k e s p e a r e S u r v e y , V (1952), 81-92. G r o s s , Seymour L . "A Note on W e b s t e r ' s T r a g i c A t t i t u d e . " N o t e s a n d Q u e r i e s , n . s . , V I (1959), 374-375. Hayakawa, S . I .  "A Note  on t h e Madmen's S c e n e  J-The D u c h e s s o f M a l f i ' . " Hendy, E.W.  "John Webster:  PMLA, X L V I I  Playwright  i n Webster's  (1932), 907-909.  and N a t u r a l i s t . "  19th C e n t u r y , C I I I (1928), 111-123.  H u n t e r , G.K. " N o t e s on W e b s t e r ' s Q u e r i e s , n . s . , V I (1959), Jack, Ian.  Tragedies."  53-55-  "The Case o f John W e b s t e r . "  38-43.  Notes and  S c r u t i n y , XVI  (1949),  119 Jenkins, Harold. Webster." K e r n a n , A.  The C a n k e r e d Muse.  K n i g h t s , L.C. London, Kott,  "The T r a g e d y o f Revenge i n S h a k e s p e a r e a n d S h a k e s p e a r e S u r v e y , X I V (1961), 45-55.  Drama a n d S o c i e t y 1937.  i n t h e Age o f J o n s o n .  J a n . S h a k e s p e a r e Our C o n t e m p o r a r y . Taborski. New Y o r k , 1964.  Leech, C l i f f o r d . .  John W e b s t e r :  "The a c t i n g  1959.  New Haven,  Trans. Boreslaw  A C r i t i c a l Study.  o f Marlowe a n d S h a k e s p e a r e . "  Colorado Quarterly, XIII .  Webster:  'The Duchess  .  "When w r i t i n g  195L  London, The  (1964), 25-42. of Malfi'.  becomes a b s u r d . "  1963.  London,  The C o l o r a d o  Q u a r t e r l y , X I I I (1964), 6-24. L e u c k e , Jane M a r i e . "'The Duchess o f M a l f i ' : Comic a n d S a t i r i c Confusion i n a Tragedy." Studies i n English L i t e r a t u r e , I V (I964), 275-290. Mehl, D i e t e r . The E l i z a b e t h a n Dumb Show: The H i s t o r y D r a m a t i c C o n v e n t i o n . London, 1965.  of a  Moore, Don D. " J o h n W e b s t e r i n t h e Modern T h e a t r e . " t i o n a l T h e a t r e J o u r n a l , X V I I (1965), 314-321.  Educa-  M u l r y n e , J.R. "'The W h i t e D e v i l ' a n d 'The Duchess o f M a l f i ' , " i n J a c o b e a n T h e a t r e . E d . J o h n R u s s e l l Brown a n d Bernard H a r r i s . London, I960, 221-225. Ornstein, Robert. The M o r a l V i s i o n M a d i s o n , 1965 ( c . I960). Parr,  J.  LX  "The H o r o s c o p e  o f Jacobean  i n 'The Duchess  (1945), 760-765.  Tragedy.  of Malfi'."  PMLA,  .  Praz, Mario. " J o h n W e b s t e r a n d 'The M a i d ' s T r a g e d y ' . " E n g l i s h S t u d i e s , XXXVII (1956), 252-258. Price,  Hereward T. "The F u n c t i o n o f Imagery PMLA, LXX (1955), 717-739.  P r i o r , Moody E .  The Language o f T r a g e d y .  Ribner,  Jacobean Tragedy.  Irving.  London,  i n Webster."  New Y o r k , 1962.  1947.  120 R i e w a l d , R.G. Duchess  " S h a k e s p e a r e B u r l e s q u e i n John W e b s t e r ' s 'The of Malfi'." E n g l i s h S t u d i e s , XLV (1964),  Supp., 1 7 7 - 1 8 9 .  R y l a n d s , George. "On t h e P r o d u c t i o n o f 'The D u c h e s s o f M a l f i ' , " i n The D u c h e s s o f M a l f i . Sylvan Press ed. L o n d o n , 1945, [v]-xiv. S a l i n g a r , L.G. " T o u r n e u r a n d t h e T r a g e d y o f Revenge," i n The Age o f S h a k e s p e a r e . Ed. B o r i s Ford. London,  1955,  334-355.  Seott-Kilvert,  Ian.  Sewall, Richard Stoll,  B.  John W e b s t e r . The V i s i o n  1964.  London,  o f Tragedy.  1962.  New Haven,  E.E. John W e b s t e r : The P e r i o d s o f H i s Work As D e t e r mined By H i s R e l a t i o n s t o The Drama o f H i s Day. B o s t o n , 1905.  S t r o u p , Thomas B. M i c r o c o s m o s : The Shape o f t h e E l i z a b e t h a n Play. L e x i n g t o n , 1965. T h a y e r , C.G.  "The A m b i g u i t y o f B o s o l a . "  LIV (1957), 162-171.  Tillyard,  E.M.W.  Studies  The E l i z a b e t h a n W o r l d P i c t u r e .  V e r n o n , P.F. "The D u c h e s s o f M a l f i ' s G u i l t . " Q u e r i e s , n . s . , X (1963), 335-333.  i n Philology, London, 1 9 6 3 .  Notes and  Wadsworth, F r a n k L . " W e b s t e r ' s 'Duchess o f M a l f i ' i n t h e L i g h t o f Some C o n t e m p o r a r y I d e a s o f M a r r i a g e a n d Remarriage." P h i l o l o g i c a l Q u a r t e r l y , XXXV (1956),  394-407.  Webster, John. London, .  The C o m p l e t e Works. 1927-  The D u c h e s s  Cambridge,  of Malfi.  Mass., 1964.  E d . F.L. L u c a s .  E d . John R u s s e l l  4 vols.  Brown.  (The R e v e l s P l a y s )  Weiss, Peter. The P e r s e c u t i o n a n d A s s a s s i n a t i o n o f M a r a t a s p e r f o r m e d by t h e i n m a t e s o f t h e A s y l u m o f C h a r e n t o n u n d e r t h e d i r e c t i o n o f t h e M a r q u i s de Sade. English v e r s i o n by G e o f f r e y S k e l t o n . I n t r o d u c t i o n by P e t e r Brook. London, 1965. W e l l w a r t h , George  E.  Developments  The T h e a t e r o f P r o t e s t  i n t h e Avant-Garde  Drama"!  and Paradox: New Y o r k ,  1964.  121  W i l l i a m s , C h a r l e s . "On the Poetry of 'The Duchess of M a l f i ' , " i n The Duchess of M a l f i . Sylvan Press ed. London, 1945, [xv]-xxii.  

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