The Duchess of Malfi, a tragedy written by John Webster, is particular in its themes and in the ways it deals with them. Not only do these themes give it more significance but more importantly, their recurrent occurrence. Most notably, Webster chooses to highlight such issues by making such happenings or situations recurrent in the play. This paper analyzes the recurrent structural situations inthe play and focuses on the significance of certain recurrent happenings. Thus, Webster’s choice to make some happenings or situations recurrent is very significant and meaningful.
In dealing with The Duchess Malfi, two main aspects are recurrent in terms of its structure. Firstly, the idea of five phases is clearly seen in The Duchess of Malfi not only through the number ofits acts but also through the recurrent use of five scenes in the same act. This is evident in acts two, three and five which are divided into five scenes. The idea of five scenes would have come from the view of the structure of a tragedy. This recurrent structure is very significant since from the first time, it shows Webster’s use of the Freytag Pyramid. Notably, each scene in acts two, threeand five represents the exposition, complication, climax, the catastrophe or the resolution. So, each scene looks independent from others scenes and rich in terms of events. The recurrent use of five scenes in the same act is also significant in the way it shows Webster’s organization of his ideas and thoughts. In order for him to make his events and situations clear for his audience and nottelling them feel bored, he divides the acts into many scenes which have different functions such as introducing, complicating, resolving…… On the other hand, another structural aspect in The Duchess of Malfi is the similarity between aspects in the opening and closing of some scenes within the same act. Yet, when reading the play, one cab remark that the way in which some scenes are presented is almostthe same in the next or previous scenes. The reader is kept within the same place and time of the previous scene. In addition, the characters that open such a scene or close it are kept the same in the next scene. One justification is that of act three, scenes two and three where both Bosola and Antonio open and close both scenes. This emphasizes Webster’s technique of beginning the play with aslow notion prologue dialogue. Then, there is a move into a conversation whereby there is a sudden eruption of several uninvited characters. This recurrent use of such structure is also significant in emphasizing some characters’ roles. Yet, in order for Webster to show some characters’ major roles, he lets them responsible for opening and closing scenes. Then, they take the most direct way to showreality of emotions or thoughts. To conclude, Webster’s choice of recurrent use of situations in terms of the play’s structure is very significant since it is made for the reader’s sake.
In The Duchess of Malfi, the reader encounters many happenings which seem, sometimes, repeated. Actually, John Webster makes in purpose many situations appear recurrent in the play mainlythose of planning, killing, betraying and revealing secrets. While reading the play, one gets accustomed with the act of murdering and betraying. Almost in every scene, there has to be at least a person who is planning to kill another one. For instance, this violent act of murdering is so recurrent in the play when the Duchess was murdered with her children in act four as well as when Antonio, Bosolaand the Cardinal were killed in the last act. This is very significant since what characterized Webster’s drama is the idea of entertainment; drama, for him, aims at entertaining viewers or readers through quenching the thirst for blood and seeing something about prohibited relationships such as adultery, lack of faithfulness, disloyalty and treachery which involve politicians and represent a...
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