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John Webster's "The Duchess of Malfi" is a kind of revenge tragedy that takes its inspiration from Seneca, a Latin playwright from the first century A.D. This play is regarded as one of Webster's best, and because it is a revenge tragedy, it is regarded as the best tragedy after Shakespeare's because it has almost all of the characteristics of revenge tragedies. In the best part of this play, there is a lot of extreme violence, plotting, and mostly revenge, which are the main parts of a revenge tragedy. However, from the very beginning to the very end, The Duchess of Malfi is filled with such terrifying and hair-raising situations. However, to consider The Duchess of Malfi to be a revenge tragedy, we need to understand what we mean by revenge tragedy and the major conventions that it adheres to.

The tragedy of Revenge: The Senecan custom of making revenge the driving force behind the action that results in the tragedy is what gave rise to the name Revenge Tragedy. 

The following are characteristics of the revenge tragedy:

01. The main characters should be people of noble descent.

02. The plotting of the story should be intricate.

03. 04. There ought to be murdered. There should undoubtedly be a need for vengeance.

05. The plot should include physical horrors like torture and poisoning.

06. After the play is over, the order ought to be restored.

07. The presence of supernatural factors The fundamental topic is human brutality, which develops into intricate, frequently profoundly enlightening aesthetic experiences.

However, the revenge play tradition is thought to have been established by Seneca, a Latin playwright. The Senecan tragedies were mostly filled with horror and violence. Through his play The Spanish Tragedy, Thomas Kyd introduced the vengeance tradition to English drama. Before Webster, other playwrights followed this custom later.

The Duchess of Malfi as a Vengeance Misfortune: The Duchess of Malfi contains almost all of the elements of Revenge Tragedy if we want to consider it a Revenge Tragedy in light of the characterizations of Revenge Tragedy mentioned earlier.

The Duchess of Malfi's Horrors: This drama could be called a melodrama because it has so many horror elements. There are numerous horror elements throughout this drama, beginning with the conclusion. They are abundant in the play's final two acts. Melodramatic episodes, on the other hand, also appear earlier. The Duke gives the Duchess a dead man's hand to horrify her, and she kisses it, thinking it's the Duke's. Another horrifying scene is the spectacle of waxed images of Antonio's and the children's dead bodies being shown to the Duchess. The executioners' unruly dance in front of the Duchess, Bosola's appearance as a tomb maker and bellman, and the executioners' appearance in procession with a bell and core are all intended to evoke horror. Bosola mentions the next horror in the committee's series of murders. The final horror occurs when Julia is poisoned in the coldest manner possible. Ferdinand, the Cardinal, and Bosola all die at the end, as does Antonio. The ten murders in Revenge and Murder are as follows: In a revenge tragedy, taking vengeance and killing other people are essential components. In this drama, people are taking their revenge and killing other people. However, Webster sets his play differently, and unlike other plays, the murders and vengeance are carried out differently. Both of the vengeful brothers are villains because they are the victims of an insensate fury that causes blindness, draining, and poisoning of compassion. The pitiful plight of their victim from Bos ola's hard heart, who declares:

Her tears are more beautiful than her smile, and you can see the beauty in them.

The Duchess and Antonio had an affair, as we have seen, and they eventually got married and had three kids. The cardinal and Duke Ferdinand are furious when they learn of their secret marriage and their children. We also see the brothers' reactions to their sister's actions from the beginning to the end of Act two, scene 5. They believe that the Duchess has undermined their family's status and reputation. "Shall our blood,/ The royal blood of Aragon and Castile, Be thus attained," the Cardinal asks. Therefore, they want to kill her rather than ruin the family's reputation. "I’ll find scorpions to string my whips,/And fix her in a general eclipse," Ferdinand says here. Therefore, their acts of vengeance are monstrous and wrong rather than a wild form of justice. She receives the order from Ferdinand. In the opening scene of the play, he threatened to use:

"Die quickly after."

In many ways, The Duchess of Malfi is not like the typical revenge play. It is unclear why the Duchess is the target of retaliation. The two brothers believe that she has disgraced the family because she has married below her rank and status. This is her only flaw. She has definitely not committed any horrible crime, so her punishment is unjustified. That her brothers' lack of action against the Duchess for more than two years clearly demonstrates their weak vengeance motives.

Heavenly components: Webster departs from or alters the tradition by presenting the supernatural as well. He does not present the typical hosts and objectives that are used in revenge plays. The play contains absolutely no unreal supernatural elements. The echo's sorrowful responses to Antonio's words are the result of a natural occurrence. Antonio said, " and all of a sudden a clear light/presented of a face folded in sorrow” (Act V Scene III) came solely from his imagination and his love for the Duchess. There is no ghost on the scene. Webster has demonstrated a significant concern for an artistic supernatural atmosphere in this.

Madness displayed on stage: In Elizabethan revenge tragedies, it was common practice to stage madness. We witness these insane individuals' madness in this play. However, there is also some psychological interest in the hue. The scheme to torture the Duchess to make her mad is advised by the Duke. However, ironically, he becomes enraged, not the Duchess. The Duke's madness holds even greater significance.

In conclusion, "The Duchess of Malfi" is a tragic tale of retribution. Even though Webster wrote this drama in the style of revenge tragedies, he added some new elements to make it stand out. Additionally, he is proficient enough in his own style to draw the artwork, which encourages readers to accept it as a genuine revenge tragedy. In other words, it is a tragedy of perfect retaliation. 


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