Sample Film and Theater Studies on the “Duchess of Malfi”

Numerous aspects can be attributed to the tragedy recorded in the Duchess of Malfi. Ferdinand says it was ambition, blood, and lust, but there was more than what he reckons. To begin with, the “Duchess of Malfi” was published during the 16th century (1623).  It is a play that can be examined as a social tragedy on several aspects.  During the period, the genre of social tragedy engendered a different implication altogether. The play was linked with the social tragedy genre since a female character was trying to disobey the social structures and, therefore, perceived as a threat to the community.  Besides the society perceiving the play as a conflict between the Jacobean and modern society, the Classical Greek and Roman societies were also taken into account (Cahill).

The play replicates various forms of tragedy including the Roman and Seneca tragedies. Other forms of tragedy replicated in the play include the invocation of sympathy and fear as instruments that lead toward purging of emotions. The rise and fall of a protagonist as reckoned by Ferdinand are triggered by ambition and lust. It is a huge tragedy for a protagonist to achieve her political and marital desires, the fall abruptly.  Ferdinand reckons that the aspect of ambition is what uplifted the Duchess to a noble position, but lust brought her down (Cahill).

Besides, there is more than what Ferdinand brings into perspective. For example, the disputes regarding the free will and the downfall of the duchess are also attributable to the tragedy. The characters premeditated or rather deliberated about their course of actions, which eventually resulted into a tragedy.  Also, the constant condemnation of the less influential characters and the general aspect of the guilt conscious also contribute to the tragedy. Indeed, it is only the offspring of Antonio and Duchess that are guiltless and unworthy of blame (Cahill).  Furthermore, the characters in the ‘Duchess of Malfi’ lack the free will while undertaking the decisions that resulted into the tragedy (Cahill).




Work Cited

Cahill, Robert Edward, “Fate and Free Will in the White Devil and the Duchess of Malfi ”            (1957). Master’s Theses. Paper 1370.