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Murder and Madness
on 24 April 2017
Still one of the best known plays by John Webster there is actually some basis in fact for the script which was partly inspired by real events from the previous century in Italy. Webster used this to create something which is a masterpiece of Jacobean revenge tragedies.
Although it is believed that this was popular enough in its day, due to differences in fashion and thought it was neglected for a while, and then interest was revived, making it something that is studied, performed and discussed up to the present day.
The Duchess of the title is a widow but still quite young, but when she secretly marries and has children this does not go down well with her two brothers, one a Cardinal, and the other Ferdinand, who as we read this we can see there is a certain feeling of lust and incest within him, towards his sister.
And so we are drawn into a world of romance, greed, abuse of power, corruption, adultery, murder and eventually madness. As this tale plays out on the page so we can see a world that has not changed much since with the same issues ones that we can read in the news every day. Dark and macabre throughout we can only wonder at the fortitude of the Duchess as her brothers’ actions lead her into mental torture and anguish, and beyond.
This fell out of fashion due to the senseless violence and cruelty portrayed here, but it was this that also arguably brought it back into the eyes of the public, as it mirrors what we see and know happens around us. In a world that at times can seem cruel and senseless with people out to get what they can this should always be something that people will read and take notice of.