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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sizzling on the stage and ..., 24 Mar. 2012
This review is from: The Duchess of Malfi and Other Plays (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
... on the page of this edition. Webster's The Duchess of Malfi is the best known of the plays here and is valued for its characters, imagery, themes, intense atmosphere and memorable scenes. The Duchess is a young widow whose brothers oppose a second marriage: Ferdinand, her twin, is so violent in his language that we suspect an incestuous interest, only partially acknowledged: "Till I know who leaps my sister, I'll not stir." The Duchess is introduced in a description by Antonio who praises her beauty, her virtue and her grace: "She stains [eclipses] time past: lights the time to come" but she has a strong will which we see in the memorable scenes where she woos and marries him. The greatest challenge to an actor is, perhaps, the interpretation of the role of Bosola, the wordly spy who connives in the mental torture of the Duchess and yet comes to pity her, finally making the existentialist decision to be himself: "I'll be mine own example." The scenes of this cruelty to the Duchess, her courage and endurance, and of her death and that of Cariola are enthralling on the stage but raise a problem: what is left for Act V and how can a director keep the drama alive? Other difficulties for a modern audiences are the distancing devices and set pieces which can seem formal and unnatural. There are few poetically sustained speeches but there are outstanding lines: " Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle: she died young" which stay in the mind as do the claustrophobic atmosphere and main themes of corruption, love, public and private life and the harshness of man to woman.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Mar 2012 10:52:26 GMT
Doc Barbara says:
I am in the process of reviewing selected works by Skakespeare, Chaucer, Jane Austen, Donne and Webster under the tag "Classics of English Literature" which can be accessed from my Profile page. They are intended to offer insights into the texts as well as the particular edition.
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