Duchess of Malfi – Some Notes

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					                                 Duchess of Malfi – Some Notes

(Norman Rabkin)

What troubles critics who dislike it stems from their failure to recognize conventions or their
dislike of the conventions they recognize.

Gothic in Literature:
Magic, horror and mystery are chief characteristics
Medieval castles with long underground passages, trap doors, dark stairways
Claustrophobic atmosphere

Some troublesome devices, etc. (Gothic Elements)

      Set of wax figures representing the Duchess’ murdered family
      The severed hand
      The poisoned book
      The apricot test for pregnancy
      The masque of madmen
      The echo scene
      Ferdinand’s lycanthropy

Strength in the play lies in its “move toward great lyric moments”

Strength also is the paradox between the improbable plot and conventions on the one hand and
the utter integrity of the moral vision and the imaginative world on the other

      Refuses to sentimentalize and idealize the characters
      Characters are rich and complex