Essay on The Duchess Of Malfi By John Webster

Essay on The Duchess Of Malfi By John Webster

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English literature is continuously developing into a more complex, and interwoven network of shared, or argued ideas. Proof of this goes back into all of the varieties of literature that we have discovered from times past, as well as anything new that is written today. One example of these works of art that has been studied intensely over the years includes the story of The Duchess of Malfi written by John Webster somewhere between 1580 and 1625. This is a story of tragic loss, desperate love, and vicious vengeance which all comes together to form one of the greatest tragedies of all time.
With the timeframe that this story was produced, it becomes the duty of any English critic to compare and contrast with other works that were also produced in that time. One of these comparisons is none other than the work of the great Shakespeare. Although The Duchess of Malfi is not considered to be a Shakespearian play, it has been noted to be similar in numerous aspects. Snively, an honors student who will be mentioned further in this essay, found in her research that, “Nineteenth-century critics lauded the works of John Webster as most closely approaching the standard of William Shakespeare’s plays” (1). This should be intriguing to anyone looking in depth at this tale due to what other literature has to say about it as well. For example, in The Norton Anthology of English Literature it said that by 1592 Shakespeare was “apparently already well known as a playwright” (1166). The book also states that The Duchess of Malfi was first performed in 1614, and published in 1623. The overlap of their work should be noted, and taken into serious consideration.
Now knowing some background information, there is potential that the tragedy of one coul...


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...chess became so significant to all those around her, even if it took her death in order for this to happen. The Duchess became a character that represented the uselessness of violence on matters of family or love; it takes a different approach altogether to gain real resolution. Shakespearian influence can be seen here, but it is quite possible that he and Webster had similar ideas around the same time. It could have been that they had similar surroundings that caused them to think of the most tragic tales of all of English Literature. Whatever the contributing factor, both authors will be analyzed, and their works revisited for a long time to come, and who knows, maybe there will be more relations made as time goes on. What we do know however is that each author had their great ideas, and we are left to appreciate them in all their glory, as well as all their pain.

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