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Dangerous Conversations in "The Duchess of Malfi"

Gillies, John (2019) 'Dangerous Conversations in "The Duchess of Malfi".' Sillages Critiques, 26. ISSN 1969-6302

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Abstract

The proposition of this essay is that conversation exists as a theme in its own right in "The Duchess of Malfi". It is clear that Webster borrowed from "The Civil Conversation" (1586), as Steffano Guazzo’s book was known in English translation. Less clear is what Webster makes of conversation. As in Guazzo, honesty of conversation is a civil rather than courtly construct, and as such tracks with the theme of merit as against degree. But Webster entangles the conversation of meritorious characters with that of vicious characters in ways that Guazzo would not have countenanced. The result is a moral ambiguity which is difficult to read in terms of virtue ethics, and which calls for a reading in terms of the totalitarian contexts of the revenge play and the Tacitean history play. Such difficulties are most evident in the entangled and climatic conversations between Bosola and the Duchess.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: civility, conversation, emblems, history, holy, play, misogyny, revenge, sin, Tacitus
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2019 16:55
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2019 01:00
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/23743

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