AO1: key vocabulary & terms Gas lighting Desperation

AO1: key vocabulary & terms Gas lighting Desperation

AO1: key vocabulary & terms Gas lighting Desperation Irredeemable Menacing Sinister Fatal Irreversible Tragic Hubris Downfall Strain Claustrophobic Anxiety Revulsion Unease Suspicion Foreboding Phobia Distress Trepidation Deluded Toxic masculinity Machiavellianism Sycophancy Subjugation Malcontent Sardonic Confrontation Patriarchy Hypocritical Reminiscent Forsake Seduce Brutal Ruthless Harsh Sadistic Tyrannical Merciless Betrayal Ferocity Authority Fragility Shame Grief Mental health Explosive Pathos Vulgar Marginalised Tempestuous Duplicitous Repent Redemption Institutionalised corruption Invasion Political intrigue Subverts AO2: key language & dramatic techniques Light and darkness motif & the staging in Blackwell Theatre Animalistic imagery Grotesque imagery and use of language (Jacobean theatre was called the Theatre of Use of costumes to show class The claustrophobic effects of the darkness and the bird net metaphor The use of the poniard as a phallic symbol Dialect and prose to show class Oxymorons, darkness and masks to symbolise duplicity Ferdinands fire motif to show his tempestuous nature Use of hellish imagery throughout Complex and philosophical metaphors and ambiguous similes Look for when Bosolas speech turns from blank verse to poetic prose and why Look at stage directions such as Bosola hiding in the dark, prying on others conversations or the Duchess masculine action of kneeling Theres a lot of asides, addressing the audience A03: key context links Proto-feminist Women were at the bottom of the hierarchy, but widows were below younger women are virgins It was believed the lust originated in your liver (spotted livers) During the plague, it was believed that leaving dead pigeons out would purge the air (I would sooner kiss a dead pigeon than kiss you- theme of cruelty and appearance) A womans reputation was all she had Mens family name, masculinity and heritage was part of their pride and reputation Webster probably studied law; the theme of justice is throughout England was growing richer, but the new wealth was unequally distributed, and the imbalance created dangerous unrest (atmosphere of suspicion and fear) Women were regarded as possessions, as capital to be exploited in profitable marriages Some wealthy women had a few freedoms: taking part in entertainment, managing business affairs Women in plays, subverting roles by playing witty and confident women who challenge men, were common, however they were usually (like the Duchess) trapped and finally killed by the patriarchal authority of family and state A05: key critical views Middleton called it a masterpiece of tragedy Hazlitt, a 19th century critic, said the final grizzly scenes exceed the just bounds of tragedy. Other 19th century critics praised its poetic power but some were critical of its violence and brutality. One critic condemned the plays gross excesses. Charles Kingsley said The strength of Websters confest (confessed) mastership lies simply in his acquaintance with vicious nature in general (and he) handles these horrors with little or no moral purpose. Swinburne praised Websters command of terror. TS Eliot (American poet) called Webster a genius directed towards chaos More contemporary critics such as Jacqueline Pearson (1980) have studied the mixture of tragedy and comedy in the play. Pearson argues that comedy

brings relief and freshness to the plot and highlights scenes such as the wooing scene, which is comedy with tragic overtones. But she does argue this comedy distances the audience from the characters Selzer argues that Bosolas guilt is reduced he says that the servants discontent stems from his lack of reward A Freudian raeding would consider Ferdinands incestuous desires AO2: key quotes like plum trees that grow crooked crows feed on them like a fountain whence should flow pure silver drops poisont near the head Im Duchess of Malfi still to clip the birds wings silence makes me stark mad Ill never marry gives her a dead mans hand you told me you had a key Their false lights rid bad wares half a blush int Ill die with her I shall quench my wild fire, but your whores blood come violent death death best gift they can give me go no farther with your cruelty tis a deed of darkness how do you like my Spanish jennet?... Hes all fire quickening and make soft music gives him the ring what pleasure can two lovers find in sleep? hands her his poniard root up her goodly forests so wild a tempest you are an imprudent snake I can do both like a prince you shall take charge of all of my coin and jewels I will have none: why dost thou wrap thy poisoned pills in gold and sugar? oh let us howl beast and fatal fowl screech owl BOSOLA, dressed like an old man, enters Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle she and I were twins A03: key context links Jacobean theatre invited people to witness the fall of great people- displays of the decline of wealth and power was fascinating to audiences Many seized opportunities to acquire wealth and rise up the social scale The malcontent was socially and psychologically dislocated- an opportunist, seeking his own personal advancement in society against which he raged so caustically There was a preoccupation with death and decay Jacobean England was a hard, violent world, and were neither squeamish nor politically correct People were known to visit asylums to laugh at the mentally inflicted Men were firmly in control- the husband ruled the family, just as a lord dominated his household, a monarch reigned over the state, and God held sway over all Women had little personal autonomy, far less than men Various plays portrayed James stiffnecked, unyielding certainty of his own superiority Protestants believed the people made their own choices so character in tragedies frequently displayed worried consciences that resulted from the lack of certainty and individual choice A03: key context links Plays were hugely popular as they showed characters, emotions, actions and issues that were familiar to London audiences Londons expansion was aided by theatres as they attracted audiences from all levels of society Women from all social ranks were in the audience They loved coarse comedy and subtle wit Plays had direct and indirect references to affairs of state, law and belief Over time, theatres became more respectable, attracting wealthy patronages Theatre had the power to demystify the church, politics and monarchs Womens rights were restricted, legally, socially and economically Although Queen Elizabeth ruled with real power, her case was highly unusual King James did little or nothing to improve womens lot and he was known for dislike women The court was renowned for its sexual freedom, of pimps and kept women (Julia) Music, dancing and masques were common in plays, as were dumb shows Scenes with multiple killings were common The tragedies criticised the luxurious and corrupt lives the courtiers lived Even plays with Christian settings (TDoM) believed that God was malicious we are merely the stars tennis-ball, struck and banded which way please them A05: key critical views Cynthia Rodriguez-Badendyck says of the Duchess there is no denying that the luminous figure of the Duchess is perfectly capable of dominance Feminists might argue that the brothers treatment of their sister shows the patriarchal system at the time Marxists might argue that it shows the power of social class because her superior status of class more than outweighs his status as a man Dollimore: issues of class, sexuality, imperialist and colonial exploitation have everything to do with Jacobean tragedy Dollimore claims that Jacobean playwrights actively question the beliefs and structures which maintain unfair practices Karl Marx: religion is the opium of people, a control drug that removes any desire to protest or act against injustice and inequality Greenblatt argues that the authorities of the time allowed tragedies, even though they criticised the state because the systems never changed, anyway- only the characters in the plays Modern political criticism argues that traditional approaches maintain the interests of the elite, dominant class, e.g. TDoM is ahead of her time, yet is trapped and destroyed by the male dominated values and power of a feudal world Dusinberre: Shakespeare saw men and women as equal in a world which declared them as unequal. He did not divide human nature into the masculine and the feminine

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