The Duchess of Malfi | Criticism

This literature criticism consists of approximately 35 pages of analysis & critique of The Duchess of Malfi.
This section contains 9,581 words
(approx. 32 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Essay by William Kerwin

SOURCE: Kerwin, William. “‘Physicians are like Kings’: Medical Politics and The Duchess of Malfi.English Literary Renaissance 28, no. 1 (1998): 95-117.

In this essay, Kerwin places the medical theme of The Duchess of Malfi in its historical context to illuminate Webster's critique of authority in general, and monarchical authority in particular. Drawing from a substantial study of contemporary sources on medicine, Kerwin compares the medical “performances” of Ferdinand, the Cardinal, and Bosola to Jacobean medical discourse.

In the fourth act of The Duchess of Malfi, as the Duchess struggles to preserve her sanity, her brother Ferdinand produces a masque of madmen—a procession of eight characters representing types of desire gone astray. One of them sings:

As ravens, screech-owls, bulls, and bears,           We'll bill and bawl our parts, Till irksome noise have cloy'd your ears           And corrosiv'd your hearts.(1) 

Whether Webster's art follows this “corrosive” aesthetic, or whether it offers...

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This section contains 9,581 words
(approx. 32 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Essay by William Kerwin
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Critical Essay by William Kerwin from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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