Essay On Webster's Presentation Of The Cardinal In The Duchess Of Malfi

626 words - 3 pages

Explore Webster's presentation of the Cardinal in The Duchess of Malfi. You must relate your discussion to relevant contextual factors.

Misogynistic corruption of the Catholic Church Manipulative Webster presents the Cardinal as a misogynistic and manipulative character. The Cardinal is used to represent the corruption of the Catholic Church. The Cardinals' misogynistic views are highlighted through his interactions with his sister and his mistress, The Duchess and Julia. Although the Cardinal has a high status in the Catholic Church, he continues to commit sinful deeds, this illustrates the deep-rooted corruption of the Catholic Church.

To begin with, Webster exhibits the Cardinal's misogynistic view through his interactions with the Duchess and Julia. The Cardinal tells Julia: "Thou art a witty false one". Although she is described as "witty", suggesting her intelligence, it contrasts with the adjective "false," which cardinal stereotypes women by stating: "Unequal nature to place women's hearts, so far upon the left side". The collective noun "women's" shows his generalisation of women and how he views women to all be the same. The preposition "left" shows that women are more dishonest and deceptive and that women are most likely to lie. This also reflects the Ideology of the Jacobean society of the generalisation of women being weak. When the Duchess refuses to follow orders from the Cardinal and Ferdinand, he threatens that "the Marriage night/ is the entrance into some prison". Although it can be argued that he is protective over his sister and whom she marries, it was expected of men to make decisions for women in Jacobean society. This not only exemplifies the restrictive nature (especially for women) of the Cardinal but also of society.

Webster presents the Cardinal as a manipulative character, this is shown through his manipulation of the other characters in the play. Webster, from the start of the play, establishes ...

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