“The Duchess of Malfi”

Read the passage below from John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi carefully several times. Write an essay of 1,500 words in continuous prose on the passage. You should consider the following: 1. Why the passage is important 2. The distinctive features of its language 3. Two ways in which the distinctive features of the language could be translated into performance THE DUCHESS OF MALFI DUCHESS Peace, it affrights not me. 172 BOSOLA I am the common bellman, That usually is sent to condemned persons The night before they suffer. DUCHESS Even now thou said’st Thou wast a tomb-maker. BOSOLA ‘Twas to bring you 175 By degrees to mortification. Listen: Rings the bell. Hark now everything is still The screech owl and the whistler shrill Call upon our dame, aloud, And bid her quickly don her shroud. 180 Much you had of land and rent, Your length in clay’s now competent; A long war disturbed your mind, Here your perfect peace is signed. Of what is’t fools make such vain keeping? 185 Sin their conception, their birth, weeping; Their life a general mist of error, Their death a hideous storm of terror. Strew your hair with powders sweet, Don clean linen, bathe your feet, 190 And, the foul fiend more to check, A crucifix let bless your neck. ’Tis now full tide ’tween night and day, End your groan and come away. CARIOLA Hence villains, tyrants, murderers! Alas, 195 What will you do with my lady? Call for help! DUCHESS To whom? To our next neighbours? They are mad folks. BOSOLA Remove that noise. EXECUTIONERS seize CARIOLA, who struggles. DUCHESS Farewell Cariola, In my last will I have not much to give: A many hungry guests have fed upon me, 200 Thine will be a poor reversion. CARIOLA I will die with her. DUCHESS I pray thee look thou giv’st my little boy Some syrup for his cold, and let the girl Say her prayers ere she sleep. EXECUTIONERS force CARIOLA off. Now what you please: 205 What death? BOSOLA Strangling. Here are your executioners. DUCHESS I forgive them. The apoplexy, catarrh, or cough o’th’lungs Would do as much as they do. BOSOLA Doth not death fright you? DUCHESS Who would be afraid on’t, 210 Knowing to meet such excellent company In th’other world? BOSOLA Yet, methinks, The manner of your death should much afflict you: This cord should terrify you? DUCHESS Not a whit. What would it pleasure me to have my throat cut 215 With diamonds, or to be smothered With cassia, or to be shot to death with pearls? I know death hath ten thousand several doors For men to take their exits; and ’tis found They go on such strange geometrical hinges, 200 You may open them both ways – any way, for heaven’ sake, So I were out of your whispering. Tell my brothers That I perceive death, now I am well awake, Best gift is they can give, or I can take. I would fain put off my last woman’s fault, 225 I’d not be tedious to you. EXECUTIONER We are ready. DUCHESS Dispose my breath how please you, but my body Bestow upon my women: will you? EXECUTIONER Yes. DUCHESS Pull, and pull strongly, for your able strength Must pull down heaven upon me – 230 Yet stay, heaven gates are not so highly arched As princes’ palaces: they that enter there Must go upon their knees. (Kneels) Come violent death, Serve for mandragora, to make me sleep. Go tell my brothers when I am laid out, 235 They then may feed in quiet.

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