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The Duchess of Malfi

John Webster

Book Overview: 

John Webster's bloody Jacobean tragedy exposes the decadence of the Italian court. The virtuous Duchess of Malfi, a young widow, secretly marries her steward Antonio, and is subsequently persecuted by her brothers: the sexually obsessed and eventually mad Ferdinand, and the corrupt Cardinal.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Would often reason thus. DUCHESS. Pray, let 's hear it. ANTONIO. Say a man never marry, nor have children, What takes that from him? Only the bare name Of being a father, or the weak delight To see the little wanton ride a-cock-horse Upon a painted stick, or hear him chatter Like a taught starling. DUCHESS. Fie, fie, what 's all this? One of your eyes is blood-shot; use my ring to 't. They say 'tis very sovereign. 'Twas my wedding-ring, And I did vow never to part with it But to my second husband. ANTONIO. You have parted with it now. DUCHESS. Yes, to help your eye-sight. ANTONIO. You have made me stark blind. DUCHESS. How? ANTONIO. There is a saucy and ambitious devil Is dancing in this circle. DUCHESS. Remove him. ANTONIO. How? DUCHESS. There needs small conjuration, when your finger May do it: thus. Is it fit? [She puts the r. . . Read More