Symbols in The Duchess of Malfi

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  • Symbols in 'The Duchess of Malfi'
    • poison
      • "Will poison all his goodness for I'll tell you, if too immoderate sleep be truly said to be inward rust unto the soul"
        • 1.1  Antonio talks of Bosola's malcontent mission
      • {she kisses the book} now you shall never utter it. Thy curiosity hath undone thee- thou'rst poisoned with that book"
        • 5.2 Julia killed by the corriupt Cardinal as she dies via the bible.
    • animals & birds
      • "Blackbirds fatten best in hard weather- why not I, in these dog days?"
        • 1.1 Bosola as the malcontent searching for prosperity. rhetorical q suggests desperation for status
      • "I would hang on their ears like a horse leech till I were full"
        • 1.1 Bosola as malcontent - gruesome imagery suggesting him being numb to doing dirty work
    • cross
      • "Pull, and pull strongly, for your able strength"
        • 4.2 the duchess is killed by strangulation. the two executions on either side and her on her knwes creates a cross image
          • critic  Celia Daileader: ‘a female Christ’
    • disease
      • "but if't chance some cursed example poison't near the head, death and diseased through the whole land spread."-
        • 1.1 Antonio talking about the corrupted governance of Italy compared to France
      • "he and his brothers are  like plum trees that grow crooked over standing pools."
        • 1.1 Bosola about Ferdinand and Cardinal and their governance similie suggests the luxurious plums flourish on the suffering and diseas that the flack of flow 9guidence) the standing pools ahve gotten
    • blood
      • This is flesh and blood, sir;'Tis not the figure, cut in alabaster,Kneels at my husband's tomb.
        • 1.3 the duchess devoting herself to Antonio
    • violent acts off stage
      • "A politician is the devil's quilted anvil: he fashions all sins on him and the blows are never heard."
        • 3.2 Bosola has just ot conformation of Duchess and Antonio's marriage which will satisfy the brothers
    • rings
      • "Who took the ring oftenest?"
        • 1.2 Ferdinand engaged in a jousting game- looking at it retrospectivly it has intense humour as the character Silvon answes "Antonio Bologna" suggesting he won the duchess over Ferdinand
      • "There is a saucy and ambitious devil is dncing in this circle."
        • 1.2 Antonio's status has been raised as he married above his class- acknowledgement that ambition is a disease (embodied by Bosola) melancholic humour
      • Cariola: "I will not die! I must not! I am contracted to a young gentleman! Executioner: gives her a noose "Here's your wedding ring."
        • 4.2 Cariola desperately seeks to get out of her death and the stage direction gives us intel on the link between love and death
      • DUCHESS' DIRECTIONS TO ANTONIO: 'sit down' '[she puts her ring upon his finger]' '[she kisses him]' '[embraces him]' it's clear she's giving orders to
        • With the Duchess' use of imperatives it's clear she's giving orders to Antonio. She is also the one to take action. In this, she has a lot of power.  evident in "forced to woo because none dare woo us"


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