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Women in The Duchess of Malfi and The Changeling Essay

Assignment id 1005171
Discipline Arts Entertainment
Assignment type Essay
Words 1540
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The Duchess in John Webster's tragic play, The Duchess of Malfi, and Beatrice Joanna in Thomas Middleton and William Rowley's The Changeling, are both powerful girls living in a male-dominated society. The two women attempt to free themselves from the subordination by choosing to love that they desire. Both pay with their lives with this opportunity at liberty, but differ in their moral conclusions regarding how they try it. Beatrice Joanna's plan entails murder, whereas the widowed Duchess merely lives the life she selects, then plots to leave Malfi. Both girls are forced in their activities, but, whereas Beatrice Joanna is Machiavellian in her actions, the Duchess is absolutely superior. Webster based his play on a real life 16th Century scandal in which a widowed Duchess remarried for love and did so beneath her class. The widowed Duchess had particular advantages and freedoms which the unmarried and younger Beatrice at The Changeling did not. The Duchess had considerable wealth and independence, and she need not respond to your father or a husband. She no longer had the weight of protecting her virginity and also the stigma attached when it had been lost. Beatrice, on the other hand, had little sensual freedom, and she needed to answer to her dad and into the man to whom she had been engaged. However a the Duchess, and Beatrice were doomed to topic to a patriarchal and male-dominated society. Upon her capture the Duchess admits: "I am Duchess of Malfi still" (4.2.141). She's a duchess just in name. In the end in both tragedies, it's the men --fathers, brothers, and suitors, along with the Church--who rule by bodily force and from legislation. Moreover, both women are driven by their own passions and farther choose to defy society by attempting to enjoy who...

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