WOMAN SUFFERING IN JOHN WEBSTER’S DUCHESS OF MALFI
John Webster is recognize one of the major figures of Jacobean drama. The dates
1580â€“1625 given for his birth and death are doubtful inferences, about which the best that can be
said is that no known facts contradict them.
John Webster dramaThe Duchess of Malfi was published in 1623. The Duchess of
Malfi ‘sis a Macabre, tragic play written by the English dramatist John Webster in
1612. It was first performed privately at the Black friars theatre, then later to a larger
audience at The Globe, in 1613.
In Elizabethan age the roles of women in society were very limited. The Elizabethans had
very clear view of men and women, and in general men were expected to be the jobholders and
women to be housewives and mothers. Childbearing was considered a great faith to women, as
children were seen as blessings from God, and Tudor women took great pride in being mothers.
Elizabethan society was paternal, meaning that men were considered to be the leaders and
women’s secondary. It was believed that women always needed someone to look after them. If
they were married, their husband was familiar to look after them. If they were single, then their
father, brother or another male relative was expected to take responsibility of them. And after
husband death 25% and 30% of widows remarry, generally in the first year of their widowhood.
For widowers, especially those with young children, the percentage is even higher. The widow’s
third and any other family is her property for life, and returns to the estate at her death, unless she
marries. Then she can take it with her into the new marriage. Widow’s with property of their own
are more in demand for remarriage during times when land is scarce or expensive to come by.
Otherwise, a wealthy widow is a desirable commodity. Not all widow are old, especially those
who married much older men as a second or third wife. Webster’s plays, especiallyThe Duchess
of Malfi, provoke an inquiry into the position and role of women in Jacobean society. Nick stone
states that the primary motive of English aristocrats, in making matrimonial alliances, was the
desire to align their family with another of a similar social position. Deprived of the right of making
their own choice, women, and, to an extent, even young men were pawns in the negotiation of
marriage-alliances. However, women often resisted such enforced marriages
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