Disease and Animal Imagery in "The Duchess of Malfi" Both Shakespeare and John Webster are well known for writing sometimes gory and very intense works of drama, but it is my argument here that Webster outdoes Shakespeare in his intense and violent imagery, especially in his most famous work The Duchess of Malfi. In this essay we will look especially at the strong disease and animal imagery that Webster uses in this play and show that he uses these images to show his theme of corruption which runs throughout the play.Images of disease and corruption seem to be included to set the basic theme of the whole play. We can see this because at the very beginning, in the first scene, this image is used in a speech by Antonio. We will find out that...The end:
....., Antonio looks back on some of the tragic events of this play but he also foreshadows his own soon destruction. He again compares the downfall of human kingdoms (churches and cities) to bodies with deadly diseases, which can result in their death. Once again, Antonio is shown as a character with insight and clarity, just like he was at the very beginning. One of the basic themes of the play has been the role of corruption and disease, and this theme is reinforced again at the end, and helps the entire drama of The Duchess of Malfi keep a consistent and obvious tone from beginning to end. Work Cited Webster, John. The Duchess of Malfi. In W.H. Abrams, Gen. Ed., The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. I. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005.