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Vous êtes ici : Accueil / À la Une / Actualité du département / Section Anglais / Parution : John Webster's "Dismal Tragedy": The Duchess of Malfi Reconsidered

Parution : John Webster's "Dismal Tragedy": The Duchess of Malfi Reconsidered

Sophie Chiari et Sophie Lemercier-Goddard (eds)

PUBP 2019 (300 pages), en lien avec le programme de l'agrégation en anglais. 

Secrets and lies, incest and madness, mental torture and brutal murders, apparitions and lycanthropy: there is little that The Duchess of Malfi, first performed in 1613-1614, shies away from, inflicting on its spectators a whirlwind of conflicting passions and emotions. John Webster's drama has been labelled as baroque, grotesque, mannerist, gothic or feminist. Against Bosola, the figure of the malcontent who also embodies the typical early modern overreacher, the Duchess stands as a symbol of female transgression before she is eventually crushed by evil and male power. Bloody sensationalism should however not eclipse what some critics have seen as a drama of knowledge.

In Delio's concluding speech, Webster's irony is at its peak when he encourages his audience to "make noble use / Of this great ruin" and seems to present the play as a vehicle for moral instruction, defining in a final twist an ethics based on the "integrity of life". A masterpiece of Jacobean theatre, The Duchess of Malfi reinvents the genre of the revenge tragedy and, beyond its multiple borrowings from other writers, it explores the construction of gender, the class structure of a changing society and the complex interlacing of desire, violence and cruel laughter.

Publié avec le soutien du Département LLCE ENS de Lyon, de l'IHRIM et du LabEx COMOD. 

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