N.T. Embe's Reviews > The Duchess of Malfi

The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster
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's review
Mar 14, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: education
Recommended to N.T. by: Survey of English Literature (Class)
Recommended for: People who like pointless nonsense and mother-flippin' assholes. JERKS.


My God. My brain hurts.


**Also just a forerunner: Everything after this will be going full tilt into spoilers. So if you don't want to see them, skip ahead to where the bold asterisks mark the continuation spot please!**

I read this play and I sit there and I'm like:


And no, seriously. It's all bull. The entire story is about a woman who has been recently widowed and her two high ranking brothers. One is a prince, the other a cardinal. So they're both pretty high up there in terms of social status. But they're both corrupt as the devil. And the one brother, Ferdinand, is hell-bent on never letting his sister remarry. Why?

I WISH I KNEW!!!! D8<<<

They spew some crap about reputation in there and not soiling your social status, but the Duchess (our main character) doesn't listen to them. She's fallen in love with a man, and so she marries him posthaste and in secret, soon having three children by him. Unfortunately the brothers find out and the one goes batshit crazy and tries to kill her, her kids, her husband, exiles her from the country, takes all her fortune--AND SUCCEEDS.

NO. No he's NOT. THEN, he conveniently goes insane... INSANE?! And he pretends to be a werewolf saying that they just don't know that he is because his fur is on the INSIDE of his skin and they can take their swords and cut him up and they'll see it then!

........... ...wait what?

To top it off, in the meanwhile his brother is going murder-happy too! And in the end just about everyone.... DIES. )8< So I'm sitting here, left thinking, "...so you did this all... for... reputation... Even though your sister MARRIED, THEN had kids, and was living a private, happy life, with NO infidelity or outrageous lewd and crazy schemes! But no. Apparently marrying--someone who the entire country totally loved and supported by the way--was BAAAAD for her. And because she tries to hide this secret husband's identity they were like, LE GASP. U NO TELL US WHO DA DADDY IS, DEN WE TEENK U A WHORE!" -_- ...my good God in Heaven, spare me.

**Spoilers end here.**

I cannot believe that I just toiled through a play, which, for the first half was dull to begin with, where nothing at all of import happened besides-- "You can't get married!" "I already am married!" "I won't stand for it!" "Well it's already happened so what are you going to do? I even have three children!" "Tell me who the father is!" "No!" --that. After that, all the vicious, unsupported, cruel, monstrous actions that the characters commit don't elicit a feeling of sorrow or despair like a tragedy is supposed to. This "tragic" play only made me angry. Watching the injustice of completely innocent characters being slowly and crudely destroyed is a pastime I can't stomach! I didn't even CARE for the characters that much! They were there for me, yeah, but they weren't even people I would consider dwelling on. Nothing interested me about them! They didn't catch my attention or my mind. But seeing even people who I don't care about being dragged down into the dirt and violently torn apart bit by bloody, vile, bit is too much for me! I'm not the type of person to just sit there and read about these poor people suffering, suffering things worse than death! And all for what? FOR WHAT? Because some GUY didn't LIKE it? THAT'S IT? That's it?!

You can be the most heartless bastard, and still go stark-raving mad watching the absolute shit that these brothers did to their sister! Their SISTER. It's not like she was even a wife or some woman in the court--their SISTER! And they did such things to her!!

What kind of BROTHERS are you?!

I have no brothers, but I was raised close to my father, and I'm the firstborn. When you're put into the man's shoes in the house, and you have younger sisters to take care of, you would do anything to protect them, to make sure they're safe, to assuage all their fears and to see them truly, truly happy. These men, the Cardinal and Ferdinand, are monsters.

My God. Just reading this play made me feel dirty, made me sick and disgusted. I feel like I've been covered in grime and slimy filth. UGH. I feel like I need to take a shower.

The storyline aside, I've got more problems with this, and I'm only going to mention them in brief. One, the writing was tedious. Nothing happens, so you're dragging your feet through the play. Two, it was hard to pick up on meanings and what was going on sometimes. Being written in a more distant time period is no excuse. You can still write and make it so that people can follow along. But maybe in part because it was uninteresting, following along was made that much harder. Three, on the subject of time periods, dude. You're writing about a time period a century before your own. Thanks to footnotes, I get to hear about ALL the oblique references you've made throughout your play to your own time period. ...dude. That's not even worth considering for value. If you're writing about a certain time period, write accurately for that time period. Duh? Geez, give it to the guy to prove he's a bad writer in all aspects, why don'tcha.

Mind you, that last comment comes off as a little blunt. He has his skillful moments, and there are some parts where I happily take a quote and say, "This. This is worthwhile. This is good." But the moments are too sparse for a story so bland. If it wasn't for the fact that I was getting increasingly pissed off as the tale continued, I probably would have been bored out of my wits come the end of the play.

All in all, I didn't like it, though that should be pretty obvious. Was it atrocious and downright incomprehensible or indigestible? No. You can get through it. It's under a hundred pages in most versions, so it's not monstrous long. But I almost feel like just ushering you away from this play altogether. Maybe if you like this sort of thing, or you're a tragedy or play buff, you might see some worth in it. But for those who want to spare it a cursory glance? Let me save you the time. Just drop it. Move on. Don't buy it--save your money. You can probably Google it online if you tried and it'll be up there somewhere. But really? Don't waste your time on it. There are far better things for you to read out there. This? This was just absolutely pointless. You don't wanna go here.

And yes, that's my final answer. Done!
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Reading Progress

March 14, 2012 – Started Reading
March 14, 2012 – Shelved
March 14, 2012 –
page 0
0.0% "So, again the page count is off, but eh~ Seventy-three to ninety is close enough I guess. Onwards I guess. *Reads*"
March 14, 2012 –
page 4
4.44% "Figures, a few pages in and the net is there. "Laugh when I laugh. Pretend not to think something is funny if it's too crude and therefore should be thought above your station." Bah! Things like this irk me. To come low even in some cases is a humbling sign, and doesn't ruin the high esteem the people have for you."
March 14, 2012 –
page 8
8.89% "So both the brothers in power seem like corrupt jerks. At the very least, I dislike the Cardinal already immensely. -3- Ferdinand doesn't seem any better. Although I do like Antonio. And Delio doesn't seem too bad. Well, we'll just have to see. This -is- a tragedy after all~ *Reads on*"
March 14, 2012 –
page 12
13.33% ""The misery of us that are born great! We are forced to woo, because none dare woo us; and as a tyrant doubles with his words and fearfully equivocates, so we are forced to express our violent passions in riddles and in dreams, and leave the path of simple virtue, which was never made to seem the thing it is not." <-- I am in LOVE with this quote. I feel like... it represents most of what I've felt in life."
March 14, 2012 –
page 14
15.56% "Personally I think the Duchess made a GOOD choice in Antonio. I don't see what the problem is."
March 15, 2012 –
page 27
30.0% "...well. I think they took that well! 8D *Shot* XP Either way, I still think it's odd that Ferdinand more than even his other brother is flipping out so obscenely over this. There's no real reason given that can support his overreactions. Why is he so upset? Okay, so they're nobility. Is this all about controlling her then? Or what? I just keep feeling there's either something more, or something's missing."
March 15, 2012 –
page 29
32.22% "And now he's got an unauthorized key into her bedroom?! ...Ferdinand, you're making me think what I was already suspecting before REALLY loud and clear now! So just because I can't hold it back anymore, I'm gonna say what EVERYONE's thinking... INCEST!!!!!!!!!!!"
March 15, 2012 –
page 37
41.11% "=3= ...I have no idea what's going on. Is he gonna tell everything to Ferdinand or is he not? BAH. LANGUAGE, you confuse me! Por que we don't have more footnotes?! DX"
March 15, 2012 –
page 39
43.33% "Well I guess they DID find out. *Shrugs* Whatever then. -3- *Keeps reading; only because she has to*"
March 15, 2012 –
page 48
53.33% "Bosola is a damned coward. Ferdinand is an arrogant, self-praising BASTARD. He deserves to have every extremity cut off of him and lastly his upper head, for the tortures he puts upon his sister! And for WHAT?! GOD DAMN HIM! He does it for NO PERCEPTIBLE REASON! You egotistical ASSHOLE, Ferdinand! I hope to God your dick gets cut off for the injustices you're pulling!!!!"
March 15, 2012 –
page 54
60.0% "...they MURDERED her. AND her children! ......WHY?! Good God in Heaven, I ask only ONE question, and that is for what REASON they DID these things?! For pride?! For name?! Over REPUTATION?! Can you be that THICK and SHALLOW?! ...Ferdinand, you... you! There are no WORDS to express the ANGER I feel right now!!!!!!!!!!! ARG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
March 15, 2012 –
page 55
March 15, 2012 –
page 57
63.33% "...oh... *Seems even sadder now than when she was killed* ...this... is worse... because for a moment there... I had hope."
March 15, 2012 –
page 66
73.33% "...you poisoned a book... to kill her. .......WHAT POPPYCOCK IS THIS?! D8<"
March 15, 2012 –
page 68
75.56% "O_o ...the echo isn't repeating -exactly- what they say. Some of the words are different. ............uhhhh. >__> GAIZ. AH TEENK IT'S ALIVE."
March 15, 2012 –
page 71
78.89% ""I will not imitate things glorious, no more than base; I'll be mine own example." -- Sad it's come to it so late. Bosola, you -are- a coward and a weak man."
March 15, 2012 –
page 73
81.11% "DONE. FINALLY. This play is OVER. REVIEW NOW. *RUNS TO*"
March 15, 2012 – Finished Reading
May 3, 2012 – Shelved as: education

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Rain (new)


Oh my God! This is one of the funniest, best, most entertaining reviews I have read in a long time. I am sorry you felt that you wasted your time and the play was utter shit but I must say that it at least proved to entertain us whilst you were writing this. X3 I know. I'm horrible but this was so good~ I loved it!

I, however, will stay away from this garbage. I do not want to put myself in a position where I might actually burn a book. -_-"

message 2: by N.T. (new) - rated it 1 star


Mansi Sharma God, this is great! Your review is actually the BEST thing to come out of the play! This was SO good! XD

message 4: by N.T. (new) - rated it 1 star

N.T. Embe Mansi wrote: "God, this is great! Your review is actually the BEST thing to come out of the play! This was SO good! XD"

*Laughs!* I'm glad that you enjoyed it so much!! XD *Tips imaginary top hat and bows* Glad to be of service! >W<

message 5: by Utpala (new)

Utpala HAHAHA! Perfect Review! It was awsome....loved it. After reading DOM as a part of our syllabus was a torcher man! The biggest confusion was...if the Duchess already had a son, why did the brothers want to kill her and her children :\....GREAT JOB! HATS OFF!

message 6: by N.T. (new) - rated it 1 star

N.T. Embe Utpala wrote: "HAHAHA! Perfect Review! It was awsome....loved it. After reading DOM as a part of our syllabus was a torcher man! The biggest confusion was...if the Duchess already had a son, why did the brothers ..."

*Laughs* Thank you, thank you! XD I'm that that my review is perpetually enjoyable! And YES. Good GOD I didn't understand ANY of it! The brothers just made no sense at all. XP

message 7: by Bu (new)


message 8: by N.T. (new) - rated it 1 star

N.T. Embe María of Spain wrote: "OH


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