The Duchess of Malfi Summary The play begins at the Duchess of Malfi\u2019s palace in Amalfi. Antonio, the Duchess\u2019s steward, has just returned from the French court to Amalfi, where his friend and confidant Delio greets him. Delio asks what Antonio\u00a0considered\u00a0his time in France, and Antonio responds that the French king is ruling well by ridding himself of flatterers and by treating his court\u00a0sort of a\u00a0fountain; good flows throughout the land when\u00a0it's\u00a0properly functioning, but if the fountain is poisoned near\u00a0the top, death and disease flow to the country. The king\u00a0is additionally\u00a0surrounded by the council\u00a0and other people\u00a0who are unafraid to warn him and speak their minds. Antonio\u2019s opening praise of the French court sets up a comparison to the Italian court, which contemporary audiences would have\u00a0related to\u00a0sophisticated corruption.\u00a0a perfect\u00a0court, he says, should spread goodness throughout\u00a0a rustic, but the structure\u00a0of the state\u00a0is\u00a0such\u00a0naturally\u00a0it's\u00a0vulnerable to\u00a0poisoning by way of corruption or abuse of power. From the very start of the play, we are told that death and suffering have the potential to cascade downward from\u00a0the top\u00a0of a government. Active Themes Politics and Corruption Theme Icon Guilt, Death, and Suffering Theme Icon Class Theme Icon Related Quotes with Explanations Blue quotation bubble icon linking to\u00a0a crucial\u00a0quote\u00a0related to\u00a0this summary and analysis. Antonio changes\u00a0the topic\u00a0as he sees Bosola, a former employee of the Cardinal and known murderer, entering\u00a0the space. Antonio then describes Bosola as\u00a0a person\u00a0who satirizes and speaks against the court, but only because he lacks the wealth and power\u00a0to really\u00a0participate. After\u00a0a couple of\u00a0moments the Cardinal enters, and Delio and Antonio stand aside while the Cardinal and Bosola talk. Bosola apparently takes a critical position in\u00a0reference to\u00a0government and courtly affairs, but Antonio believes\u00a0this is often\u00a0only the case because Bosola lacks\u00a0the cash\u00a0to be a courtier or a noble. Active Themes Guilt, Death, and Suffering Theme Icon Class Theme Icon Bosola tries\u00a0to speak\u00a0to the Cardinal, but the Cardinal is extremely dismissive. Bosola believes he deserves better treatment, as he was formerly employed by the Cardinal and ended up serving a sentence\u00a0within the\u00a0galleys (forced labor whose severity is second only to the death sentence) while in his employment. The Cardinal dismisses Bosola and exits,\u00a0then\u00a0Antonio and Delio approach. The implication here (one\u00a0that's\u00a0reinforced later) is that the Cardinal ordered Bosola to commit the murder that landed him\u00a0within the\u00a0galleys.\u00a0this is often\u00a0an early indication that the Cardinal is corrupt, though he tries to preserve his image by ignoring and not associating with Bosola. Active Themes Politics and Corruption Theme Icon Guilt, Death, and Suffering Theme Icon Religion and Sin Theme Icon Class Theme Icon Related Quotes with Explanations Blue quotation bubble icon linking to\u00a0a crucial\u00a0quote\u00a0related to\u00a0this summary and analysis. Blue quotation bubble icon linking to\u00a0a crucial\u00a0quote\u00a0related to\u00a0this summary and analysis. Antonio asks Bosola what happened\u00a0within the\u00a0conversation, to which Bosola replies that the Cardinal and his brother are like plum trees rich with fruit, but only\u00a0ate up\u00a0by crows, magpies, and caterpillars. He says that he hopes to be\u00a0one among\u00a0their flatterers\u00a0in order that\u00a0he can reap\u00a0the advantages, advance his\u00a0social station,\u00a0then\u00a0leave. Bosola remarks that dogs and hawks get rewards after the battle, but soldiers only get slings and crutches. He compares places in court to hospital beds\u00a0then\u00a0exits. The Duchess of Malfi Analysis Malfi\u2019s court Malfi\u2019s court. Residence of the duchess of Malfi in Italy. Original set descriptions are sparse,\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0central importance of the setting\u00a0isn't\u00a0such a lot\u00a0in its physical nature as its function as a location where characters good (the duchess and her husband Antonio) and evil (Duke Ferdinand, the cardinal,\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0duchess\u2019s brothers) can meet and interact. Without it being specifically stated,\u00a0there's\u00a0a transparent\u00a0sense that this tragedy unfolds largely within walls which, by\u00a0the top\u00a0of the play,\u00a0became\u00a0the prison of the duchess.\u00a0because the\u00a0play unfolds\u00a0there's\u00a0increased emphasis on the themes of darkness\u00a0and lightweight,\u00a0resulting in greater use of lanterns.\u00a0the main\u00a0purpose of all the settings\u00a0during this\u00a0play is\u00a0to supply\u00a0a physical space where the characters can speak, for ultimately The Duchess of Malfi is about the failure of human relationships as shown\u00a0within the\u00a0disease of language itself. Ruined abbey Ruined abbey. Abandoned church that has been transformed into a fortification. When Antonio is lured to his death,\u00a0the foremost\u00a0notable feature of the place is its startling echo, which is so pervasive and realistic that the superstitious believe\u00a0it's\u00a0a spirit that speaks to the living. The echo catches and repeats ironic refrains of dialogue\u00a0which permit\u00a0Webster to underscore the inexorable fatality that has enmeshed the characters. Cardinal\u2019s residence Cardinal\u2019s residence. At the conclusion of the drama, language again becomes\u00a0an important part of\u00a0the physical setting\u00a0because the\u00a0cardinal strictly orders his supporters\u00a0to not\u00a0rush to his aid\u00a0regardless of\u00a0how loudly he might\u00a0involve\u00a0assistance.\u00a0because the\u00a0cardinal is killed to revenge the deaths of the duchess, her husband Antonio, and her children, his minions listen above the scene of the action but\u00a0don't\u00a0interfere until\u00a0it's\u00a0too late.\u00a0once more, language and action are fatally separated. The Renaissance The term \u201cRenaissance\u201d means \u201crebirth,\u201d\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0period\u00a0referred to as\u00a0the Renaissance was a time\u00a0of latest\u00a0beginnings in Europe, an emergence from\u00a0the center\u00a0Ages. The Renaissance brought with it new ways of\u00a0brooding about\u00a0science, religion, philosophy, and art. During\u00a0the sooner\u00a0medieval period, Europeans had come to\u00a0consider\u00a0themselves as insignificant creatures subject to and inferior to divine beings. When some Italian scholars began to read ancient Latin and Greek texts that had been ignored\u00a0for hundreds of years, they began\u00a0to seem\u00a0for tactics\u00a0to mix\u00a0contemporary Christian thought with the classical belief in human capabilities. This belief in\u00a0what's\u00a0now called Renaissance humanism drove\u00a0a replacement\u00a0passion for celebrating human endeavor and potential.\u00a0the perfect\u00a0\u201cRenaissance man\u201d would be talented in science, mathematics, poetry, art, and athletics. As an intellectual movement, the Renaissance touched every aspect of life. Science and exploration proliferated. Political theorists attempted\u00a0to use\u00a0the simplest\u00a0features of classical thought,\u00a0and none secular\u00a0reformers asserted the rights of the\u00a0commoner\u00a0to possess\u00a0direct access to Biblical texts. There was\u00a0a replacement\u00a0passion for reading classical literature\u00a0within the\u00a0original Greek and Latin and for incorporating\u00a0mythology\u00a0into literature and art. New forms emerged,\u00a0supported\u00a0classical forms\u00a0because the\u00a0revenge tragedy grew out of the study of Senecan tragedy. Literature, including drama, moved beyond its role as an outgrowth of the church and turned to stories that celebrated or decried human capabilities. Of course, there was no particular day on which\u00a0the center\u00a0Ages ended\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0Renaissance began. The transformation happened over\u00a0a few years\u00a0and\u00a0didn't\u00a0affect every country at\u00a0an equivalent\u00a0time. Generally, the Renaissance\u00a0is claimed\u00a0to possess\u00a0begun in Italy during the fourteenth century and\u00a0to possess\u00a0reached England\u00a0a few\u00a0centuries later.\u00a0the peak\u00a0of\u00a0the English\u00a0Renaissance was during the sixteenth century\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0beginning of the seventeenth. Webster's career comes at\u00a0the top\u00a0of\u00a0this era,\u00a0and therefore the\u00a0Duchess of Malfi shows many traces of its creation.