In John Webster’s play “The Duchess of Malfi,” Basola is a Machiavellian villain who serves as a key antagonist in the plot. Basola is a man of cunning and deceit, who operates with a cold and calculating mindset. Throughout the play, he manipulates those around him for his own gain, often with ruthless and violent means.
At the start of the play, Basola is a disgraced courtier who has been banished from the Duke’s court. Despite his exile, Basola is a man of great ambition, and he sees an opportunity to further his own interests by becoming an informant for Ferdinand, the Duchess’s brother. Ferdinand, who is consumed with jealousy and paranoia, hires Basola to spy on his sister and report back to him on her activities.
Basola quickly proves himself to be a master manipulator, using his knowledge of the Duchess’s affairs to turn Ferdinand against her. He feeds Ferdinand’s paranoia with lies and half-truths, convincing him that the Duchess is planning to marry and have children with her steward, Antonio. Basola also reveals to Ferdinand that the Duchess has secretly married Antonio, which further inflames Ferdinand’s jealousy and anger.
Throughout the play, Basola’s actions become increasingly ruthless and violent. He convinces Ferdinand to hire assassins to kill Antonio, and even participates in the murder himself. Basola also orchestrates the poisoning of the Duchess’s maid, Cariola, in order to prevent her from revealing the truth about the Duchess’s marriage.
Despite his ruthless actions, Basola is not without his own motives and desires. He is motivated by a desire for revenge against the court that exiled him, as well as a desire for power and wealth. Basola sees an opportunity to rise in the ranks of Ferdinand’s court by proving his loyalty and usefulness, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals.
In many ways, Basola embodies the principles of Machiavellianism. Machiavellianism is a term used to describe a philosophy or mindset that prioritizes self-interest, manipulation, and deception over traditional moral values. Basola operates with a Machiavellian mindset, using his cunning and deceit to achieve his own ends. He is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals, regardless of the consequences for others.
Basola’s character is also defined by his sense of detachment and lack of empathy. He is a cold and calculating figure, who sees those around him as pawns in his own game of power and influence. He is unmoved by the suffering and death of others, and is willing to sacrifice anyone who stands in his way.
In conclusion, Basola is a Machiavellian villain in “The Duchess of Malfi,” a master manipulator who uses his cunning and deceit to achieve his own ends. He is motivated by a desire for power and revenge, and is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. Basola’s character is defined by his sense of detachment and lack of empathy, making him a formidable and dangerous antagonist in the play