“The Duchess of Malfi” is a play written by John Webster in the early 17th century that depicts a corrupt society and its moral decay. The play is a tragic tale that follows the life of the Duchess, a woman who defies social norms by marrying beneath her station and ultimately meets a violent end at the hands of her brothers.
The play’s portrayal of corruption is evident in the actions of its characters. The Duchess’s brothers, Ferdinand and the Cardinal, are both corrupt and self-serving. They seek to control their sister’s life and fortune for their own gain, and their actions ultimately lead to her downfall.
The society depicted in “The Duchess of Malfi” is one where power and wealth reign supreme, and morality is a mere afterthought. Characters such as Bosola, a hired assassin, and Julia, the Cardinal’s mistress, are willing to do whatever it takes to advance their own interests, regardless of the consequences.
Furthermore, the play highlights the corruption of the Church, as the Cardinal is depicted as a hypocritical and immoral figure who uses his position for personal gain. His illicit affair with Julia is a clear violation of his religious vows and further underscores the moral decay of the society in which they live.
In addition to these individual acts of corruption, the play also highlights the larger societal structures that perpetuate these injustices. The strict social hierarchy of the time, which placed a premium on titles and bloodlines, allowed individuals like the Duchess’s brothers to wield great power and influence without regard for the well-being of others.
Overall, “The Duchess of Malfi” serves as a stark portrayal of a society in which corruption and greed have become the norm. The play’s tragic ending serves as a warning of the dangers of unchecked ambition and power, and a reminder of the importance of moral integrity and compassion in the face of such forces.