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Webster’s Geometry; or, the Irreducible Duchess

Benjamin Bertram    University of Southern Maine, USA    

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abstract

This study of geometry, gender, and skepticism in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi argues that the play leaves us in a hall of mirrors, a horror show of optical tricks, delusion, narcissism, and perspectivism from which there seems to be no escape, no masterpiece of God’s creation upholding reality beyond sensory images. In the absence of a transcendental referent, the Duchess’ willful and fearful journey «into the wilderness» – the life she leads as a result of her furtive marriage to her steward Antonio – becomes an alternative to both the public sphere mapped by divine patterns of order and – on the other extreme – the nihilistic, private court culture mapped by the ‘mad’ geometry of her brothers and their henchman Bosola. 

Published
Dec. 1, 2014
Language
IT