Saturday, 24 November 2012

Book 73 of 2012: The Duchess of Malfi

This is the second book I've been studying for my course, there's no essay to write on this which means its 99.9% guaranteed to come up in the exam.

It's a story about marrying for love versus marrying who you're told to. The Duchess has been widowed and her brothers want to put her off of remarrying, mainly so they set her up with someone they choose. What they don't know is that she's going ahead and getting married to someone that she's chosen and he's far lower down the social ladder than her brothers.

When what The Duchess has done becomes clear her brothers start making plans to pretty much bump everyone off in true tragic fashion.

The edition we had to read was the Longman version. The play is on the right hand page and then on the left is a summary if what's happening that page, meanings and information about the words, pictures of performances, and any other extra notes as well. It makes it nice and easy to read, plus you feel like you've got all the information you need right there on the page, so there's less flipping back and forward or worrying about a separate study guide.

I followed the story quite well, helped partly by the notes which stopped me getting confused. I found this a bit more challenging than the Shakespeare, but the story was good, though I did kind of guess what was going to happen right at the beginning (and was proved right). It felt a little different because the action spanned several years, I'm used to plays taking place within a few days.

Of all the characters Ferdinand annoyed me most of all. I realise it was a different time, but seriously, what a jerk! It was weird that the Duchess was never given a name, it made it harder to see her as a real person, though I understand that it was done to emphasise her status.

I think Antonio and the Duchess made a cute couple. The book mentioned various different approaches that had been taken in productions and one apparently played the relationship as a marriage of convenience whereas another did it as a romance. Personally I didn't like the idea of it being done to annoy her brothers and avoid being married to someone they chose, I liked the little element of romance and by the end I felt really sorry for them and especially their son. :(

It's probably not the sort of thing that you'd pick up to read for fun, unless you're really interested in reading Renaissance plays :lol: but I'd recommend it if you're in the mood - now I'm just really wanting to watch Shakespeare in Love.

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