On September 28th I attended the Shakespeare play called The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster. This play was presented by the American Shakespeare Center. The readings this week that related to the play was “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, “Ode to American English” by Barbara Hamby, and “Suburban” by John Ciardi. Each of these readings and the play showed me that I shouldn’t take life for granted and never let anyone bring me down.
The “Ode to American English” by Barbara Hamby and The Duchess of Malfi relate to one another because they both have characters that are not satisfied with their own lives. In the play the Duchess does not agree with her brothers when they advise her to not get married. Instead she ends up having a secret marriage and hides her pregnancies as well. She didn’t believe that she should follow her family beliefs and she went behind their backs and lived the way she wanted. In the “Ode to American English” the speaker misses America and is not happy living in Paris. She misses all of the American traditions that are nowhere near what Paris has to offer. For example the speaker says “Oh, the English know their delphiniums,/ but what about doowop, donuts, Dick Tracey, Tricky Dick?/ with their elegant Oxfordian accents, how could they/ understand my yearning for the hotrod, hotdog, hot flash/ vocabulary of the U.S. of A.” Throughout the poem the speaker misses everything about America and is not satisfied with her current life. The difference between the play and this poem was that in the play the Duchess lived the life she wanted without anyone knowing for a while. Although the Duchess ends up getting murdered by her brother’s people, I think she didn’t regret a thing. When she was strangled she said, “I forgive you”. This shows that she died in peace without any guilt for betraying her family and any anger towards them. This teaches us readers that we shouldn’t go on through life with regrets and grudges. We should take risks and live life to the fullest even if that means going against the beliefs of the people you love.
The “Suburban” by John Ciardi is about how the speaker is accused of his dog going the bathroom on Mrs. Friar’s flowers next door. Even though his dog is innocent because he was away all weekend the speaker does what we expect him not to do, which is pick the wastes up anyways. This is an example of irony because the readers did not think he would do that. He shows us that he could be the bigger person and clean it up even though it isn’t his dog. This relates back to the Duchess of Malfi because during the play Bosola, a former soldier for the Duchess’s elder brother Cardinal, has just been freed from jail for killing at the command of the Cardinal. Although the Cardinal never admitted his debt to Bosola, he still went back to work for him to spy on the Duchess. Even though he was the reason why he went to prison he still was forgiving after he got out and went to work for him again. Both the play and poem show that you should be open to all people, not hold a grudge and always stay positive in life. This showed me that I shouldn’t take little things in life so seriously and that I should always focus on the positive things, not dwell on the negative.
The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe is very similar to the Duchess of Malfi because both consist of the same thing, revenge. The character in the Cask of Amontillado’s goal was to seek revenge because of the thousand injuries. Throughout the carnival he is plotting for revenge and never looks back. He was so unforgiving that all he wanted to do was get Fortunato back. In the Duchess of Malfi the Duchess secretly marries Antonio, which her brothers advise her not to do. When Ferdinand finds out years later after she has had three kids he goes on a rage. No one could stop him he tells his sister that he can’t even look at her anymore. At this point the brothers still don’t know who the husband is so the Duchess exiles him secretly so that they couldn’t find him. In the end the brothers find out that it was Antonio and kill him, the duchess, their 2 youngest children and Bosola because he ends up defending the Duchess. The two brothers end up dying in the fight as well. The Cask of Amontillado and the Duchess of Malfi both show that you should not live your life by seeking revenge because it always ends badly for everyone. It teaches the audience that we should be more forgiving by letting go from the past and not go through life by trying to get back at another person.
The Duchess of Malfi overall has taught me a lot about myself. It made me realize how lucky I am to have a family that will be there for me no matter what. If I make a mistake or do something that they do not approve of I know that in the end they will always have my back and stick by me until the end. They are always there for me whenever I need them. This play showed me that other families are not that lucky and that I should never take mine for granted.