Analysis of the third scene (lines 1-47), Act I
"The Duchess Of Malfi" is a tragedy divided into five acts, each one subdivided in several scenes; the first act, which consists of three scenes, is really crowded and introduces the main and secondary characters. In particular, the third scene is very significant because the premises for the plot's development are set in it. The Duchess' brothers, Ferdinand and the Cardinal, warn her not to remarry probably because they want to preserve their high blood and to inherit her properties. But their warning sounds more like a threat that begins when Ferdinand says "You are a widow" (line2) and ends with "You are my sister" (line 37). At the beginning of the scene the stage image is centred on the figure of Ferdinand, who is the link with the precedent scene and is the only one remained in the scene after the exit of Bosola, then The Duchess and the Cardinal enter followed by Cariola, who is the Duchess' servant; so the group of three people of the central scene is reconstructed inside the chamber of presence, where the revels have just finished. This stage configuration of characters (three plus one) is present until line 35, when the Cardinal goes out of the scene. The first words that Ferdinand addresses to his sister put in evidence she is a widow; the Cardinal reminds her the importance of her family's high blood and honour trying to influence her conscience and future behaviour: his ides is that if she doesn't get married the patrimony would be in more sure hands without the pollution of blood in the family. The Duchess assures them that she will never marry, yet they don't trust her because they assert that most widows promise the same thing but their impulse doesn't last long. Thus, Ferdinand and the Cardinal warn her that her darkest actions and privatest thoughts will come to light and they make her aware that is caught she would die: Such weddings may more properly be said to be executed than...
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