NAME: NNAMANI MARY CHINENYE
REG. NO.: 2015/200036
DEPARTMENT: ENGLISH AND LITERARY STUDIES
COURSE: NEO-CLASSICAL AND RESTORATION LITERATURE (ELS 214)
Compare and Contrast John Webster’s “The Duchess of Malfi” and Aphra Behn’s “The Rover” as a Jacobean Revenge Tragedy and a Restoration Comedy Respectively.
Both plays contain violence, plotting against another character and mostly it contains the elements of revenge tragedy. Some characteristics that should be notified in the two plays is that there should be desire for revenge and also that of murder. Murder which takes the part of Act 4&5 is shown between the two villains in the play (the Duchess of Malfi) by Ferdinand and Cardinal. Cardinal employs Bosola to commit series of murder so does Ferdinand also plot to kill his sister (the Duchess) including her children. In the “Rover” we find the case of Lucetta and Blunt a bit complicating. During the play, he believes himself in love with Lucetta, a prostitute who tricks him out of his clothes and money with the help of her pimp (Sanchor) and her lover (Philippo). Humiliated and naked, Blunt attempts to revenge himself on the female sex by beating and trying to rape Florinda whom he thought was one of the whores. His act here is that of violence. But upon learning that she is noble birth and Belvile’s beloved, begs for forgiveness.
Concerning Romantic comedy in both plays, order is being restored at the end. In the “Rovers”, Florinda and Belvile finally get married, and Hellena and Willmore commit to marry one another even after the whole controversy between the three (Hellena, Angellica, and Willmore). While in the “Duchess of Malfi”. Though the play is mostly overwrought with evil, it does end on a hopeful note. One member of the Duchess’ family survives, Antonio’s oldest son.
In differentiating or contrasting both plays, the Rover is a Restoration Comedy while the Duchess of Malfi is a full Tragic play. The complexity of some characters, particularly Bosola and the Duchess, and Webster’s poetic language, ensure that the Duchess of Malfi is considered among the greatest tragedies of English Renaissance. Comedy as a genre is not found in the Duchess of Malfi. We find the scene between Lucetta and Blunt as a comedy in the Rovers and the role of Bosola, Ferdinand and Cardinal as an act filled with evil deeds. The two plays can be differentiated by the role of each character. We find disguise wholesomely in the Rovers and disguise does not take any effect in the Duchess of Malfi. While the Duchess of Malfi is filled with murder and blood shedding, we find the Rovers more romantic and less horrific.