The Duchess of Malfi

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The Duchess of Malfi Act 2, Scene 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Bosola enters. He says that there is now no question that the Duchess is pregnant. The Old Lady enters, and Bosola starts making fun of her again, this time commenting on the stereotype that women are vain. She exits, and Antonio, Delio, Roderigo, and Grisolan enter.
Bosola makes fun of the Old Lady again, who seems to take abuse from Bosola every time she walks on stage. While Bosola is paid to be cruel to the Duchess, his comments to the Old Lady suggest that his nature might simply be sour.
Themes
Politics and Corruption Theme Icon
Guilt, Death, and Suffering Theme Icon
Antonio instructs them to shut the gates and call all of the officers. Everyone is in such chaos that while Bosola privately wonders if the apricots were in fact somehow poisoned without his knowledge. A servant reveals that a Swiss guard had entered the Duchess’s bedchamber and robbed her. In response to this robbery, Antonio says that the Duchess wants each officer to be locked in his chamber and have the keys to their chests given to her. He says that she is very sick.
Antonio responds to the situation with trickery of his own. In addition to claiming that the Duchess has been poisoned in order to cover for her reaction to the apricots, he uses a made-up robbery as an excuse to lock everyone in their rooms and thereby give the Duchess the privacy they need to hide the fact that she is giving birth. The trick is so convincing that Bosola himself even wonders if he might have actually accidentally poisoned the Duchess with the apricots rather than just caused her to go into labor.
Themes
Love and Male Authority Theme Icon
Guilt, Death, and Suffering Theme Icon
After everyone else exits, Delio asks Antonio how the Duchess is doing. Antonio responds that she’s experiencing pain and fear, and he sends Delio to Rome. Antonio says he fears he’s in danger, but Delio reassures him that this perceived danger is just the shadow of his fear, not a true threat. Delio comments that humans are very superstitious, and he blesses Antonio as a father. Delio then exits as Cariola enters and informs Antonio that he has had a son. Antonio decides to cast his son’s horoscope right away.
Far from a joyous occasion, the birth of Antonio and the Duchess’s first child is marked by suffering and fear. Antonio is terrified that his life is in danger, but Delio reassures him, saying that inward fears seem to manifest as outward dangers. He attributes this phenomenon to human superstition. It’s with some irony, then, that Antonio soon decides to cast his newborn son’s horoscope.
Themes
Love and Male Authority Theme Icon
Guilt, Death, and Suffering Theme Icon