The Duchess of Malfi


John Webster

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The Duchess of Malfi Characters

The Duchess of Malfi

The Duchess, a young widow and the ruler of the Italian town of Amalfi, is the intelligent, kind, virtuous sister of the Cardinal and the twin of Duke Ferdinand. Her brothers have prohibited her… read analysis of The Duchess of Malfi

Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria

Duke Ferdinand is the brother of the Cardinal and the twin brother of the Duchess. He doesn’t want his widowed sister to remarry, in part because of his pride and his greed for her… read analysis of Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria

The Cardinal

The Cardinal is the brother of Duke Ferdinand and the Duchess. Though he is a religious figure, he is in fact just as immoral and despicable as his brother, facts made clear by his… read analysis of The Cardinal

Antonio Bologna

Antonio is the Duchess’s steward, and very capably runs the Duchess’s estate. Despite the fact that he is neither wealthy nor high-born, the Duchess considers him to be a “complete” man, and the two of… read analysis of Antonio Bologna

Daneil de Bosola

Bosola is the spy planted by Duke Ferdinand as the stable master at the Duchess’ estate. He is a man who is used to doing the dirty work for others: before the events of… read analysis of Daneil de Bosola
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Delio is Antonio’s friend and is of the same social class. Totally loyal, he is privy to Antonio and the Duchess’ secret marriage, and he looks after Antonio’s sole surviving son at the… read analysis of Delio


Julia is Castruccio’s wife and the Cardinal’s mistress. Julia is the play’s stereotypical fickle female, with constantly changing affections. Near the end of the play, she becomes enamored with Bosola, who then… read analysis of Julia
Minor Characters
Castruccio is an old Italian lord, and his name is a pun on the word castrated. This pun is furthered by the fact that Castruccio’s wife, Julia, is having an affair with the Cardinal.
Marquis of Pescara
A soldier and courtier in Ferdinand’s court. Of all the courtiers, he alone seems to have some sense of honor and independence of mind.
Count Malateste
A Roman courtier, friend of Ferdinand.
A courtier at Amalfi.
The Duchess’s waiting-maid. She is loyal to the Duchess throughout, and dies for it.
Old Lady
A courtier.
A courtier at Amalfi attending the Duchess.
A courtier at Amalfi attending the Duchess.
A Doctor to Ferdinand who diagnoses the Duke with the disease Lycanthropia.
Several insane people sent by Ferdinand to torment the Duchess, though she actually finds that they distract her from the torture of her thoughts that plague her when there is silence.
The executioners work for Ferdinand and carry out the murders of the Duchess, her children, and Cariola.
Witnesses to the banishment of the Duchess and Antonio.
Throughout the play there are several servants, some of whom are killed.
Though they are not named and do not speak, the Duchess’s three children appear on stage a number of times. The two younger children wind up murdered, but the oldest survives and under Delio’s care seems likely to inherit his mother’s wealth and lands.