The character of Antonio Bologna in The Duchess of Malfi from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

The Duchess of Malfi

Antonio Bologna Character Analysis

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 them secretly marry. He clearly reveres the Duchess – he is marrying for love, not just money. He is also knowledgeable about people: even early in the play he knows that Ferdinand and the Cardinal are duplicitous and murderous. Despite his knowledge of their characters, though, he proves entirely incapable of protecting his family from Ferdinand or the Cardinal. And while that failure seems to stem from his lower-class status and lack of political power of any sort, and while Antonio never seems anything less than morally good, his plan to sneak into the Cardinals home at the end of the play in order to try to convince the Cardinal to make amends also seems incredible naïve. During this effort, he is accidentally killed by Bosola, who mistakes Antonio for someone else.

Antonio Bologna Quotes in The Duchess of Malfi

The The Duchess of Malfi quotes below are all either spoken by Antonio Bologna or refer to Antonio Bologna. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Politics and Corruption Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of The Duchess of Malfi published in 2015.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

A prince's court
Is like a common fountain, whence should flow
Pure silver drops in general; but if't chance
Some cursed example poison't near the head,
Death and diseases through the whole land spread.
And what is't makes this blessèd government
But a most provident council, who dare freely
Inform him the corruption of the times.

Related Characters: Antonio Bologna (speaker), Delio
Related Symbols: Poison, Disease
Page Number: 1.1.11-18
Explanation and Analysis:
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Some fellows, they say, are possessed with the devil, but this great fellow were able to possess the greatest devil and make him worse.

Related Characters: Daneil de Bosola (speaker), The Cardinal, Antonio Bologna, Delio
Page Number: 1.1.44-46
Explanation and Analysis:
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This foul melancholy
Will poison all his goodness, for, I'll tell you,
If too immoderate sleep be truly said
To be an inward rust unto the soul,
It then doth follow want of action
Breeds all black malcontents, and their close rearing,
Like moths in cloth, do hurt for want of wearing.

Related Symbols: Poison
Page Number: 1.1.74-80
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Some such flashes superficially hang on him, for form; but observe his inward character: he is a melancholy churchman. The spring in his face is nothing but the engendering of toads. Where he is jealous of any man he lays worse plots for them than ever was imposed on Hercules, for he strews in his way flatterers, panders, intelligencers, atheists, and a thousand such political monsters.

Related Characters: Antonio Bologna (speaker), The Cardinal, Delio
Page Number: 1.2.70-76
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Duke there? A most perverse and turbulent nature;
What appears in him mirth is merely outside.
If he laugh heartily, it is to laugh
All honesty out of fashion.

He speaks with others' tongues, and hears men's suits
With others' ears; will seem to sleep o’th' bench
Only to entrap offenders in their answers;
Dooms men to death by information,
Rewards by hearsay.

Related Characters: Antonio Bologna (speaker), Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria, Delio
Page Number: 1.2.82-89
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

The misery of us that are born great!
We are forced to woo because none dare woo us;
And, as a tyrant doubles with his words,
And fearfully equivocates, so we
Are forced to express our violent passions
In riddles and in dreams, and leave the path
Of simple virtue, which was never made
To seem the thing it is not.

Make not your heart so dead a piece of flesh
To fear more than to love me. Sir, be confident.
What is't distracts you? This is flesh and blood, sir;
'Tis not the figure, cut in alabaster,
Kneels at my husband's tomb.

Related Characters: The Duchess of Malfi (speaker), Antonio Bologna
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 1.3.350-364
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

Do I not dream? Can this ambitious age
Have so much goodness in't as to prefer
A man merely for worth, without these shadows
Of wealth and painted honours? Possible?

Related Characters: Daneil de Bosola (speaker), The Duchess of Malfi, Antonio Bologna
Page Number: 3.2.276-279
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 3, Scene 5 Quotes

Thou dost blanch mischief;
Wouldst make it white. See, see, like to calm weather
At sea, before a tempest, false hearts speak fair
To those they intend most mischief.

Page Number: 3.5.23-26
Explanation and Analysis:
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Thou art happy that thou hast not understanding
To know thy misery; for all our wit
And reading brings us to a truer sense
Of sorrow.

Page Number: 3.5.66-69
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

That's the greatest torture souls feel in hell:
In hell that they must live, and cannot die.

Page Number: 4.1.70-71
Explanation and Analysis:
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I account this world a tedious theatre,
For I do play a part in't 'gainst my will.

Page Number: 4.1.83-84
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

It may be that the sudden apprehension
Of danger - for I'll go in mine own shape –
When he shall see it fraught with love and duty,
May draw the poison out of him, and work
A friendly reconcilement. If it fail,
Yet it shall rid me of this infamous calling;
For better fall once than be ever falling.

Related Characters: Antonio Bologna (speaker), The Duchess of Malfi, The Cardinal, Delio
Related Symbols: Poison
Page Number: 5.1.67-73
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

O poor Antonio! Though nothing be so needful
To thy estate as pity, yet I find
Nothing so dangerous.
… How this man
Bears up in blood, seems fearless! Why, 'tis well:
Security some men call the suburbs of hell -
Only a dead wall between. Well, good Antonio,
I'll seek thee out, and all my care shall be
To put thee into safety from the reach
Of these most cruel biters that have got
Some of thy blood already. It may be
I'll join with thee in a most just revenge.

Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 5.2.326-339
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 5, Scene 4 Quotes

BOSOLA: O good Antonio,
I'll whisper one thing in thy dying ear
Shall make thy heart break quickly: thy fair Duchess
And two sweet children -

ANTONIO: Their very names
Kindle a little life in me.

BOSOLA: - are murdered!

ANTONIO: Some men have wished to die
At the hearing of sad tidings. I am glad
That I shall do't in sadness. I would not now
Wish my wounds balmed nor healed, for I have no use
To put my life to.

Related Characters: Antonio Bologna (speaker), Daneil de Bosola (speaker), The Duchess of Malfi
Page Number: 5.4.57-66
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 5, Scene 5 Quotes

MALATESTE: Thou wretched thing of blood,
How came Antonio by his death?

BOSOLA: In a mist - I know not how.
Such a mistake as I have often seen
In a play. Oh, I am gone!
We are only like dead walls, or vaulted graves
That, ruined, yields no echo. Fare you well.
It may be pain, but no harm to me to die
In so good a quarrel.

Related Characters: Daneil de Bosola (speaker), Count Malateste (speaker), Antonio Bologna
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 5.5.95-103
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Antonio Bologna Character Timeline in The Duchess of Malfi

The timeline below shows where the character Antonio Bologna appears in The Duchess of Malfi. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Politics and Corruption Theme Icon
Guilt, Death, and Suffering Theme Icon
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The play begins at the Duchess of Malfi’s palace in Amalfi. Antonio, the Duchess’s steward, has just returned from the French court to Amalfi, where his friend... (full context)
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Antonio changes the subject as he sees Bosola, a former employee of the Cardinal and known... (full context)
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...the death sentence) while in his employment. The Cardinal dismisses Bosola and exits, and then Antonio and Delio approach. (full context)
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Antonio asks Bosola what happened in the conversation, to which Bosola replies that the Cardinal and... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...Ferdinand, the Duchess’s brother. Delio notes that the hall is filling up with people, and Antonio replies that Duke Ferdinand is arriving. When he enters, Ferdinand asks who won the ring... (full context)
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...bandages resembling tents. Conversation is steered back to the best qualities of horses, and to Antonio and his horsemanship. The Cardinal and Duchess then enter. (full context)
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Once the Cardinal and Duchess enter, Antonio steps aside and begins quietly telling Delio about the character of the royal family. The... (full context)
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...Duchess, on the other hand, he describes as noble and completely opposite from her siblings. Antonio says that her words are so full of rapture that when she stops speaking it... (full context)
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After Antonio departs, Ferdinand tells the Duchess that he wants her to hire Bosola as the supervisor... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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...children. The Duchess then instructs Cariola to hide behind a tapestry while she talks to Antonio. (full context)
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Antonio enters, and the Duchess tells him to start writing notes for her. She makes a... (full context)
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Antonio responds by saying that she should find a husband and give herself to him, and... (full context)
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...asking him to expand on these thoughts and tell her what he feels about marriage. Antonio says that when his loneliness is making him sad, he often reasons that the only... (full context)
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Antonio notes that the Duchess has just given him the ring, and she says that she... (full context)
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...at a mine, where the discovery of the valuable underground resource represents her fortune that Antonio could have access to. He calls himself unworthy, but the Duchess says that he’s selling... (full context)
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The Duchess responds that now Antonio will get the benefits of being virtuous. She then laments with frustration that those who... (full context)
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Antonio agrees, and the Duchess pays him for his service as her steward with a kiss.... (full context)
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After the Duchess instructs Antonio to kneel, Cariola enters and surprises Antonio, but the Duchess reassures him that Cariola is... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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On the other side of the stage, Delio and Antonio enter into a discussion about the secret marriage, revealing that Antonio has confided in Delio.... (full context)
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...that he needs to remain in his station, since it is dangerous to reach higher. Antonio says that Bosola might look to heaven, but it seems like a devil is blocking... (full context)
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At this point, the Duchess and her ladies enter. She asks for Antonio’s arm and, since she is out of breath, she asks if she is growing fat.... (full context)
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Antonio and the Duchess talk about traditions of wearing hats or not in court, comparing the... (full context)
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Alone on stage with Delio, Antonio fears that the Duchess has fallen into labor with no time to get her out... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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...her again, this time commenting on the stereotype that women are vain. She exits, and Antonio, Delio, Roderigo, and Grisolan enter. (full context)
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Antonio instructs them to shut the gates and call all of the officers. Everyone is in... (full context)
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After everyone else exits, Delio asks Antonio how the Duchess is doing. Antonio responds that she’s experiencing pain and fear, and he... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
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Just then, Antonio enters with a candle and a sword drawn. Having heard a noise, he asks “who’s... (full context)
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Bosola asks if the loss was significant, but Antonio responds that it’s none of his business and questions why he’s out of his room... (full context)
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Bosola then notices that Antonio dropped a piece of paper, on which he finds written the nativity horoscope that Antonio... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
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...see her husband, and she leaves. Alone on stage, Delio says that he fears that Antonio’s secret has been found out, and he laments the unfortunate situation. (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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In Amalfi, some years later, Antonio greets Delio, who has been away from court for some time. He informs Delio that... (full context)
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...she marries again it will be for Ferdinand’s honor. The Duke tries to talk to Antonio, but the Duchess cuts him off, telling him that she wants to talk about the... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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In the Duchess’s bedchamber, the Duchess warns Antonio that he cannot stay with her tonight. He responds that he will try to persuade... (full context)
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Cariola then asks Antonio why he always rises so early when he sleeps with the Duchess, to which he... (full context)
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Cariola dismisses Antonio’s poetry, and then she asks him, between a wise man, a rich man, and a... (full context)
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Ferdinand leaves, and immediately afterwards Antonio reenters with a pistol and with Cariola. Antonio says that he saw Ferdinand (hence the... (full context)
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...Duchess was “undone.” Bosola asks what has happened. The Duchess makes up a lie: that Antonio has used his position to steal from her and in doing so has placed Ferdinand... (full context)
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Bosola reenters with some officers and the Duchess pretends to accuse Antonio of losing her money and stealing from her. She tells the men to let Antonio... (full context)
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...for his opinion. He says that she’ll probably never have a servant as good as Antonio, whom he pities. She responds in confusion, saying that Antonio stole from her, but Bosola... (full context)
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...for his merit. When he finds out that the Duchess has had three children by Antonio, he launches into a speech praising her for demonstrating that benefits can still fall on... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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...that the Duchess is using religion as her cover to flee with her children and Antonio, which Ferdinand says damns her. Ferdinand notes that, since her intentions are not purely religious... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
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...background. During the dumb show, the Cardinal is dressed and presented as a soldier. Then Antonio, the Duchess, and their children all pray and present themselves at the shrine. The Cardinal... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
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Near the shrine, Antonio, the Duchess, their children, Cariola, and a few servants have been banished from Ancona. Antonio... (full context)
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...those that they are about to hurt. Though the letter asks for a meeting with Antonio, both the Duchess and Antonio assume that Ferdinand actually wants Antonio dead. Antonio thus refuses... (full context)
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...and the Duchess says that she is afraid there will be an ambush. She tells Antonio to take their eldest son to Milan, using an expression equivalent to “let’s not have... (full context)
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As soon as Antonio leaves, the dejected Duchess finds herself facing a disguised Bosola and several troops. Bosola says... (full context)
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When Bosola tells the Duchess to forget Antonio because of his low birth, she responds by telling an story about a salmon that... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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Suddenly a curtain is illuminated, upon which appear the silhouettes of Antonio and their children, looking as if they were dead. Bosola states that the hand came... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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...to return and lead his to hell. For a moment, she wakes up and says “Antonio?” Bosola tells her that her husband is in fact alive, explaining briefly that the dead... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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In Milan, Antonio asks Delio what his chances of reconciling with the brothers are. Delio says it’s unlikely,... (full context)
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Once Pescara enters, Delio asks for one of Antonio’s citadels, but Pescara says no. Then Julia enters with a letter from the Cardinal asking... (full context)
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Antonio comes out from hiding and calls Pescara noble. Then he says that he plans to... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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...marry, but he says that in order to make the match Bosola must first find Antonio and kill him. Bosola asks how he will find Antonio, to which the Cardinal responds... (full context)
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...Cardinal tells Bosola to give up his melancholy air, and asks if Bosola will kill Antonio. Bosola says he will. The Cardinal then gives Bosola the master key to his lodgings... (full context)
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After the Cardinal exits, Bosola cries out that he pities Antonio. He ultimately decides to seek Antonio out and try to get him away from the... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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Antonio and Delio are outside of the Cardinal’s window at his palace in Milan. Unbeknownst to... (full context)
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Antonio notes that the echo sounds like his wife’s voice, to which the echo says “aye,... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
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...“strangling is a very quiet death.” Ferdinand continues talking to himself as Bosola hides. Now Antonio and a servant enter, and Antonio says that he hopes to find “him” at his... (full context)
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This horrible news prompts Antonio to say that he’s glad he’s dying, since he no longer has any use for... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
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...As he laments the pains of a guilty conscience, Bosola and the Servant enter with Antonio’s body. The Cardinal comments that Bosola looks terrible, somehow both determined and fearful. Bosola responds... (full context)
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...the door to the Cardinal’s room. He then admits to the Cardinal that he slayed Antonio by mistake. Bosola stabs the Cardinal twice, at which point Ferdinand enters after hearing the... (full context)
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...the Duchess of Malfi, who was murdered by the brothers, as well as revenge for Antonio (who was murdered by mistake) and Julia (who was poisoned by the Cardinal). Finally, he... (full context)
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...his own rescue, and Malateste calls Bosola a “wretched thing of blood” and asks how Antonio died. Bosola says Antonio died “in a mist,” as a way of describing the confusion... (full context)
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Delio then enters, too late, with Antonio’s eldest son and heir. Delio says that he was prepared beforehand for what happened, and... (full context)