Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on John Webster's The White Devil. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The White Devil: Introduction
The White Devil: Plot Summary
The White Devil: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The White Devil: Themes
The White Devil: Quotes
The White Devil: Characters
The White Devil: Terms
The White Devil: Symbols
The White Devil: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of John Webster
Historical Context of The White Devil
Other Books Related to The White Devil
- Full Title: The White Divel; or, the Tragedy of Paulo Giordano Ursini, Duke of Brachiano. With the Life and Death of Vittoria Corombona the famous Venetian Curtizan
- When Written: 1611–1612
- Where Written: London, England
- When Published: 1612
- Literary Period: English Renaissance (Jacobean)
- Genre: Drama
- Setting: Courts and courthouses in Rome and Padua
- Climax: In disguise and acting on behalf of Duke Francisco, Count Lodovico poisons Brachiano’s helmet. Brachiano then collapses in the middle of a staged fight.
- Antagonist: Everyone is a villain.
Extra Credit for The White Devil
Poison Galore. Poison plays a big role in this particular play, and that’s because death-by-poisoning was in fact a Webster trademark. In other works, Webster had his characters poison books and tennis rackets in addition to pictures and helmets. And indeed, Webster’s love of violence is so essential to his persona that when he makes a brief appearance in the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love, his only action is to torture mice.
A Red Bull Redux. Nearly four centuries after Webster’s play premiered at the Red Bull Theatre in London, a group of New York City theater artists founded their own Red Bull Theater, dedicated to producing new versions of beloved classics. In 2019, the New York City Red Bull did its own gory production of The White Devil, allowing Webster’s play to come full circle.