The White Devil

by

John Webster

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The White Devil: Act 1, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Count Lodovico has been banished from Rome. As he laments his bad fortune, his friends Antonelli and Gasparo remind him that he only has himself to blame for this tragic turn: Lodovico has been extravagant, drunk, and even violent. Worst of all, he has committed several horrifying murders in Rome.
Right away, the play shows that even those with fancy titles or high social standings—like the prominent Count Lodovico—can commit horrific crimes. Unlike most of the characters in the piece, however, Lodovico has an honest, loyal, support system in Antonelli and Gasparo. 
Themes
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Lodovico wonders why the court chose banishment instead of execution as his punishment, and Gasparo reflects that “this gentle penance may both end your crimes, and in the example better these bad times.” At the same time, Lodovico resents that he is being punished while the Duke of Brachiano, widely known to be pursuing a married woman named Vittoria, faces no such charges.
Gasparo emphasizes that people learn by “example”: because the court has punished Lodovico gently, perhaps other leaders will follow suit and treat their criminals with similar kindness. But while he appreciates the relative laxness of his punishment, Lodovico resents the court’s inconsistency: Brachiano gets away with the crimes Lodovico is exiled for because he is wealthier and more powerful.
Themes
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Quotes
Antonelli and Gasparo urge Lodovico to use his time in exile to become a better person. Lodovico agrees, and his friends promise that they will work to end his banishment.
If Lodovico becomes a better person in exile, his friends suggest, it will be because he has time to reflect and look inward, not because of torture or other extreme forms of punishment.
Themes
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon