The White Devil

by

John Webster

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Cornelia Character Analysis

Cornelia is Flamineo, Marcello, and Vittoria’s mother. According to Flamineo, her husband died when her children were young, leaving the family without any money. Still, Cornelia feels strongly that her family’s lack of means does not justify any cruel or manipulative behavior, and she is horrified that both Vittoria and Flamineo resort to such extreme means to better their circumstances. Though at first it seems Cornelia cares more about her reputation than about her children, her profound grief at Marcello’s death—and her inability to hurt Flamineo even in her rage—shows that she really does care deeply for her children.

Cornelia Quotes in The White Devil

The The White Devil quotes below are all either spoken by Cornelia or refer to Cornelia . 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:
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
).
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

CORNELIA:
The lives of princes should like dials move,
Whose regular example is so strong,
They make the times by them go right or wrong.

Related Characters: Cornelia (speaker), Flamineo, Brachiano, Vittoria, Lodovico
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

CORNELIA:
What! because we are poor
Shall we be vicious?

FLAMINEO:
Pray, what means have you
To keep me from the galleys, or the gallows?
My father prov’d himself a gentleman,
Sold all ‘s land, and, like a fortunate fellow,
Died ere the money was spent. You brought me up
At Padua, I confess, where I protest,
For want of means--the University judge me--
I have been fain to heel my tutor’s stockings,
At least seven years; conspiring with a beard,
Made me a graduate; then to this duke’s service,
I visited the court, whence I return’d
More courteous, more lecherous by far,
But not a suit the richer. And shall I,
Having a path so open, and so free
To my preferment, still retain your milk
In my pale forehead? No, this face of mine
I ’ll arm, and fortify with lusty wine,
‘Gainst shame and blushing.

Related Characters: Flamineo (speaker), Cornelia (speaker), Brachiano
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

MARCELLO:
There are some sins which heaven doth duly punish
In a whole family. This is it to rise
By dishonest means. Let all men know
That tree shall long time keep a steady foot
Whose branches spread no wider than the root.

Related Characters: Marcello (speaker), Flamineo, Cornelia
Related Symbols: Trees
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

CORNELIA:
Let me go, let me go.

She runs to Flamineo with her knife drawn, and coming to him lets it fall.

The God of heaven forgive thee! Dost not wonder
I pray for thee? I ’ll tell thee what ’s the reason,
I have scarce breath to number twenty minutes;
I ’d not spend that in cursing. Fare thee well:
Half of thyself lies there; and mayst thou live
To fill an hour-glass with his moulder’d ashes,
To tell how thou shouldst spend the time to come
In blessed repentance!

Related Characters: Cornelia (speaker), Flamineo, Marcello
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 4 Quotes

FLAMINEO:
I have a strange thing in me, to th’which
I cannot give a name without it be
Compassion.

Related Characters: Flamineo (speaker), Cornelia , Marcello
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
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The White Devil PDF

Cornelia Character Timeline in The White Devil

The timeline below shows where the character Cornelia appears in The White Devil. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 2
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
...keeps them tied all daytime, but they are let loose at midnight.” Unbeknownst to anyone, Cornelia—Vittoria and Flamineo’s mother—sneaks up behind the other characters, listening in to their conversation. No one... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
...Vittoria’s maid Zanche look on, Brachiano and Vittoria flirt, admitting their feelings for each other. Cornelia panics, realizing that Vittoria and Flamineo are about to bring shame onto her entire family. (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
Cornelia reveals herself, telling her children she is deeply ashamed of them. Vittoria protests that the... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Now that Flamineo is alone with Cornelia, he explains that he is trying to help Brachiano so that Brachiano will make him... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Cornelia tells Flamineo she wishes he had never been born, and Flamineo retorts that he would... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Cornelia enters and strikes Zanche; when Zanche protests, Marcello joins in, kicking her and calling her... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Cornelia, having also made the trip to Padua, has heard that Marcello plans to fight someone,... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Brachiano enters and tries to make sense of the confusion. In her rage, Cornelia grabs the sword and runs at Flamineo as if to kill him—but she cannot bring... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Cornelia is deep in mourning for Marcello. Alongside Zanche and other court ladies, she is “winding... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Cornelia’s profound grief disturbs Flamineo. And to make matters worse, Brachiano’s ghost appears and throws dirt... (full context)