The White Devil

by

John Webster

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Flamineo Character Analysis

Flamineo is Cornelia’s son, Vittoria and Marcello’s brother, and Brachiano’s aide. Having grown up in a family that’s not particularly wealthy, Flamineo is determined to increase his social standing, whatever the cost. To accomplish this goal, Flamineo attaches himself to the obscenely rich Brachiano, becoming his henchman; at one point, Brachiano dispatches Flamineo to murder his brother-in-law Camillo, while at another moment, Brachiano forces Flamineo to accuse his own sister of being a “whore.” Because of this willingness to commit even the vilest acts, Flamineo becomes an object of shame for Cornelia and for the younger Marcello. Indeed, by the end of the play, Flamineo’s relationships with all of his family members have collapsed: he kills Marcello in a fit of rage, causes Cornelia unspeakable grief, and finds himself betrayed by Vittoria and her maid Zanche (his former lover). Though he is not one of the titular characters, Flamineo is arguably the character who learns the most over the course of The White Devil. After observing firsthand the pain he has caused his mother, and after seeing the corrupting effects on money and power on people like Brachiano and his young son Giovanni, Flamineo is able to reflect and express regret for his own behavior (“I have lost my voice irrecoverably,” he laments). Flamineo thus demonstrates the corrupting influence of money and the human capacity for change and repentance—when such change comes from within.

Flamineo Quotes in The White Devil

The The White Devil quotes below are all either spoken by Flamineo or refer to Flamineo. 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

FLAMINEO:
It seems you are jealous: I ’ll show you the error of it by a familiar example: I have seen a pair of spectacles fashioned with such perspective art, that lay down but one twelve pence a’ th’ board, twill appear as if there were twenty; now should you wear a pair of these spectacles, and see your wife tying her shoe, you would imagine twenty hands were taking up of your wife’s clothes, and this would put you into a horrible, causeless fury.

CAMILLO:
The fault there, sir, is not in the eyesight.

FLAMINEO:
True, but they that have the yellow jaundice think all objects they look on to be yellow. Jealousy is worse; her fits present to a man, like so many bubbles in a basin of water, twenty several crabbed faces, many times makes his own shadow his cuckold-maker.

Related Characters: Flamineo (speaker), Camillo (speaker), Brachiano, Vittoria
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

FLAMINEO:
Come, sister, darkness hides your blush. Women are like cursed dogs: civility keeps them tied all day, but they are loose at midnight. Then they do most good or most mischief.

Related Characters: Flamineo (speaker), Vittoria, Brachiano, Camillo
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

FLAMINEO:
The duchess come to court! I like not that.
We are engag’d to mischief, and must on;
As rivers to find out the ocean
Flow with crook bendings beneath forced banks,
Or as we see, to aspire some mountain’s top,
The way ascends not straight, but imitates
The subtle foldings of a winter’s snake,
So who knows policy and her true aspect,
Shall find her ways winding and indirect.

Related Characters: Flamineo (speaker), Isabella , Brachiano
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

FRANCISCO:
Oh, the fate of princes!
I am so used to frequent flattery
That, being alone, I now flatter myself.

Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4, Scene 2 Quotes

FLAMINEO:
Lo you, sister!
Stay, my lord; I ’ll tell you a tale. The crocodile, which lives in the River Nilus, hath a worm breeds i’ th’ teeth of ’t, which puts it to extreme anguish: a little bird, no bigger than a wren, is barber-surgeon to this crocodile; flies into the jaws of ‘t, picks out the worm, and brings present remedy. The fish, glad of ease, but ungrateful to her that did it, that the bird may not talk largely of her abroad for non-payment, closeth her chaps, intending to swallow her, and so put her to perpetual silence. But nature, loathing such ingratitude, hath armed this bird with a quill or prick on the head, top o’ th’ which wounds the crocodile i’ th’ mouth, forceth her open her bloody prison, and away flies the pretty tooth-picker from her cruel patient.

[…]

FLAMINEO:
No, my lord.
You, sister, are the crocodile: you are blemish’d in your fame, my lord cures it; and though the comparison hold not in every particle, yet observe, remember, what good the bird with the prick i’ th’ head hath done you, and scorn ingratitude. It may appear to some ridiculous
[Aside] Thus to talk knave and madman, and sometimes
Come in with a dried sentence, stuffed with sage:
But this allows my varying of shapes;
Knaves do grow great by being great men’s apes.

Related Characters: Flamineo (speaker), Brachiano, Vittoria
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

FRANCISCO:
I shall never flatter him: I have studied man too much to do that. What difference is between the duke and I? no more than between two bricks, all made of one clay: only ’t may be one is placed in top of a turret, the other in the bottom of a well, by mere chance. If I were placed as high as the duke, I should stick as fast, make as fair a show, and bear out weather equally.

Related Characters: Francisco/Mulinassar (speaker), Flamineo, Brachiano
Page Number: 113
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 3 Quotes

FLAMINEO:
Had women navigable rivers in their eyes,
They would dispend them all. Surely, I wonder
Why we should wish more rivers to the city,
When they sell water so good cheap. I ’ll tell thee
These are but Moorish shades of griefs or fears;
There ’s nothing sooner dry than women’s tears.
Why, here ’s an end of all my harvest; he has given me nothing.
Court promises! let wise men count them curs’d;
For while you live, he that scores best, pays worst.

FRANCISCO:
Sure this was Florence’ doing.

FLAMINEO:
Very likely:
Those are found weighty strokes which come from th’ hand,
But those are killing strokes which come from th’ head.
Oh, the rare tricks of a Machiavellian!
He doth not come, like a gross plodding slave,
And buffet you to death; no, my quaint knave,
He tickles you to death, makes you die laughing,
As if you had swallow’d down a pound of saffron.
You see the feat, ’tis practis’d in a trice;
To teach court honesty, it jumps on ice.

Related Characters: Flamineo (speaker), Francisco/Mulinassar (speaker), Vittoria, Brachiano, Zanche
Page Number: 135
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:
Act 5, Scene 6 Quotes

FLAMINEO:
Whither shall I go now? O Lucian, thy ridiculous purgatory! To find Alexander the Great cobbling shoes, Pompey tagging points, and Julius Cæsar making hair-buttons, Hannibal selling blacking, and Augustus crying garlic, Charlemagne selling lists by the dozen, and King Pepin crying apples in a cart drawn with one horse!
Whether I resolve to fire, earth, water, air,
Or all the elements by scruples, I know not,
Nor greatly care.

Related Characters: Flamineo (speaker), Vittoria, Zanche
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

FLAMINEO:
‘Tis well yet there’s some goodness in my death;
My life was a black charnel. I have caught
An everlasting cold; I have lost my voice
Most irrecoverably. Farewell, glorious villains.
This busy trade of life appears most vain,
Since rest breeds rest, where all seek pain by pain.
Let no harsh flattering bells resound my knell;
Strike, thunder, and strike loud, to my farewell!

Related Characters: Flamineo (speaker), Marcello
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
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Flamineo Character Timeline in The White Devil

The timeline below shows where the character Flamineo appears in The White Devil. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 2
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
...the Roman court. Just as Lodovico said, Brachiano is desperate to have sex with Vittoria. Flamineo, one of Vittoria’s brothers, encourages Brachiano to pursue his sister, assuring him of Vittoria’s desire.... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Brachiano frets that Vittoria’s husband Camillo will get in the way, but Flamineo promises that Vittoria has no sexual feelings toward Camillo. Flamineo also suggests that Camillo no... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Camillo enters the room, interrupting Brachiano and Flamineo’s conversation. Brachiano promptly exits. Camillo complains to Flamineo that he does not remember the last... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Flamineo mocks Camillo for his jealousy, telling him that it is in fact his fear of... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Vittoria enters, and Flamineo seizes the moment: though he is still loyal to Brachiano, Flamineo pretends to sing Camillo’s... (full context)
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To give Vittoria time to see Brachiano, Flamineo then executes the final step of his trick: he tells Camillo to separate himself from... (full context)
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...plan, hurries off, and Brachiano returns. As soon as he does, Vittoria’s face changes, prompting Flamineo to scoff that “women are like cursed dogs: civility keeps them tied all daytime, but... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
While Flamineo and Vittoria’s maid Zanche look on, Brachiano and Vittoria flirt, admitting their feelings for each... (full context)
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Flamineo, realizing that Vittoria is trying to convince Brachiano to kill her husband and his wife,... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
...coming to Rome later that day. Vittoria leaves in distress. Brachiano, too, heads home, ordering Flamineo to send for a mysterious figure named Doctor Julio later that night. (full context)
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Now that Flamineo is alone with Cornelia, he explains that he is trying to help Brachiano so that... (full context)
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Cornelia tells Flamineo she wishes he had never been born, and Flamineo retorts that he would rather have... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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Along with Monticelso, a Cardinal in the Roman church, Francisco meets with Brachiano and Flamineo. Monticelso lectures Brachiano on acting out of passion, counseling that “when you awake from this... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Soon after, Flamineo pulls Brachiano to the side of the stage, introducing him to the nefarious Doctor Julio.... (full context)
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
...nominates Marcello, an aide to Francisco—who also happens to be Vittoria’s other brother (younger than Flamineo). (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
In the second dumb show, Flamineo, Marcello, and Camillo all get drunk and compete to jump a vaulting horse. Just as... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Before the ambassadors show up, Marcello and Flamineo engage in a heated brotherly debate. Marcello is loyal to Francisco, and he does not... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
...England arrive, and the lawyer flatters all of them. In as aside to the audience, Flamineo reveals all of the lawyer’s flattery to be bogus and instead makes fun of each... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
...lady-in-waiting Zanche to a house for “convertites,” or “penitent whores.” The court doesn’t charge Brachiano, Flamineo, or Marcello with any crime. However, both of Vittoria’s brothers are charged “sureties,” or court... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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In the aftermath of the trial, Flamineo feigns insanity—what the script calls “distraction”—in front of various foreign ambassadors. Since the ambassadors think... (full context)
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Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Count Lodovico returns and confirms to Flamineo the news of Isabella’s death. Flamineo pretends to mourn the loss, while Lodovico, along with... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Like Francisco and Monticelso, Lodovico blames Vittoria for Isabella’s death. As Flamineo continues to put on a show of sadness, Lodovico snaps at him: “your sister is... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
Flamineo and the Matron are now at the house of convertites, discussing important political news. They... (full context)
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Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Brachiano arrives, and he and Flamineo demand to see the letter. To Brachiano’s horror, it is a love letter, in which... (full context)
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...this house of convertites. Vittoria throws herself on her bed and begins to sob, while Flamineo encourages her to forgive Brachiano; in turn, Vittoria snaps at her brother for “pander[ing].” (full context)
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After much persuading, Flamineo is eventually able to get Vittoria and Brachiano to join hands and come back together... (full context)
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Before the couple can escape Rome, Flamineo tells a story of a crocodile and a bird. The crocodile has something in its... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
Flamineo explains that in his analogy, Vittoria is the crocodile and Brachiano is the bird—she must... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Now at the court in Padua, Flamineo confers with his friend Hortensio. Brachiano and Vittoria have gotten married and are holding court... (full context)
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Once Brachiano and Flamineo leave, the conspirators reveal themselves and plot their revenge. Lodovico wishes that they had come... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Zanche is following Flamineo everywhere he goes, and Flamineo is getting sick of it. Marcello points out that Flamineo... (full context)
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Flamineo, Marcello, and Francisco-as-Mulinassar discuss the difficulty of making a living as a soldier. Flamineo then... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
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...strikes Zanche; when Zanche protests, Marcello joins in, kicking her and calling her a “strumpet.” Flamineo then defends Zanche, and the two brothers begin to struggle. Flamineo makes fun of Marcello... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
...to fight someone, but she does not know whom. As she presses him for details, Flamineo enters and promptly stabs his brother with Marcello’s own sword. Cornelia despairs, refusing to believe... (full context)
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...last breaths, he recalls a moment when, as a young boy at his mother’s breast, Flamineo snapped a crucifix in two. He laments that although Flamineo might gain wealth, this is... (full context)
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...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 herself to actually do the deed. Instead,... (full context)
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Flamineo begrudgingly does what Brachiano has ordered, acknowledging that his “will is law now.” Meanwhile, Lodovico—still... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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...that someone has poisoned his helmet. To Vittoria and Giovanni’s dismay, Brachiano begins to die. Flamineo frets that the ambassadors have been similarly poisoned. (full context)
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Lodovico and Gasparo enter, still dressed as Capuchin monks. Flamineo instructs them to administer the extreme unction, and they exit with Brachiano. Flamineo reflects that... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
...re-enters, cursing and talking nonsense. Even in his stupor, however, Brachiano is able to name Flamineo as Marcello’s murderer. Flamineo worries that this continued association between himself and Brachiano will cause... (full context)
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Brachiano finally takes his last breath, and Vittoria bursts into tears. Flamineo, skeptical that Vittoria is faking her sadness, comments that “there’s nothing sooner dry than woman’s... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
...what happened in the murders of Isabella and Camillo: Isabella’s picture was poisoned, and “damn’d Flamineo” assaulted Camillo. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
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Young Giovanni, admired by all, has now taken his father’s place as duke. Though Flamineo tries to flatter Giovanni, the young boy sees through this ruse, and he advises Flamineo... (full context)
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...is “winding his grave,” throwing dried herbs on top of his corpse. When Cornelia sees Flamineo, she enters into a kind of madness (or “distraction”). She calls on the plants and... (full context)
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Cornelia’s profound grief disturbs Flamineo. And to make matters worse, Brachiano’s ghost appears and throws dirt on Flamineo, who is... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 6
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Later that evening, Flamineo makes his way to Vittoria’s quarters, where she and Zanche are recovering from Brachiano’s murder.... (full context)
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Flamineo then shows Vittoria and Zanche that he has brought pistols with him. Arguing that the... (full context)
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...in the afterlife; Zanche exclaims that she sees no purpose for life without her beloved Flamineo in it. Flamineo shoots himself and starts to die. However, instead of shooting themselves, Vittoria... (full context)
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As Flamineo falters, he imagines life after death: he pictures Alexander the Great cobbling shoes, “and Julius... (full context)
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...enter dressed as Capuchin monks, but they quickly show their true identities to Vittoria and Flamineo. Both Vittoria and Flamineo face the fact that they are going to be executed, though... (full context)
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...Gasparo—who is about to execute her—that her blood is as red as both Vittoria’s and Flamineo’s. (full context)
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As Flamineo prepares to die for real, he reflects on the role greed has played in corrupting... (full context)