The White Devil

by

John Webster

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Isabella Character Analysis

Isabella is Brachiano’s wife, Giovanni’s mother, and Francisco’s sister. A Medici by birth, Isabella belongs to one of the most powerful families in all of Renaissance Italy. But as soon as she marries Brachiano, Isabella finds herself reduced to the role of a devoted, ignored wife. Though Isabella is aware of her husband’s wandering eye, she tries to avoid flying into fits of jealous anger; even when Brachiano ends their marriage, she helps protect him from Francisco’s wrath. Isabella dies after kissing a picture of Brachiano she keeps in her bedroom—Brachiano has hired men to poison the picture, and so Isabella is quite literally killed by her love for her husband. Isabella provides a stark contrast to Vittoria: while Vittoria is impure but strong, Isabella is chaste almost to a fault, as her devotion eventually becomes a source of weakness.

Isabella Quotes in The White Devil

The The White Devil quotes below are all either spoken by Isabella or refer to Isabella . 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:
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 5, Scene 3 Quotes

Here, the rest being departed, LODOVICO and GASPARO discover themselves.

LODOVICO:
Devil Brachiano, thou art damn’d.
[…]You that were held the famous politician,
Whose art was poison.

GASPARO:
And whose conscience, murder.

LODOVICO:
That would have broke your wife’s neck down the stairs,
Ere she was poison’d.

GASPARO:
That had your villainous sallets.

LODOVICO:
And fine embroider’d bottles, and perfumes,
Equally mortal with a winter plague.

GASPARO:
Now there ’s mercury—

LODOVICO:
And copperas----

GASPARO:
And quicksilver----

LODOVICO:
With other devilish ’pothecary stuff,
A-melting in your politic brains: dost hear? […]
And thou shalt die like a poor rogue […]
And be forgotten
Before the funeral sermon.

Related Characters: Lodovico (speaker), Gasparo (speaker), Brachiano, Isabella
Related Symbols: Poison
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The White Devil LitChart as a printable PDF.
The White Devil PDF

Isabella Character Timeline in The White Devil

The timeline below shows where the character Isabella 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
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
...Vittoria was sitting peacefully in front of a yew tree when Camillo and Brachiano’s wife, Isabella, approached her. Without explanation, Camillo and Isabella began to chase Vittoria, telling her they wanted... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
...an “example” for others, and she wishes death on her daughter. Cornelia also reveals that Isabella is coming to Rome later that day. Vittoria leaves in distress. Brachiano, too, heads home,... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
...have “a common courtesan” as a mother. Cornelia leaves in anger, and Flamineo frets that Isabella is in town. Still, he recognizes that he must finish what he has started—but that... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Isabella enters the court with her brother Francisco de Medici, the Duke of Florence. Francisco makes... (full context)
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
When Brachiano does not deny the accusation, Francisco is furious that Brachiano is treating Isabella so poorly. Francisco is anxious to “end this with the cannon,” but Monticelso urges the... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Returning home from her trip abroad, Isabella explains that her intense love for Brachiano has brought her back to Rome early. But... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
Isabella is deeply hurt, but instead of complaining to Francisco (as Brachiano expects), Isabella decides to... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
...him to the nefarious Doctor Julio. The doctor plans to help with the murders of Isabella and Camillo; he explains that Camillo will die a public death with a “politic strain,”... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
...in the slightest; in fact, he is in Padua as they speak, writing letters to Isabella and begging to be let back into Rome. (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
...midnight, Brachiano meets in his home with a conjurer to plot out the mechanics of Isabella and Camillo’s deaths. The conjurer explains that though there are many frauds, he really can... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
In the first dumb show, Doctor Julio and his assistant Christophero enter Isabella’s bedroom and approach the picture she has of Brachiano. Covering their eyes and noses with... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
The dumb show ends, and the conjurer explains that Isabella always kisses her picture of Brachiano before she falls asleep—so poisoning the picture will be... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
...learned to do from his uncle Francisco—and informs everyone in the court that his mother Isabella has been found dead. The news devastates Francisco. (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
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 his friends Antonelli and... (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:... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
...their crimes. To keep himself focused on his revenge, Francisco conjures a mental image of Isabella, who appears onstage as a ghost. His grief quickly turns into anger, and he is... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
...as “an intelligencer, but as a penitent sinner”: he was in love with the married Isabella, and he is determined to avenge her murder alongside Francisco. Monticelso is dismayed by this... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
...the other. After the banter dies down, Zanche reveals what happened in the murders of Isabella and Camillo: Isabella’s picture was poisoned, and “damn’d Flamineo” assaulted Camillo. (full context)