The White Devil

by

John Webster

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Monticelso is an ally of Francisco’s and a prominent cardinal in the Roman church—until, midway through The White Devil, he is made the Pope. This high religious standing would make it appear that Monticelso is capable of rising above (or even putting a stop to) the conflict and intrigue around him. But while Monticelso outwardly touts his purity, he is just as involved in scandals as everyone else; he grows obsessed with the titillating details of Vittoria’s sex life, and despite protesting Francisco’s plans to murder Brachiano, he secretly helps to fund them. Perhaps more than any other character, then, Monticelso represents the idea that there is “poison under […] gilded pills”—that the people who make outward shows of goodness and righteousness are in fact the most manipulative underneath.

Monticelso Quotes in The White Devil

The The White Devil quotes below are all either spoken by Monticelso or refer to Monticelso . 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 2, Scene 1 Quotes

MONTICELSO:
It is a more direct and even way,
To train to virtue those of princely blood,
By examples than by precepts: if by examples,
Whom should he rather strive to imitate
Than his own father? be his pattern then,
Leave him a stock of virtue that may last,
Should fortune rend his sails, and split his mast.

Related Characters: Monticelso (speaker), Giovanni , Brachiano, Francisco/Mulinassar, Gasparo
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

MONTICELSO:
Shall I expound whore to you? sure I shall;
I ’ll give their perfect character. They are first,
Sweetmeats which rot the eater; in man’s nostrils
Poison’d perfumes. They are cozening alchemy;
Shipwrecks in calmest weather. What are whores!
Cold Russian winters, that appear so barren,
As if that nature had forgot the spring.
They are the true material fire of hell:
Worse than those tributes i’ th’ Low Countries paid,
Exactions upon meat, drink, garments, sleep,
Ay, even on man’s perdition, his sin.
They are those brittle evidences of law,
Which forfeit all a wretched man’s estate
For leaving out one syllable. What are whores!
They are those flattering bells have all one tune,
At weddings, and at funerals. Your rich whores
Are only treasuries by extortion fill’d,
And emptied by curs’d riot. They are worse,
Worse than dead bodies which are begg’d at gallows,
And wrought upon by surgeons, to teach man
Wherein he is imperfect. What’s a whore!
She’s like the guilty counterfeited coin,
Which, whosoe’er first stamps it, brings in trouble
All that receive it.

Related Characters: Vittoria (speaker), Monticelso (speaker), Brachiano, Lodovico
Related Symbols: Poison
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

VITTORIA:
Terrify babes, my lord, with painted devils,
I am past such needless palsy. For your names
Of ‘whore’ and ‘murderess’, they proceed from you,
As if a man should spit against the wind,
The filth returns in ’s face.

Related Characters: Vittoria (speaker), Monticelso , Brachiano
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

FRANCISCO:
My lord, there’s great suspicion of the murder,
But no sound proof who did it. For my part,
I do not think she hath a soul so black
To act a deed so bloody; if she have,
As in cold countries husbandmen plant vines,
And with warm blood manure them; even so
One summer she will bear unsavory fruit,
And ere next spring wither both branch and root.
The act of blood let pass; only descend
To matters of incontinence.

VITTORIA:
I discern poison
Under your gilded pills.

Related Characters: Francisco/Mulinassar (speaker), Vittoria (speaker), Monticelso
Related Symbols: Poison, Trees
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

FRANCISCO:
And thus it happens:
Your poor rogues pay for ’t, which have not the means
To present bribe in fist; the rest o’ th’ band
Are razed out of the knaves’ record; or else
My lord he winks at them with easy will;
His man grows rich, the knaves are the knaves still.
[…] That in so little paper
Should lie th’ undoing of so many men!
’Tis not so big as twenty declarations.
See the corrupted use some make of books:
Divinity, wrested by some factious blood,
Draws swords, swells battles, and o’erthrows all good.

Related Characters: Francisco/Mulinassar (speaker), Monticelso , Brachiano
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

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 3 Quotes

LODOVICO:
Why now ’tis come about. He rail’d upon me;
And yet these crowns were told out, and laid ready,
Before he knew my voyage. Oh, the art,
The modest form of greatness! that do sit,
Like brides at wedding-dinners, with their looks turn’d
From the least wanton jests, their puling stomach
Sick from the modesty, when their thoughts are loose,
Even acting of those hot and lustful sports
Are to ensue about midnight: such his cunning!
He sounds my depth thus with a golden plummet.
I am doubly arm’d now. Now to th’ act of blood,
There ’s but three furies found in spacious hell,
But in a great man’s breast three thousand dwell.

Related Characters: Lodovico (speaker), Monticelso , Francisco/Mulinassar
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 6 Quotes

VITTORIA:
Oh, thou art deceived. I am too true a woman:
Conceit can never kill me. I’ll tell thee what,
I will not in my death shed one base tear,
Or if look pale, for want of blood not fear.

Related Characters: Vittoria (speaker), Lodovico , Gasparo , Monticelso
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:
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Monticelso Character Timeline in The White Devil

The timeline below shows where the character Monticelso appears in The White Devil. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Scene 1
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Along with Monticelso, a Cardinal in the Roman church, Francisco meets with Brachiano and Flamineo. Monticelso lectures Brachiano... (full context)
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
...is treating Isabella so poorly. Francisco is anxious to “end this with the cannon,” but Monticelso urges the men to take things more slowly. Just then, Brachiano’s young son Giovanni enters.... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Camillo learns that someone has thrown horns through his window. Monticelso interprets this as a sure sign that Vittoria has betrayed her husband (“’tis given out... (full context)
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Monticelso believes that if Camillo spends some time away from Vittoria, his absence might make her... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Camillo leaves, resolving to get drunk and forget his troubles. In his absence, Monticelso and Francisco reveal their real plan: now that Camillo is gone, Brachiano will show the... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Monticelso and Francisco consider that their plan might put Camillo in real danger—but Monticelso decides that... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
It’s a few days later, and Camillo is now dead. At the court, Monticelso and Francisco try to figure out how they can connect Vittoria to his death—they are... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
...courthouse, where almost all of the characters have come to see Vittoria’s arraignment. Francisco and Monticelso try to keep Brachiano from the proceedings, but they are unsuccessful. The court calls Vittoria... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
...fancy words that Vittoria again refuses to answer him. Frustrated, Francisco dispatches the lawyer, and Monticelso steps in to accuse Vittoria in plain language of being a “whore.” (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
When Vittoria pushes back against Monticelso’s attack, he launches into a monologue defining the word “whore” as he understands it (and... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
For his part, Monticelso argues that Vittoria should be more mournful of her husband’s death; Vittoria responds that she... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Monticelso brings up the fact that Brachiano was staying with Vittoria the night Camillo died. Brachiano... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Now that Brachiano is gone, Monticelso produces one of his letters and shows it to the court because it is too... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Monticelso then tells the court about the circumstances of Vittoria and Camillo’s marriage: they met in... (full context)
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
The trial ends, and Monticelso assigns Vittoria and her lady-in-waiting Zanche to a house for “convertites,” or “penitent whores.” The... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
...unfairness of this sentencing—Vittoria refers to it as a “rape” of justice—fills Vittoria with rage. Monticelso accuses her of madness. As Vittoria leaves the courthouse, she swears to Monticelso that in... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
...a war, and he does not want to inflict such a conflict on his subjects. Monticelso urges him to be patient and wait for Brachiano to slip up. (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
Now that he is resolved to play the long game, Francisco asks Monticelso about the book of names he carries; Monticelso explains that he has created a list... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Monticelso’s book of names reveals many kinds of secrets: he writes of pirates and usurers, adulterers... (full context)
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
...the inequity of the justice system; whereas wealthy men can afford to bribe someone like Monticelso to keep their misdeeds secret, poor people will face harsher punishments for their crimes. To... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
...from all over Europe have gathered to elect the next Pope. As a prominent cardinal, Monticelso is up for the position. Because the various candidates and ambassadors are busy sucking up... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Monticelso enters dressed in elaborate robes; the election has finished, and he has been made the... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Class and Corruption Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
...is willing to assassinate Brachiano. Witnessing this conversation (but not being able to hear it), Monticelso asks Lodovico what Francisco is plotting. Lodovico at first refuses to tell Monticelso the truth,... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Punishment and Repentance  Theme Icon
...love with the married Isabella, and he is determined to avenge her murder alongside Francisco. Monticelso is dismayed by this plan, and he gets up to leave—but before doing so, he... (full context)
External Virtue vs. Internal Truth Theme Icon
Double Standards of Desire Theme Icon
Leading by Example vs. Leading by Force Theme Icon
...great deal of money, explaining that it is from the Pope. Lodovico realizes that though Monticelso pretended to be outraged at the idea of murdering Brachiano, he’s actually helping to sponsor... (full context)