The White Devil

by

John Webster

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Beaver

A beaver (also known as a “bevor”) was the front part of a metal helmet, designed to protect the throat and mouth. In The White Devil, Lodovico dabs some poison onto the beaver of… read analysis of Beaver

Capuchin Monks

The Capuchins are a particularly strict order of Catholic monks, one of several groups modeled in the Franciscan tradition (after St. Francis of Assisi). Beginning in the 16th century and gaining popularity in the early… read analysis of Capuchin Monks

Cuckold

Throughout the English Renaissance, the word “cuckold” was used to describe any man whose wife had committed (or was suspected of) infidelity. Often, a ram’s horns were used to symbolize cuckoldry. Frequently, “cuckold”… read analysis of Cuckold

Distraction

Throughout The White Devil, various characters fall into “distraction,” meaning that because of an extreme emotional or physical state (grief, anger, poisoning), they temporarily descend into madness. For example, Cornelia becomes… read analysis of Distraction

Extreme Unction

Extreme Unction, also known as the Last Rites or the Anointing of the Sick, is a Catholic sacrament given to those who are very ill or dying. In the play, Lodovico and Gasparo, in… read analysis of Extreme Unction
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House of Convertites

A house of convertites is, as Cardinal Monticelso himself defines it, a house for “penitent whores.” Though there is no real record of such a thing existing outside of John Webster’s play, Webster imagines that… read analysis of House of Convertites

Machiavellian

To call someone “Machiavellian” is to compare them to Niccolò Machiavelli, a Renaissance Italian philosopher famous for writing the political doctrine The Prince. In The Prince, Machiavelli argues that princes should focus on… read analysis of Machiavellian

Moor

The term Moor was used as a catch-all to refer to people who were either (or both) Black and of North African descent, or Muslim. Zanche is described as a Moor. read analysis of Moor