Study Guide

The Duchess of Malfi Act 3, Scene 5

By John Webster

Act 3, Scene 5

  • We're with the Duchess and Antonio, right after they've been banished from Ancona.
  • Antonio remarks that most of her entourage of servants has abandoned her.
  • "Yeah, well, that's pretty smart of them," the Duchess says.
  • Bosola arrives with a letter from Ferdinand, wherein he asks the Duchess to send Antonio to him, because he'd really appreciate Antonio's advice on a business letter. Yeah right.
  • The Duchess and Antonio aren't fooled for a second, and ask Bosola to tell Ferdinand that no way no how is Antonio going to Ferdinand and getting murdered.
  • Bosola's manner clues the Duchess into the fact that she's been betrayed, and after he leaves she asks Antonio to take their eldest son with him to Milan.
  • She's trying to split up the family so if things go south the entire family doesn't get destroyed in one blow. Not a bad idea, considering.
  • Antonio agrees, and they have a tear-jerker of a goodbye, wherein Antonio wonders if they'll ever see each other again.
  • After he departs, the Duchess, Cariola, and the remaining children are approached by Bosola, flanked by masked guards.
  • The Duchess fully expects to be taken to prison, but Bosola instead tells her she, Cariola, and the remaining kids are going to be under house arrest in the Duchess's own palace.
  • If you think things are as dire as they can get, Shmoopers, think again. Get out your tissues, because it only goes downhill from here.

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