chapter  Five
John Webster
Pages 26

In The White Devil John Webster creates a poetic impression of this world with its inherent contradictions, but he can find in his story no pattern to relate good and evil and provide a basis for morality. In The Duchess of Malfi Webster goes on to explore the implications of this value. If death may reveal inherent nobility in human life, such nobility is real, and it may be the basis of a moral order. The most important unifying element in The Duchess of Malfi is Bosola, a character whom critics have found particularly difficult to explain in terms of human psychology. In the traditional pose of the malcontent he recapitulates the function of Flamineo in The White Devil, for he illuminates the evils of the world which will destroy the Duchess. Webster uses a ritual technique to emphasize that the lovers stand for harmony, life and generation.