Outfacing Vengeance: Heroic Dying in Webster's The Duchess of Malfi and Ford's The Broken Heart

Lesel Dawson, Lesel Dawson (Editor), Fiona McHardy (Editor)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


Although revengers have long been likened to artists, devising and controlling the revenge in a way that grants them a renewed sense of control, less attention has been paid to those instances in which the revenge victim refuses to play their ‘part’, disrupting the revenger’s power and authority. In plays such as John Webster’s Duchess of Malfi and John Ford’s The Broken Heart, the victim’s unusual and unexpected response to their suffering changes the nature and meaning of the revenge act. The renewed interest in such instances in noble suffering and self-control, on the stage and on the scaffold, suggests the increased interest in Neostoical ideas of self-mastery, supporting the argument made by Mary Beth Rose that over the early modern period there is a change in the gendering of the heroic, in which the tragic protagonist is increasingly defined by qualities typically seen as ‘feminine’ such as patience, endurance, and steadfastness.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRevenge and Gender from Classical to Renaissance Literature
PublisherEdinburgh UP, Edinburgh
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • revenge
  • Revenge tragedy
  • Gender
  • Webster, John
  • The Duchess of Malfi
  • The Broken Heart
  • Ford, John


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