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Welcome to the great Duchess of Malfi discussion.[1]  The idea for this post came a few weeks ago when Dr. Caitlin McDonald texted me during the interval of the Old Vic production of The Duchess of Malfi to ask why the Duchess’ brothers were so furious about her second marriage, when they were apparently unbothered by her first marriage.  Whilst I was trying to come up with a convincing answer (and she was at the afterparty asking the actor who played Ferdinand), I realized it had never occurred to me to ask that question in more than four years of working on this play.

Caitlin then suggested it would be fun to have a Malfi questions blog, for people to ask things that had struck them about the play (and to see if I could produce any remotely plausible/ useful/ not entirely risible answers).  I thought people could leave their questions as comments on this post, and I’ll try to answer them in subsequent posts, at which point everyone’s very welcome to suggest other/more convincing/ less ludicrous answers and carry on the discussion.  So here’s the first question, and I look forward to reading yours!

Why do the brothers care so much about the Duchess’ second marriage, and not about her first?

[1] “Great” is inevitably a contested term, subject to competing discourses of power and historical commemoration, and often set in dialectic with “good”.  We therefore use it here, secure in the knowledge that you will find it difficult to prove that these blog posts do not qualify as “great” in some sense at least.