Act 4 scene 2
Flamineo reassures the nervous matron of the house of convertites, where Vittoria has been imprisoned, that everyone is more concerned with the imminent death of the Pope than with who is visiting Vittoria.
Francisco's servant enters and delivers Francisco's letter, which Flamineo takes charge of. He shows it to Brachiano (who has just arrived) who opens it, then asks Flamineo to read it aloud. It is a love letter written as though Francisco had been in love with Vittoria for some years. Brachiano is furious, believing Vittoria to be a prostitute.
Flamineo defends his sister, standing up to his master, despite Brachiano's threats. He acknowledges that Brachiano may poison him, but offers to lead Brachiano to Vittoria – although he does not trust his master enough to turn his back on him.
Vittoria enters and is shown the letter by Brachiano who accuses her of unfaithfulness. Vittoria is shocked as she knows nothing about this or any other letter. She tries to convince her lover that it is a plot of Francisco's. Despite the fact that she is weeping, Brachiano says he will leave her and compares Vittoria to Isabella, his dead wife. This infuriates Vittoria, who declares she will cut him out of her life and throws herself on the bed weeping.
This causes a change of heart in Brachiano, who now tries to win her back. Vittoria is not prepared to co-operate and also turns on Flamineo, accusing him of facilitating their relationship. Brachiano continues to try to win her round but she refuses to listen.
Flamineo attempts to reason with the lovers and reconcile them, and finally Vittoria allows Brachiano to kiss her. They now plot to escape from Rome to Padua, whilst everyone is concerned with electing the new Pope. Brachiano says that he will take his son, Giovanni, and the siblings can take their mother, Cornelia, and brother, Marcello. The Duke promises to marry Vittoria and make her a duchess.
Flattering Brachiano for his own advancement, Flamineo tells Brachiano a complicated tale about crocodiles to remind Brachiano to be grateful to him.
This letter: The letter becomes an important device in the scene causing intense feelings and quarrels as it is passed around.
Shall hang your wishes … strange equivocation: As Flamineo notices when he mentions the halter, hang is an ambiguous term and could imply a threat as well as a promise. Flamineo's comments puncture the high flown poetry of the letter.
atheists: A reference to Francisco's evoking of the gods i.e. pagan ones. Flamineo seems more critical of Francisco's use of language than of his supposed seduction of Vittoria.
Where's this whore: This is not the first time that Vittoria has been called whore (prostitute). This is the term always used about Vittoria whenever there is any judgement on her behaviour. This is despite the fact that Francisco's letter states that he is in love with her and that she has not succumbed to him, preferring a younger lover (Brachiano). This is more evidence of the harsh judgements meted out to women in this society.
curst disease: Syphilis, one of the symptoms of which is hair loss.
changeable stuff: Inconstant/unfaithful i.e. prostitute.
run: A pun – running in fear and a suppurating sore
neck broke: A reminder that he broke Camillo's neck and got away with it.
Russia; /.. shins.. whole: A contemporary Russian punishment for debtors was to kick their legs for up to three hours daily.
Would you be kicked ... behind me a whirlpool: Flamineo stands up to his master, Brachiano. He is realistic about his status, but he refuses to behave in a servile way.
Spanish fig … Italian sallet: Flamineo expects to find poison in the fruit or salad he is fed.
Polyphemus to Ulysses: One of the Cyclops who captured Ulysses, determined to eat him last of his compatriots
God's precious: The oath usually concluded ‘body' or ‘blood', the elements of the Catholic Mass / Protestant Holy Communion
give you the bells: A hawking metaphor. Let her fly to the devil rather than bring her back as he would a hawk.
Ware hawk: Flamineo is saying, ‘Beware Francisco'.
devil in crystal: Self-deception, credulity. It was believed that evil spirits could be trapped within crystal, belying its beauty – an appropriate image for Vittoria.
differing as two adamants: Like two opposing magnets.
wild Irish: Irish keening at funerals was renowned.
O my sweetest Duchess: Brachiano demonstrates his hypocrisy, given that he divorced Isabella and had her poisoned.
Weeping to heaven on crutches: Vittoria refers to Jesus' teaching in Mark 9:45. He used the hyperbolic image of cutting off a part of the body that leads to sin, to stress the seriousness of sinful behaviour and the judgement of hell. Brachiano refers to the same teaching when he asks whether his eyes should Be now put out.
Lethe: The Duke has forgotten himself. According to Greek myth, drinking from the River Lethe led to oblivion.
mercer … tows'd: Flamineo says no other trader would take ‘soiled goods' – Vittoria is thus just an object to be traded.
Young leverets: Women are compared to young hares. It is fine to hold out for a while, but they should eventually give in.
Suck'd … / From women's breasts: Flamineo refers to the misogynistic medieval teaching that women were responsible for male sin, since Eve caused Adam to commit the original sin.
I'll speak not one word more: Vittoria does not speak again in the scene. She appears to be reconciled with Brachiano, but never speaks her forgiveness.
Grecians … wooden horse: Refers to the story in Homer of how the Greek army defeated the Trojans by concealing themselves within the body of a wooden horse which the Trojans then accepted as a gift.
Barbary: Refers to the North African coast, whose peoples were considered barbarian.
I'll tell you a tale ... and scorn ingratitude: A tale from Topsell, History of Serpents 1608. The crocodiles on the Nile have worms in their teeth. Small birds help them by picking them out. They have to enter a crocodile's mouth in order to do this. A crocodile, who is ungrateful, may try to swallow the bird, but the bird has a quill on its head so that the crocodile cannot swallow it, and thus it escapes. Brachiano and Flamineo interpret this in different ways but the important aspect is the symbiotic relationship which means that all three are locked together in a complex relationship involving love, desire, self-interest and cruelty.
Investigating Act 4 scene 2
- How does Webster use the exchanges between the three characters in this scene to show the effectiveness of Francisco's plot?
- Provide some examples from the scene which you think best demonstrate this.
- What further evidence of Flamineo's attitude to women is provided in this scene?
- What arguments does Vittoria put forward to defend herself?
- Why does Flamineo believe that he and Brachiano will be able to smuggle Vittoria unnoticed out of the city?
- Flamineo uses an allegory at the end of the scene
- Where else are allegories used in the play?
- What is the effect of the allegories in the play?
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1And he said to them, Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power. 2And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5And Peter said to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. 6For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, This is my beloved Son; listen to him. 8And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. 9And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. 11And they asked him, Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come? 12And he said to them, Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him. 14And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16And he asked them, What are you arguing about with them? 17And someone from the crowd answered him, Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able. 19And he answered them, O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me. 20And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21And Jesus asked his father, How long has this been happening to him? And he said, From childhood. 22And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. 23And Jesus said to him, If you can! All things are possible for one who believes. 24Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, I believe; help my unbelief! 25And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again. 26And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, He is dead. 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could we not cast it out? 29And he said to them, This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer. 30They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise. 32But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, What were you discussing on the way? 34But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all. 36And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me. 38John said to him, Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us. 39But Jesus said, Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40For the one who is not against us is for us. 41For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. 42Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 44 45And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 46 47And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. 49For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.
1And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 2And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 5And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 6For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 7And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 8And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. 9And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. 11And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him. 14And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 16And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 17And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. 30And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. 38And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40For he that is not against us is on our part. 41For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 42And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
The supreme governor of the Roman Catholic Church who has his headquarters in Rome, in Vatican City. In certain circumstances, his doctrinal utterances are deemed infallible.
A race of giants with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads.
King of Ithaca, an island in the Ionian Sea, and famous for his cunning; the story of his ten year journey home after the Trojan War is the subject of Homer's Odyssey. (Greek name, Odysseus.)
1. Sometimes used to denote all Christians
2. Used specifically of the Roman Catholic church.
The central religious service of the Roman Catholic Church, incorporating praise, intercession and readings from scripture. The central action is the consecration of the bread and wine by the priest.
Christians whose faith and practice stems from the Reformation movement in the sixteenth century which resulted in new churches being created as an alternative to the Roman Catholic Church.
The central act of Christian worship in which bread and wine are consumed in the way that Jesus demonstrated at the Last Supper before his betrayal and death.
Also known as Satan or Lucifer, the Bible depicts him as the chief of the fallen angels and demons, the arch enemy of God who mounts a significant, but ultimately futile, challenge to God's authority.
The name given to the man believed by Christians to be the Son of God. Also given the title Christ, meaning 'anointed one' or Messiah. His life is recorded most fully in the Four Gospels.
Realting to hyperbole, a figure of speech which uses exaggerated or extravagant language which is not intended to be taken literally.
Disobedience to the known will of God. According to Christian theology human beings have displayed a pre-disposition to sin since the Fall of Humankind.
2. A decision about guilt, and / or the passing of sentence by the person presiding over a court of justice.
3. In the Bible, God's verdict on human behaviour especially on the Day of Judgement at the end of time.
Jesus describes hell as the place where Satan and his demons reside and the realm where unrepentant souls will go after the Last Judgement.
Lethe - the River of Forgetfulness in the Underworld.
According to the book of Genesis in the Bible the first woman, said to have been created by God out of Adam's rib, to be his companion.
According to Genesis (the first book of the Old Testament), Adam is the first human being, made in the image / likeness of God, placed in the Garden of Eden and given dominion over the earth.
State of disobedience to - and alienation from - God believed to have characterised human beings since the Fall of Adam and Eve.
(9th or 8th century BCE). Greek poet to whom the highly-influential, epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey, were attributed.
From Troy: An ancient city on the Asiatic shore of the Hellespont; it was sacked by the Greeks after a ten-year siege.