Act 5 scene 3
Vittoria, Giovanni and ‘Mulinassar' (Francisco) watch the tournament, part of Brachiano and Vittoria's wedding celebrations. Then Brachiano enters with Flamineo, asking that his helmet is removed, which is discovered to be poisoned. Despite physicians attending, Brachiano knows he is dying and Giovanni is taken away to spare him the sight.
Brachiano reflects on the death of princes, blaming Francisco who (ironically) offers him comfort as ‘Mulinassar'. Vittoria is distraught, realising that her future is now very uncertain. The Capuchin ‘monks' (Lodovico and Gasparo) enter on the pretext of ministering to the dying Brachiano, who is taken by those attending to his bed.
‘Mulinassar' and Flamineo are left on stage. Flamineo reflects on how insincere people are to great men. When ‘Mulinassar' reminds him how he has gained by serving Brachiano, Flamineo denies it and criticises his master. Lodovico returns saying that Brachiano is near death and hallucinating, but that he has left the care of the state with Vittoria until Giovanni is old enough to inherit.
Brachiano is revealed in bed (probably within the inner stage) accompanied by Vittoria. Brachiano raves about his visions of those on stage and other imaginary figures, including the devil. The Capuchin ‘monks' send everyone away so that they can supposedly minister to Brachiano's dying moments. They talk to him of his death in Latin, but once safely alone, they reveal themselves as Lodovico and Gasparo and damn him for his past evil deeds.
Brachiano rallies enough to call for Vittoria, but the ‘monks' persuade her to leave again, then strangle Brachiano. Vittoria returns briefly to see her dead husband and then departs grieving, leaving Flamineo with ‘Mulinassar' and a ‘monk' (Lodovico). Flamineo is cynical about Vittoria's grief and reflects on the Duke of Florence's Machiavellian machinations in bringing about Brachiano's death. He departs, wanting to address his dead master one more time.
Alone, ‘Mulinassar' congratulates Lodovico for making Brachiano's death terrifying. Zanche enters, wanting to ingratiate herself with ‘Mulinassar', who plays along with her. After claiming that she has dreamt of him, she reveals how Isabella and Camillo were killed and her role in it. To demonstrate her sorrow for this, she intends to steal Vittoria's money and jewels and elope with ‘Mulinassar'. He appears to be delighted, agreeing to her arrangements.
Once alone, Lodovico says that their plotting is just retribution for Brachiano's murders, but Francisco feels that justice has nothing to do with it. The renown they achieve will excuse their crimes.
They fight at the barriers: The fight at the barriers would have been staged as spectacle at the Red Bull Theatre (see The Theatre > Design of Theatres > The Red Bull Theatre). It was a highly formal ceremonial combat; a dying tradition of court life. As a representative of medieval chivalry it is contrasted with the Machiavellian revenge plot (see Themes and significant ideas > Machiavellian corruption).
heart … covenant 'tween the world and it: It was a measure of moral worth as to how prepared a person was to die and to be judged by God. Brachiano wants to hold on to his worldly power rather than to face his death.
screech-owls: Birds of ill omen that foretold death.
Most corrupted … needy friends: Death is addressed directly. He is seen as a schemer who is without the ability to save life as a great man is without friends. Brachiano sees himself as the victim of fate, even though at the end of the speech he acknowledges that Francisco is the cause of his death.
Do not kiss me: Brachiano wants his new wife to avoid the fate of his previous wife.
unction: Webster plays with the two meanings of unction as:
- medicinal ointment, used ironically here since Brachiano is referring to poison
- the anointing oil used at the point of death, known as extreme unction, which onlookers believe the ‘monks' are administering to Brachiano, though they are actually killing him
Franciscans: Franciscans are an order of friars, but here there is a double meaning as they are in the service of Francisco.
Withdraw into our cabinet: Brachiano and his attendants will next be seen when the curtain across the inner stage is opened (see The Theatre > Design of theatres > four levels of acting).
within compass of the verge: The area of jurisdiction around any royal court.
‘Faith like a wolf ... with poultry: Flamineo claims he has been given poultry meat to stop him demanding human flesh. This is a metaphor which implies he has been bought off cheaply and not got the rewards he deserved. Wolf was also a term for an ulcer.
These speeches ... appear so: This indication of madness is typical of Revenge Tragedy (see The Theatre > Revenge Tragedy > Features of revenge tragedy).
See, see, Flamineo ... in a halter: Flamineo is described as a rogue dancing on a tightrope using bags of money to balance, with a lawyer waiting to see how he can profit from his fall. The implication is that the rope should have been used to hang him. This metaphor draws attention to Flamineo's cunning and love of money.
orris powder: New brides would sprinkle scented powder from the root of the iris on their hair. The powder was white, similar to flour.
Domine Brachiane ..infernali: Lord Brachiano, you were accustomed to be guarded in battle by your shield; now you shall oppose this shield (the crucifix) against the infernal enemy.
Olim hasta ...animarum: Once with your spear you prevailed in battle; now you shall wield this holy spear (the hallowed taper) against the enemy of souls.
Attende Domine ... in dextrum: Listen, Lord Brachiano, if you now also approve what has been done between us, turn your head to the right.
Esto secures ... quid esset periculi: Rest assured Lord Brachiano: think how many good deeds you have done – lastly remember that my soul is pledged for yours if there be any peril.
Si nunc ... in loevum: If you now also approve what has been done between us, turn your head to the left.
Thou art damn'd: The conspirator's brief is to terrify Brachiano, which they do by making clear his hellish destination after death. (See Big ideas from the Bible > Judgement.)
broke your wife's neck … poison'd: This refers to the scandal attached to Elizabeth I's favourite, the Earl of Leicester, whose wife died in suspicious circumstances in 1560.
true-love knot: The noose used to strangle Brachiano might have been Lodovico's waist cord (part of a monk's costume) or his rosary. It is also a reminder that Brachiano's death has come about because of his affair with Vittoria.
snuff: Death is like a candle being snuffed out.
more rivers to the city: Construction of The New River was started in 1609 to bring more drinking water to London.
To teach court-honesty it jumps on ice: There is much talk in this part of the play about the hypocrisy and deceit of courtiers. Princes are flattered in their life because their courtiers are always looking for advancement. Such loyalty has a purely mercenary motivation.
The bed of snakes is broke: The mystery is revealed. An appropriate metaphor as snakes are poisonous.
excellent penitence: Lodovico is ironic about Zanche's version of paying penance for her sins, since it involves another crime.
that sunburnt proverb: Zanche is hoping that her actions now will wash away her sins and make her ‘white' (drawing on the imagery of Revelation about the forgiveness of Christ, Revelation 7:13-14) although she quotes a well known saying about the inability of people to really change:
Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?
Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.
Tush for justice: As a true Machiavellian villain, Francisco does not care about the justice of his cause. He claims that the ends (his fame) justify the means (see Themes and significant ideas > Machiavellian corruption).
Investigating Act 5 scene 3
- Jousting was associated with chivalry and noble behaviour. Why do you think Webster chose to start the scene with the fight at the barriers?
- How is the cruelty of Lodovico and Gasparo emphasised in the scene?
- Look again at the speeches made by Brachiano. Make notes on the following:
- Use of images traditionally associated with death
- References to his life as a statesman and soldier
- How Flamineo is described
- Now go back to lines spoken in Latin by Lodovico and Gasparo.
- How do the content, structure and tone of the murderers' speeches change when they move from Latin to English?
- How do Flamineo's comments on Brachiano's suffering and Vittoria's grief confirm our view of his character?
- What is the function of Zanche in this scene?
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3saying, Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. 4And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 512,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad, 612,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh, 712,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar, 812,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed. 9After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10and crying out with a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! 11And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen. 13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come? 14I said to him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
1And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. 9After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1Thus says the Lord to me, Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it around your waist, and do not dip it in water. 2So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist. 3And the word of the Lord came to me a second time, 4Take the loincloth that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a cleft of the rock. 5So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. 6And after many days the Lord said to me, Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there. 7Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the loincloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing. 8Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9Thus says the Lord: Even so will I spoil the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing. 11For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen. 12You shall speak to them this word: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Every jar shall be filled with wine. And they will say to you, Do we not indeed know that every jar will be filled with wine? 13Then you shall say to them, Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will fill with drunkenness all the inhabitants of this land: the kings who sit on David's throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 14And I will dash them one against another, fathers and sons together, declares the Lord. I will not pity or spare or have compassion, that I should not destroy them. 15Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the Lord has spoken. 16Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings darkness, before your feet stumble on the twilight mountains, and while you look for light he turns it into gloom and makes it deep darkness. 17But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock has been taken captive. 18Say to the king and the queen mother: Take a lowly seat, for your beautiful crown has come down from your head. 19The cities of the Negeb are shut up, with none to open them; all Judah is taken into exile, wholly taken into exile. 20Lift up your eyes and see those who come from the north. Where is the flock that was given you, your beautiful flock? 21What will you say when they set as head over you those whom you yourself have taught to be friends to you? Will not pangs take hold of you like those of a woman in labor? 22And if you say in your heart, Why have these things come upon me? it is for the greatness of your iniquity that your skirts are lifted up and you suffer violence. 23Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil. 24I will scatter you like chaff driven by the wind from the desert. 25This is your lot, the portion I have measured out to you, declares the Lord, because you have forgotten me and trusted in lies. 26I myself will lift up your skirts over your face, and your shame will be seen. 27I have seen your abominations, your adulteries and neighings, your lewd whorings, on the hills in the field. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will it be before you are made clean?
1Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water. 2So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins. 3And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, 4Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock. 5So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me. 6And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there. 7Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing. 8Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 9Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. 11For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear. 12Therefore thou shalt speak unto them this word; Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with wine: and they shall say unto thee, Do we not certainly know that every bottle shall be filled with wine? 13Then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings that sit upon David's throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness. 14And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them. 15Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken. 16Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. 17But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD's flock is carried away captive. 18Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory. 19The cities of the south shall be shut up, and none shall open them: Judah shall be carried away captive all of it, it shall be wholly carried away captive. 20Lift up your eyes, and behold them that come from the north: where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock? 21What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee? for thou hast taught them to be captains, and as chief over thee: shall not sorrows take thee, as a woman in travail? 22And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare. 23Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. 24Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness. 25This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood. 26Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear. 27I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?
Member of male religious community.
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 language of the ancient Romans which gradually became the language of the part of the Christian Church which owed allegiance to Rome.
Word used in the Authorised Version of the Bible for punishment or destruction, referring to the fate of those who are found on the Day of Judgement to have rejected Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:12-15).
supposedly in keeping with the views of the Italian writer and politician Machiavelli (1469 - 1527)
The anointing with oil of sick people in preparation for death.
Founded by St Francis of Assisi (d. 1226), the 'Grey Friars' reached England in 1224 and spread rapidly. They rejected the ownership of property and committed themselves to carrying the spiritual life out to lay people in the everyday world.
A man belonging to a Christian religious group who, instead of living within an enclosed religious house, travelled round teaching the Christian faith, and sustaining himself by begging for charity.
1. A form of prayer involving repeated recitation of the Ave Maria, the Lord's Prayer and the Gloria.
2. A string of beads used to help in the saying of the Rosary.
An act expressing repentance.
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.
Title (eventually used as name) given to Jesus, refering to an anointed person set apart for a special task such as a king.