The White Devil Contents
- Social / political context of The White Devil
- Religious / philosophical context of The White Devil
- The Theatre
Camillo the unsuitable husband
Camillo is the nephew to Cardinal Monticelso and husband of Vittoria. He probably married her for love, since Monticelso tells us that he ‘received in dowry ... not one julio'. He comes across as a duped older man, taken in by the wiles of an attractive, younger, impoverished woman. One of the first things Flamineo tells us about Camillo is that he is regularly treated for venereal disease and is now impotent. We also see him taking exercise on a vaulting horse, perhaps trying to prove his manliness, although he is easily overpowered by Flamineo.
Flamineo is scathing that Camillo should be clothed as a counsellor of state (Act 1 sc 2):
Some men would judge a politician,
But call his wit in question you shall find it
Merely an ass in's foot cloth
Such clothes may indicate that Camillo is serious or at least pompous. We are not surprised at his incompatibility with Vittoria, who describes herself as having ‘a merry heart' during her trial (Act 3 scene 2).
In Act 1 scene 2 Camillo makes it clear that he and Vittoria are no longer sharing a bed:
When I last lay with her.'
He is worried that he will be cuckolded. What Camillo does not realise is that Flamineo is working hard in this scene to achieve exactly that end (a private meeting between Brachiano and Vittoria)!
More on the cuckold: Cuckold is the name given to a man whose wife is unfaithful to him. On stage, the stereotype cuckold was older, foolish, jealous and obsessed with securing the chastity of his younger wife, whilst missing the evidence under his nose that she has escaped his clutches.
One of the signs of being a cuckold is that the man is supposed to grow a pair of horns out of his head. References to horns are often made when a wife is suspected of unfaithfulness. Flamineo tells Camillo to go to his ‘pitiful pillow / Stuffed with horn-shavings.'
Camillo is shown to be very gullible. Flamineo convinces him that he will win Vittoria back more easily if he keeps away from her. Camillo believes that his absence will make her more desirous of him. He even allows Flamineo to persuade him to be locked in his room at night so that she will not have access to him. The audience knows that this, of course, will enable Brachiano's assignation with Vittoria.
Camillo's gullibility is further shown in Act 2 scene 1 when Francisco and Monticelso persuade him to go on an expedition to fight pirates. Francisco and Monticelso admit that this is a ploy to get Camillo out of the way so that Brachiano will commit adultery with Vittoria. Camillo realises the danger, but he is assured by Monticelso Vittoria will be taken care of:
I'll be your ranger.
Even in the nature of Camillo's death he is belittled. Rather than noble combat, it is presented as if he is an old fool who's fallen off a piece of gym equipment. Brachiano merely comments that it was ‘quaintly done'. Vittoria displays no sign of sorrow at his death and Camillo is quickly discounted from the play, significant only as a reason for the revenge of others.
Scan and go
Scan on your mobile for direct link.