The White Devil Contents
- Social / political context of The White Devil
- Religious / philosophical context of The White Devil
- The Theatre
A worked essay structure
Discuss the presentation of Francisco de Medici as a Machiavellian villain.
You are being assessed on your writing skills, therefore your essay must be well structured and include an introduction and a conclusion. Below are a selection of points that could be included to address the essay question, with some good examples from work which shows how you can include linguistic and dramatic features.
- Definition of Machiavellian villain
- Francisco's claim to the title
‘One of the key Machiavellian villains in this play is Francisco. He is portrayed as being a scheming and devious character inspired by a range of negative motives. He is regularly labelled ‘politic' by other characters throughout the play. This shows his cunning (usually employed in his desire for revenge) is acknowledged by some of the other characters.'
2. Key aspects of Francisco as Machiavellian villain
Moral, social, political and religious contexts could be included:
- Schemer, plotter, ‘politician'
- Relationship with Monticelso
- Use of Lodovico
- Code of honour
3. Dramatic features
- Trial scene
- Isabella's ghost
- Disguise as Mulinassar – dramatic irony
- Court life and chivalry
‘Throughout the play Francisco is portrayed as a scheming Machiavellian villain through the various plots in which he is involved, each of which help himself and enhance his own position. Three dramatic devices are used in Francisco's plots – disguise, bribery and poison, all of which are typical of the Revenge Tragedy genre.'
‘Despite Francisco' s concern for ‘family honour' there is an indication that Isabella's death does drive him to seek revenge against Brachiano. This can be seen in Act 4 scene 1 with the appearance of Isabella's ghost. The use of ghosts to bring about revenge is often used in such a Jacobean tragedy as it adds a dramatic dimension to the play along with intrigue and anticipation.'
- Animal imagery
- Poison imagery
- Warfare imagery
‘It is obvious that Francisco agrees with Monticelso when he refers to, ‘spiders weaving nets for flies.' This animal imagery illustrates that sin has caused men to fall to the level of savage species, as Francisco will do when he closes in on his prey.'
‘In order to achieve this unhallowed aim, Francisco must undertake many immoral measures, such as his false love letter to Vittoria, which he calculates correctly, will lead to the marriage of Brachiano and his mistress,
I first have poisoned; directed thee the way
To marry a whore'. (Act 4 scene 3)
This indicates Francisco's cunning and well-thought out plots, while also hinting, by the ‘poisoning' imagery, at Brachiano's future fate, particularly as the conspirators are alone when these words are spoken, emphasising their devious scheming.'
‘Thus the Machiavellian Francisco is portrayed by a variety of techniques. Through his devious plots, the favouring of discreet murderous methods, disloyalty, disguise, pursuit of revenge and in the corrupt imagery of his and others' language, he is revealed to be a true Machiavellian villain.'
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