The doctoral thesis focuses on John Webster’s ‘Italian plays’: the tragedies The White Devil (1612) and The Duchess of Malfi (1614) and the tragicomedy The Devil’s Law-Case (1623). Some references are also made to the comedy A Cure For A Cuckold (1661) which, unlike the others, is set in England and is the result of a collaboration between Webster and William Rowley. The works are analysed from a multidisciplinary perspective, which aims at demonstrating how the legal culture influenced the literary production of the early modern period. In this sense, Webster’s plays are highly representative of the nexus between law and drama. Some scholars claim that the author (about whom virtually nothing is known) probably received legal training himself, and this might explain why legal discourse is so prominent in his production. The law is the axis around which the characters’ lives revolve. Its controversies, its disturbances and its internal tensions are thus critically examined in relation to their dramatic re-reading. The legal cases Webster exploits are rooted both into civil and criminal justice, and range from questions of inheritance to adultery, sedition and murder. Outshined by Shakespeare and other contemporaries, Webster’s reputation as a Jacobean playwright started to captivate critics in the nineteenth century. Through a careful analysis of legal contents, language and literary influences, the thesis ultimately attempts to draw attention to a subject which is worth exploring and still open to critical discussion.

Webster’s Law Cases: Legal and Cultural Aspects in the Jacobean Dramatist’s Major Plays

Myriam Di Maio
2021

Abstract

The doctoral thesis focuses on John Webster’s ‘Italian plays’: the tragedies The White Devil (1612) and The Duchess of Malfi (1614) and the tragicomedy The Devil’s Law-Case (1623). Some references are also made to the comedy A Cure For A Cuckold (1661) which, unlike the others, is set in England and is the result of a collaboration between Webster and William Rowley. The works are analysed from a multidisciplinary perspective, which aims at demonstrating how the legal culture influenced the literary production of the early modern period. In this sense, Webster’s plays are highly representative of the nexus between law and drama. Some scholars claim that the author (about whom virtually nothing is known) probably received legal training himself, and this might explain why legal discourse is so prominent in his production. The law is the axis around which the characters’ lives revolve. Its controversies, its disturbances and its internal tensions are thus critically examined in relation to their dramatic re-reading. The legal cases Webster exploits are rooted both into civil and criminal justice, and range from questions of inheritance to adultery, sedition and murder. Outshined by Shakespeare and other contemporaries, Webster’s reputation as a Jacobean playwright started to captivate critics in the nineteenth century. Through a careful analysis of legal contents, language and literary influences, the thesis ultimately attempts to draw attention to a subject which is worth exploring and still open to critical discussion.
Law, Literature, Drama
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Descrizione: doctoral thesis
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1050666
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