As part as my Open University course in English literature, I have had to wade through some formidable novels and plays; but I have learned that it is probably best NOT to read the four most depressing pieces of literature (Wuthering Heights, Othello [loved those two!], followed by the Duchess of Malfi and The Emigrants) one after the other, especially when you want to stay cheerful! Have just finished reading the last thing on the set reading list, Dancing At Lughnasa, and I’m thinking……well…..to be honest, I don’t know WHAT I’m thinking; I just didn’t get it.
However, in celebration at having finished my preparations for this part of the course, I have written a parody on the Duchess of Malfi – in case any of my blog readers are doing the same course as me and haven’t read it yet, or you are unfamiliar with this piece of historical drama. Just so you get an idea of what the “gist” of the thing is about.
So may I present:
THE DUCHESS OF MALFI IN 1 MINUTE.
Ferdinand – Duke of Calabria, Duchess’s brother
Cardinal – Duchess’s brother
Antonio – Duchess’s secret hubby
Duchess – herself
Delio – one of the few survivors of the play
Bosola – the baddy and spy
Cariola – Duchess’s lady-in-waiting
Julia – The Cardinal’s bit-on-the-side
Doctor – self-explanatory
Pescara – a marquis
CARDINAL TO DUCHESS: You are a widow and your brother and I forbid you to marry again.
Several days later:
<band strikes up the wedding march>
DUCHESS: (Aside) Too late! Antonio and I had better keep our nuptials under wraps. Don’t tell!
9 months later:
BOSOLA: methinks the Duchess is “in the club”, she’s filling out her dress a bit. Let me give her some apricots.
<to DUCHESS> What ho Duchess! I’ve got a lov-e-ly bunch of apricots.
DUCHESS: Oh how lovely! <takes a bite> oh oh dear! I do believe this apricot has magically sent me into labour, seconds after I have eaten it. To my room, servants!
Time passes during which several odd things happen.
FERDINAND: So our sister is married to Antonio? I must kill him! Since she is married to him I won’t get any of her money when she dies, and this WILL NOT DO! <stamps foot>
Bosola, kill my sister for me will you? It’ll earn you a promotion.
BOSOLA: Ah, ok. I’ve got a bit of experience in the old murder business. <goes to Duchess’s room>
<to DUCHESS> What ho Duchess! Don’t mind me – I’m here to measure you up for your coffin.
DUCHESS: But that would mean I’m going to die. This is surely wrong!
BOSOLA: Nope – you’re a dead wumman <strangles Duchess>
FERDINAND: Have you killed my sister?
BOSOLA: Errrrr, because you asked me to.
Duchess returns from the dead.
DUCHESS: Where’s Antonio?
BOSOLA: Ach he’s around somewhere, don’t worry we’ll find him.
Duchess dies for the second time.
CARIOLA: Arrrrggghhhh a dead mistress!!
BOSOLA: You’re next missus <strangles Cariola>
Cardinal chats with Julia
CARDINAL: my bro and I have just murdered my sister and her kids, but you mustn’t tell anyone.
CARDINAL: Kiss the Bible to promise you won’t tell.
Julia kisses poisoned Bible cover and dies.
CARDINAL: Murder number 3. Antonio next.
More time passes:
PESCARA: What’s up with him? <points to Ferdinand>
DOCTOR: Ah don’t worry, he thinks he is a wolf.
Antonio sneaks in to visit the Cardinal.
BOSOLA <hiding in the shadows> Wahhhhhhhh stranger! <murders Antonio> Oh no! Antonio? It was you! Oooh heck, he’s dead! Better go and see the Cardinal. He’ll be rapt. But I don’t like the Cardinal – he is weird…..hang on, I have an idea….
BOSOLA: Cardinal, take THAT! <wounds him with sword>
CARDINAL: Owch! That hurt!
Ferdinand enters and wounds Bosola by mistake
BOSOLA: Ow! You shall pay for hurting me <fatally stabs Ferdinand>
CARDINAL: Someone help me! I’m not feeling too good. <dies>
BOSOLA: Come to think of it, neither do I <dies>
Enter Delio and Duchess’s eldest son
DELIO: What a mess, best get this cleared up and let you be the Duke of Amalfi.
And there you have it. See? From my blog you have learned all about this fine piece of literature!