Analysis Of The White Devil In Shakespeare's Vittoria

Submitted By KatieKinz16
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Pages: 5

What is your response to Vittoria? How does she develop during the play and do you think it is valid to regard her as the ‘White Devil’?
The White Devil is a play about corruption between families and society. As well as this there are also factors displayed of corruption in individual characters. There are elements throughout the play which suggest that different characters could be regarded as the ‘White Devil’.
Right from the beginning we can see different perspectives of Vittoria. Although she is being presented as the innocent girl, who is being ‘pimped out’ by her brother, we see that she is not as innocent as she makes out. “[Aside to Flamineo] How shall’s rid him hence”, the “aside” shows her deviousness side, thus confirming appearance is not always reality, which relates back to the title of being a ‘White Devil’. This side of her is not unleashed for long as she is panicked as “The Duchess” makes an appearance to see her husband. This emphasises Vittoria’s moral tone. At this point in the play Vittoria seems to be easily led, by those around her, and describes it as “a whirlwind, which let fall a massy arm”. Here she has been influenced by Bracciano’s charm, and perhaps is getting closer to him, or that Bracciano is in fact rescuing her from a life of poor and unhappiness. Her respect for her mother is known as she “[kneels]” as her mother enters the room. Although she respects her mother, she is not prepared to give up her new found love for Bracciano, creating some ambiguity. Her stubbornness and realisation of what she is about to participate in with Bracciano. “O me accursed!” shows that her mother has caught her out, and she becomes flustered and upset.
In this scene we see Vittoria being wrongly accused of murdering Isabella. When it comes to justice, Vittoria seems the sort not be wronged, no matter how high a status. “Surely, my lords, this lawyer here hath swallowed some pothecary’s bills, or proclamations and now hard and undigestible words why, this is Welsh to Latin”. Here she is suggesting that the Lawyer doesn’t really know what he is going on about, and is in fact using big words that no-one understands to scare and undermine them. She doesn’t let his big words faze her, and glacially stands her ground. “You raise a blood as noble in this cheek as ever was your mother’s”, she twists his words in order to assist her nobility. “The character escapes me”, she doesn’t rise to the accusation that is being put against her, which again she can use in her favour. These actions could be seen as being sneaky, which could be traits of ‘The White Devil’. She states “casta est quam nemo rogavit” meaning; the chaste woman is the one nobody has asked. This suggests to the audience that because she is being questioned, she is not chaste meaning she has something to do with her death after all. At this point her dignity is beginning to crack, so she tries to pass the blame. “O poor charity” here Vittoria attacks him on his lack of charity as previously being a cartler, he should be charitable. By using these sly tactics, it diverts the attention away from her for a few moments, and onto him.
Vittoria shows herself to be a versatile woman, and when things aren’t going as she would have planned in the court scene, she turns on her innocent, pitiful charm. “In faith, my lord, you might go pistol flies” she makes the audience pity her situation, and resorts to suicidal thoughts, as in her eyes, - and those of the Jacobeathan period- it would be better than prosecuting her, as after that she would be ‘black listed’ forever. We do begin to see a forceful side of Vittoria, as the court is persistent in accusing her. She replies “do the noblemen in Rome erect it for their wives that I am sent to lodge there?” This comment comes across as being sarcastic, perhaps because of anger? After this comment she is quick off the mark, as her guard has been put up. She is quick to recall “a rape, a rape!” Here not a rape in the