Chivalry in Renaissance Drama

Examines examples of chivalry and courtly love in two works by John Webster.

Within John Webster’s works, The Duchess of Malfi and The White Devil, there are many messages about the results and realities of chivalry. Within these two works there is constant interplay between courtly reward and courtly desertion, with issues of class extremely volatile subjects. This paper shows, using Webster’s works as examples, that the issue of courtly love in Renaissance drama is one utterly surrounded by high emotion, intrigue, and secrecy.
“Those men and women who overstep the boundaries of convention and disturb the honor code are friendless. There are many ways to overstep the role of the honorable, not the least of which is through flagrant acts of outranking love. The prince and the courtier, as well as the women who are often the objects of unquenchable desire are charged with the role of social police.”