Shakespeare may get the lion's share of attention when it comes to early modern playwrights, but critics regard the era as something of a golden age of drama. John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, based on a quasi-fictional Italian tale, continues to receive acclaim today. The play follows the life of the titular duchess, who chooses a husband from a lower socioeconomic class. Outraged by this perceived slight, her family plots revenge -- and falls apart in the process of carrying out their nefarious scheme.

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