The male protagonists in Webster’s tragedies are nearly all villains or malcontents. Antonio is one exception, but he never dominates the action nor the imagination of an audience as do Bosola or Ferdinand, and he lacks a hero’s independence. No single male character has the central dramatic status of his heroines, nor the interior monologues of Shakespeare’s tragic heroes. What is the function of Webster’s male heroes? Are they flawed tragic individuals or participants in a world that is more flawed than they? Why is his focus on tragic heroines rather than heroes? You need to keep in mind what we have decided in Chapter 4, and place any conclusions you make here in that context.
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