The Malcontent

Definition

Theater

  • A tragicomedy by John Marston, often considered his best work. Written in about 1602 for the Children of the Chapel, it was slightly expanded for its performance by the King's Men (see Chamberlain's Men) in 1604: the additional material includes an induction by John Webster.

    In both its plot and its preoccupation with corruption in high places the play has strong affinities with Shakespeare's Measure for Measure,also performed in 1604. The story centres on Altofronto, the banished Duke of Genoa, who disguises himself as the malcontent Malevole in order to warn his successor, Pietry, that his wife Aurelia is deceiving him. Altofronto also spies on the evil Mendoza as he plots to supplant Pietry, banish Aurelia, and even to marry Altofronto's own wife, Maria. The banished duke finally reveals himself to the sorrowful and repentant Pietry and together they triumph over Mendoza.

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