by Thomas Middleton
In the Italian court, where wealth secures power and power serves lust, the lascivious Duke can play wherever he chooses. He catches the eye of another's exquisite bride, Bianca. Can a glance secure her fate, a bribe appease her husband?
It's a witty age,
Never were finer snares for women's honesties
Than are devis'd in these days; no spider's web
Made of a daintier thread than are now practis'd.
Isabella's father would marry her off to a rich young idiot, while Hippolito has won her trust and desires her truly. But he's her uncle. These are her choices. If twice-widowed Livia conspires against her sex to gain a little clout, she's only fighting to survive.
O the deadly snares
That women set for women, without pity
Either to soul or honour!
Corruption will not go unpunished in Thomas Middleton's blackly funny, fast and ferocious tragedy.
Sin tastes, at the first draught,
like wormwood water
But, drunk again, 'tis nectar ever after.