The Duchess inherited her position from her dead husband, the Duke of Malfi.
Her steward, Antonio, is in love with her.
The Duchess has two brothers, Cardinal and Ferdinand, both who are corrupt and do not want their sister to remarry.
They trick her into hiring Bosola, who is a spy for them.
The Duchess becomes interested in Antonio, and proposes.
They decide to keep the marriage a secret.
She gets pregnant though, and Bosola determines she has remarried someone. She continues to have children with this mysterious man.
The brothers know she’s married, but can’t figure out to who.
Ferdinand comes to Malfi court and confronts her in her bedroom. She tells him she’s lawfully married, but he doesn’t care.
The Duchess is now worried for her family, flees with Antonio and their kids.
Bosola finds out that she’s married to him.
The brothers hunt her around Italy, and the Duchess and Antonio split up.
The Duchess and two of her children are caught and imprisoned.
Her brother tortures her and her children and has them strangled.
Bosola decides he doesn’t agree with what the brothers are doing, and vows to save Antonio and the one remaining child.
Cardinal contracts Bosola to kill Antonio, and Bosola resolves to save him.
Things go awry, and he ends up accidentally killing Antonio.
He resolves to avenge the family, and kills Ferdinand and the Cardinal, and wounds himself.
The surviving child is taken to Antonio’s friend, who hopes the boy can inherit the title.
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