Incomprehensible Concepts and Contexts: Teaching The Duchess of Malfi in Bhutan


Bhutanese Buddhist
Embodiment of Female Body

How to Cite

Kuruvella, B. S. R. (2023). Incomprehensible Concepts and Contexts: Teaching The Duchess of Malfi in Bhutan. Radical Teacher, 125.


Teaching a Jacobean British text such as The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster to the Bhutanese students was a real challenge as the text deals with a world of class and gender hierarchy. Living in a Buddhist country, where even the killing of animals for food is prohibited and the Gross National Happiness is prioritized, the psychological trauma and the violent and gory events portrayed in the play appalled the students. The students could not imagine a world of female subjugation, gory, and bloodshed. Therefore, the teacher takes caste and community-based honor killing contemporary examples from their neighboring country, India, to explicate the world of the Duchess. Thus, they could understand a culturally different text via examples from India.


“Honour Killing? Inter-caste couple murdered in Karnataka’s Vijayapura.” The Times of India, 2021 June 23,

“Pranay was killed in the fifth attempt.” The Hindu, 2018 September 19,

“Tragic Dhadak.” YouTube, uploaded by Love Birds, 27 July. 2018,

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “How to Read a ‘Culturally Different’ Book”. An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization. The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2012.

Webster, John. The Tragedy of the Duchess of Malfi. New York: Washington Square Press, 1959.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Kuruvella Babu Shankar Rao