Women Beware Women is a Jacobean tragedy by Thomas Middleton, published 1657.
Middleton has done it again. Like most of his plays, it has a complex plot, characters are finely drawn. The climax of mad vengeance is towards an awful kind of black farce.
Bianca, daughter of a nobleman, marries Leantio, a merchant's clerk. Soon, she tires of living in such reduced circumstances and decides to become the mistress of the Duke of Florence.
Livia plays indecently to the adulterers. A woman of cynical depravity, she is also instrumental in the incestuous lust of her brother Hippolito for their niece Isabella.
When the cardinal, brother to the Duke of Florence, reprimands the duke for his adultery, Leantio, being the husband of Bianca, becomes an obstacle to their passion. The duke decides to have him killed, and the scheme is made easier when he discovers that Livia has become Leantio's lover.
The outraged Hippolito kills Leantio. Livia takes her revenge initially by denouncing Hippolito's incestuous lust.
The climax of the various revenge counter revenge is reached during a masque which happens in the final act. To kill each other off as victims of their own dastardly ways, poisoned arrows, lethal incense, fatal trapdoors and tainted gold are used.