Introduction & Overview of 'Tis Pity She's a Whore

This Study Guide consists of approximately 55 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of 'Tis Pity She's a Whore.
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'Tis Pity She's a Whore Summary & Study Guide Description

'Tis Pity She's a Whore Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading and a Free Quiz on 'Tis Pity She's a Whore by John Ford.

First published in 1633, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore is perhaps the most popular and frequently performed play by John Ford, whom many scholars consider the last major dramatist of the English renaissance.

As a dramatist, Ford faced a difficult challenge. He wrote 'Tis Pity She's a Whore during the reign of King Charles (hence the term "Carolinian") and worked to entertain audiences who had grown up on some of the greatest plays in the English language, those of Jonson, Marlowe, and Shakespeare, among others. According to some critics, since audiences thought they had already seen everything, it was incumbent on Ford to try to show them something they had not seen. This in part accounts for the extreme behavior we see in the characters in Ford's plays.

'Tis Pity She's a Whore tells the tale of an incestuous love between Giovanni and his sister Annabella that ends in disaster and death. Set in Parma, Italy, the story takes place against a background of lust, vengeance, and greed that serves as a critique of contemporary culture and morality.

Ford's interest in aberrant psychology figures prominently in many of his plays. Influenced by the renaissance psychology of Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, Ford created characters with powerful emotions, strong intellects, and unbridled appetites.

Critics have noticed the parallels between Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: both plays feature young lovers, forbidden love, a meddling nurse and friar, and a tragic ending—though Ford's incestuous lovers added an extra twist not found in Shakespeare's play. While some scholars criticize the violence in Ford's plays as excessive, others praise him for realistically portraying profound—if disturbing—psychological truths.

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This section contains 280 words
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Drama for Students
'Tis Pity She's a Whore from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.