'Tis Pity She's a Whore

by

John Ford

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'Tis Pity She's a Whore: Act 1, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the city of Parma, Giovanni and the Friar enter, arguing. The Friar asks Giovanni not to continue the argument that they’ve been having, saying that philosophical debates can be useful, but Giovanni’s opinions are akin to people who argue that there is no God, and are the first to enter Hell. Giovanni is upset, believing that he was only confessing what was in his heart, and that the Friar is offering no comfort.
The opening moments of the play, even before Ford introduces the cause of Giovanni’s primary conflict, give insight into some of the main struggles of the play’s characters as they turn away from religious piety and towards unlawful desires.
Themes
Desire vs. Duty Theme Icon
Religious Piety vs. False Idols Theme Icon
Giovanni asks the Friar if Giovanni is not allowed to love as all other men do. Giovanni states that the bar against love between a brother and sister is simply a “customary form,” and explains why the love he bears his sister Annabella is not sinful. The Friar cries that Giovanni has turned away from religion, and Giovanni asks how he can be cured of his love. The Friar states that he must repent.
Ford quickly reveals the cause of Giovanni’s anguish when he reveals that Giovanni is in love with his sister. Thus, Giovanni’s predicament not only signifies a rejection of religious morals and customs, but also a rejection of social norms and familial duties.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Desire vs. Duty Theme Icon
The Friar laments that Giovanni had such a strong reputation when he was at school, so much so that the Friar even chose to tutor Giovanni at home rather than remain at the university, but now Giovanni has given himself up to lust, and therefore also to death. The Friar repeats that Giovanni should find another love, and Giovanni tells him that it would be easier to stop the tides of the ocean than his love.
The Friar’s depiction of Giovanni’s reputation reinforces the dramatic nature of the transformation that Giovanni undergoes over the course of the play by providing a frame of reference for his descent—from a perfect student to a person driven mad by passion. The link the Friar creates between lust and death also highlights the strong reaction that other characters will have to incest, and foreshadows Giovanni’s eventual death as a result of his lust.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Desire vs. Duty Theme Icon
Religious Piety vs. False Idols Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The Friar once more tries to counsel Giovanni to kneel, pray, grovel, and beg for forgiveness for seven full days. He tells Giovanni that if that doesn’t work, to return to the Friar, who will continue to think of other solutions in the meantime and pray for him as well. Giovanni agrees to do this and turns home, hoping that he will be spared God’s vengeance.
The Friar attempts to pull Giovanni back to religious piety and away from his lustful thoughts before he takes any action. Giovanni’s hope that he will be spared God’s vengeance introduces vengeance as one of the play’s central themes, and foreshadows the many plots of revenge and bloodlust that occur throughout the rest of the play.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Desire vs. Duty Theme Icon
Religious Piety vs. False Idols Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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