'Tis Pity She's a Whore

by

John Ford

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'Tis Pity She's a Whore: Act 4, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Time jumps ahead to just after Annabella and Soranzo have been married, at their wedding banquet. The Friar tells them to feast and enjoy the day. Soranzo says that he has been blessed with luck and with a “most precious jewel” for a wife.
Soranzo keeps with several themes of the play by objectifying and idolizing his new wife by tying her to wealth and jewels. Annabella, for her part, is silent, conforming to the expectations of her as a new bride.
Themes
Religious Piety vs. False Idols Theme Icon
Female Sexuality vs. Social Expectation Theme Icon
Not everyone shares in the joy of the feast. Giovanni says he would prefer ten thousand deaths to watching Annabella marry another man. Donado is also still grieving at his nephew’s death, and Florio urges him to drown his sorrows in wine. Soranzo toasts to Giovanni, his new brother, and to his own and Annabella’s happiness. Giovanni refuses to toast.
Giovanni feels betrayed by Annabella’s marriage, and his desire to die rather than to see her with someone else fuels his bloodlust. Here he also foreshadows his death as a result of his predicament as well as the specific actions that he takes to try to resolve it (such as killing Annabella and stabbing Soranzo).
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
A noise is heard offstage. Vasquez tells Soranzo that some young maidens of Parma wanted to perform a masque (a performance with music and dance) for Annabella. Hippolita (who is masked) and other ladies enter and dance. Soranzo asks which of them to thank for the performance.
Hippolita works within the limitations placed on women to get her revenge. As she would not have been allowed into the wedding, she instead uses the guise of dancing for the guests in order to execute her plot.
Themes
Female Sexuality vs. Social Expectation Theme Icon
Hippolita unmasks herself and reveals that the only thing she wants is to address the rumors in Parma. She joins Annabella’s and Soranzo’s hands and says that she is glad that they have been married. Soranzo is pleased by this seeming change of heart.
Hippolita’s deception is convincing. Following Vasquez’s example, Hippolita makes a calm and forgiving speech rather than using violent words, and is rewarded for this dispassion by convincing Soranzo of her honesty.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
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Hippolita asks one more thing: that they will join her in a toast to symbolize absolving Soranzo of the vows he once made to Hippolita. She calls to Vasquez to give her a cup of wine. Unbeknownst to her, he gives her a poisoned cup. She drinks. Soranzo wants to join in the toast, but Vasquez tells him that he shall have none of the wine.
There is a subtle irony in Hippolita’s scheme. She purports to make a toast to absolve Soranzo of his broken vows, when in fact she uses that very toast to poison Soranzo for those sins. However, the logical and loyal Vasquez prevents this premeditated murder.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Injustice Theme Icon
Hippolita is confused that Vasquez seems to be going against their plan. He reveals that he has given her a poisoned cup and explains Hippolita’s plot against Soranzo. He says that he knew it would have been treacherous to turn against Soranzo, but explains that he went along with Hippolita’s plan because he could not let her live when she was so desperate to get vengeance on Soranzo.
Vasquez’s deception ran deeper than Hippolita’s did. Thus, he is able to carry out his own form of revenge, switching Hippolita’s cups. He is able to defend himself with a logical argument that he was preventing Soranzo’s death and killing Hippolita for the crime she would have committed.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Injustice Theme Icon
The guests at the wedding, including Richardetto, exclaim that there has been justice. As Hippolita succumbs to the poison, she curses Annabella’s womb and swears that Soranzo will father bastards. She dies.
For his actions, Vasquez is rewarded by the guests for justice instead of punished for murder. Hippolita’s true hot-blooded nature returns as she curses Annabella’s womb, but of course, her prophesies have already come true.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Injustice Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The guests remark at how vile Hippolita was. Soranzo thanks Vasquez for his loyalty and takes Annabella home. The Friar remarks to Giovanni that what has transpired is very worrisome, since a marriage feast that begins in blood is not a good sign for the rest of the marriage.
Hippolita is judged harshly for her words. Even though she intended murder, she did not actually carry it out, and thus her death appears somewhat unfair to the audience, if not to the characters within the play. Whereas Grimaldi receives no punishment for murder, as a widowed woman Hippolita has few protections in society and thus she is treated harshly.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Female Sexuality vs. Social Expectation Theme Icon