'Tis Pity She's a Whore

by

John Ford

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'Tis Pity She's a Whore: Act 5, Scene 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The play jumps back to Soranzo’s birthday feast, where the Cardinal, Florio, Donado, Soranzo, Richardetto, and Vasquez are taking their places at the table. They begin to eat, and Soranzo realizes Giovanni’s absence and asks where he is. Giovanni enters with a heart on his dagger. Giovanni tells them that the heart on his dagger is Annabella’s.
Rather than submitting himself to the will of others, Giovanni continues his rampage, flaunting his crime. The fact that Giovanni carries Annabella’s heart into the feast links lust and bloodlust, as her physical heart demonstrates that Giovanni took not only her love, but also her life.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Religious Piety vs. False Idols Theme Icon
Florio asks if Giovanni is crazy. Giovanni confesses that he is indeed mad, and tells his father how much he loved Annabella and how he enjoyed her bed the past nine months, but she became pregnant. Florio says that he is lying, and Vasquez goes to find Annabella.
A far cry from a Catholic confession, Giovanni refuses to be ashamed of his sins and almost seems to take pride in admitting what he has done.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Religious Piety vs. False Idols Theme Icon
Vasquez returns and confirms that Giovanni is telling the truth. Florio dies in shock. The Cardinal berates Giovanni for breaking his father’s heart. Soranzo asks Giovanni if he plans to survive the murders he has committed. Giovanni tells him he does, and stabs Soranzo as well.
Together, Giovanni and Soranzo’s hot-bloodedness causes the final casualties of the play: not only each other’s deaths, but also the deaths of Annabella, Florio, and Puttana. Very few are spared from the destruction of passion.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Vasquez says that he can no longer stand by and watch. He launches at Giovanni, and they fight. Vasquez wounds Giovanni, stabbing him again and again. Seeing that Giovanni is not yet dead, he shouts “Vengeance!” and the Banditti emerge. They fight Giovanni, who falls to his knees. Vasquez calls them off, and the Banditti flee.
The Banditti’s last appearance, summoned by the watchword “veangeance,” marks a ruthless ending to Giovanni’s tragedy, but more than anything highlights the lack of justice, law, and morality within the society.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Injustice Theme Icon
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Soranzo, barely alive, says he is pleased to see his wrongs avenged on Giovanni. He tells Vasquez not to let Giovanni live, and then dies. Giovanni thanks Vasquez for stabbing him, saying that he has saved Giovanni from having to kill himself. The Cardinal tells Giovanni that he should beg for mercy, to which Giovanni replies that he has found mercy in the justice that has occurred. Giovanni asks only that he be able to see Annabella’s face again.
Soranzo achieves his vengeance, but at the ultimate cost. Giovanni once again demonstrates the catastrophe and chaos of the law in Parma. He continues to deny religion in not begging the Cardinal and God for mercy.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Injustice Theme Icon
Religious Piety vs. False Idols Theme Icon
Donado and the Cardinal worry that they will be murdered as well. Vasquez assures them that he has no intention of killing them, as he has now paid his duty to Soranzo’s father. He explains that he was brought from his native Spain to Italy by Soranzo’s father and served him dutifully. He vowed to serve Soranzo faithfully as well.
Vasquez’s backstory provides an explanation for his loyalty to Soranzo. Vasquez is one of the few characters who is not caught between desire and duty; he merely adheres to duty and is rewarded greatly for this loyalty, as his life is spared.
Themes
Desire vs. Duty Theme Icon
The Cardinal asks if anyone else was complicit in this incest. Vasquez tells the Cardinal of Puttana, and says that he blinded her and kept her alive to confirm Giovanni’s story. The Cardinal tells him to take her outside the city and burn her. Donado concurs that this verdict is just. Vasquez then asks what should become of him. The Cardinal says that he should only be banished and must leave Italy within three days. Vasquez exits.
Even though Vasquez has committed far worse crimes than Puttana, a fellow servant, their punishments differ greatly, highlighting again the different standards to which men and women are held.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Injustice Theme Icon
Female Sexuality vs. Social Expectation Theme Icon
The Cardinal surveys the damage and asks that all the gold and jewels be confiscated from the bodies for the Pope’s use. Richardetto interjects to say that he can no longer hide his identity, removing his disguise at last. The Cardinal greets him as a friend.
The Cardinal once more demonstrates that he is not the voice of a moral and just church, but is instead concerned primarily with money and power. When Richardetto reveals himself, it provides another example of a character that remains alive only because he was not spurred to lust or violence.
Themes
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Religious Piety vs. False Idols Theme Icon
The Cardinal sums up the course of events in amazement, remarking that incest and murder have never intertwined in such a bizarre way. In the final line of the play he wonders, “Who could not say, “’Tis pity she’s a whore’?”
Though the Cardinal gets the last word of the play, the fact that he has been portrayed as superficial and corrupt lays the foundation for a strong argument that Ford is critiquing such harsh judgment of women. Annabella is shown throughout to be a sympathetic (if conflicted) character who works through a real moral conundrum before repenting, and this derogatory summation of her plight represents a failure of the society and the men around her.
Themes
Injustice Theme Icon
Religious Piety vs. False Idols Theme Icon
Female Sexuality vs. Social Expectation Theme Icon
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