'Tis Pity She's a Whore

by

John Ford

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The Golden Calf Symbol Analysis

The Golden Calf Symbol Icon

In the Bible, the golden calf is an object of worship (or “false idol”) made by the Israelites—a statue of a cow cast from gold. Early in the play, Puttana warns Annabella that Donado intends to make his nephew Bergetto into a golden calf as he tries to win Annabella. Thus, in the context of the play, the golden calf comes to represent objects and ideas that the characters idolize or worship as they would a god. Donado assumes that Annabella desires marriage to a wealthy suitor above all else, but he’s incorrect—she’s in love with her brother, and doesn’t care about Bergetto at all. Other characters in the play make vengeance their “golden calf,” pursuing it with passion and holding it above all else, often in situations where temperance and self-restraint would perhaps be more appropriate ideals. Giovanni makes Annabella’s love into a kind of golden calf, idolizing her over God as he turns away from religion and toward a life that the church deems sinful. In keeping with the Biblical tale, however, these golden calves are merely false idols, and the play ultimately shows that they cannot take the place of virtue or morality.

The Golden Calf Quotes in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore

The 'Tis Pity She's a Whore quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Golden Calf. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Publishers edition of 'Tis Pity She's a Whore published in 2014.
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

I would not, for my wealth, my daughter’s love
Should cause the spilling of one drop of blood.

Related Characters: Florio (speaker), Annabella, Soranzo, Vasquez, Grimaldi
Related Symbols: The Golden Calf
Page Number: 1.2.60-61
Explanation and Analysis:

The rich magnifico that is below with your father, charge, Signor Donado his uncle, for that he means to make this his cousin a golden calf, thinks that you will be a right Israelite and fall down to him presently; but I hope I have tutored you better.

Related Characters: Puttana (speaker), Annabella, Donado, Bergetto
Related Symbols: The Golden Calf
Page Number: 1.2.118-122
Explanation and Analysis:

Oh, that it were not in religion sin
To make our love a god and worship it!

Related Characters: Giovanni (speaker), Annabella
Related Symbols: The Golden Calf
Page Number: 1.2.145-146
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Golden Calf Symbol Timeline in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Golden Calf appears in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 2
Religious Piety vs. False Idols Theme Icon
Female Sexuality vs. Social Expectation Theme Icon
...idiotic Bergetto is. Puttana tells her that Bergetto’s uncle, Donado, means to make Bergetto a golden calf to her in the hopes that Annabella will fall down in love to Bergetto. Puttana... (full context)