'Tis Pity She's a Whore

by

John Ford

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Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon
Desire vs. Duty Theme Icon
Injustice Theme Icon
Religious Piety vs. False Idols Theme Icon
Female Sexuality vs. Social Expectation Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Theme Icon

The characters of ’Tis Pity are plagued with excesses of passion—both sexual lust and violent bloodlust—that overcome their rational judgment. As the play shows, both of these sorts of passion can easily overwhelm even the most seemingly noble characters and compel them to act in ways that deviate starkly from societal expectations, including incest and murder. Not only do these passions lead the characters to sin, they also lead them to their own destruction.

The play’s central couple, Annabella and Giovanni, most clearly demonstrate the pitfalls of passion, as the brother and sister are drawn into an illicit and incestuous affair against their better judgment and the advice of others. Ford emphasizes the changes passion brings out in Giovanni in particular. Giovanni starts the play as a promising student and noble gentlemen to whom the Friar is devoted. In keeping with his good character, Giovanni initially seeks the Friar’s counsel in an attempt to escape from the incestuous passion he feels for his sister. But he is unsuccessful in his struggle, and by the end of the play he has become murderous and mad with lust. Meanwhile, Annabella is inflamed with an equally strong desire for Giovanni. She is at first struck with a pity for his heartbreak that quickly becomes a deep and abiding love for him. Despite repenting for her sinful lust for her brother in the final act of the play, she still allows Giovanni to kiss her in her marriage bed, which is what allows Giovanni to kill her mid-embrace.

Annabella’s husband Soranzo embodies another excessive passion: rage. Like Giovanni, Soranzo is highly regarded by respected characters in the play, such as Annabella’s father Florio. However, when Soranzo discovers that Annabella is pregnant by Giovanni, he is consumed with rage against her and her lover. His pursuit of revenge leads to the climactic fight with Giovanni that results in Soranzo’s death. Soranzo’s desire for blood is fulfilled when Giovanni kills Annabella and the Banditti ambush Giovanni, but his rage becomes self-destructive when his plan leads Giovanni to wound Soranzo himself.

The supporting character Hippolyta further demonstrates how excessive passion can lead to rage and senseless violence. Before the play begins, Soranzo tempts Hippolyta to betray her marriage vows. Like Annabella, she pities Soranzo’s longing for her and gives in to his pleas, beginning a sexual relationship with him. Her sympathy becomes romantic love—but even these more positive emotions turn into bloodlust when Soranzo’s attention turns to wooing Annabella. Hippolyta’s pursuit of revenge leads to her death when Vasquez tricks her into drinking the poison she had intended for Soranzo. In choosing revenge over repentance, Hippolyta turns her excess of love into rage and accidentally brings about her own death. Vasquez, by contrast, is the play’s most even-tempered character. Although no more moral than the other characters, his self-control and foresight make him different from the more passionate characters in the play, so his survival at the end of the play serves to further underscore the dangers of excessive passion. Although Hippolyta believes she can use her sensuality and riches to lure Vasquez to her side and make him betray his master Soranzo, Vasquez betrays Hippolyta instead. Vasqeuz’s emotional detachment enables him to resist Hippolyta, which in turn allows him to act in the way that ultimately enables him—unlike Soranzo, Hippolyta, Giovanni, and Annabella—to survive the play.

The play condemns unbridled passion as the downfall of noble people, as the play’s morally good characters are powerless against lust, whose all-consuming power corrupts and destroys them. This might suggest that even-tempered moderacy is the only way to thrive (or even survive) in the world, but it is only the play’s less moral characters (like Vasquez) who escape unharmed. This suggests an even more cynical outlook: perhaps only those who are immoral have the emotional distance to escape the destructive force of passion, leaving only the least human characters of all in control of the world.

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Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust Quotes in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore

Below you will find the important quotes in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore related to the theme of Passion, Lust, and Bloodlust.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

O Giovanni, hast thou left the schools
Of knowledge to converse with Lust and Death?
For Death waits on thy lust. Look through the world,
And thou shalt see a thousand faces shine
More glorious than this idol thou ador’st.

Related Characters: Friar (speaker), Giovanni, Annabella
Page Number: 1.1.57-61
Explanation and Analysis:

All this I’ll do to free me from the rod
Of vengeance; else I’ll swear my fate’s my god.

Related Characters: Giovanni (speaker), Annabella, Friar
Page Number: 1.1.84-85.
Explanation and Analysis:
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:

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:

On my knees,
Brother, even by our mother’s dust I charge you,
Do not betray me to your mirth or hate:
Love me, or kill me, brother.

Related Characters: Annabella (speaker), Giovanni
Related Symbols: Swords and daggers
Page Number: 1.2.247-250
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

Do you know me now? Look, perjured man, on her
Whom thou and thy distracted lust have wronged.
Thy sensual rage of blood hath made my youth
A scorn to men and angels;

Related Characters: Hippolita (speaker), Soranzo
Page Number: 2.2.25-29
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 5 Quotes

Marriage? Why, that’s to damn her; that’s to prove
Her greedy of variety of lust.

Related Characters: Giovanni (speaker), Annabella, Friar
Page Number: 2.5.41-42
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 4 Quotes

‘Twas well done, Giovanni: thou herein
Hast shown a Christian’s care, a brother’s love.

Related Characters: Florio (speaker), Giovanni, Annabella, Friar
Page Number: 3.4.32-33
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 5 Quotes

RICHARDETTO: Time runs apace.
BERGETTO: Time’s a blockhead. [Kisses her.]
RICHARDETTO: Be ruled! When we have done what’s fit to do,
Then you may kiss your fill, and bed her too.

Related Characters: Richardetto (speaker), Bergetto (speaker), Philotis
Page Number: 3.5.48-51
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 6 Quotes

There stands these wretched things,
Who have dreamt out whole years in lawless sheets
And secret incests, cursing one another.
Then you will wish each kiss your brother gave
Had been a dagger’s point.

Related Characters: Friar (speaker), Giovanni, Annabella
Related Symbols: Swords and daggers
Page Number: 3.6.24-30
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 7 Quotes

Now guide my hand, some angry Justice,
Home to his bosom.

Related Characters: Grimaldi (speaker), Soranzo, Bergetto
Related Symbols: Swords and daggers
Page Number: 3.7.6-7
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

Burn, blood, and boil in vengeance. Oh, my heart!
My flame’s intolerable! – May’st thou live
To father bastards; may her womb bring forth
Monsters; and die together in your sins,
Hated, scorned and unpitied!

Related Characters: Hippolita (speaker), Annabella, Soranzo
Page Number: 4.1.60-61, 64-67
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4, Scene 2 Quotes

Your chaste and single life shall crown your birth:
Who dies a virgin lives a saint on earth.

Related Characters: Richardetto (speaker), Philotis
Page Number: 4.2.28-27
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

Yet will I not forget what I should be,
And what I am: a husband. In that name
Is hid divinity. If I do find
That thou wilt yet be true, here I remit
All former faults, and take thee to my bosom.

Related Characters: Soranzo (speaker), Giovanni, Annabella, Vasquez
Page Number: 4.3.135-139.
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

My conscience now stands up against my lust
With depositions charactered in guilt,
And tells me I am lost.

Related Characters: Annabella (speaker), Giovanni, Friar
Page Number: 5.1.6-10.
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

VASQUEZ: Let not your pity betray you till my coming back:
Think upon incest and cuckoldry.
SORANZO: Revenge is all the ambition I aspire;
To that I’ll climb or fall. My blood’s on fire!

Related Characters: Soranzo (speaker), Vasquez (speaker), Giovanni, Annabella
Page Number: 5.2.22-25
Explanation and Analysis: