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'Tis Pity She's a Whore

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A tragedy by J. Ford, printed 1633.

The play deals with the guilty passion of Giovanni and his sister Annabella for each other. Being with child, Annabella marries one of her suitors, Soranzo, who discovers her condition. She refuses to name her lover, though threatened with death by Soranzo. Soranzo invites Annabella's father and the magnificoes of the city, with Giovanni, to a sumptuous feast, intending to execute his vengeance. Although warned of Soranzo's intentions, Giovanni boldly comes. He has a last meeting with Annabella just before the feast, and to forestall Soranzo's vengeance, stabs her himself. He then enters the banqueting room with her heart on his dagger, defiantly tells what he has done, fights with and kills Soranzo, and is himself killed by his servant Vasques.

'Tis Pity is an obsessive, passionate play, focusing on the sensationalist incest taboo which is portrayed, with rich symbolic imagery, as doomed but intensely beautiful. This has made it Ford's most famous play, in the study and on the stage.

Reference entries

John Ford (1586—1639) playwright