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Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and the Jacobean Tragic Perspective

Larry S. Champion
PMLA
Vol. 90, No. 1 (Jan., 1975), pp. 78-87
DOI: 10.2307/461350
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/461350
Page Count: 10
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Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and the Jacobean Tragic Perspective
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Abstract

Whether reflecting the social theme in a drama alive to contemporary issues, or reacting to the jaded taste of a theatrical clientele, or probing individually for the most effective delineation of man's tragic plight, the Jacobean dramatists explore a view of life more somber and pessimistic than their Elizabethan counterparts. John Ford represents the culmination of this basic dramaturgical trend. In 'Tis Pity She's a Whore he creates central figures whose affection, if unrighteous, is also intensely sincere and whose aberrant conduct must be weighed against the treachery and hypocrisy of the society whose morality the lovers have rejected. The anagnorisis as well as the protagonist is doubled, and the spectator is left to choose between the wisdom of Annabella's Christian repentance and Giovanni's stoic insistence on the sanctity of private values. The result is a fundamentally pessimistic view of life in which man's challenge is the ambiguity of moral values constantly frustrating his search for a meaningful life.

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