Ungovernable Passion in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore

Kibrina Davey


Many of the dramatic works of John Ford seem to be preoccupied with the topic of desire and portray a rich and vibrant picture of the potent and often dangerous emotional experience of love, from Penthea’s grief and subsequent starvation at the separation from her loved ones in The Broken Heart (1629) to Palador’s palpable love melancholy in the tragicomedy The Lover’s Melancholy (1629). Arguably, these themes are most explicit and central in the sensationally titled, and most famous of his plays ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (1633), which is notorious for its exploration of forbidden passion in the form of an incestuous relationship between Giovanni and his sister Annabella. The following article will consider the uncontrollable nature of passion and ask whether or not Ford presents the passions as governable, or even preventable. Are Ford’s protagonists able to exercise control over their excessive passion?

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