Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-vh8gq Total loading time: 0.33 Render date: 2022-10-02T08:07:15.896Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

19 - ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore: the play of intertextuality

from Part II - Readings

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2010

Emma Smith
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University
Get access

Summary

At the very end of John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (c. 1633), a Cardinal steps forward to sort through an extraordinary story of incest and murder 'strangely met' (5.6.158) and to impose closure on the resulting spectacle of slaughter. Gesturing, we might imagine, to the disembodied and impaled heart of Annabella, the woman loved and killed by her brother, the Cardinal poses a stunning rhetorical question: 'Of one so young, so rich in nature's story, / Who could not say, 'tis pity she's a whore?' (5.6.159-60). The play's title clearly anticipates and emphasises the final tag. Also in their placement, these lines stand out as the provocative capstone of the complex and perplexing drama which precedes.

And yet, while the Cardinal's remark presumes and so precludes a response, that response is itself highly questionable. Where the Cardinal asks 'who could not say, 'tis pity she's a whore', we might well ask who could or indeed would? Annabella, the 'she' in question, is indictable on many fronts: she has engaged in an incestuous affair with her brother and, to cover her resulting pregnancy, she has married and deceived an unsuspecting nobleman, Soranzo. Upon learning her secret, Soranzo condemns her as a 'whore of whores' (4.3.20), as well as a 'strumpet', a 'rare, notable harlot', and an 'excellent quean', which all add up to the same thing (4.3.1, 4, 25). Otherwise, and even so, the charge of 'whore' seems at once to underplay Annabella's incestuous actions and to overplay her breach of marital fidelity.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×