Further Critical Evaluation of the Work, Part 1 (Masterplots)

Although THE HONEST WHORE, PART ONE, taken as a whole, is not a typical comedy of humors, some of its characters display the peculiarities common to the type. Indeed, the advertisement from the title page of the play—“With the Humors of the Patient Man and the Longing Wife”—identifies two characters who suffer from a form of psychological unbalance. Unlike Ben Jonson’s comedy of humors, in which the afflicted persons’ unbalance often approaches madness, the humors characters in this play appear to suffer milder derangements.

The chief example from the subplot is Candido, the linen draper, whose patience—a Christian virtue usually considered admirable—is exaggerated to the point of stubborn eccentricity. Although Candido has “no more gall in him than a dove, no more sting than an ant,” he is rewarded for his meek forbearance with abuse instead of kindness. Candido’s problem is that his patient apathy torments his shrewish wife Viola, who is driven nearly lunatic in her futile attempts to rouse him. As the “longing wife,” Viola’s humor is rage. Nettled, she is ready to bite off her own tongue “because it wants that virtue which all women’s tongues have, to anger their husbands.” Count Hippolito, the protagonist from the main plot, also suffers early in the play from a humor, that of the “tyrant melancholy.” As a dour moralist, he lectures the whore Bellafront on her vice until he reforms her character. Sourly he...

(The entire section is 482 words.)