Summary and Analysis: Act 1, Scene 1

New Characters
Friar Bonaventura: The Friar who has taught Giovanni and serves as his counsel.

Giovanni: Annabella’s brother and the son of Florio.

Summary
John Ford's major English Renaissance drama, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, opens with a discussion of the abnormal psychology of incest. Giovanni and the Friar Bonaventura are debating Giovanni’s love for his sister, Annabella. The Friar begins by admonishing him to stop rationalizing his illicit love and repent. Giovanni protests that because he and his sister share the same father and same womb, this makes their love “so much the more by nature .” Their bond to each other is that much greater, and more natural, because they are brother and sister. He adds that he can trust the Friar to be compassionate and offer good advice to him.

However, as Giovanni persists in justifying his incestuous love, the Friar merely responds by telling him again to repent. Giovanni disavows this advice, and the Friar responds by recalling Giovanni’s accomplishments at university in Bologna and bemoaning that he has “left the schools of knowledge, to converse with lust and death.” The Friar tells Giovanni to pursue better objects of desire than his sister. As he mentions the eternal torment that will result from Giovanni’s incestuous desire, he advises Giovanni to go to his father’s house for a week to pray and try to cleanse his heart. If this does not work, he is to return to the Friar, who will give him a pharmaceutical remedy for his desire. Giovanni vows to follow this advice, which he says will free himself from “the rod of vengeance.

Analysis
The play is set in Parma, Italy, in the early 1600s, contemporary with Ford's writing of the play. The opening logical and philosophical/religious discussion between the Friar and Giovanni reflects the...

(The entire section is 528 words.)