Summary and Analysis: Act 4, Scene 3

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1156

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Banditti: A group of bandits who serve Soranzo.

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Summary
Soranzo, his sword drawn, drags Annabella in and extensively denounces her lustful ways. He has learned of her illicit pregnancy. Annabella, though, defends herself by saying he was too quick to marry her and that in marrying him, she was only acceding to his desires. She claims that she would have told him of her pregnancy before the marriage if given the time. Soranzo replies with outrage, but Annabella remains steadfast and refuses to say who her baby’s father is. She does daringly say that she is carrying a boy who will serve as Soranzo’s heir. Annabella praises her lover for his beauty, glory, and irresistibility and deems Soranzo unworthy to know the lover’s name. Soranzo sustains his outrage over her impunity, but Annabella keeps the name secret. Soranzo vows that “I’ll rip up thy heart and find [the lover’s name] there .” Annabella replies by taunting him, and begins singing, in Italian, verses about the sweetness of dying for love.

Soranzo reiterates his determination to kill Annabella, and Annabella dares him to kill her. When Soranzo asks if Florio knows about the pregnancy, she answers that he doesn’t. He asks her to confess and repent, but she refuses. At this point, Vasques enters and tells Soranzo to quiet his rage. Calling Soranzo's behavior unmanly, he argues that Annabella’s behavior before marrying is not something Soranzo can punish. He adds that demanding her to name her lover is also wrong, because it is not something Soranzo should know. Annabella asks Vasques to stop trying to help her and save her life, but Vasques argues that this request merely displays her nobility. He tells Soranzo in an aside that he will investigate Annabella’s misdeeds himself, then again begs Soranzo to forgive and show his grandeur. Soranzo bemoans placing his trust and love in Annabella. Vasques, in another aside, tells Soranzo to make a brief and moving statement to Annabella.

Soranzo then asks her if she knew he loved him before she married him, and she assents that she did know. Soranzo then asserts that his love for her was greater than her lover’s love for her was, and that he loved her heart and virtue, not just her beauty. Annabella says she is affected by this claim, and Vasques asserts his own pity for Soranzo. Soranzo asks Annabella to forgive him for failing to perform the husband’s duty of forgiving his wife for her misdeeds and maintains that now he does forgive her. She kneels, and Soranzo tells her to get up, go to her room, and await his arrival.

When she leaves, Soranzo returns to his earlier emphasis on revenging the shame Annabella has inflicted on him, and Vasques urges him to carry out this revenge. He advises that Soranzo treat Annabella well in order to inspire her penitence for her misdeeds. Soranzo leaves, and Vasques announces that he had previously suspected Annabella of an affair.

As a crying Putana enters, Vasques comments that she is the way for him to learn the identity of Annabella’s lover. He sympathizes with Putana and Annabella’s plight, but adds that if Soranzo learns the lover’s name, everything will be settled. Putana admits that she knows something. Vasques tells her that she should not betray Annabella’s confidence, but that if she does, she would benefit Annabella and win herself “everlasting love and preferment.” With this argument, and the vow that he will protect Putana from any harm that might come, Putana is prompted to expose Giovanni. Vasques professes to commend Annabella’s choice of Giovanni, and Putana adds that Giovanni will return to Annabella soon. Vasques questions her about this, and when Putana defends the truth of her revelation, Vasques calls for the banditti to come in, tie her up, and put out her eyes. They come in and tie her up as he gags Putana. They take her away, and he denounces both Putana and Annabella while mentioning his intent to tell Soranzo the news.

Giovanni enters, and Vasques tells him Annabella has a new illness. When Giovanni gives him money while asking where she is, Vasques tells him she is in her room, and that Vasques will serve Giovanni in the future. Giovanni exits, and Soranzo returns to hear that Vasques has succeeded in finding out Annabella’s lover. They depart so Vasques can tell his master in private what he has learned.

Analysis
Soranzo’s extreme anger over Annabella's lover before she married him shows a sexual double standard in the play. Soranzo had carried on an affair with the married Hippolita without being punished for it, but Annabella is not allowed to have sexual relations outside of marriage. It is hard to tell if her refusal to tell Soranzo who she had slept with stems from her fears of the consequences of her incestuous affair, or if she truly feels that Soranzo is not worthy to know Giovanni’s name. In any case, her bravery in refusing to reveal the name is both surprising and audacious.

Vasques furthers the theme of duplicity and artifice by telling his master, Soranzo, how to handle himself when talking with Annabella. Soranzo does not speak from his heart, but only after being coached on what to say by his servant. Soranzo cannot help but reveal his true desire for vengeance at first, but he suppresses it in the face of Vasques' reasoned advice, just as Giovanni suppresses the Friar's emotional arguments against incest. This suggests that morality cannot be determined by intellectual argument.

Vasques also practices duplicity by pretending to sympathize with Annabella and criticize Soranzo for being so angry with Annabella, as well as by pretending to sympathize with Putana and approve of Giovanni and Annabella’s relationship. His duplicity, which continues in his invitation for Giovanni to visit Annabella, is an exceedingly successful way for him to accomplish his goals. In this scene, he seems to take control by manipulating other people and lying to them constantly.

Vasques is only a servant to Soranzo, but he has become the center of the play’s action and become the clearest example of duplicity and secrecy in the play. He is the only character with privileged information about everyone's secrets, and he uses that information only to cause harm and inform others how to take revenge. The surprising brutality with which he treats Putana suggests a hidden undercurrent of cruelty. Putana's only betrayal was to remain loyal to her mistress and keep her secret, but to tell that secret when pressured with promises of love. Throughout the play, Putana has been honest and loyal, to a fault, and Vasques' brutal treatment of her loyalty suggests that Putana's main failing was not keeping secrets, but rather not finding out secrets in the first place. Knowledge is power.

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Summary and Analysis: Act 4, Scenes 1-2

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Summary and Analysis: Act 5, Scenes 1-3