Summary and Analysis: Act 5, Scene 6

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 853

Summary
The Cardinal, Florio, Donado, Soranzo, Richardetto, and Vasques take their places at Soranzo’s banquet. Vasques briefly tells Soranzo to “be wise and resolute” in carrying out his plans for revenge before Soranzo asks the Cardinal if he likes the entertainment. The affirmative answer comes just before Giovanni enters with a heart on his dagger. He tells Soranzo he is “proud in the spoil of love and vengeance!”

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Soranzo wonders if his plot is undone, and Giovanni says he has killed Annabella, whose heart is now before them. An amazed Florio is told by his son that he had loved Annabella for nine months, and that her baby was his. At first Florio disbelieves this, and Soranzo too doubts Giovanni. But Vasques reports that Annabella is dead, and Florio dies, presumably of a heart attack or shock. The Cardinal calls Giovanni a monster, and Giovanni realizes he is the last person in his family who is still alive. He stabs Soranzo to take revenge for Annabella, and Vasques defends his master by fighting with Giovanni. Vasques calls out “Vengeance!” and the banditti come in to surround and wound Giovanni before departing. Soranzo realizes he is dying, and in his last words tells Vasques to kill Giovanni. Giovanni thanks Vasques for wounding him. The Cardinal calls on Giovanni to beg heaven for mercy before dying, but Giovanni rejects this advice to seek the sight of Annabella’s face as he dies.

With Giovanni dead, Vasques explains to a furious Cardinal that he has served Soranzo’s father as well as Soranzo himself by killing Giovanni. Vasques had served Soranzo’s father before the father died and Vasques went on to serve the father’s son as well. Although he was not able to save Soranzo's life, he preserved the honor of the family by carrying out the appropriate revenge that salvages Soranzo's honor, even in death. Vasques adds that Putana aided the incest of Annabella and Giovanni, and that her eyes have been put out.

The Cardinal orders “this woman” to be burned outside the city, without specifying if the woman is Annabella or Putana. He orders Vasques to leave the city and Italy within three days because he is a Spaniard, and not because he killed Giovanni. Vasques, after exclaiming his pleasure at gaining his revenge, departs. The other bodies are to be buried, and their property seized by the Catholic Church. Richardetto chooses this point to unmask himself and show his true identity. The Cardinal delivers the closing lines by summarizing the play as a story of "incest and murder." He also gives the drama its title by referring to Annabella with these last words: "Who could not say, 'Tis pity she's a whore?"

Analysis
Vasques gives another example of his control by telling Soranzo that he needs to be wise and resolute. However, Giovanni ends this control by surprising everyone as he brings in Annabella’s heart and discloses both his murder of her and their incestuous relationship. At this point, the deceit and secrecy evident throughout the play are finally starting to end, and the consequence of that deceit and secrecy is death. For example, Florio, who had tried to successfully and secretly negotiate his daughter’s marriage, is overwhelmed to the point of death by the news of her incest. Soranzo dies as well, but he dies satisfied in the belief that he has indeed gained his revenge by seeing Giovanni attacked by the banditti. However, Giovanni claims that he too has gained revenge by killing Soranzo. These competing claims of revenge show how even as these two characters are about to die, they continue to be focused on their obsessions over gaining revenge. Indeed, even Vasques glories in the revenge he believes he has won. So all three of these male characters depart the play and life believing that they have won their own revenge.

The closing scene of the play also shows the Church to be a corrupt and immoral institution. The Cardinal does not criticize Vasques for his actions or his logic, much less his morality. Vasques manages to kill and maim Hippolita, Soranzo, Giovanni, Annabella and Putana with his actions and words. He goads Soranzo into ever-greater acts of vengeful depravity, and yet the Church does not take issue with any of his actions. Instead, the Cardinal adds to the insult Vasques has already dealt out by ordering one of the women burned, although it is unclear whom. Furthermore, the Cardinal claims the property of everyone who has died for the Church. This opportunistic move renders the Church laughably involved with a worldly and sordid scheme. The Friar's goodness has absolutely no effect on the actions in the play, and so Ford paints a corrupt and bleak portrait of the Church. Additionally, the Cardinal, in the last line of the play, delivers a judgment of Annabella by calling her a "whore." By doing this, he seems to blame her for the tragedies that have developed, while declining to judge or blame the male characters, who were responsible for all the play's deaths, including Annabella's.

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Summary and Analysis: Act 5, Scenes 4-5