Summay and Analysis: Act 1, Scenes 2-3

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1131

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Vasques: The Spanish servant to Soranzo.

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Grimaldi: A Roman soldier and aristocrat.

Florio: The father of Annabella and Giovanni.

Donado: A Parma citizen and uncle of Bergetto.

Soranzo: A nobleman who seeks to marry Annabella.

Putana: Annabella’s tutor and adviser.

Annabella: Giovanni’s sister and the daughter of Florio.

Bergetto: A nephew of Donado who seeks to marry Annabella.

Poggio: Bergetto’s servant.

Summary
Grimaldi and Vasques enter equipped with swords and taunting each other. Vasques calls his foe a lying, cowardly soldier of lesser quality than a servant like himself. Grimaldi retorts that he is “a Roman and a gentleman,” but in the ensuing fight Grimaldi loses. Florio, Donado, and Soranzo enter to see this swordplay, with Florio protesting that fighting so close to his house is distressing and dishonorable to him. Meanwhile, Donado tells Vasques to hold his temper and avoid such quarrels.

Soranzo then explains that he is striving to win the love of Annabella, as is Grimaldi, who continues to make insinuations against his rival, Soranzo. Soranzo scolds Grimaldi for making those insinuations, and explains that he assigned Vasques to defend him and “correct this tongue” of Grimaldi’s. Grimaldi departs with a dark warning for his rival.

Florio declares puzzlement over Soranzo’s dispute with Grimaldi, seeing as Anabella has already been pledged to Soranzo. Vasques defends Soranzo’s behavior, and Florio calls for the men to cease their anger by settling down to drink wine. They all leave.

Annabella and Putana, who have watched the scene on a balcony above the men, talk about the suitors. Putana dismisses Annabella’s discomfort over the subject and discusses the merits of Grimaldi and Soranzo. Putana likes that Grimaldi is an aristocratic Roman, but dislikes that he is a soldier and probably physically inadequate. Soranzo, though, is wise, rich, kind, and a nobleman. He is also handsome, wholesome, liberal, and loving. Annabella responds to this lengthy praise of Soranzo by joking about Putana’s alleged drinking in the morning. As Bergetto and Poggio enter, Putana comments that Bergetto is just a “brave old ape in a silken coat.” Bergetto and Poggio exchange comments on Bergetto’s inheritance from his uncle, Donado, and his prospects for marrying Annabella. Bergetto is confident of his prospects, but Annabella says he is an “idiot” and Putana dismisses him as well.

When Giovanni enters below, Annabella exclaims over his “blessed shape” and his despondency. She and Putana go down to meet him as he bemoans that his love is leading him to ruin. He has sought to deny his love with prayer and meditation and fasting, but none of these tactics have worked. In an aside, Giovanni vows to disclose his love to Annabella no matter the consequences. He asks Putana to leave him and Annabella in private, and the unsuspecting Putana does so.

Giovanni tells Annabella he is sick. He begins praising the beauty of her face, but then gives her his dagger and asks her to kill him. Giovanni explains this by saying that his love for her has brought him to despair. Annabella tells him to live, and explains that she has loved him for a long time too, in secret. The two siblings take turns kneeling while vowing to preserve their love for each other: if they do not, they should kill each other. Having done this, they kiss three times, and Giovanni tells her it is time “to court in smiles, to kiss and sleep.”

Florio and Donado enter. After Florio mentions his concerns over Giovanni’s excessive study, and his desire to have Annabella marry for love, Donado promises to give his nephew, Bergetto, 3,000 florins a year while he is alive, and bequeath his entire estate to Bergetto once he dies. Florio accepts this and tells Donado that Bergetto is free to pursue Annabella. Florio departs.

Donado despairs of Bergetto’s chances to win Annabella, and Bergetto and Poggio enter. Bergetto says that he has heard from his barber that a man with a sandbag mill and a wondrous horse is in town, and he is going to see these things. Donado reprimands Bergetto for chasing after such baubles and asks how his talk with Annabella went. Bergetto proudly relates that he told her he would inherit Donado’s wealth, but the disappointed Donado resolves to have him write Annabella a letter to make up for his verbal ineptitude. Donado suggests enclosing a jewel in the letter as well.

Analysis
Vasques courageously fights Grimaldi in defense of his master, and this steadfast and dangerous service to Soranzo introduces the issue of loyalty. Meanwhile, Grimaldi defends himself as “a Roman and a gentleman,” and his honor, and the honor of others, will be another persistent presence in the play. Indeed, Florio’s reproach of Grimaldi and Vasques for dueling cites their dishonor of him by not respecting his hospitality.

Annabella will be the main focus of the play, and Florio’s words for Soranzo show that her father already has plans to marry her to Soranzo. Meanwhile, Putana’s focus on the sexual prowess of her suitors introduces the theme of lustful womanhood. Putana is able to consider other qualities, but as Annabella’s comment on Putana's drinking shows, she is an example of wanton lust and sensual pleasure.

Bergetto’s crude, simple manner contrasts with the artifice and plotting of Annabella’s other two suitors. Annabella, by dismissing him in favor of the complicated yet troubled Giovanni, chooses a sophisticated personality over a rough and honest personality. This preference for sophistication and artifice over simple truth seems to parallel her unnatural lust for her own brother.

Indeed, in the siblings’ conversation that reveals their love talk of intent, temptation, counterfeiting, honesty, secrecy, and disharmony is prominent.
In contrast, Donado and Florio’s discussion of the terms Donado is willing to offer should Bergetto win Annabella shows both the financial stakes of her marriage and the legalistic way in which that marriage is being negotiated. Florio may want his daughter to marry for love, but not so much that he is not aware of the relative financial positions of her suitors. Bergetto’s continuing crudeness and credulity awakens Donado to the fact that crude financial methods of gaining Annabella’s favor, namely enclosing the jewel in the letter to her, may be necessary to achieve his objective. In other words, Donado believes that if Annabella is not won by Bergetto’s personality, she can be won by suggestions of money. This belief seems to reflect the mention of a whore in the play’s title. Bergetto fails to comprehend the sophisticated terms on which he is supposed to pursue Annabella, and this failure has made him comical yet honest, and entirely unique in this play.

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Summary and Analysis: Act 1, Scene 1

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Summary and Analysis: Act 2, Scenes 1-2

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