'Tis Pity She's a Whore Topics for Further Study
by John Ford

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Topics for Further Study

(Drama for Students)

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Ford's play can be read as a commentary on the corruption of the court and courtiers of his time. Analyze the play's themes and characters in the context of late-Renaissance history. What do you believe Ford is saying about the politics of early-seventeenth century Britain? About contemporary kingship? Love? Ethics?

While it seems to some readers that Giovanni and Annabella freely choose to consummate their incestuous love, others believe—as does Giovanni himself—that they are fated to do so. Do you believe the lovers actions to be the result of free will or determinism? Cite evidence from the play to support your position.

While some may condemn the lovers' actions, it is possible to partially sympathize with their plight. After all, they seem to exist in a world without ethical values: family, court, and church seem corrupt and greedy. In a world without ethics, where can individuals go to decide what is right and wrong, how to live their lives?

The case can be made that Ford's dramatic literary style resembles the baroque style evident in the fine arts of the period. Research of the art history of the time will reveal many examples of these stylistic resemblances. You might begin with artists like Bernini, Carvaggio, and Gentileschi. Compare their visions with Ford's.

How do Ford's representations of incest compare with contemporary accounts? You might research psychologists or sociologists working with sexually abused children and compare their experiences with those related by Ford. In what ways does he present an accurate picture? What important details does he omit?