'Tis Pity She's a Whore
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'Tis Pity She's a Whore

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  1,590 ratings  ·  67 reviews
One of the most controversal plays in drama literature, this play's treatment of the subject of incest and the portrayal of the morality of the protagonist has made this play one of the most studied in history.
It is one of the most psychologically powerful and intellectually challenging tragedies produced in the early years of King Charles I's reign and 20th-century direct
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 29th 2003 by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama (first published 1633)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,963)
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Mike Jensen
This is one of the most disturbing plays from an era of disturbing plays. The title is not accurate. She isn't, you know, but her lust for her brother is beyond control and so is his for her. Around the edges of the paly is the suggestion that everything would be fine if people would just leave them alone. Unfortunately, readers are so focused on the incestous theme and the great set piece at the end of the story, that few notice that the play is very much about property matters. Could the inces...more
James Nicolay
While the theme of incestuous love is teased at in John Webster’s The Dulcess of Malfi, the controversial Tis Pity She’s a Whore smacks the Jacobean Theater audience with a brother-sister love. While the play outwardly condemns the abhorrent taboo with the presence of church leaders to provide moral and ethical authority figures, Ford challenges the audience his audience with his juxtaposition of this otherwise-romantic love between Giovanni and Annabella with the normal yet abhorrent relationsh...more
Jan 21, 2008 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: english majors whose world doesn't revolve around shakespeare
Recommended to Amanda by: katy stavreva
Shelves: past-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 31, 2011 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Terence by: Elizabeth's review & a serendipitous Netflix search
I hadn’t planned on reading ’Tis Pity She’s A Whore when I saw Elizabeth’s review, though I enjoyed the resulting thread. In fact, at first I thought it was about a new book by this John Ford. The title certainly sounded like something he would write. But Fate had other plans when she revealed an Italian film version of it while I was browsing on Netflix. I figured I hadn’t much to lose in devoting a couple of hours to reading the play and watching the movie.

Though this isn’t “Roger & Ebert,...more
Mar 04, 2008 Maria rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
Read this play for an audition. Wikipedia claims that Ford was the predominant playwright during the reign of Charles I. Anyway, it's a verse play and is interesting to compare to Shakespeare although I fear it suffers by the comparison. The language is much more clear than Shakespeare but the images are not half so rich. It's a shocker though. By the end of the first page we learn that the central plot revolves around an incestuous relationship between a brother and a sister. By then end it dev...more
Lauren Fidler
yes, i totally read this play for its title.


i'm not a huge fan of carolinian drama but this one i actually sort of enjoyed. the premise is just so risque - an incestuous love affair between a brother and sister - it feels subversive just reading it! i have to admire the stones john ford must have had in dramatizing this particular story - even if his intent was to condemn his protagonist for his sacrilegious view of love. his lack of success in fulfilling his objective, however, mars the pl...more
Nicholas During
Transgression. Transgression. And, oh yeah, more transgression. What bloody good play (sorry, couldn't help it). I read since I'm going to a production by the UK's Cheek by Jowl pretty soon, and had absolutely no idea what it was about. Let me sum it up for you: incest. Which is bad-ass in it's own right, plus there are some really cool lines, for example, the title. And also this stage direction: "Giovanni enters carrying a knife with a heart on it." Not kidding.

There is a lot more going on in...more
Mike Jensen
One of the great plays of the era with a very good introduction. About that introduction: It showed me much I had not considered, but barely mentions issues of property and inheritance. I think this drives the story and certainly drives the ending more that Dr. Wiggins realizes, so that is a loss. Four stars for the introduction and five for the play, which puts the score at much closer to four stars than five. DO NOT use these comments as an excuse to skip the introduction which is excellent fo...more
Patrick Takata
John Ford is a truly underrated master of drama, and in Tis Pity She's a Whore, considered one of his greatest works, does not disappoint.

This shocking revenge tragedy tells the story of Giovanni, a young university student who has developed a passionate romantic obsession with his sister Annabella, who, astoundingly, reciprocates his feelings. Annabella, however, is betrothed to the stiff and practical Soranzo, who, once he has found out their secret, will stop at nothing to get revenge. The s...more
Erik Graff
Jun 02, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 17th c. theatre fans
Recommended to Erik by: Karen Spilke
Shelves: drama
During my fourth and last year at Union Theological Seminary my nextdoor neighbors in Hastings Hall were a Zen Buddhist and a Conservative Jewess. The latter, a native of New York, invited me and another friend, a Baptist from Texas, to spend Spring break with her up in the Catskills, visiting with her family and various of her friends.

While up in Washington Irving country the three of us went to see a theatre company perform John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. It wasn't Broadway, but the actor...more
Wow. Without a doubt one of the craziest plays I've ever read. Read in relationship to Cheek by Jowl's intriguing but flawed production at BAM, this a play I plan to return to again and again. How unusual to read such a multifaceted portrayal of incest (I don't know of another one). It also made me very curious to explore the whole "revenge" genre I'm woefully ignorant one.
Adam Stevenson
I've been in this one (as Florio) and I found it an extremely hard play to perform because it has such strange lurching in tone, I could never work out whether my character was a tragic one, a comic one or just a walking plot/exposition device.

If we are going for nutty tragedies, I much prefer 'Revenger's Tragedy'. It's a good title though, give it that.
A really weird and twisted "Romeo and Juliet meets Othello" kind of a tragedy-- with an emphasis on the twisted. Reading this is like watching a horrible car wreck, in which you simply cannot take your eyes away no matter how hard you try.
Julia Boechat Machado
Feb 18, 2010 Julia Boechat Machado rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julia by: Marguerite Yourcenar
Um dramaturgo proeminente na época de Charles I conta uma história de incesto, mas não o condena explicitamente, e dá a sua peça o nome de "'Tis Pity She's a Whore". Se você precisa de mais algo para ler o livro, leia o posfácio de Anna, Soror.
I Was In The Mood For A Play

I never could get beyond the first page of 'Tis Pity She's A Whore. I bought this book a few years ago because I liked the title and today, I finally said, "I'm going to read it."

Gory Jacobean revenge tragedy with the usual dark themes: incest, violence, murder, and intrigue. The text builds suspense up to the climactic final scene. I would also recommend going to see this play at a theatre.
May 08, 2012 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: drama
This play breaks lots of barriers- move over Duchess of Malfi, there's a werewolf in town!
A must read. Now that I've read it, it's a must see. If a production of this comes to the area, I'm there.
Steven Walle
This play is of an inscestouis relationship betwene a brother and sister. It is fraught with many suiters vieing for the hand of the lady and culminates in a bloody battle.
Incest aside, this is actually a really entertaining, well-written play - just don't be fooled by the title, it's a tragedy, not a comedy.
Disturbing, memorable. Think of a "grade B" horror film crossed with Shakespeare, and directed by David Cronenberg.
Read because it relates to The Real Thing. Elizabethan, but reminded me of a Greek Tragedy.
Wish the cohen brothers would do a movie of this play!
Fun to read. More fun to perform. Hippolita is lovely.
Jun 01, 2007 Mia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Incest
Shelves: plays
Do not spill your seed in your sister's belly.
Kate Buck
As good as any Shakespeare :-D
Ashley Tambunga Ratcliff
My first thought was: "What the hell did I just read?"

Upon recollecting myself and taking into consideration the era in which this book was written, I had to give credit to its element of shock. Incest, adultery, and murder in the 16th century are ingredients to a chaotic concoction that serves only to twist the inner parts of our humanity.


While it appears that the adulteress was all but unrepentant, the women in this play are mercilessly damned. Even the brother barely meets his comeu...more
Awesome characterization of Giovanni! (He's my favorite character despite all he does.) He's so well developed!

We see:

---multiple sides of him

---his psychological development (the long speeches about his love especially, shows us the state of his psychology, his thought processes)

---his one quirk: over-bookish

---has one overpowering motive that controls/ catalyzes the whole story.

----has a character change: from oh no it's so sinful that I love my sister --> I don't care, I love her anyway, s...more
'Tis Pity She's a Whore is a classic incest play by John Ford and it's story and characters are such a jumbled mess of crazy that I my mouth was gaping open like a fish's the entire one and a half hours I spent reading it.

The play tells the insane story of Giovanni, a rather simple young man ruled by nothing but his absolutely endless love for his stunningly beautiful sister Annabella.
Annabella is stunningly beautiful (oh, I said that before? Well, it's imortant! The author points it out rather...more
"'Tis Pity She's a Whore" is kind of wonderful, and kind of appalling, for its window into the strange world of 380 years ago, a world every bit as strange as our own.

I've read this with an organized reading group, and I'm sure I'll have a better understanding of it once the conversation kicks off. But it will be a tough sell to get me to think of this as a "good" play. It is, first of all, ridiculously lurid; it's all about enthusiastic incest, it has (counts on fingers) no less than five mostl...more
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John Ford (baptised 17 April 1586 – c. 1640?) was an English Jacobean and Caroline playwright and poet born in Ilsington in Devon in 1586.

Ford left home to study in London, although more specific details are unclear — a sixteen-year-old John Ford of Devon was admitted to Exeter College, Oxford on 26 March 1601, but this was when the dramatist had not yet reached his sixteenth birthday. He joined a...more
More about John Ford...
'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Other Plays The Broken Heart The Witch of Edmonton Three Plays The Lover's Melancholy

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“Lost, I am Lost! My fates have doomed my death.
The more I strive, I love; the more I love,
The less I hope. I see my ruin, certain.
What judgement or endeavors could apply
To my incurable and restless wounds
I throughly have examined, but in vain.
Oh, that it were not in religion sin
To make our love a god and worship it!
I have even wearied heaven with prayers, dried up
The spring of my continual tears, even starved
My veins with daily fasts; what wit or art
Could counsel, I have practiced. But, alas,
I find all these but dreams and old men's tales
To fright unsteady youth; I'm still the same.
Or I must speak or burst. Tis not, I know,
My lust, but tis my fate that leads me on.
Keep fear and low fainthearted shame with slaves!
I'll tell her that I love her, through my heart
Were rated at the price of that attempt.”
“GIOVANNI - L'opinione comune è una vana stolidità, che spaventa l'inesperta tempra della mente come il regolo del maestro tiene in rispetto un bambino: così fu di me; così io, prima che la mia impareggiabile sorella fosse sposata, pensavo che ogni diletto d'amore dovesse ricevere la morte da quel contratto: ma io non trovo alcun mutamento di voluttà in questa rituale legge di sollazzo. Per me è ancor quella, e ogni bacio non meno dolce e delizioso del primo ch'io colsi, quando il privilegio della giovinezza ancora le dava diritto al nome di vergine. Oh, la fulgida bellezza dell'unione di due cuori come il suo e il mio! Sognino pure di altri mondi gli uomini che vivono sui libri; il mio mondo, e di perfetta felicità, è qui, e non lo cambierei per il migliore dei mondi futuri: una vita di piacere è l'Eliso.” 0 likes
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