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

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  3,801 ratings  ·  146 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, New Mermaids, 176 pages
Published August 29th 2003 by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama (first published 1633)
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3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,801 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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James Nicolay
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
M.L. Rio
This play is basically an early modern slasher. Twisted and fantastic.
Mike Jensen
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
I have such mixed feelings about this play... I need to see it live to see if my hatred for Giovanni is justified and if some of the decisions feel as forced.
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Wish the cohen brothers would do a movie of this play!
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, lit, drama
I suppose this is cheating as I went to see this last night at The Globe's indoor theatre (having read it many years ago), but since the production was very text focussed -and after all it is drama, I feel I can justify it!

Published in 1633, the play is a direct, often humorous and finally bloody tragedy. Annabel is an eligible virgin of marriageable age who has many suitors vying for her hand: a well connected soldier, and eligible bachelor and a young blustering fool. Unfortunately when her b
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie
From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3:
Compassionate and disturbing, John Ford's great story of doomed love between a brother and sister in this new, visceral production for radio, intercut with the music of Jimi Hendrix and Nick Cave.

Annabella ..... Jessie Buckley,
Giovanni ..... Damien Molony
Signor Florio ..... Niall Buggy,
Putana ..... Fenella Woolgar,
Friar Bonaventura ..... Oliver Cotton.
Lord Soranzo ..... Matthew Pidgeon,
Vasques ...... Enzo Cilenti,
Hippolita ..... Indira Varma.
Grimaldi ..... Gary
Kiera Boudibiua
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This play is disturbing but it is very interesting. Nevertheless, it was a great read
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Five stars, because rarely does a classic manage to shock a modern reader brought up on GoT. Conversely, one has to wonder whether Ford influenced George RR Martin at all, because this play has many of the same elements that make GoT so shockingly twisted: sibling incest, gratuitous murder (at weddings and birthday feasts, even!), and Machiavellian characters (Vasques is an unsung Lord Baelish, Soranzo could put Robert Baratheon to shame, and Putana reminded me strongly of Grand Maester Pycelle) ...more
Mike Jensen
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: boun, tiyatro
sometimes i recite the title of this play in my mind and it genuinely amuses me.
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Celeste Chia
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the plot twist and philosophical questions arising from the (revenge) tragedy genre.
Jenna Owens
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-for-college
I actually screamed "WHAT THE FUCK GIOVANNI" during Act 5 Scene 5. DAMN. What an emotional roller coaster.
Enjoyed it more -- enjoyed it quite a bit -- on second reading. In fact, I'm no longer willing to sign on to any of the negative remarks below. Maybe it helped to know in advance that the incest theme was so prominent, so I could stop saying "wait, what, really?" and pay more attention to everything else going on.

I feel a little bit about writing only a short retraction of a long negative review, but John Ford won't be too offended I reckon.


"'Tis Pity She's a Whore" is kind of wonderful, and
Jan 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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,
Jan 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
L.E. 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
Feb 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Nicholas During
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
coming back to the thoughts about blood that i couldn't quite shake off from my readings of middleton, tis pity is pregnant with imagery of blood as gilt/guilt, blood as the thousand little lives that annabella as woman is capable of begetting, blood as family and blood as lust, blood stirred to incestual desire, blood warmed to revenge; there is a very visceral sense of hunger, the grotesque labour of love by which giovanni slices annabella's body from womb upwards to deliver her not of her chi ...more
Adam Stevenson
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
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.
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked 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.
Mar 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Netta De beer
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book got everything ....maybe a bit too much of and sister turned to each other for emotional support......not wrong ....the title I think is a bit mislaid....but absolutely loved it ❤a must ...more
Shelby Moxon
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Love this book :D
Natasha Granger
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Takes a bit of getting used to, this kind of language. Understood and enjoyed the play a lot more as I read on. 4 acts and a lot of scenes later, I really like it! :)
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.
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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
“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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