Tis Pity and Paradise Lost

  • Created by: Sarah
  • Created on: 11-05-13 10:13

A04 Paradise Lost

  • Milton wrote Paradise Lost after Cromwell had been defeated under the reign of Charles the second and in a Catholic England which may be why the poem presents ideas about challenging the typical Catholic hierachies.
  • The poem takes the form of the epic poem with a long narrative and a story on a grand scale with a grand scope. As part of this genre, the central character often undergoes a journey and has tragic characteristics which cause a downfall. This hero embodies cultural values of the time such as good oration skills like Satan has. Characters often speakn in long speeches as Satan and Eve do rather than naturalistic language.
  • As a protestant, Milton may also be presenting ideas from religion about predestination i.e. that Eve was predetermined to eat from the tree and become fallen because she was made as weaker than Adam in the first place - made out of his rib. Milton does not always support Christian orthodox ideas.
  • The poem parodies previous classical epics such as The Odessey but this is a secondary epic as C.S.Lewis argues and Milton wants to exceed the classical epic by using the holy spirit as his muse which allows him to justify the ways of God to man.
  • The general thrust of Milton's writing is toward freedom and a libertarian rejection of hierachy.
  • Book nine is the longest and most significant book within the whole of Paradise Lost
  • We know Milton was opposed to tyrants such as Charles the first explaining why he is sympathetic to Satan's rebellion.
  • Milton was also blind explaining why his imagery is so inventive and vivid.
1 of 4

A03 Paradise Lost

  • Milton had a msyogynistic approach as 'He thought women were made only for obediance, and man only for rebellion' (Dr Johnson)
  • Feminists may view the rebellion of Eve and her freedom from Adam as admirable.
  • Milton has a love of debate and argument which is how we can sympathise with Satan. 'If Milton had been in the garden of Eden he would have eaten the apple, and then written a pamphlet to show how just and neccessary his action was' (Rose MacCauley)
  • Coleridge commends Milton's use of imagery describing him as 'the very height of poetic sublimity'
  • In Dryden's inetrpretation during the Enlightenment period, Satan is a direct representation of Oliver Cromwell.
  • It has been suggested by William Blake, that Milton's sympathy with Satan means that he is 'of the Devil's party'.
  • Psychoanalytic critics may point out the use of metaphore as the characters' desire for the fruit represents their desire for sex and once this comes this increases their overall agression. This supports Freudian ideas about the id which is motivated by sex and agression and the power of base desires to lure characters beyond reason.
  • Satan may therefore be a representation of the base desire within us all 'within himself' the temptation lies as Adam warns.
2 of 4

A04 Tis Pity

  • The play is a typical Renaissance dramawhich can be compared with Romeo and Juliet and/or Othello. We know that Milton was heavily influenced by Shakespeare's works and many of his characters are direct developments of Shakespeare's own.
  • It explores social hierachy and patriachal society as does many plays of the time such as 'Women beware women'.
  • It also fits within the genre of a city play due to the claustrophobia of a corrupt city that is presented and the comic characters within this such as Bergetto as well as the rulers who are also corrupt like the Cardinal.
  • It is linked with Dr Faustus in explaining the threat of too much knowledge and a desire for power. 
  • The play also fit with other Revenge dramas such as the 'Revenger's Tradgedy' in which many plots all seeking revenge are presented and both texts end with a bloody climax.
  • Ford is writing during the late Renaissance period presenting a more curdled sour view of the rennaisance man shown clearly through the flawed character of Giovanni.
  • Ford is well into his middle ages and so it is suprising that he writes about youth and its apetite for transgression.
  • Ford is sometimes critiqued as a tried pastiche but he actually reassesses Elizabethan and Jacobean conventions.
3 of 4

Tis Pity AO3

  • The play was first perfomed in the cockpit, a very claustrophobic environment so the violence and intensity of scenes was increased and also the claustrophobia of a corrupt society showing how this easily influences characters' moral compasses. 
  • This claustrophobia was recently recreated in a performance by Cheek and Jowel where the whole of the play was set in Annabella's bedroom. 
  • Stereotypical view of women at the time is presented as either virgins and innocent like Philotus or completely corrupt like Putana. Female characters can either be one of the other and not both. Both types of women pose threats to male superiority which is why they are destroyed so brutaly in the text (Feminist critics). 'Women associated with dangerous sexual passions are controlled through the mutilation of their bodies' (Lomax).
  • Women are also killed in order to preserve them e.g. how Giovanni feels complete superiority as he clutches Annabella's heart and this is also presented in 'My Last Duchess' by Robert Browning.
  • The lack of superiority and defiance that women have, Lomax claims, is due to their lack of education compared with the knowledge and confidence of characters like Giovanni. Annabella is 'less a living character than a target for misogynistic abuse'.
  • In comparing the text with Romeo and Juliet, Richard McCabe points out that Ford makes an ironic comment on the fact that the tradgedy is "that they were not born of different families".
  • Rowland Wymer "After Giovanni clutches the bleeding heart, he thinks he possesses Annabella, but, in fact, he is left in a world of his own"
  • Psychoanalytic critics suggest that the stabbing of the heart may represent the violant penetration of Annabella just as Juliet's death represents her sexual completion.
  • Also, include 'other readers may suggest' for A03 points.
  • Raymond Powell draws on the similarities between Tis Pity and Othello.
  • Larry S Champion points out the ambivalence of the drama and the difficulty we have with trying to choose a favourite character.
  • Carol C Rosen suggests the language of cruelty in Ford's text, serves to emphasise it's cruel plot as it is a "quintessential drama of cruelty" (the culmination of many Renaissance dramas).
  • She also points out Ford's use of Ritualistic language "Let's end this fray in wine" and also the childish language and nature of the central couples love as a "double game of deadly vows and tragic promise".
4 of 4


Rob Gresham


Some mistakes, such as Milton did not write Tis Pity.

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all Paradise Lost resources »