Metaphysical roots of the drama; John Ford: The Jacobean Darkness
From Cincinnati we present the sixth and final program in the 968 series of Frank L. Weil Institute lectures delivered at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. The lecture is Dr. Robert Bruce Dean Dean of the Yale School of Drama who is general topic is the metaphysical roots of the drama. These lectures are released through the University of Cincinnati station WG you see the title of this program is John Ford the Jacoby and darkness. Here is Dr. Robert Bruce. We've taken you. Around the Swiss journey through me it was a beef stew and. We've begun with a man named Christopher Marlowe. Represents the initial thrust of a renaissance humanism. We've gone from there through Stuart Thomas Shakespeare who shows us in King
Lear the disintegration of renaissance humanism and with promises like townhome when. We come to the fall. The finality of humanism the absolute destruction of it. Because for him to like his own contemporaries tickly Middleton writes about a world which is essentially shrouded in a moral mist and he deals as Middleton does with the central question what should be the mode of behavior when the heavens seem empty and the gods are absent. And do not no longer preside over human activity. Tis pity she's a whore is a love story. Like many dramas of this period and the period that preceded it but now it's a love story about a pair of monsters not about a
pair of lovers that immediately attract our attention and Nevertheless we find a situation in which romantic love has become for the apparently the only form of redemption in a world without redemption. And the only way in which a central character shows his superiority to other characters by passion itself. John Ford himself is a rather peculiar and little known figure. We know he was baptized in the 15 86. The date of his death is unknown though it's generally presumed to be somewhere around sixteen thirty nine. He went to study law at the Middle Temple in 16 0 2. We know he was expelled from the Middle Temple in 16 0 6 for nonpayment of his buttery bills which is to say he wasn't supporting himself properly wasn't paying for his food and drink later on through a
payment of forty shillings. He was re-installed at school. He metes made his debut as a poet in 16 06 by writing an Elegy on the love affair between Charles blouse and Penelope rich. A woman who was formally Penelope Devereaux and who you may know as the Stella of Sydney's poet. Ask a fella and Stella and this initial poem is significant because it shows the concern the boy will have throughout his writing career with ill sated lovers and with the ideals of romantic love. In fact his main subject is love but it always remains illegal love he never writes about a legal passion and he writes about Illegal Love and supports it against the moral and Canon and religious law of his time and by so doing he carries the romantic imagination to its utmost limits in the
Carolina age. Ford wrote five plays most of which show his Can the titles of which generally show his concerns. He really did start the Chronicle Perkin Warbeck. He wrote a play called lover's melancholy. One called love love sacrifice another one called the broken heart. And this final play just pity she's a whore. There are almost no contemporary judgements on his work by other writers except for a famous couplet which appears in the work all the time poets and sixteen fifty three and it's simply two lines that say deep in a dump. John Ford was GATT with folded arms and melancholy act. And this couple suggests the melancholy quality that is at the basis of his art. He gives us the feeling of a very heavy laden heart expressing its burdens through verse is a
poet of a courtly sensibility not of a common sense ability full of sentiment and pathos which is as I say reflected in these poignant titles the melancholy for he puts a great deal of emphasis on melancholy and this emphasis along with certain internal references from the plays themselves suggest that he is heavily influenced in his work by Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy which we know who've been with him sixteen twenty one. In fact some critics read every forward play as a clinical illustration of some bird Tonia theory about melancholy. Certainly his drama is very ritualistic. It's very very refined almost a famine at that time. He's clearly an aristocratic poet. Very much concerned with the idea of no glass how one behaves notably in a refined and elegant fashion that is to say until we get to tis pity she's a whore. A
play like the broken heart could have been written by Maurice made a link. It's a play that takes place on the water very static very much concerned with the distress of the soul. The names of the characters show that they stand for moods rather than them as humors the character name or Regulus which means angry pride. There's a character named Pentium which means complaint attack name ethically is which means loveliness and in this play The man grew. And the women suffer the action throbs with emotion. None of it very passionate. That's all very constrained and very polite. In fact the climax comes when the heroine hears of the death of her lover. She's dancing at the time. She makes no strong reactions of his death. She arranges the affairs of state as she continues dancing. She kisses the body of her lover and then with a smile she dies of a broken heart. You can see the
character not moving in any realistic way at all there in the very unreal Arcadian atmosphere where we find aristocratic values projected into a story and in the stark room. Really kind of a non recognizable past and where all the emphasis on a kind of formal ceremonial gesture not how people behave and how they would behave ceremonially and ritualistically every once in a while violence and sensationalism intrude. But there was a general effect of tranquility and delicacy. In love sacrifice. His next play we find for it doing something they're used to doing tis pity she's a whore that is doing something of a parody or at least a modernistic gloss on a Shakespeare play. This is a very curious drama love sacrifice. The fact is so close to Othello that it seems I say to be an ironic version of Othello. We have a heroine named Bianca Desdemona
who is married to a duke karate fellow. She's imports you can buy a love from my Casio. She doesn't love her aging husband but she's very grateful to him and she's determined to be loyal to him. She falls in love with this Fernando almost against her will. She rejects his advances but allows him to make them. And he pledges to end the courtship when he does so she allows him to come to her better rather she comes to his bed. But the interesting thing here is she comes to him saying you can have me but I would kill myself if you consummate your love. Thus thrusting all the responsibility on him as you can see for her death so nothing happens except a little harmless dalliance a little erotic foreplay which amounts to nothing. Now the Duke around her husband is being told of this affair by the Iago character Davalos who is seen them kissing
and. And I have a ponding assessed of this Cara channels they are unarmed Americans of the on his death and then tells corrupter the truth that there was nothing to this affair because that's not really the truth the truth is that her chastity is only tactical but nevertheless in terms of the playing field the media promoters and in what one commentator calls the silliest scene in all of Jacobean Fernando drinks poison in the arc is to wraps himself in a winding sheet and dies while harasser killed himself in remorse. Well this is clearly a play of a of a decadence mentality. There's nothing real in it we don't feel any real mind or real passion functioning in it. It's simply someone going through highly of serial motions the emotions of a dramatist. Well what tis pity she's a whore which is published in 16:33 along with two other plays.
We get quite a different situation entirely. This is Ford's masterpiece and clearly a much more masculine and vigorous Testament than he has supplied us with before. It's interesting Lee enough one of the favorite plays of Antony and I tell the modern author of the theatre of cruelty ideas which appeared in his book the theatre and its double and indeed. Species a Hall of Fame on one of the scenarios for the theatre of cruelty as a play that I had so always wanted to put on and we can see why it's an intensely lurid situation and intensely moral almost a moral. And intensely eccentric a work that means to shock a work of almost anarchic dissociation which dislocates you as members of the audience. Shocks you pose you apart leaves you uncertain as to how you're
supposed to react and what you're supposed to think. It's certainly not a play that is to everybody's taste. So it's remained relatively unproduced. But we did it at Yale this year. TS Eliot for example in his. Ford seems to love the play and loathe the man who wrote it. He calls it poetry of the surface and complains that Ford did not give universal significance to a perversion of nature namely the incest between the brother and the system which is to universalize such a thing is the only justification Eliot could see for dramatize ing it in the first place. He admits that for its interest in the incest is not true Aryans Obama flexure wrote a play about incest in a play called The King and no king and they used it purely for sensationalism prurient a fact for doesnt do this there's no one in the sation who isn't in this play and he doesn't try to make the unpleasant look pleasant and he doesn't try to duck the
implications of what he's created. Yeah but Eliot laments that the love of Giovanni and Annabella never seems to rise above the purely carnal infatuation and ultimately only of the test the characters calling the one almost a monster of egotism. That's Giovanni the other Isabella Annabella virtually a moral detective. Adblock Alice on the other hand who edited the volume of the mermaid series sees Ford as a profound analyst of motives especially the motives of female characters and fact he begins to see him as a kind of prototypical Freud Ian's psychologist who plumbs the depths of the unconscious and analyzes motives that have never been looked at before. Now I don't agree with this. I don't agree with Alice and I don't agree with Elliot. I don't see the play as a superficial work and I don't see it as a psychological work either. To me it's a work of a highly
intellectual imagination. And imagination which is almost as rebellious as the imagination of Christopher Mahler and imagination that's clearly working in the same tradition as that of intellect here is purely of a service of libido. Of a ruckus. Of passion. Love is seen as its own justification exclusively and that means a tool for a carnal Love needs no totally universal significance its significance in itself. What Ford is doing here is taking something unthinkable and trying to bring it within access of thought trying to make it real to you as readers or as members of the audience is taking a highly individualistic approach to a forbidding subject throwing off all of the expected conditioned reflexes you might have towards such as a love affair
throwing off the inherited morality we all assume when we think of incest and trying to create a tragedy of the will in which the dramatist throws his emotional support behind sand and crime. I stress the word emotional because I don't think his ideological. Support is behind it. He's not saying go out and sin go out and be criminal go out and commit incest. But he's showing you how it's possible to justify such a situation given. The power and impact of an artist. Rest sene. Was out to do the same thing when he wrote that. He was up to justify. They motional the love of a stepmother for her stepson even though he wasn't justifying it in terms of the cause of the day. Not just pity she's a whore is very consciously modeled. Romeo and Juliet as you may have noticed if you read the play they are parallel characters with Romeo and
Juliet and even parallel scenes. But Ford has taken the Shakespeare play and carried it to its limits of breaking out of the moral framework that Shakespeare was working within the character named Fry a bunch of IN THE TOUR A. Good welcome. Is certainly meant to recall fry alarms in Romeo and Juliet he works in much the same way he functions as the hero's intellectual and spiritual mentor the old Sage who's been through it and who knows how to advise a young hot blooded lover knows how to try to bring him back to a sensible ways to a reasonable way. But Lawrence a sympathy for Romeo and Romeo and Juliet has now turned in and the character of Donovan tore into complicity with crime. But a mentor is urging the claims of religion constantly to Giovanni when he feels when he announces his desire to sleep with his sister. But you'll find him
nevertheless counseling marriage even though he knows that he slept with his sister. He would advise an about to marry in order to cover up her crime or to cover up her pregnancy and even advise this as a form of redemption. This is monstrous. Cause and the kind of religion he's urging is a religion that was it's been a no on land or sea. It's certainly part of an Torah seems less horrified by the in the SEST. Between Giovanni and Annabella than he is by the expected consequences of this incest. His eyes on the afterworld. His eye is on hellfire and damnation and in trying to dissuade Annabella from consummating his love affair he draws up a picture of hell. Which is a kind of marvelous set speech in the play and that is later to be not imitate because Joyce didn't know it but certainly echoed by Joyce in the portrait of the Artist as a young man. And I
guess it's a kind of familiar. Picture. I hear you are wretched miserably wretched almost condemned to live there is a place this daughter in a black and hollow vault where day is never seen. There shines no sun but flaming heart of consuming fire like the sulfur choked with smoky fogs of an infected darkness in this place while many thousand thousand sundry sortes of never dying deaths that damned souls roar without pity. Their outlook was fed with toads and adders. There was burning oil poured down the drunkards throats the user is forced to suck up whole drops of gold. There is the motive or more of a stand and he never die. There lies the long racks of burning steel wows and his so he feels the torment of his raging lust. They asked him these wretched things were dreamed up whole years and lovely sheets and secret incense cursing one another then you
will wish each kiss your brother gave had been a daggers point. Then you shall hear how he will cry Oh what my wicked sister had first couldn't dance when she did YOU to lust. But what is a raging upon them is the conventional punishment. For their crime. A kind of Dante and hell that he expects they will be visited upon it. And although he believes in this hell he believes in a divine being above above their actions. He nevertheless seems to be urging them to stop largely because he loves them both. He doesn't really condemn them or judge them. He just expects condemnation and judgement to take to take place on them after they die. Then there's the character of Tom. Whose very name means whore. Butane. And this character is a variant on Juliets nurse. Indeed she's a variant on the nurse figure who appears throughout
dramatic history from the Greeks. The nurse and fade to your body's favorite your body's apologist and resting SPED is a similar figure the new tricks figure who has traditionally a moral sense you will sympathetic compassionate with the Herald. Well we see this in Juliet's and there she too is very earthy and amoral expedients. She advises Juliet to marry Paris even though Julie as a ready merits a Romeo to cover up this marriage to play it safe to do the practical and expedient thing. But Santa seems to have no morals at all. In fact she's a moral monster who goes well beyond Juliet's nurse in urging a kind of total licentiousness when she learns that. Doesn't love the brother. Instead of urging a private. Annabella just slept with her brother she comes in saying oh God what a paradise of joy if I passed over she says Nay what a paradise of joy if you passed on the.
Wine I command the charge. Fear nothing sweet what the brother your brother's a man I hope and I say still love a young wench feel with feet apart let her take anybody. Our brother all is one. I would not have known for all the world as I know Ryan for the speech of the people else when nothing other words. The attitudes of your neighbors are all that otherwise you can do anything in what you can take your brother you can take your father you think anybody because you're a man and he's a man isn't it. And what reason is there in the world for not following your passion precisely where it might take you. Now this is no longer a sexual permissiveness as it is. Juliet's nurse it's a kind of sexual match that's going on here with this nurse and sexual madness overtakes the two central characters as well. Then there's the cardinal figure in the play. And the cardinal is also meant to be an extension of a
Shakespearean character. The do in Romeo and Juliet who you remember is the authority of the play and comes in at the end to reconcile the warring elements of the play and a lot of the situation and bring the tragedy to its fruition. But this cardinal is a very peculiar figure. He seems to be cross now with the churchmen we find cropping up in the drama throughout this late period particularly in the plays of Webster where they are essentially more corrupt than anyone else in the play. We find this cardinal pardoning a character named Grimaldi because he is his nephew even though his nephew has just killed somebody to confiscate the wealth of all those that have been slain in the course of the play. In our production. We had him kind of looking over a jewel and taking it out because it got confiscated for the church. But one senses really confiscating it for his own uses and he merely banishes the greatest villain of them all. Character vast case.
Wow. Which identity a character who's been responsible for the murder of another character named forget no remains untouched. So we manned our own support to the statement of the knot of his incredulity at this cardinal at the end of the flight is this a church whose voice dwells justice here for the cardinal approves indeed as Ford puts it the justice is fled to have and comes. There's even doubt now that Heaven exists and that's the crux of the play. That's the main argument of the play. Do you have Bonnie as Romeo. But he's a highly intellectual mystic Romeo Romeo Rose had a very casual education had he was now engaged in spiritual argumentation of a certain rules certain laws certain divine statements with a fry up from the very beginning. He's a fine scholar and he uses all the arguments at his command and
they generally scholastic arguments in order to justify his feelings. Around my son that miracle of wits of the friar who once within these three months which is deemed a wonder then they stood up and you were. Out of the University of Iowa by government behavior learning speech sweetness and all that can make up a man. Oh Giovanni has the left the schools of knowledge to converse with lust and then. Later on he says. Giovanni says it will more use to stop the ocean from floats and then to dissuade my hours. Well there's passion working as you can see and not just intellect the intellect is at the service a passion for Giovanni. It is to justify his passion and he soon reveals himself as a complete naturalist. Nature is really his God as He has no belief he doesn't have any belief in God. He doesn't even believe in that happen and consequently he can follow his own desires wherever they lead
him. Must I not do it all then else may be asked so far. Yes you may love fast. Must I not praises Giovanni that beauty which you framed anew the gods would make a god of abandon and kneel to it as I do kneel to them. Why foolish madman's of the fragile a peevish sound it goes on divine a customary form from a man to man I'm rather out of system be a box my perpetual happiness in me. Say that we had one father same one room close to my joys gave both of us life and birth are we not therefore each too out of bounds so much the more by nature by the links of blood of reason. Nay if you will have it even of religion to be ever one one soul one flesh one love one one all. Show him for that I am a brother born on my joys be ever banished from her bed. No father in your eyes I see the change of pity and compassion from your ages from a sacred oracle to still the life of counsel.
Tell me holy man what you are shall give me ease in these extremes. So nature having framed the two of them in one room justifies the mating of brother and sister and to him the idea of brother and sister is a customary folly as a form of custom and not of reality. A peevish sound. He appeals to nature alone by what she sees he and his sister to be bound to each other and he is trying to destroy all obstacles to this love through this scholastic reasoning reasoning much of it has the ring of casuistry some of it is quite impressive indeed. Father in this you are charitable. What I have done I'll prove both good and good he says after he slept with Annabel. It is a principle which you were taught when I was yet you a scholar of the frame and composition of the nine the fall of the frame and composition of the
body. So with the bodies furniture is beauty. The minds must needs be virtues which allowed virtue itself is reason but refined and love the quintessence of that. This proves my sister's beauty being really is very virtuous chiefly and I love and chiefly in that love. How love to me is hers to me then so is mine to her since in my courses are facts alike. The Friars o ignorance in knowledge long ago our How often have I wanted this before. Indeed if we were sure there were no deity not happen not to have them to be let alone by natures like as were philosophers of the oldest overtimes might instance some defense. But tis not so now that madman I will find that nature isn't happens positions blind. So what of the argument of Giovanni is this platonic. The body of the fair face is supposed to reflect a fair heart. And a Bella will soon see this is not true and she will find herself corrupt and rotten inside. But it
- John Ford: The Jacobean Darkness
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Producing Organization: University of Cincinnati
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- Chicago: “Metaphysical roots of the drama; John Ford: The Jacobean Darkness,” 1968-12-18, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 11, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-445hfp2v.
- MLA: “Metaphysical roots of the drama; John Ford: The Jacobean Darkness.” 1968-12-18. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 11, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-445hfp2v>.
- APA: Metaphysical roots of the drama; John Ford: The Jacobean Darkness. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-445hfp2v