How does Ford portray the city of Parma? How might an English audience in the 1630's respond?

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How does Ford portray the city of Parma? How might an English audience in the 1630’s respond?

Ford portrays the city of Parma as very different to a society of which an English audience would approve of. In the 1630’s, the English would have disapproved of Italy as a Catholic country, so many of his observations would have played to the public’s preconceptions and prejudices.

The English had recently converted into a Protestant county and Catholics were treated with disdain. Therefore, Ford’s portrayal of the Catholic Church would have confirmed many people’s suspicions. Although the Friar is described as “full of holiness”, his handling of his former student’s incestuous relationship can hardly be described as morally or religiously correct. Although he disapproves, he attempts to rectify the situation by suggesting Annabella should marry, even though she is no longer pure. It is likely that an English audience would have disapproved of his actions as religiously incorrect.

The city of Parma is full of lust and promiscuity that is not just confined to the relationship between Giovanni and Annabella. Soranzo and Hippolita had been committing adultery and although this was widely known the “common voice” never objected to this. Putana even uses this as a way of recommending Soranzo to Annabella as he has made a “good name” for himself sexually. Prostitution is also appears to be common in Parma. Bergetto claims to be able to have “wenches enough in Parma for half-a-crown apiece” and even his uncle knows about his visiting “hobby horses”. An English audience would likely be shocked but possibly also titillated by the disregard for morality and the acceptance of sexual promiscuity.

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There are also many lies and deceit in Parma. Putana has likely been bribed by both Soranzo and Donado to recommend to Annabella as she describes Soranzo as “liberal, that I know”. Bribery would have been seen by many as morally wrong, even in today’s society, and the English audience would have objected to this. Also in trying to win Annabella’s hand in marriage, Grimaldi tries to obtain “receipts to move affection” from the disguised Richardetto. This would hardly have been seen by many as an appropriate action in the ritual of courtly love that an English audience of ...

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