By Dorothy Mary Farr
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Extra resources for John Ford and the Caroline Theatre
In contrast to Romeo's love-sick boyishness in the early part of Shakespeare's play, Giovanni is Ford's angry young man, but his anger is concerned less with values than with a basic principle of constancy to a conviction, a loyalty to the self which is rather outside the moral law than contradictory of it. From the opening of the play we know that he is doomed and his last appearance, when defeat and death are upon him, recalls the closing scenes of The Revenger's Tragedy and Antonio's Revenge.
When in the final episode he wakes like Lear from a long sleep to find himself clothed and barbered, the time is ripe for Palador to restore the justice that his father violated, so that 'twas a prince's tyranny Caused his distraction, and a prince's sweetness Must qualify that tempest of his mind. 63) Palador is the actor, but the episode is still dominated by the 'art' of Corax. Having set the patient's mind towards his own cure, Corax stages Palador's reinstatement of Meleander in his rightful honours, but the staff and patent of office represent not only the dignity he has lost and now recovered, but in addition the rewards of his sufferings.
Bergetto is a childish simpleton, not far removed from the 'innocent' in the Elizabethan sense. His wealth exposes him to the greedy and unscrupulous but he himself is without vice and his idea of love is the comfort of a mother. His death scene is one of those rare, though not infrequent, instances in Ford of near transcription from life. 6 Bergetto's reaction to the ambush is shocked astonishment and his outcry that of a not very intelligent child: 'Oh help, help! here's a stitch fallen in my guts ...