A Woman Killed with Kindness

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It heralds the future of happiness, felicity in the happy ending, optimistic romance as the subplot. When Susan realizes that her brother has been freed she can hardly believe it (p55 l 57/61). Heywood here plays on the words “amazed”, “maze” in the polyptoton. Certainly Susan is used by her brother (the woman as object, as in the main plot) as a ploy to catch Acton (p76 l96/7). So, from the dangerous maze where one may lose one's references and even one's identity, we move to the notion of surprise and even admiration (negative--> positive), a word which is repeated l 102. Acton sees in Charles bringing his sister to him by the hand a miracle (p76 l 100/101). Then Susan (p78 l 147/8). The miraculous reversal of hatred into love is expressed in the antithesis, thus gliding from a notion of happy satisfaction to the sense of the maze which was already introduced in the major plot but bearing reversed positive overtones of hope and happiness in the minor plot.

b) Heywood' s art of characterization

The image of the labyrinth is associated to moral, if not religious, condemnation. But it is also a transposition of the characters' situation. Within the moral frame of his play, Heywood includes an artistic treatment although he individualizes his characters, he punctually keeps them in an allegorical Christian dimension which enables the playwright to use (quotation 10) a network of religious metaphors and images. See quote. The characters themselves are sometimes presented in an allegorical way; we remember for instance that Anne at the beginning before she starts speaking was depicted as an allegory of beauty, which prepares her being paralleled with an angel later on. Conversely, Wendoll, as a tempter, is associated to the image of the poisonous serpent of Genesis. P 29 l 80/1. he is an incarnation of evil. When Nick refers to him he identifies him by means of an antonomasia, a trick consisting in using proper names describing a quality or a characteristic, which is the main attribute of a person instead of naming the persons themselves (p 33 l 178). Wendoll is the Tempter (p62 l 110). he remains the devil incarnated until the end. (P 83/84 l 108/9). Wendoll becomes a sort of living personification of the devil made visible on stage.

A blurring, blurred perspective

The homiletic reading of the play sees in Frankford a perfect Christian. But, at the same time, Wendoll is paired with the still Christian image of Judas. That image of the biblical traitor refers to another antonomasia: p83 l 106/8. The other reference to Judas is made again through another antonomasia in the discovery scene (p 67 l 76/78). The repetitions underline of course the Christians implication of the play. The Elizabethan preacher Thomas Adams built his sermon, The White Devil, centered on the image of Judas, whom he presents as an incarnation of devil: quotation 11. I, n the final interview between Anne and Wendoll, mistress Frankford describes Wendoll as :p 83 l 110. W, embodying sin, deceives everyone by the perfection of his angel face, but also by the sweetness of his voice (other allusion to the serpent). Once it is too late, the forces of Wendoll's voice is discovered, and Francis Acton says: p 85 l12/13. However, the analogy between Wendoll and Judas is carried further as the metaphorical network of the play strengthened by scenic images surprisingly makes of Frankford a double of Judas as well as Judas. If Frankford is apparently associated with Christ, that is the redeeming figure of light in the New Testament, he is the opposite at the same time that is a creature of darkness (scenes set at night), dissimulation and hypocrisy, just as Wendoll described himself to Anne as a creature of night acting in secrecy. P 32 l 146/9). Very soon, Frankford fits in with Wendoll's description, as early as scene 8 where Nick tells John that he is made a cuckold by Wendoll p 41 l 57/58) From that moment, Frankford fears that death is being...
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