‘Riddling Shrift': Confession, Speech, and Power in Romeo and Juliet and ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore
Keywords:Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Ford, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, Confession, Subjectivity, Friars
This essay maps the complex intersubjective dynamics of confession as illuminated in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, plays in which the ritual of shrift has a pivotal narrative and thematic role. The essay focuses on the friar characters and the office of shrift with which they were associated, and argues that Shakespeare and Ford draw on the durable cultural currency of auricular confession in post-Reformation England to ultimately disruptive ends, as characters consistently and increasingly reconfigure the intersubjective scripts of confession, using its conventions to draft new architectures of performative power.
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