'Both bodily deth and werldly shame': 'Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard' as Source for A Woman Killed With Kindness


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

A fundamental concern of Thomas Heywood's A Woman Killed With Kindness, first published in 1607, is the power of forgiveness, a notion implicit in the play's ironic title and bitter final scene wherein Mistress Frankford dies after she and her husband resolve their conflict over her adultery with Wendall in an apparent attitude of Christian charity. Yet it is insufficient to recognize that Heywood develops this theme through explicitly Christian references to corruption and pardon throughout the play. Servant Nicholas does indeed attribute his mistress' seduction to Satan; Master Frankford characterizes Wendoll three times as "Judas"; and in the final scene, Frankford pardons his wife "as my Redeemer hath forgiven his death." More importantly, the main plot of A Woman Killed With Kindness also reveals a distinctive handling of an archetypal motif involving adultery, one that seems to have provided Heywood the potential for deeper character development and a deliberately non-violent conclusion.

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