The Broken Heart-Kaitlyn Reichert


The Broken Heart by John Ford was written between 1625 and 1633. The Broken Heart is set in ancient Greece and revolves around two noble Spartan families. The families had a feud against each other until their children got engaged. Penthea and Orglius we engaged to be married, but before there could be a wedding Penthea’s father, Tharsus, died. The death of her father made way for Penthea’s twin brother, Ithocles, to trick her in to a more socially beneficial marriage with Bassanes. Bassanes is not a very good husband, he is violent and jealous.

Ithocles goes to fight in a war against Messene. Orglius asks his father if he can leave to go to Athens to recover from losing Penthea, his father agrees. Orglius doesn’t actually go to Athens, he stays in Sparta in a disguise. While he is disguised he hears his sister, Euphrania, and one of Ithocles friends, Prophilus, speaking of how they love each other. The two discover that the disguise is Orglius and they ask him to pass love letters between them. Meanwhile Ithocles returns to Sparta and is now a war hero, he is crowned with a wreath made by Calantha, which is when he falls in love with her.

Orglius reveals himself to Penthea and tells her how much he loves her, but she refuses to take him back no matter what might happen to Bassanes. She feels tainted and spoiled by her marriage and she doesn’t want to hurt Orglius. Ithocles, after forcing Penthea into a horrible marriage, asks her to make him look good to Calantha. She agrees to help him, but she also reminds him he feels for Calantha what she felt for Orglius, which is what he has deprived her of. It is now that Bassanes, crazy and jealous, rushes in accusing the two of incest. This is when Penthea is taken form him until he can learn to control his jealousy and crazy behavior.

I can see Orglius wanting revenge for his wife being taken away from him. And since this a revenge tragedy I’m sure in the next two acts we can expect the demise of some characters.

7 thoughts on “The Broken Heart-Kaitlyn Reichert

  1. I too think that Orglius will want revenge after having Penthea taken away from him, which will cause him to kill people, especially Ithocles. Since he is going to become a revenger, his death is also imminent. I was surprised that Penthea would not want to be with Orglius if something happens to her husband, Bassanes. However, I can understand why she feels tainted, like many other women in other revenge tragedies.

  2. Even though, Orglius is our main revenger I think Ithocles might also act out against Bassanes for his sister. To me he comes across as genuinely sorry for setting his sister up in the hostile marriage. Bassanes is the antagonist so he will probably die. But, I’m not sure by who’s hands Orglius or Ithocles, perhaps even with some help of Ithocles’ friend Prophilus. He was warned that revenge is not honorable. I feel like that scene with Tectinus is hinting that Prophilus will have some kind of knowledge or part in Ithocles’ revenge.

  3. I agree with the idea that Orglius will seek revenge. John Ford associated Orglius with “angry” which I believe is Ford’s way of telling the reader what to expect. I can understand Penthea not wanting to be with Orglius because of feeling tainted. She won’t be with him because she is trying to save him from being tainted; she is putting honor before emotional feelings. The protection and importance of honor and purity, especially for a woman, is a very common theme in revenge tragedies.

  4. As everyone else is saying so, I agree that Orglius will seek revenge and act as our main revenger. As any other revenge tragedy, his need to seek revenge will likely lead to his own death. Panthea’s logic for not wanting to be with Orglius is very understandable, and the feeling of being tainted, and the need of redeeming and protecting oneself is a recurring theme in most revenge tragedies.

  5. Orglius does come across as the revenger but I am interested to see what will come of Panthea. She feels tarnished and in a time when a woman’s honor was crucial to her status in society. Her brother set her up in a violent marriage and she feels like she can not go back to the man she loved. Panthea’s situation sets her up as motivation for revenge and also gives her cause for desiring her own.

  6. As everyone seems to agree, I also think Orglius will seek revenge but I am not fully convinced that he will be the only revenger. Panthea also has a motive for revenge against her brother. He set her up in marriage she didn’t want to be in. As kerrianroth said Panthea is in a time when a woman’s honor was crucial to her status in society. Her brother set her up in a violent marriage and she feels like she can not go back to the man she loved.

  7. When we first read this play I was admittedly a little bit confused, and after reading your description of it I felt much more confident in my understanding of everything. I completely understand why Panthea feels tainted by her marriage to Bassanes and why she would then be unable to take back Orglius.

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