I found it to be the most thought-provoking play we have read so far. Anne’s adultery and her husband’s punishment thereof raised several questions about morality, forgiveness, revenge.
How much of her adulterous behaviour came of her own free will, and how much was she coerced into it by her lover? Was the feeling between them equal or was he an abusive, controlling man? In those days, how much free will did women have and how much were they expected to submit themselves to men? Would the audience then have expected her husband to have condemned or forgiven her? His punishment of her could be viewed either as compassionate or utterly malicious. She wished only to die of shame but he insisted she live, but in emotional agony. How “kind” was he? Is there irony in the title of the play?
Lover-boy got off scot-free! Does this reflect the social mores of the time? A bit like in severely conservative societies today where only the woman is punished? I think this play raises moral questions that are not irrelevant to our own times, however tolerant our society seems today. There obviously was, and still is, hypocrisy and double standards in this field. I think the play could well transfer into modern times in order to raise debate about anyone who strays from accepted behavioural norms.
Furthermore, I note that the playwright described eminently credible personalities who functioned entirely by their own actions and beliefs, uninfluenced by, for example, any divine or magical input, such as occurs often in Shakespeare.
It was interesting how this play got us all talking afterwards – more so than any other we’ve read, and I like to think that the contemporary audience would have left the theatre buzzing and arguing over its moral mazes. The playwright does seem to leave conclusions to us rather than preach his own.