A Woman Killed with Kindness

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A domestic tragedy by T. Heywood, acted about 1603, printed 1607.

Frankford, a country gentleman, is the husband of Anne, a ‘perfect’ wife. But his happiness is ruined by the treachery of Wendoll, a guest to whom Frankford has shown every kindness and hospitality. Frankford discovers the adultery of Anne and Wendoll, but instead of taking immediate vengeance on her, he determines to ‘kill her even with kindness’. He sends her to live in comfort in a lonely manor‐house, only prohibiting her from seeing him or her children again. She dies from remorse, after having sent for Frankford to ask forgiveness on her deathbed and received it.

The sub‐plot, in which Susan Mountford is used as a pawn to redeem her bankrupt brother from prison, but finds herself loved by her new husband, offers interesting perspectives on the main plot. The play is one of the most successful examples of English domestic tragedy.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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