Tragic in Any Century

The concept of morals that should hinder and restrain human passion, as well as its timeless quality, is salient in all these works. In his essay, Eliot points out that the play is a very traditional “Italian melodrama” that somehow catches “permanent human feelings.” He points out that Bianca, although initially she seems merely an archetype, is a real woman with real and honest human feelings. The idea that morality often and violently conflicts with feeling runs throughout the whole of Women Beware Women, and the pursuit of feeling beyond the justifiable creates a bloody tragedy.

Part II, “A Game of Chess,” brilliantly combines the tragedy of Women Beware Women with the tactical drama in A Game of Chess, as a woman relates her attack on another woman’s husband. Like Middleton, Eliot tries his hand at creating real women in tragedy. The story of Lil and her husband, taken from gossip from Eliot’s maid, transforms the petty drama of these women’s lives into the latest installment in an ageless saga. Eliot seems to be saying that Women Beware Women has a realism to it that defies its melodrama and continues to apply past its own century. Humans will always defy morality and do as they wish, especially in the sexual arena.


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