restricted access Apollo’s Deception: The Will to Beauty and The Broken Heart


John Ford’s The Broken Heart (c. 1629) has been interpreted as a play in which Ford’s art imposes beauty onto the ugliness of human affairs. In this essay, I argue, instead, that the play depicts beauty as a metaphysical ideal that poisons the characters’ ability to embrace life in this world. Friedrich Nietzsche’s analysis of the “will to beauty” enables us to see beauty as “Apollo’s deception”: far from offering redemption, this principle, which works to deny the material and temporal orders, is precisely that which closes off the possibility of salvation for the characters of the play.