Measure For Measure


Length: 693 words (2 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

Shakespeare's Measure for Measure can be seen as an early account of sexual harassment. While the issue of women's rights had hardly been explored at the time the play was first performed, Measure for Measure touches on issues of sexuality, independence, and the objectification of women. Despite these serious issues, the play is considered a comedy, and the story it tells is filled with amusing characters as well as broad sociological questions.

The plot centers around the fate of Claudio, who is arrested by Lord Angelo, the temporary leader of Vienna. Angelo is left in charge by the Duke, who pretends to leave town but instead dresses as a friar to observe the goings-on in his absence. Angelo is strict, moralistic, and unwavering in his decision-making; he decides that there is too much freedom in Vienna and takes it upon himself to rid the city of brothels and unlawful sexual activity. Laws against these behaviors and institutions already exist, and Angelo simply decides to enforce them more strictly. Claudio is arrested for impregnating Juliet, his lover, before they were married. Although they were engaged and their sexual intercourse was consensual, Claudio is sentenced to death in order to serve as an example to the other Viennese citizens.

Isabella, Claudio's sister, is about to enter a nunnery when her brother is arrested. She is unfailingly virtuous, religious, and chaste. When she hears of her brother's arrest, she goes to Angelo to beg him for mercy. He refuses, but suggests that there might be some way to change his mind. When he propositions her, saying that he will let Claudio live if she agrees to have sexual intercourse with him, she is shocked and immediately refuses. Her brother agrees at first but then changes his mind. Isabella is left to contemplate a very important decision.

Isabella is, in a way, let off the hook when the Duke, dressed as a friar, intervenes. He tells her that Angelo's former lover, Mariana, was engaged to be married to him, but he abandoned her when she lost her dowry in a shipwreck. The Duke forms a plan by which Isabella will agree to have sex with the Angelo, but then Mariana will go in her place. The next morning, Angelo will pardon Claudio and be forced to marry Mariana according to the law.

Everything goes according to plan, except that Angelo does not pardon Claudio, fearing revenge.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Measure For Measure." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Oct 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=76695>.
Title Length Color Rating  
Essay on Abstinence and Orgy in Measure for Measure - Abstinence and Orgy in Measure for Measure        Many existing views of Measure for Measure seem intriguing but incomplete. They might reinforce our perception of this play as fragmented and baffling, because they do not integrate apparently conflicting outlooks presented in the play’s Vienna, and generated by the mysterious action of Vincentio. Notice how the following different interpretations display the conflicts: the extreme view proposed by Roy Battenhouse that the Duke stands for God (Rossiter 108-28); the modified position of Elizabeth Marie Pope that the Duke is a successful magistrate with divinely-delegated powers ("Renaissance" 66-82), almost in line with Eliade’s version of...   [tags: Measure for Measure]
:: 13 Works Cited
2585 words
(7.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Exploring Morality in Measure for Measure Essay - Exploring Morality in Measure for Measure    In Measure for Measure, Shakespeare is able to examine the concept of right and wrong through the characters of Mistress Overdone and Mariana. Throughout the play, by using characters that most people would find morally reprehensible, Shakespeare is able to give the audience a different view of these people and, hopefully, show his audience that people aren't always what they appear to be. Through the character of Mistress Overdone, Shakespeare is able to bring a jovial side to the oldest job known to man -- prostitution....   [tags: Measure for Measure]
:: 2 Works Cited
739 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Measure for Measure Essay: Angelo - Angelo in Measure for Measure       Within Measure for Measure, the character of Angelo can be seen as a case study of will over moral nature. Angelo, a deputy, is given the Dukes authority to act in his behalf while the Duke is away. The story unfolds as Angelo uses the agency he's been given in ways that many men in authoritative positions have done. It is interesting to follow his line of thought and to realize that this is a man who is not unlike many others. The main conflict between Isabella and Angelo is a contemporary problem....   [tags: Measure for Measure]
:: 4 Works Cited
1019 words
(2.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Good and Evil Angelo of Measure for Measure Essay - The Good and Evil Angelo of Measure for Measure                  In Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Angelo emerges as a double-sided character.  Scholars have argued for centuries whether or not Angelo is a moral character or an evil character.  Those scholars who support the notion of Angelo as moral often cite the following facts: the Duke obviously trusts Angelo, Angelo is disheartened enough by the end of the play to offer a sincere apology, and Angelo tries to resist the temptation that Isabella presents.  On the other hand, others have argued that Shakespeare depicts Angelo as a purely evil man.  These critics emphasize Angelo's treatment of Marian, the Duke's possible suspicion...   [tags: Measure for Measure]
:: 4 Works Cited
1975 words
(5.6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Measure for Measure Essay: The Pontification of Isabella - The Pontification of Isabella in Measure for Measure      Within Measure for Measure the character of Isabella is characterized as an innocent pure female, and there is a focus on her ever-present moral dilemma. By using Elizabethan perspectives on women, nuns, and chastity, Shakespeare uses Isabella to reveal character traits and morality of those around her.  However in opposition Isabella made be seen as an individual who pontificates too much when her brother’s life is at stake, it is perhaps easier for Isabella to suffer the condemnation of a modern audience....   [tags: Measure for Measure]
:: 5 Works Cited
1126 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Measure for Measure Essay: The Virtuous Isabella - The Virtuous Isabella in Measure for Measure        Measure for Measure is not a celebration of family values, the play points towards both the political virtuosity, which sustains the comic, and the humbler self-knowledge that preserves the integrity of the virtuoso. Human virtue can only be chosen in freedom, but we need not deny ourselves the opportunity of ensuring that this choice is not stifled by the subtly related powers of abstract intellectualism and carnal necessity   Isabella in Measure for Measure personifies innocent virtue....   [tags: Measure for Measure]
:: 3 Works Cited
1284 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Measure for Measure Essay: Immorality and Corruption - Immorality and Corruption in Measure for Measure         In ‘Measure for Measure’, Shakespeare demonstrates that there is an innate immorality and corruption in the heart of man. Shakespeare illustrates that power does not cause corruption.  This is achieved by presenting the Duke, who has the most power in Vienna, as a moral hero, and conversely revealing the corruption of the powerless class through characters including Pompey, Mistress Overdone, and Barnadine.  Through all this, Shakespeare uses Lord Angelo in Measure for Measure to show that immorality and corruption is innate in mankind....   [tags: Measure for Measure]
:: 5 Works Cited
1566 words
(4.5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Measure for Measure Essay: The Bed Trick - The Bed Trick in Measure for Measure        Critics have referred to the concept of Mariana taking Isabella's place in Angelo's bed "the bed trick."  This plan of the Duke's, which is supposed to save Isabella, Claudio, and Mariana, appears to be almost corrupt and shameful, and is one of the reasons scholars consider Measure for Measure a problem play.  What exactly is going on here with all of these characters?  It seems almost uncharacteristic of the sweet, naïve, virginal Isabella to condone another performing such an act in her place.  Isabella is, in a sense, asking Mariana to perform the very act which she has not only been avoiding, but that she is disgusted by.  The fact that Isa...   [tags: Measure for Measure]
:: 4 Works Cited
1894 words
(5.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Measure For Measure on the Stage - Measure For Measure on the Stage Near the end of his well known treatment of transgression and surveillance in Measure for Measure, Jonathan Dollimore makes an observation about the world of the play that deserves further consideration by feminist scholars: the prostitutes, the most exploited group in the society which the play represents, are absent from it. Virtually everything that happens presupposes them yet they have no voice, no presence. And those who speak for them do so as exploitatively as those who want to eliminate them....   [tags: Shakespeare's Measure For Measure Essays]
:: 12 Works Cited
4821 words
(13.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Measure for Measure: The Dark Comedy Essay - The Dark Comedy of Measure for Measure Measure for Measure, the last of Shakespeare's great comedies, is also the darkest of his comedies, and represents his transition to tragic plays. This play differs from Shakespeare's other comedies, and is in many ways more akin to tragedy than to comedy. In setting, plot, and character development Measure for Measure has a tragic tone, however, because none of the main characters actually loses his life, this play is considered a comedy. Almost all of Shakespeare's comedies have dual localities: the real world of crime, punishment, and responsibility, and an idyllic world, where reality is malleable, and forgiving....   [tags: Measure for Measure Essays] 837 words
(2.4 pages)
Better Essays [preview]

Related Searches




The provost and the Duke send him the head of a dead pirate, claiming that it belonged to Claudio, and Angelo believes that his orders were carried out. Isabella is told that her brother is dead, and that she should submit a complaint to the Duke, who is due to arrive shortly, accusing Angelo of immoral acts.

The Duke returns in his usual clothes, saying that he will hear all grievances immediately. Isabella tells her story, and the Duke pretends not to believe her. Eventually, the Duke reveals his dual identity, and everyone is forced to be honest. Angelo confesses to his misdeeds, Claudio is pardoned, and the Duke asks Isabella to marry him.

Measure for Measure has long been criticized for its unsatisfying resolution and logical gaps. Why, for instance, should Isabella agree to the Duke's plan when it would force Angelo and Mariana to commit the same crime as Claudio and Juliet, of which she does not approve? The Duke pardons everyone at the conclusion of the play, including Angelo, who is sentenced only to marriage. Isabella presumably leaves the nunnery to marry the Duke, though she never actually agrees to the proposal.

The female characters in Measure for Measure are unusually weak for Shakespeare. The men take complete control of the plot, while the women simply follow along. The major decision facing Isabella is avoided, though it presents a particularly difficult dilemma considering Isabella's desire to be a nun.

Measure for Measure did not achieve great popularity until recently. Perhaps it was written ahead of its time, during an era when the answers to the questions posed by Shakespeare seemed obvious. Today, however, Measure for Measure seems to raise central issues of sexuality, familial loyalty, morality, and religion.


Return to 123HelpMe.com