The Duke’s reign has shaped an atmosphere in Vienna fraught with indulgence and an overall disregard for the law. The Duke wishes to have more order in Vienna but is unsure how to bring it about himself, so he has called upon Angelo to take over his rule. Claudio’s later sentencing will serve as an example to change the course of the kingdom. The characters may be divided into groups depending on their opinions of fornication and other sexual behaviors considered offenses by the new leader.
Isabella exemplifies the conflict between hedonism and religion. Isabella presents one extreme of the spectrum: abstaining completely from sexual activity in order to become a nun while Mistress Overdone represents the other end: managing the prostitution business on the backstreets of Vienna. Isabella seeks to retire from these sins of the “common people” by attempting to join the safe and pure environment of a convent. Lucio removes her from this “haven” causing her to be vulnerable to the sins of others. Isabella must question her values about acceptability and propriety, emotionally hold onto her chastity when it is asked for, and decide whether or not to marry, never to return to the nunnery....
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...in accordance to why it legal for the act to take place. The relationship between Claudio and Juliet parallels the contract of marriage of Angelo and Mariana with both parties willing. However, Angelo is unaware of the switch and therefore only one person is a willing party. Perhaps the Duke justifies the legalities through “tricking” Angelo in order to progress his strategy. At the end of the play, the Duke remains in disguise to continually manipulate his subjects while allowing them to believe that they are acting of their own volition. This manipulation also serves as a test of their devotion to their positions. When the Duke asks for Isabella to marry him, she is not given the chance to respond verbally. This final situation will highlight the transference of power over to the Duke with the loss of her sexual independence, or to God and her eternal soul.
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