One of the characters in the play particularly affected by religion is the Duke, as he discards his secular identity and is able to take on a religious identity as a friar, which allows him to behave in a particular way which was not possible for a Duke. The fact that the Duke is disguised, and really has another identity makes it easy for the audience to see how religion affects the way he behaves, and also the way other people react to him, as we can compare him as a religious figure, to him as the ruler of Vienna. One aspect of the Duke as a friar that can be compared to him as a ruler is the amount of power that he has. The start of the play shows the audience the Vienna for which the Duke was responsible, and the audience are shown him taking a break from Vienna and leaving someone else to restore law and order. The audience learn that people are allowed to get away with breaking laws regarding fornication, and that people like Mistress Overdone run brothels without a problem. Although the Duke is supposed to have power, he doesn't choose to use it, and forgives people who break the law and doesn't...
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... her considering the offer, which makes the audience question just how dedicated to her religion she really is.
In the society the play is set in, religion theoretically has a huge effect on the way everyone lives their lives as it influences the laws which govern the city. However, we see in the play that whilst the Duke is ruling over Vienna, people do not take notice of these laws, and it is because of this that he hands over power to Angelo, to attempt to make the people abide by the laws. Despite this, the laws, and therefore religion still cannot have much effect as the Duke is secretly working to undo Angelo's work, and at the end of the play, order has not been restored to Vienna. This shows, that whilst in theory religion has an effect on society, unless the laws are actually being kept to, religion does not have as much of an effect as it should.
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