To What Extent Does Religion Affect the Characters in "Measure for Measure?"

To What Extent Does Religion Affect the Characters in "Measure for Measure?"

Length: 1669 words (4.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

At the time that Measure for Measure was written, England was a Protestant country, meaning that the monarch at the time, James I was the head of the Church of England. However, the England that Shakespeare was brought up in was still living with the remnants of a Catholic history, and so the religious beliefs that he would have learnt about as a child would have been those of the Catholic faith. Although Shakespeare was writing the play for a Protestant audience and a Protestant king, he was setting the play in a Catholic country, so this gave him an opportunity to feature his religious beliefs as a Catholic in the play.

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...


... middle of paper ...


... 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.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Character Elbow in Shakespeare's Play, Measure for Measure Essay

- The Character Elbow in Shakespeare's Play, Measure for Measure In Act 2, scene 1 of the play Measure for Measure the character Elbow, a representation of the "Comedic Constable" often depicted in William Shakespeare's comedies and traji-comedies, gives the director an unusual creative license in portraying this figure to give the audience a rich theatrical experience. (Evans 427) These characters are most commonly depicted as "artless, inadequate, naïve, and prosaic men who bumble through their official duties, sublimely unaware of their blunders, intent upon fulfilling their offices even when they are not really sure just what those offices are." (Evans 427) They are honest men as well...   [tags: Measure for Measure Essays]

Powerful Essays
1502 words (4.3 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
1126 words (3.2 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
1284 words (3.7 pages)

Essay The True Character of Isabella in Measure for Measure

- The True Character of Isabella in Measure for Measure       Some critics of Shakespeare’s play, Measure for Measure, judge Isabella as "a narrow minded but passionate girl afflicted with an irrational terror of sex" (Barton, 546), "a young, immature woman" demonstrating "moral absurdity and cruelty" (Nicholls, 478), whose actions are scarcely defensible. A classmate of mine asked, "Why doesn't Isabella just sleep with Angelo. What's the big deal?" These statements reveal that these people have no understanding or sympathy for Isabella’s position: socially, morally or physically....   [tags: Measure for Measure Essays]

Powerful Essays
3870 words (11.1 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
837 words (2.4 pages)

Measure for Measure Essay: The Virtuous Vanity of Isabella

- The Virtuous Vanity of Isabella in Measure for Measure        Shakespeare's work, Measure for Measure, puts the "problem" in "problem play" as it, examines the difference between law and justice, virtue and goodness. It's a case study of abuse of power that has a particularly contemporary resonance.  Isabella is a very intriguing Shakespearean female. She is one of the few intelligent females who are also innocent and holy. Measure for Measure focuses primarily on her moral dilemma. Does she save her brother and give up her valued chastity or does she save her own soul while allowing her brother to die....   [tags: Measure for Measure]

Powerful Essays
1498 words (4.3 pages)

Morality in Measure for Measure by Shakespeare Essay

- Morality in Measure for Measure          Shakespeare's play, Measure for Measure, focuses on human morality. The play also explores the question of what kind of sexual conduct is socially acceptable, and what is not. The play depicts various attitudes toward prostitution, promiscuity, and premarital sex. But it also suggests that human laws and perhaps human morality are quite arbitrary and relative.   Measure for Measure considers the need for statutes and laws to govern sexual appetites and ensure domestic tranquility....   [tags: Measure for Measure]

Powerful Essays
2108 words (6 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
2585 words (7.4 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
739 words (2.1 pages)

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]

Powerful Essays
1019 words (2.9 pages)