It is very difficult for a state to impose morality on its' citizens since morals have a tendency to be relative. Adding to the complexity is the fact that everyone has sinned - the enforcer is as much at fault as the accused. This problem comes to a boil in Shakespeare's play, "Measure for Measure", where Angelo enforces the death sentence for fornication against Claudio. Angelo then uses Claudio's problem as leverage to get his sister to commit the same crime with him. Throughout this play, Angelo's sins are exposed to him and he goes through a repentance, payment, and growth process. The same happens to seedy Pompey.
Angelo's sin is blackmailing Claudio's sister, Isabella, with the death of her brother if she does not sleep with him, "...and that there were No earthly menas to save him, but that either You must lay down the treasures of your body" (2.4.95-97). Isabella and the disguised duke only know the sin. With no one to enforce the laws of morality on Angelo, he has the freedom to rape the helpless. The crime Angelo is going to commit is known and forethought by him. He does not come to the realization that this is wrong until he has no other choice, "hast though or word, or wit, or impudence, That yet can do thee office? If thou hast, Rely upon it till my tale be heard, And hold no longer out." (5.1.371-374). The selfishness has caught up with Angelo and he realizes the only way out is to repent, "I should be guiltier than my guiltiness...But let my trail be mine own confession. Immediate sentence then and sequent death Is all the grace I beg." (5.1.375, 5.1.380-382). People can argue that Angelo only did this to get off the hook. Is it repentanc...
... middle of paper ...
... do desire to learn, sir; and I hope, if you have occasion to use me for your own turn, you shall find me yare. For truly, sir, for your kindness I owe you a good turn." (4.2.56-59). Lastly, he learns what type of life he was living as he passes through the jail, seeing all of his old business acquaintances. The decision he made to start a new life put himself on the opposite side of the bars of his old friends. Pompey realizes that his old life would do nothing but drag him down. The rest of the story sees him faithfully carry out his duty.
Black, James. "The Unfolding of Measure for Measure." Shakespeare Survey 26 (1973): 119-28.
Leech, Clifford. "The 'Meaning' of Measure for Measure." Shakespeare Survey 3 (1950): 69-71.
Shakespeare, William. Measure for Measure. The Arden Shakespeare. Ed. J.W. Lever. London: Routledge, 1995.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Lord Angelo's Hypocrisy in Measure for Measure Within ‘Measure for Measure’ Shakespeare presents the notion that mankind's corruption is not necessarily born by power, but rather already innate in humanity. Shakespeare argues that power is not a producer of corruption by presenting the Duke, who holds the most power, as a moral hero, and conversely revealing the corruption of the powerless class (through characters like, Pompey, Mistress Overdone, and Barnadine). Shakespeare uses Lord Angelo in Measure for Measure to show that corruption is innate within mankind whilst Angelo is a symbolism for pharisaical fanaticism in the play.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
1516 words (4.3 pages)
- 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]
1019 words (2.9 pages)
- 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]
1975 words (5.6 pages)
- Themes of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure Revealed in Angelo’s Soliloquies Angelo’s soliloquies (2.2.161-186; 2.4.1-30) express themes of the tragicomic form, grace and nature, development of self-knowledge, justice and mercy, and creation and death as aspects of Angelo’s character. By the theme of the tragicomic form I mean that which “qualified extremes and promoted a balanced condition of mind […] It employed a ‘mixed’ style, ‘mixed’ action, and ‘mixed’ characters—‘passing from side to side, it works amongst contraries, sweetly tempering their composition’.” (Guarini’s Compendio della Poesia Tragicomica (1601) cited in Lever lxi-lxii).... [tags: Measure for Measure]
821 words (2.3 pages)
- 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]
1566 words (4.5 pages)
- Private Temptation and Social Restraint in Measure for Measure In his play, Measure for Measure, Shakespeare poses problems of law, justice, and personal freedom for which he offers no easy answers. Measure for Measure is very relevant to current political debates over public morality and the limits of self-expression. The play proposes the question: How do we reconcile social restraint and personal passion. The Vienna of Measure for Measure, under the rule of Duke Vincentio, is a garden gone to seed.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
829 words (2.4 pages)
- Mercy vs. Justice in Measure for Measure Theme: Mercy vs. Justice. Allusion to justice = eye for eye, tooth for tooth [measure for measure]; allusion to mercy = let him without sin cast the first stone [esp. sexual sin]. Summary: Duke wants to restore the strictness of fornication/adultery laws. He sets up Angelo to do it, while he feigns that he will be away. Instead he remains to check up on Angelo and the town (Vienna). Angelo goes ahead and closes down Overdone's brothel and the others, and puts Claudio in jail, condemned to die the morrow, for impregnating Juliet.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
969 words (2.8 pages)
- Analysis of Acts V-VI of Measure for Measure One of the things that struck me as odd in Act V, Scene I is how Mariana seems to recognize the disguised Duke. I don't know if this means that the Duke has disguised himself as a friar in the past. Another thing that struck me odd in this scene is how soon Mariana agrees to the Duke's plan. Here is a stranger (Isabella) convincing a young woman (Mariana) to have sex under very mysterious circumstances with a man who has rejected her. The plan is very strange but Mariana agrees so quickly that its hard to see how it was possible for Isabella to give Mariana the full explanations of the reasons behind the ruse.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
665 words (1.9 pages)
- Comparing the Duke and Angelo in Measure for Measure Angelo and the Duke are similar in the following respects: they both initially claim immunity to love and later come to be affected by it; to achieve ends they desire, both manipulate others into situations those others would not willingly choose to be in; both have sought to maintain a particular reputation; they both spend much of the play seeming other than what they appear; both think themselves to be other than what they are in the beginning; and both claim to value a life removed.... [tags: Comparison Compare Contrast Essays]
576 words (1.6 pages)
- 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]
2108 words (6 pages)