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.
It's interesting to note that Lord Angelo's name evokes an image of purity and holiness. Names are given at birth, and the idea that he is called angelic from the start, would argue against this doctrine of innate depravity. But, as Shakespeare argues, it's a name that can't be lived up to because of natural passions and lusts, which ultimately leads to Angelo's hypocrisy. The play opens up not only dressing up Angelo with a pure name, but also as a puritanical deputy, who has been "elected" to enforce the laws while the Duke is away. This idea of "election" not only signifies the political decree of Vienna, but also a Pauline doctrine that relates to men and angels.
Angelo has done an efficient job at fooling people into believing that he is incapable of natural vices. When the Duke announces the decision to give Angelo authority, Escalus, the good lord, applauds the choice: "If any in Vienna be of worth, To undergo such ample grace and honor, It is Lord Angelo". Angelo has done such an efficient job he has even fooled the lower class into thinking that he is pu...
... middle of paper ...
...ne of Shakespeare's solution to this innate problem is not to run off and join a monastery (or a convent, as Isabella attempts to do); but rather to accept the inborn human vices and try to lead good lives in spite of them.
Works Cited and Consulted:
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.
New American Standard Bible. Reference ed. Chicago: Moody Press, 1975.
Shakespeare, William. Measure for Measure. The Arden Shakespeare. Ed. J.W. Lever. London: Routledge, 1995.
Thomas, Vivian. The Moral Universe of Shakespeare's Problem Plays. London: Croom Helm, 1987.
Wilders, John. "The Problem Comedies." In Wells, Stanley, ed. Shakespeare: Select Bibliographical Guides. London: Oxford UP, 1973.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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)
- Shakespeare's Measure for Measure From the beginning of the play the Duke shows his fascination with the art of disguise. He has Lord Angelo takes his place and he in turn becomes a friar in disguise. Throughout the play this notion of false identity and exchange of identity plays an important role for the Duke and also for the characters in the play. To understand why the Duke has this desire to disguise himself one can look at the beginning of the play in act 1 scene 3 where the Duke is at the monastery asking Friar Thomas to hide him there.... [tags: Papers]
589 words (1.7 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)
- The Growth of Angelo and Pompey in Measure for Measure 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.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
1098 words (3.1 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)
- 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)
- 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]
1284 words (3.7 pages)
- Social Injustice in Measure for Measure Social justice is a topic known all to well in today's society. Such issues as social heirarchial structure and unjust representatives of citizens of nations are issues in need of attention by those in power. Corruption, lies and greed by those in power however stand in the way of this form of justice from occurring, leaving many with little or no social status open to prejudice on race, religious and sexual grounds. William Shakespeare illustrates the ease in which power can corrupt in his play, Measure for Measure.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
557 words (1.6 pages)
- 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]
3870 words (11.1 pages)