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.
Isabella is immediately established as a rare female character when her brother describes her with the statement,
"she has prosperous art
When she will play with reason and discourse
And well she can persuade"(Shakespeare 1.2.161-163).
It is worth noting her that women in Shakespeare's time were very recognized for neither their reasoning nor their speaking capabilities. In fact, women were not expected to voice their opinions; women who chose to do so were deemed a threat to social order. It is, therefore, questionable whether Shakespeare's audience would have approved of Isabella's skills at rhetoric. Although agreeing with her stance concerning Claudio (they, too, prob...
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...The Wheel of Fire: Essays in Interpretation of Shakespeare's Sombre Tragedies. London: Oxford UP, 1930.
Leech, Clifford. "The 'Meaning' of Measure for Measure." Shakespeare Survey 3 (1950): 69-71.
New American Standard Bible. Reference ed. Chicago: Moody Press, 1975.
Pope, Elizabeth Marie. "The Renaissance Background of Measure for Measure." Shakespeare Survey 2 (1949): 66-82.
Rossiter, A. P. Angel with Horns and Other Shakespeare Lectures. Ed. Graham Storey. London: Longmans, Green, 1961.
Shakespeare, William. William Shakespeare: The Complete Works. Ed. Alfred Harbage. 1969. Baltimore: Penguin, 1971.
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