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). I take Measure for Measure’s tragicomic form as its major theme, or perhaps meta-theme, because it reinforces the value of the via media, of moderation over zealotry. Angelo swings from one extreme to the other before, by the play’s conclusion, prompted by the orchestrations of the duke, he adopts a middle way. In Angelo’s first two soliloquies we see him transition from believing himself immune to earthly love (2.3.185-186) to believing he is ruled by his blood (2.4.15).
This transition suggests a theme of development of self-knowledge. In the first soliloquy Angelo refers to himself as a saint (2.2.179) and speaks of physical love in a condemning tone (2.2.173). In the second soliloquy Angelo has adjusted his self-image (2.4.16) to be consistent with his experience, and he describes his experience of love without spending equal time condemning it. He realizes he took sinful pride in his severity (2.4.9-10), and now compares that quality with an idle plume in a cap—an aspect of appearance, not being. Development of self-knowledge does not show up clearly in other characters however...
... middle of paper ...
...ing between them, was virtue. This signified a beneficent use of natural function which merited the gift of grace as a concomitant; correspondingly, it implied a ‘going forth’ of grace which might comprehend the conscientious payment of nature’s debt. […] Throughout the main action, however, the properties of grace and nature are dissociated and juxtaposed. ‘Strict restraint’ and ‘immoderate use’, the distorted attitudes of convent and brothel, of precisian and libertine, are presented as jarring disparates inducing a process of psychic disruption. In the absence of virtue as a moderator, sexual function turns into the abuse of lechery […] At the spiritual level, excessive zeal is corrupted to pride […] Most alarming of all, there are the sudden slips from level to level, landslides of the soul which transform zealot into lecher and saint into sadist. (lxxii-lxxiii)
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Politics, Power, and Purpose in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure In Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Vincentio, Duke of Vienna, observing that his Dukedom has fallen into licentiousness and chaos through his neglectful government, has pretended to leave Vienna and has turned over the government to Angelo, his upright and up-tight Deputy; and that the Duke has resolved to remain in Vienna, in disguise, so that he may observe how Angelo's character is revealed or transformed in the crucible of the power with which he has been invested.... [tags: Shakespeare Measure for Measure]
6633 words (19 pages)
- How Productions from 1720 to 1929 Close Shakespeare's Open Silences in Measure for Measure Prologue: Playtext. Performance. and Open Silences In the Preface to his edition of Shakespeare's plays, and even as he vigorously defended the playwright against attacks by other neo-classical critics, Samuel Johnson nonetheless also offered his own survey of Shakespeare's weaknesses. Among the more well-known and provocative remarks is his assessment of the endings of the plays: It may be observed, that in many of his plays the latter part is evidently neglected.... [tags: Shakespeare Measure for Measure]
6617 words (18.9 pages)
- William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure The desires of the characters in Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure are not entirely clear, and are made ambivalent and ambiguous by the use of their language. Particularly in 3.1.52-153, when Isabella visits Claudio in prison, ambiguous lines and puns make it unclear whether Isabella desires Claudio’s death and whether he truly desires to be free of sin. These desires were further convoluted by viewing the current Folger Theatre production of the play.... [tags: Shakespeare measure for Essays]
1216 words (3.5 pages)
- Shakespeare's Measure for Measure Game-playing in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure Thieves for their robbery have authority When judges steal themselves Critics have often seen Vincentio, the Duke in Shakespeare's play Measure for Measure, as performing a function similar to that of Prospero in The Tempest. The reasons for such an assumption is clear in the very first scene of the play, as both characters set the plot into motion by exercising their power, withdraw to observe events from behind the scenes, then return to restore order at the end.... [tags: Shakespeare Measure Essays]
2062 words (5.9 pages)
- Disguise in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night Disguise is a device Shakespeare employs frequently in both Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night. It allows a disguised character like the Duke of Vienna to glean information that would otherwise go unknown, and a character like Viola to take advantage of potentially beneficial situations. It gives these characters access to worlds that might otherwise be denied; for the Duke, he can now "haunt assemblies / Where youth and cost a witless bravery keeps" (1.4.9-10).... [tags: Measure Twelfth Night Essays Shakespeare]
1221 words (3.5 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)
- 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)
- Matrimony and Recompense in Measure for Measure (A version of this essay appeared in Shakespeare Quarterly 46 (Winter, 1995), 454-464.) Since 1970, when the Isabella of John Barton's RSC production of Measure for Measure first shocked audiences by silently refusing to acquiesce to the Duke's offer of marriage at the end of the play, Isabella's response (or lack thereof) to the Duke's proposal has become one of the most prevalent subjects for Shakespearean performance criticism.See, for example, Jane Williamson, "The Duke and Isabella on the Modern Stage," The Triple Bond: Plays, Mainly Shakespearean, in Performance, ed.... [tags: Shakespeare Measure Essays]
7072 words (20.2 pages)
- Shakespeare's Measure for Measure This reading of Measure for Measure will try to do more than draw attention to the extent to which Shakespeare goes beyond the conventional happy ending in this play. There are indications that the conclusions of many of the comedies are not really meant to bear up to close scrutiny; in Jaques¹ words, their loving voyages are not victual¹d for very long. In Measure for Measure we are openly challenged to question the adequacy of attaching a happy ending to a deeply troubling play.... [tags: Shakespeare Desire Plays Papers]
4131 words (11.8 pages)
- 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]
1502 words (4.3 pages)