To no avail, Escalus pleads with an adamant Angelo to have pity on the life of Claudio. Angelo does not really consider Claudio's crime to be something major, but he is intent on carrying out the "measure of the law" and to be strict with all offenders who break the law. As a result, he orders Claudio to be executed the next morning. Escalus is grieved over Claudio's fate, but is helpless to stop the execution.
Elbow, a constable, enters with Froth and Pompey in custody, both guilty of immoral acts. When Escalus questions them about their crimes, they give long and ridiculous answers. Angelo, disgusted with their chatter, asks Escalus to settle the case and leaves the place. Although Escalus is dismayed by the steady decay of established social standard, he dismisses Froth and Pompey with a warning; he tells them that if they are again arrested for immoral activities, their punishment will be severe.
Angelo is adamant in enforcing the law to the letter, and, therefore, plans the execution of Claudio. When Escalus pleads for mercy for Claudio and tries to reason with him, saying that anyone, even Angelo himself could have committed the crime, Angelo argues and says, "It is one thing to be tempted, Escalus, another thing to fall." It is ironic that later in the play Angelo is tempted and commits the same crime, proving his total hypocrisy.
Escalus serves as a foil to Angelo. Escalus is older, wiser, and merciful. On the other hand, Angelo is young and relentless. He wants to follow his orders to restore dignity to the City, and he is determined to carry out the law with great strictness, assigning punishment equally no matter the circumstances. It is obvious that he is using Claudio to set an example for all others involved in immoral activities. He plans to execute Claudio for having fathered an illegitimate child. Ironically, in the same scene, Escalus dismisses the charges against Froth and Pompey with only a warning, yet both of them are truly guilty of immoral behavior.
Elbow, Froth, and Pompey are representatives of the lower class of society in contrast to Escalus and Angelo. The entry of the three men provides comic relief to the scene. Elbow, in his mission as a serious constable, uses highbrow language, which is filled with malapropisms. Instead of saying `malefactors,' he says `benefactors,' and he say...
... middle of paper ...
...ave been chosen with careful references to the main theme. Thus, Isabella stands for saintly purity; Angelo stands for self- righteousness; the Duke represents a psychologically sound and enlightened ethic; Lucio represents indecent wit; and Pompey and Mistress Overdone symbolize professional immorality. Each character, therefore, illumines some facet of man's morality or immorality; and the play strives to define what is moral and just.
The entire atmosphere of the play is one of religious and critical morality. In the beginning of the play, Isabella is a novice at St. Clare. The Duke disguises himself as a Friar, exercising the divine privileges of this office towards Juliet, Barnardine, Claudio, and Pompey. In fact, the Central idea of Measure for Measure can easily be stated in Christian terms: "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Since Angelo is not a conscious hypocrite, it is easier to forgive even him. Self-deception and pride drive him. When desire for Isabella overcomes him, Angelo even struggles against it and prays to heaven. Since he is weak, the struggle is short-lived; Angelo soon gives in to his desires and becomes an utter scoundrel.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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)
- 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]
2585 words (7.4 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)
- 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)
- Socially Constructed Reality and Meaning in Notes from Underground Just as the hands in M.C. Escher’s “Drawing Hands” both create and are created by each other, the identity of man and society are mutually interdependent. According to the model described in The Sacred Canopy, Peter Berger believes that man externalizes or creates a social reality that is in turn objectified, or accepted by him as real. This sociological model creates a useful framework for understanding the narrator’s rejection of ultimate reality or truth in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground.... [tags: Notes from the Underground]
1883 words (5.4 pages)
- Production Notes Preface The slides and video that are found on this web site are recordings of a production of Measure for Measure mounted at the College of the Holy Cross in the fall of 1996. In February, 1997, the production was re-mounted at Brandeis University as part of the American College Theatre Festival. The following notes formed the conceptual basis for the production. First Response In the final months of the twentieth century, Measure provides us with a searing allegory about a society that is divided severely along economic and social lines.... [tags: College Theatre Festival Papers]
1740 words (5 pages)
- When I started this paper, I had a very limited understanding of the foreign exchange market, and I also had a limited understanding of the economy and currencies. My first step was learning most of the terms that are commonly used in the foreign exchange market. Next, I needed to learn some of the techniques that are used to analyze the market’s behavior. This paper has provided me with a wealth of knowledge, more so than the average business student and it has afforded me with a tremendous advantage in the world’s most liquid market, Forex.... [tags: Foreign exchange market, United States dollar]
2296 words (6.6 pages)
- Feminist Performance and the Silence of Isabella in Measure for Measure In a chapter entitled “When Is a Character Not a Character?” Alan Sinfield presents the argument that the female figures in Shakespeare’s plays are not really “characters” at all, since they do not possess continuous and psychologically consistent interior lives. Although such roles as that of Desdemona, Olivia, and Lady Macbeth are written so as to suggest the presence of uninterrupted interior consciousness, this impression collapses under the pressure of the plot’s movement toward closure, which reveals the figures to represent nothing more than a “disjointed sequence of positions that women are conve... [tags: Feminism Feminist Women Criticism]
3785 words (10.8 pages)
- Getting the Measure of Crime What practical problems does the criminologist face in going about his business. What does an informed examination of hidden crime tell us about (1) official criminal statistics and (2) The nature of social order. Are there such things as victimless crimes. Why. In my essay I will first talk about crime and what it means, I will then talk about what different methods criminologists use to collect crime such as crime surveys and self report studies and there positive and negative sides.... [tags: Papers]
1050 words (3 pages)
- Parallels between Measure for Measure and The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night What is comedy? Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia says: "A comedy depicts the follies and absurdities of human beings." Webster's Dictionary defines comedy as: "A drama or narrative with a happy ending." Shakespeare's play, Measure for Measure, fits both of these descriptions. Follies and absurdities are present in the play: Lucio slanders the Duke, not realizing that his crude remarks are being spoken to the Duke himself; Angelo abuses his power thinking that the Duke is not present to know; and Ragozine happens to die in prison the day a head is needed to substitute for Claudio's. Th... [tags: Comparison Compare Contrast Essays]
1984 words (5.7 pages)