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 a receding sky-god replaced by a local delegate (see Eliade 52); the attack upon Vincentio’s foolish "mystification" by Clifford Leech (69-71); and the concomitant understanding by Wylie Sypher that the Duke’s Vienna is merely an arbitrary, chaotic locale where passion and abstinence indifferently change place (262-80). Missing from such interpretations of Measure for Measure is isolation of controlling motifs: that of trial by temptation—or "assaying," as both the play and contemporary religious tracts name it; and of classical concepts of restrained chaos. Understanding these ideas will not resolve all the necessary ambiguities, but may provide a coherent approach to viewing or directing this perplexing drama. Analyzing Vincentio as a self-appointed "assayer" means exploring the chaotic world of Vienna, transformed by Vincentio’s incompetence into a predatory dis-order. To refer to Eliade again, the Duke has perhaps assumed the role of demiurge only to recede himself, giving way to a lesser divinity (40, 50-52) in Angelo—a character signi...
... middle of paper ...
...n UP, 1966.
Knight, G. Wilson. 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.
Pope, Elizabeth Marie. Paradise Regained: The Tradition and the Poem. 1947. New York: Russell and Russell, 1962.
---. "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.
Sypher, Wylie. "Shakespeare as Casuist: Measure for Measure." The Sewanee Review 58 (1950): 262-80.
Taylor, Thomas. Christs Combate and Conquest. Cambridge, 1618.
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)
- Exploring Morality in Measure for Measure In Measure for Measure, Shakespeare is able to examine the concept of right and wrong through the characters of Mistress Overdone and Mariana. Throughout the play, by using characters that most people would find morally reprehensible, Shakespeare is able to give the audience a different view of these people and, hopefully, show his audience that people aren't always what they appear to be. Through the character of Mistress Overdone, Shakespeare is able to bring a jovial side to the oldest job known to man -- prostitution.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
739 words (2.1 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 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)
- The Pontification of Isabella in Measure for Measure 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.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
1126 words (3.2 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)
- The Bed Trick in Measure for Measure Critics have referred to the concept of Mariana taking Isabella's place in Angelo's bed "the bed trick." This plan of the Duke's, which is supposed to save Isabella, Claudio, and Mariana, appears to be almost corrupt and shameful, and is one of the reasons scholars consider Measure for Measure a problem play. What exactly is going on here with all of these characters? It seems almost uncharacteristic of the sweet, naïve, virginal Isabella to condone another performing such an act in her place. Isabella is, in a sense, asking Mariana to perform the very act which she has not only been avoiding, but that she is disgusted by. The fact that Isa... [tags: Measure for Measure]
1894 words (5.4 pages)
- Measure For Measure on the Stage Near the end of his well known treatment of transgression and surveillance in Measure for Measure, Jonathan Dollimore makes an observation about the world of the play that deserves further consideration by feminist scholars: the prostitutes, the most exploited group in the society which the play represents, are absent from it. Virtually everything that happens presupposes them yet they have no voice, no presence. And those who speak for them do so as exploitatively as those who want to eliminate them.... [tags: Shakespeare's Measure For Measure Essays]
4821 words (13.8 pages)
- Abstinence With all the emphasis on the importance of using condoms and birth control to ensure safer sex, I feel an intelligent choice is being overlooked. What is this choice. Well, it is sometimes looked at as old-fashion or not as a plausible decision. I feel, though, that it is very possible, and I am living proof that it is. This decision that I have made is pre-marital sexual abstinence. First of all, I want to say that I feel that people should be educated about condoms and other forms of birth control.... [tags: essays papers]
1009 words (2.9 pages)