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Analysis of Acts V-VI of Measure for Measure
One of the things that struck me as odd in Act V, Scene I is how Mariana seems to recognize the disguised Duke. I don't know if this means that the Duke has disguised himself as a friar in the past. Another thing that struck me odd in this scene is how soon Mariana agrees to the Duke's plan. Here is a stranger (Isabella) convincing a young woman (Mariana) to have sex under very mysterious circumstances with a man who has rejected her. The plan is very strange but Mariana agrees so quickly that its hard to see how it was possible for Isabella to give Mariana the full explanations of the reasons behind the ruse. The Duke tries to justify the whole scheme once again by saying that Angelo is Mariana's husband on a "pre-contract."
In Act IV, Scene II I found it ironic that if Pompey becomes an executioner and stops being a bawd and prisoner he will better himself and become honorable. I also found it ironic that the Duke, Isabella, and Mariana are conspiring and deceiving Angelo but Angelo, in turn, deceives the three by stepping up the date of Claudio's execution. It is like practically everyone in the play is backstabbing someone else. It also seems like the Duke is concocting all these schemes to do "the right thing." First he has a plan to place Mariana in substitution of Isabella to sleep with Angelo and now he plans to have someone else beheaded to trick Angelo into thinking it's Claudio's head. It seems to me that the Duke is acting as immoral as the rest of the city and Angelo. He seems to go by the belief that the ends justify the means. Is he really better than Angelo?
Upon first reading in Act IV, Scene III how the Duke lies to Isabella when he tells her that Claudio has been executed, I could not help but think how cruel the Duke is and how he may be taking his role of friar too far. I also thought that he would rather make others suffer unnecessarily just so he can be sure that his plan to "get" Angelo is successful. Act IV, Scene IV just reiterates the fact of how selfish Angelo is. While he does express regret for having executed Claudio he still justifies his decision by saying that had Claudio lived he may have sought revenge against Angelo.
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After reading Act V I felt that Isabella redeemed herself by asking for mercy for Angelo even though she still believed that Claudio was dead. She also is true to her word by pleading for Angelo's life because she had mentioned to Angelo earlier in the play that had the roles been reversed she would have shown him mercy. One good thing about Angelo is that he is true to his word also in that he stated earlier in the play that if he would have been found guilty of Claudio's crime, he would have asked for the same punishment under the law. However, I feel that Angelo got off too lightly. He was one of the most conniving characters of the play but he just got off with a warning and he still ended up being married to a woman who is completely in love and devoted to him.
In the final scene I become almost convinced of how vile the Duke is. He tries to portray himself as this great big hero but he gives Angelo a warning after all the injustices that Angelo did while punishing Lucio so harshly. I think it may be because Lucio hurt the Duke's ego (on more than one occasion) while Angelo committed treacheries against other people and not the Duke directly. However, Lucio is given an option to marry the whore he impregnated but he never has to repent for what he did.