Essay PreviewMore ↓
Theme: Mercy vs. Justice. Allusion to justice = eye for eye, tooth for tooth [measure for measure]; allusion to mercy = let him without sin cast the first stone [esp. sexual sin].
Summary: Duke wants to restore the strictness of fornication/adultery laws. He sets up Angelo to do it, while he feigns that he will be away. Instead he remains to check up on Angelo and the town (Vienna). Angelo goes ahead and closes down Overdone's brothel and the others, and puts Claudio in jail, condemned to die the morrow, for impregnating Juliet.
Isabella, Claudio's sister and about to enter a nunnery, pleads for Angelo's mercy on him. Lucio counsels her to be warm to him, and she is just warm enough to inspire Angelo to seduce her: seduction in exchange for Claudio. The Duke, posing as a Friar, overhears her exchange with Claudio in which he counsels her to go through with the act. He enters and sets up a plan: Angelo ought to have married Mariana but didn't: Mariana therefore will go in Isabella's place.
Angelo, after the deed, calls even more quickly for Claudio's head. The Duke (as Friar) puts this off: now Angelo is two steps behind (not knowing about either Mariana or Claudio). The Duke returns, as Duke, and asks for anyone against Angelo to speak. Isabella does: finally it comes out that the Friar was behind Isabella's suit. The Friar is called for, and so the Duke disappears and comes back as the Friar, but is revealed to be the Duke. The switch is revealed and Angelo must marry Mariana; Claudio is revealed as alive and is pardoned by the Duke. Lucio (a subplot) also gets his deserts.
Morality: mercy wins over justice, and yet there is a strong sense of justice having been done. Symbolically accomplished by the Duke (justice) taking on the habit of "a true friar" (mercy but with sense of justice) starting with I.iii.48.
II.i.17 ff, Angelo on justice without mercy: "'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,/Another thing to fall. I not deny,/The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,/May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two/Guiltier than him they try. What's open made to justice,/That justice seizes: what know the laws/That thieves do pass on thieves?"--this is unmitigated justice, just as II.i.30-31: "Let mine own judgement pattern out my death, [which Angelo is willing to accept once caught, in V.
How to Cite this Page
"Free Measure for Measure Essays: Mercy vs. Justice." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Oct 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Social Injustice in Measure for Measure Social justice is a topic known all to well in today's society. Such issues as social heirarchial structure and unjust representatives of citizens of nations are issues in need of attention by those in power. Corruption, lies and greed by those in power however stand in the way of this form of justice from occurring, leaving many with little or no social status open to prejudice on race, religious and sexual grounds. William Shakespeare illustrates the ease in which power can corrupt in his play, Measure for Measure.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
557 words (1.6 pages)
- At the outset, we find the Duke transferring his power and authority to Angelo. He lends to Angelo his own terror and dresses Angelo with his love, “giving his deputation all the organs of his own power”. He says that from now on “mortality and mercy” in Vienna would live in Angelo’s tongue and heart. The Duke motive in appointing Angelo to function in his stead is, as he tells Friar Thomas, to rid the country of the evils which have taken strong roots and which, he thinks, he himself cannot eradicate because of his reputation as a very lenient man.... [tags: Measure for Measure Essays]
2544 words (7.3 pages)
- Themes of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure Revealed in Angelo’s Soliloquies 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).... [tags: Measure for Measure]
821 words (2.3 pages)
- What do you define grace and mercy to be. Throughout my journey with Christ, I have noticed that most Christians don’t thoroughly understand what God’s grace and mercy actually mean. At one point in my life I only thought of God’s grace and mercy as the concept towards forgiving my sins which is true, but it has such a profound meaning beyond our sins. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Eph.... [tags: Jesus, New Testament, Bible, Christianity]
1467 words (4.2 pages)
- Before proposing a reform to the American criminal justice system, we must first examine the problems that plague the process of justice on all levels. American society plays an important role in shaping the criminal justice system. Their beliefs and values determine the type of deviants and the consequences of the crimes. Often their beliefs contradict each other. Americans believe that the more serious a crime is, the longer a person should spend in a prison. In reality it means that a law at discretion can sometimes just set a number of years that a person should spend in the jail, regardless of the situation.... [tags: legal reform, social issues, circle model]
1842 words (5.3 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)
- 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.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
665 words (1.9 pages)
- Private Temptation and Social Restraint in Measure for Measure In his play, Measure for Measure, Shakespeare poses problems of law, justice, and personal freedom for which he offers no easy answers. Measure for Measure is very relevant to current political debates over public morality and the limits of self-expression. The play proposes the question: How do we reconcile social restraint and personal passion. The Vienna of Measure for Measure, under the rule of Duke Vincentio, is a garden gone to seed.... [tags: Measure for Measure]
829 words (2.4 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)
- 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)
Escalus explains one aspect of why justice is necessary in II.i.85 ff.: "Pardon is still the nurse of second woe"; Angelo seconds this in II.ii.101 ff: "I show it [pity] most when I show justice;/for then I pity those I do not know,/Which a dismiss'd offence would after gall;/And do him right that, answering one foul wrong/Lives not to act another." This may be the idea behind Mariana's statement in V.i.437-38: most men "become much more the better/For being a little bad."
Lucio: the "go for it" morality, I.iv.77-79 -- Lucio counsels a wrong action with the right idea: our fear of adverse consequences might keep us from taking the good action. Same as Duke (as Friar), III.i.209: "Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful."
Froth: puts forward notion that he is good, but that an external force draws him to the bad, II.i.110-12: "For mine own part, I never come into any room in a taphouse, but I am drawn in." But others work from the notion that everyone commits sexual sin: e.g. Pompey, II.i.231 ff, Provost, II.ii.5, Lucio, III.ii.103, even Angelo II.iv.121,123 when trying to seduce Isabella (but Angelo and the Duke think they can cut down on it with deterrents of punishment). Also cf. Isabella's similar pleas, II.ii.63-66 and II.ii.137 ff. Related to this is the 'he who is without sin'--the notion that the sins of the judge justify mercy about the sins of the judged, II.ii.176-77--this spoken by Angelo once he falls for Isabella, in passion, (but then cf. II.iv.15-17: "Blood, thou art blood:/Let's write good angel on the devil's horn,/'Tis not the devil's crest") and spoken more forcefully by the Duke at IV.ii.108 ff., IV.ii.59 ff., and V.i.108 ff. (this last being aligned with reason). Franklin, "On Censure or Backbiting": he who will always "excuse and palliate the Crimes of others, may rationally be suspected to have some secret darling Vice, which he hopes will be excused him in return," Lemay 195. Is this not the situation of the Duke, and the reasoning of these others?
The difficultly of remaining without sin "when once our grace we have forgot": the Pauline words of Angelo "we would, and we would not!" at IV.iv.34-35.
Claudio: the virtue of a necessary sin (see also All's Well III.vii: "lawful deceit," "lawful meaning in unlawful act"), III.i.131-133: "What sin you do to save a brother's life,/Nature dispenses with the deed so far/That it becomes a virtue." The Duke says as much to Mariana at the end of IV.i: "[fear not (be bold as virtue is bold) and] 'tis no sin,/Sith that the justice of your title to him/Doth flourish the deceit [and indeed the time is ripe]", and likewise in V.i.533: "Th'offence pardons itself." And compare Pompey as the "lawful hangman" in IV.ii.
But Isabella disagrees: her morality comes from spirit and truth, III.i.206-08: "I have spirit to do any thing that appears not foul in the truth of my spirit." She recognizes, as does Angelo, that Claudio ought to be punished, but tempers her justice with mercy.
Shakespeare, William Stratford Town Edition. William Shakespeare, The Complete Works (NY: Dorset, 1988).