- Thesis statement
In the measure, life is two-faced, and those who live it are inevitably so. The play tries to imply that ambivalence is an unavoidable part of being human.
Disturbed by the behavior of his people, Duke Vincentio thinks that enough is enough and puts deputy Angelo in charge of enforcing the laws at Vienna while he is away “on business”. While Angelo is in charge, he sentences Claudio for fornicating with his girlfriend whom he intends to marry and wants to behead Claudio to make an example of him. The plot climaxes where Angelo proposes that Isabella should sleep with him if she wants her brother set free, but Isabella refuses to say that she would rather die than sleep with him. The duke reveals himself and confronts Angelo who in turn repents. In the end, Claudio is saved and the duke orders the three couple to get married thus solving the whole fornication problem.
One strength of the measure is the contradiction in every spoken sentence. You find yourself laughing at the lack of logic by the characters. The play is a comedy that has one reconciling with all the characters even though none of them is loveable. However, the play never forgets to put the element of tragedy, fatal conflict and self-destruction into the messages. I can say that the most consistent thing about the play is its humor that has one laughing throughout the play.
Justice with mercy is consistent throughout the play. The duke, Escalus, Provost, Marianna and Isabella all advocate for mercy. Angelo is the only character who advocates the strict following of the law and even recommends an execution for those who cannot follow the law. He even recommends his own execution when his own sins are uncovered. He is, however, treated with mercy by the duke and is not executed. Mercy is also shown to Claudio, who is not executed for fornicating with his girlfriend. Those who are treated with mercy respond by repenting. Forgiveness and repentance are another theme in the play. When Angelo is discovered, he repents and even marries Marianna a fiancée he had jilted for not having enough dowry. Part of his agreeing to marry Marianna is penance for his wrong deeds. Hypocrisy is another major theme in the play. Angelo prosecutes others for misconduct while he is lasting and even forcing himself on a nun. He is executing Claudio for the same thing he wants to do. Hypocrisy is shown where Angelo refuses to marry his fiance after realizing that she does not have a lot of dowries to give. Isabella is a hypocritical puritan who will not give herself to Angelo to save her brother. Even after realizing that nothing else can be done to save Claudio. Here the issue of virtue versus true virtue is considered thematic.
- Character described by function
Isabella is portrayed as strictly ethical and very pure. She symbolizes Christianity, mercy and goodness set against a moral decadent society. However, she is also used to portray a hypocrisy.
Angelo is used to show the wrongful use of power by those in authority. He is also used to depict hypocrisy and is a good example of a morally decayed society. He is the protagonist of the play.
The duke is somehow a shallow character though he runs the play. He is consistent in controlling the rest of the characters.
Lucio’s role in the play is to provide the audience with much humor in the former of slanders against the duke. He is familiar with all the characters and is used as a link to tie the plot to the subplot
Claudio appears at the beginning of the play only to be almost invisible for the most part of the play. He is used in the play to show Angelo’s cruelty.
A trusted and aged advisor of the duke, Escalus main part, is to frustrate Angelo’s intentions. He argues mercy contrary to Angelo’s strict enforcement of the law. He is a foil to Angelo’s actions
- Literary qualities
The play uses imagery, symbolism and allegory. The duke talks about his subjects as though they were a bunch of headstrong horses that need to be reined in. The unruly human beings are compared to the wild horse consistently throughout the novel. Angelo, on the other hand, sees his pursuit for Isabella as a sensual race like that of horses.
Coins are used as both imagery and metaphors throughout the play. They are used as metaphors for reproduction and even for Angelo’s corruption as the duke’s deputy. Angelo whose name is associated with a noble angel is associated with coins throughout the play. Nobel angel is a type of coin that bears the image of angel Michael.
Substitution is seen where the duke at the beginning appoints Angelo to substitute him. In the literature, substitution is the general rule of play where the actors are substitutes for characters.
The play’s title comes from a biblical passage that is consistent throughout the play. “Judge not that ye be judged. For with that judgment you judge shall you be judged: and with what measure you meet, it shall be measured unto you again. “(Matthew 7: 1-2). This applies to Angelo, who condemns Claudio to death for fornication and then turns and asks Isabella to sleep with him. Measure for measure is also used as a symbol to refer to the legal concept that one has to pay for their crime by suffering an amount that is equal to their crime.
The play is an epic film for it is a large scale sweeping scope and spectacle. The plays take a historic look with the cloth design of the characters and the historic architecture of old Vienna. The visual effects can be credited to Lanterna visions. The lighting design is by Tony Abbott. The designer uses candles and gas lights throughout out the play. Old costumes are used in the play. The characters are dressed in ancient Vienna fashion. The duke is dressed as a loyal with shiny attire. Isabella is dressed in a white wedding gown to symbolize purity.
Angelo is shot upwards to make him look bigger. On the other hand, Isabella is shot from far so that more background is visible in the shots. In the end, they are both shot the same.
- Acting and directing
The play is directed by Desmond Davis. Kenneth Colley plays as duke; Kate Nelligan plays as Isabella, Tim Pigott as Angelo, Christopher Strauli as Claudio, John McEnery as Lucio, Jacquiline Pearce as Mariana and Kevin Stoney as Escalus.
Kennerth Colleys plays the role of the duke well. He portrays a leader with little human warmth in his preoccupation. The handsome Tim Piggott makes the audience feel his bewilderment for his sudden lust. Frank Middleman is delightfully amusing as Pompey. All parts are faultlessly played from John McEnery as the foppish Lucio to Kate Nelligan as Isabella. Director Desmond Davis has made the right, artistic choices in al the characters and made itdramatic and a fascinating piece of film.
- Outstanding moment
The most outstanding moment is the part where Isabella pauses and lowers her head before she accepts the dukes proposal for marriage. As a puritan, there is the expectation that she might turn his proposal down.
- The event as a theatre
Theatre is a form of fine art where the characters team up to present the events of a real or imagined event before a live audience. The play uses theatre through the use of music and dance and also speech. The play has also used element of stagecraft and design to enhance the immediacy, presence and presence of the experience.
Measure for measure is one of Shakespeare. It is a study of what happens when harsh reality of morals is put to the test in a society that has decayed morals. Even the most righteous figure in the play; a power-wielding nun turns out to be a hypocrite. She is a puritan who will not give up her virtue to save her brother. In addition, the duke whom the plot seems to run the plot of the play and the state of Vienna is cruel and meddles in the lives of others for reasons he cannot explain. The play is full of unlikeable character that no one is likely to side with. Measure for measure shows how people are two-faced in society that even those who are thought to be a picture of morality are selfish people whose only agenda is to accomplish their needs at the expense of others. The play is one of Shakespeare’s problem plays. The play is excellent and speaks of our age when there is so much moral decay. The director has artistically selected the actors and the actresses. It is easy o fall in love with a villain. The play uses symbolism in its title and imagery and allegory as literary styles.
“Measure for Measure”. February 2 2013. RetrievedMarch 13 2014