Examine the ways in which Shakespeare
uses language to give the audience a greater insight into Angelo's character
The character of Angelo in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure is surely the most complex in the play. To convey the transition of principles in Angelo's character in the play, Shakespeare employs a range of language techniques. Using these techniques, Shakespeare allows the audience to gain a greater insight into Angelo's character and also allows the audience to relate to his thoughts and feelings through his speeches and soliloquies.
The most prominent technique Shakespeare employs is that of Angelo's lexis. The first instance of a pun is in act 1, scene 1 when Angelo uses a pun of his 'mettle'. Angelo asks 'let there be some more test made of my metal', meaning that he should not be given such a responsibility without being given a further test of his 'mettle'- meaning his spirit. A further explanation of Angelo's pun is that the connection of the term 'metal' coupled with 'mettle' is that coins were tested before being put into use. An 'Angel' was a ten shilling coin of the time. An extended metaphor of Angelo's properties, compared with the properties of coins, is much the same. Metal is cold, hard and impenetrable, similar to Angelo, as the audience will later discover. Angelo speaks with a formal discourse in the presence of the Duke in act 1, scene 1, when he suggests 'let there be some more test… before so noble and so great a figure..' Angelo is suggesting that he is not so worthy of a great title without the Duke's full confidence in him. This shows Angelo to be noble and honest.
Two other characters that speak highly of Angelo are the Duke and Escalus. In act1, scene 1, Escalus reassures the Duke that 'if any in Vienna be of worth … it is Lord Angelo'. Escalus clearly feels Angelo is capable of ruling over Vienna responsibly.
In act 1, scene 3, the Duke also shows his confidence in Angelo when he tells the Friar that Angelo 'is a man of stricture and firm abstinence'. These lines regarding Angelo show the respect held for him and allow the audience to obtain a further insight into Angelo from another character's perspective.
At this stage of the play, Angelo is portrayed as a man of self-discipline and devoid of human emotion.
The Duke wishes to see if Angelo is can be changed by power when he comments 'if power changes purpose... '. The Duke is anticipating Angelo's transition from a man of 'stricture' to something different from what he 'seems'.
The image of Angelo being constructed by the audience at the point of act 1, scene 3 is that of a stern, strict man. The Duke adds, in his large speech, that Angelo never confesses 'his blood flows'. The Duke is accentuating the image of Angelo's hard, cold properties, returning to the image of Angelo's 'metal'.
Angelo frequently uses imagery to convey the abstract images of the principles of justice and law. Angelo, in act 2, scene 1 suggests 'we must not make a scarecrow of...