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Explain How Shakespeare's Portrayal Of Characters In Act1 Of 'measure For Measure' Link With Its Genre Of A Problem Play.

1433 words - 6 pages

Explain how Shakespeare's portrayal of characters in Act1 link with its genre of a problem play.Measure for Measure does not fit neatly into any of the genres of most of Shakespeare's other plays. It contains elements from both genres of tragedy and comedy while having unique aspects that don't fit either. Therefore, it is given the genre of a problem play. I am going to look at the characters of the Duke, Angelo, Isabella, Lucio, and Claudio. Shakespeare portrays them through different methods such as through their actions, the way that other characters act around them and the opinions of those other characters, their speech and language and the way that Shakespeare uses structure and form.The Duke's actions can be portrayed in any number of different ways in Act 1 and therefore, the character can be played in different ways. Scene 1 begins with the Duke leaving Vienna, supposedly bound for Poland. He leaves the area in charge of Angelo."therefore take your honours."Later in the scene 3 the audience actually discovers that the Duke has gone only a little outside of Vienna to consult with a Friar. The audience discovers that the Duke has been very lenient with the laws, 'which for this fourteen years (he has) let slip'. This is why he has "on Angelo imposed the office"."And yet my nature never in the sight to do it slander."This means that the new laws will not be blamed on him and he will not be made to look as a harsher Duke, therefore retaining his reputation in Vienna. This can be interpreted in two ways. The Duke can be portrayed as very clever for this action or cowardly in protecting himself against dislike. This then links with the fact that Measure for Measure is a problem play.Is the Duke good or evil? In tragic plays there is a clear evil character and also a protagonist but in this play it is unclear to which category the Duke falls into. He could be seen as a good character or protagonist because he wants his people to like him and he is lenient with how he enforces the law. He could also be just testing Angelo and this would also seem to put him in the role of a protagonist. The Duke could be portrayed as wanting to see how Angelo will deal with, and react under the circumstances. While talking to the Friar he says 'Hence shall we see, If power changes purpose, what our seemers be.' This could illustrate the Duke's desire to test Angelo. However, the Duke could be played somewhat differently. He can also be seen as an evil character. His government are not effective in what they do and Vienna is almost in chaos. He deceives his people by pretending to leave and leaving Angelo who does not seem ready for the job. Angelo expresses this when he says 'Let there be some more test made of my metal'. By leaving Angelo in charge the Duke is diverting the responsibility he has away from himself and also somewhat betraying his people. This could be typical of a tragic genre.However, the Duke could also be linked in a comic genre, as he is...

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