This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Exploring Morality In Measure For Measure

754 words - 3 pages

Exploring Morality in Measure for Measure

   In Measure for Measure, Shakespeare is able to examine the concept of right and wrong through the characters of Mistress Overdone and Mariana. Throughout the play, by using characters that most people would find morally reprehensible, Shakespeare is able to give the audience a different view of these people and, hopefully, show his audience that people aren't always what they appear to be. Through the character of Mistress Overdone, Shakespeare is able to bring a jovial side to the oldest job known to man -- prostitution. Through the character of Mariana, Shakespeare allows the audience to decide if two wrongs do, in fact, make a right. While the concepts of right and wrong are given a twist in this play, Shakespeare, in the end, allows his audience to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong.

At the beginning of act one, scene two, Shakespeare uses the bawd, Mistress Overdone, to convey to the audience that Angelo is enforcing the fornication laws of Vienna. While this seems like the more moral, and more right, action to take, Shakespeare puts a twist on what the audience would normally view as a clear cut case. In lines 79 - 81, Mistress Overdone explains to the audience the effects of these new policies. So, while it seems right to shut these businesses down, the audience now is shown that prostitution is this lady's livelihood and her way for making money. However, who is to decide if the "moral benefits" of eliminating the public display of prostitution is in the best interest of the city? By posing this question, Shakespeare forces the audience to consider both sides of the issue to, in the end, make some decision.


In England, during that time, people were very religious, so it is easy to say that in the context of the time many people would have sided with Angelo in closing down the whore houses. However, who gives the right to one man, or a group of people, to determine what is right and wrong for everyone? This question allows Shakespeare to challenge the general notion of something always being right or wrong. Through this scene with Mistress Overdone, Shakespeare wants his audience to consider if something can...

Find Another Essay On Exploring Morality in Measure for Measure

Crime Statistics: In this essay I will be exploring the accuracy of statistics used to measure crime and discussing why these statistics maybe an inadequate indicator of criminal activities

2118 words - 8 pages Crime StatisticsIn this essay I will be exploring the accuracy of statistics used to measure crime and discussing why these statistics maybe an inadequate indicator of criminal activities. Moreover in this essay I will also use criminological theories and concepts. There are several different sociological/criminological explanations from a range of different perspectives used to explain crime and deviance. For the purpose of this essay I will be

William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure Essay

1343 words - 5 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

Themes of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure Revealed in Angelo’s Soliloquies

821 words - 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

The Character Elbow in Shakespeare's Play, Measure for Measure

1597 words - 6 pages The Character Elbow in Shakespeare's Play, Measure for Measure In Act 2, scene 1 of the play Measure for Measure the character Elbow, a representation of the "Comedic Constable" often depicted in William Shakespeare's comedies and traji-comedies, gives the director an unusual creative license in portraying this figure to give the audience a rich theatrical experience. (Evans 427) These characters are most commonly depicted as "artless

Isabella as an Independent Female in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure

1296 words - 5 pages are the ways in which a twenty-first century woman is perceived. In the time period Shakespeare was writing in the abilities and roles expected of women were very different. For women in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, there are extremely limited roles women can fulfill and all of them centre around sexuality and serving men sexually. A woman is either chaste or unchaste, a wife or a whore, and there is very little differentiating the two. A

Shakespeare's Interpretation of Women in "Measure for Measure"

1339 words - 5 pages Shakespeare's interpretation of women in Measure for Measure very much reflects society's opinion of women at the time, which was that men have more freedom and should be given more respect that women. The society of the time was a patriarchal one, where a male God was the ultimate leader, and below him came the king, then the nobles. However, although the society gave men more rights than women, Measure for Measure demonstrates that they also

Politics, Power, and Purpose in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure

6699 words - 27 pages Politics, Power, and Purpose in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure In Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Vincentio, Duke of Vienna, observing that his Dukedom has fallen into licentiousness and chaos through his neglectful government, has pretended to leave Vienna and has turned over the government to Angelo, his upright and up-tight Deputy; and that the Duke has resolved to remain in Vienna, in disguise, so that he may observe how Angelo's

The True Character of Isabella in Measure for Measure

3953 words - 16 pages The True Character of Isabella in Measure for Measure       Some critics of Shakespeare’s play, Measure for Measure, judge Isabella as "a narrow minded but passionate girl afflicted with an irrational terror of sex" (Barton, 546), "a young, immature woman" demonstrating "moral absurdity and cruelty" (Nicholls, 478), whose actions are scarcely defensible. A classmate of mine asked, "Why doesn't Isabella just sleep with Angelo? What's the

Marriage As A Form Of Justice In Measure For Measure

1505 words - 6 pages Marriage as a Form of Justice in Measure for Measure Measure for Measure has long been defined by critics as a "problem" comedy due to its nonconformity to the typical comedic formula and conventional standards of Shakespearian comedy. Not only is there an absence of romantic love, the usual bawdy jokes concerning sex take on a dark twist, conveying instead images of death and destruction. Even the four marriages in the end do not

Measure for Measure Essay: The Virtuous Isabella

1326 words - 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

Measure for Measure: The Duke's Surveillance

960 words - 4 pages In Measure for Measure, the Duke’s unexplained need to more strictly enforce the law and provide more intimate surveillance is the main cause of tension within the play. Without the Duke’s departure, Claudio wouldn’t have been sentenced to death, Isabella wouldn’t have had to defend her virtue, Angelo would not have been tempted or tricked into marriage, and in the end the Duke wouldn’t have any mess to clean up, regardless of how big the mess

Similar Essays

Essay On Justice Vs. Morality In Measure For Measure And Merchant Of Venice

1127 words - 5 pages Justice vs. Morality in Measure for Measure and Merchant of Venice   There are many similarities shared between Shakespeare's plays, "Measure for Measure", and "The Merchant of Venice".  The underlying theme of each work is well defined by the phrase "Justice without the temperance of mercy, is power misused".  I will support this claim by drawing upon some of the characters and situations that are consistent in each story. In each

Measure For Measure Notes Essay

2097 words - 8 pages of the play is one of religious and critical morality. In the beginning of the play, Isabella is a novice at St. Clare. The Duke disguises himself as a Friar, exercising the divine privileges of this office towards Juliet, Barnardine, Claudio, and Pompey. In fact, the Central idea of Measure for Measure can easily be stated in Christian terms: "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Since Angelo is not a conscious

Shakespeare's Measure For Measure Essay

1994 words - 8 pages Shakespeare's Measure for Measure Game-playing in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure Thieves for their robbery have authority When judges steal themselves Critics have often seen Vincentio, the Duke in Shakespeare's play Measure for Measure, as performing a function similar to that of Prospero in The Tempest. The reasons for such an assumption is clear in the very first scene of the play, as both characters set the plot into motion by

Measure For Measure Essay

1008 words - 4 pages Measure for Measure provides less freedom for woman than other Shakespearian plays given no control as an independent woman. The explanation of "Measure still for Measure" (IV.i.414) focuses on punishments and retributions as well as an obedience to transferred power. The Duke’s reign has shaped an atmosphere in Vienna fraught with indulgence and an overall disregard for the law. The Duke wishes to have more order in Vienna but is unsure how to