Measure for Measure    View Details    Create a Copy

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

When the Duke of Vienna decides to test Lord Angelo, whom he has left in charge, Angelo develops a tyrannical demeanor. The play centers on Claudio, an innocent man Angelo had arrested, and what will happen to him. The Duke who never left town, is disguised as a monk and is watching as Angelo becomes a ruthless leader inflicting strict laws takes away freedoms from the people. Angelo feels that Vienna has become to sexually promiscuous and uses Claudio as an example; Claudio’s crime was getting his fiancé pregnant before they were officially married.

While Claudio is in jail his sister, who is extremely religious and has vowed to devote her life and body to god, goes to Angelo to reason with him. However, instead he tells her he will only free her brother if she agrees to sleep with him. This is a difficult decision for her as she has taken a vow of chastity; she consults her brother who at first agrees with her decision not to however, he changes his mind when he realizes he will die if she doesn’t. Isabella is conflicted and is left to make the decision. Yet she is freed from her conflict when the Duke, still dressed as a monk, intervenes and creates a plan to trick Angelo. Isabella will agree to have sex with him however she will switch places with Mariana; Angelo’s form fiancé who he broke off the engagement with when she lost her fortune in a shipwreck.

Things seem to go as planned however, Angelo doesn’t hold up his end of the barging; refusing to pardon Claudio. Again the Duke intervenes by sending Angelo a dead pirate head and claiming it to be the head of Claudio; who was to be executed for his punishment. Meanwhile, Isabella is distraught and waits for the Duke to return so that she may file a grievance against Angelo. When the Duke arrives at first he dismisses Isabella’s claims however, he cannot conceal his dual identity for long and tells them where he really was. Angelo is forced to confess and the Duke pardons Claudio, and asks Isabella to marry him.

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