isabella and religion
i have to write an essay on how far isabella's behaviour in act 2 is governed by her religious convictions. any ideas would be greatly appreciated. thanks xxx
It's not just a matter of prim religious convictions, it's the integrity of her entire identity. Her scene with Angelo is a legal, philosophical and polemical debate with freedom and sanctity as its subject. Angelo is force and will. Although she may be a nun-in-training, it could have as easily been a non-religious situation; just raw power vs. basic autonomy.
Then I guess her scene with her brother is in Act 2. That's even more difficult for her, since it is her sanctity vs. submission to vileness for her brother's life. She is driven to the nth degree, not uncommon for great Shakespearean characters. Acquiescing to Angelo would be to demolish her entire selfhood. To her innocent mind, that would be horror, unthinkable. As a pop song says, "No can do."
Last edited by byquist; 11-17-2005 at 01:13 AM.
Last edited by chez; 11-22-2005 at 12:00 PM.
thanks! (i dont think her actual scene with her brother is act 2 though)
Welcome! At present I have a similar problem.I'm an actress and I'm going to act Isabella. I still wonder about her, about her behaviour.
How do You think, how important id Angelo in her mind?
Is this only religious or more? Is this only innocence? Why she decided to live as a nun?
I think it is maybe deeper. Maybe she say "no" because she is afraid of herself's feelings and to be a woman?
( sorry for my English, it is still not very good).
I wonder of this because I would like show Isabella as a woman at the present times.
If You have any thoughts- please help.
Isabella is being forced to choose between her commitment to family (her brother) and her commitment to God (her virginity). With Isabella this is not a one-incident favor, it will affect the rest of her life. She would no longer be able to become a nun as she has being training for, and probably planning for a long time. Her relationship with God is sacred to her, breaking the promises (vows) she has made is unforgivable in her eyes (and in her God's eyes). She also knows that her brother's "sin" really isn't that bad morally and believes that he will be happy in the afterlife.
Like Angelo, Isabella has never been tested. Both are too fanatical.
^That's right. Isabella and Angelo are actually quite alike. Both Angelo and Isabella have never been tested sexually, they both have power over the death of Claudio, and they're both merciless (except for Isabella at the end).
Angelo has been around whores all his life in his occupational field so when he sees Isabella, he's drawn to her innocence and wants to corrupt her. Isabella wants to run away to a convent for all the wrong reasons (she is not allowed to speak with men, which makes it easier to uphold her chastity). But do you see how hypocritical she is?
O, were it but my life,
I'ld throw it down for your deliverance
As frankly as a pin.
Do you see? She wants to look like a martyr. She only cares about her reputation as a Christian, and not how she applies Christ's teachings to her everyday life. But what's even worse, unlike Angelo, she doesn't check her conscience. She has no idea that what she is doing is contrary to Christianity.
Then Claudio says,
Sweet sister, let me live:
What sin you do to save a brother's life,
Nature dispenses with the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue.
He is damn right. It is a sin, but with the intent to save her brother in this horrible act of sacrificing her virginity, she is being virtuous.
Then she replies with this hateful response:
O you beast!
O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
Is't not a kind of incest, to take life
From thine own sister's shame? What should I think?
Heaven shield my mother play'd my father fair!
For such a warped slip of wilderness
Ne'er issued from his blood. Take my defiance!
Die, perish! Might but my bending down
Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed:
I'll pray a thousand prayers for thy death,
No word to save thee.
So she'll not save her brother, pray for his death, but not for his life. That is hate. Being a Christian (especially one going into a convent, I might add), she is absolutely forbidden to hate anyone. She redeems herself at the end, but she is worse than Angelo at this point.