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Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure (a Dark Comedy)

At Duke Vincentio's Palace in Vienna, the Duke transfers his powers and duties to Angelo since the Duke is leaving town for a while. The Duke makes Escalus Angelo's assistant. At a tower, Lucio tells his friends he hopes the Duke comes to agreement with the King of Hungary, lest the king take over the town. Mistress Overdone (a prostitute) informs them that Claudio is arrested and sentenced to death for impregnating Madam Julietta (his fiance‚). Furthermore, Pompey informs Overdone that Angelo plans to tear down London's brothels. Lucio promises Claudio that he'll ask Isabella (Claudio's sister) to convince the deputy to free him out of kindness. At a monastery, the Duke informs Friar Thomas that he appointed Angelo knowing full well he would clean up the town's prostitution. He wishes Angelo to do it so the people will fear and detest him rather than the Duke. The duke plans to watch the proceedings by posing as a monk. Lucio comes to Isabella at a nunnery and convinces her to beg Angelo for mercy on her brother. Escalus too tries to dissuade Angelo from his harsh judgement, but Angelo insists that Claudio be executed.

Constable brings Pompey (Overdone's pimp) and Froth to Angelo and Escalus accusing them of illegal doings. Angelo leaves, then Escalus warns Froth and Pompey of new enforcement of the laws, then lets them go. Constable Elbow continually uses the wrong words in sentences (eg. detest for protest, cardinally for carnally, etc.) and repeats to a Justice that it is sad that Claudio is to die. Even the Provost (executioner) questions Angelo's decision to execute Claudio. Isabella arrives and begs Angelo to spare her brother. Her grace and virtue seems to dissuade his strictness and it seems he'll spare Claudio. The Duke (as the Friar) comes to the prison to bless those condemned. He blesses Juliet and learns of Claudio's predicament. Isabella comes back to Angelo to discover hear his decision. Angelo tells her he will free Claudio if she sleeps with him. As a good nun would, she denies him for the sake of her chastity. He tells her she has one day to change her mind, then leaves. She decides to tell her brother of Angelo's ultimatum and her decision, to give her brother a sense of peace.

At the prison, the Duke (as the Friar) comforts Claudio. Isabella arrives and tells Claudio of Angelo's ultimatum. Claudio asks Isabella to honor Angelo's request since he is so afraid of death, but she refuses. The Duke, who was eavesdropping, keeps the ruse by telling Claudio to prepare for death. But to Isabella, the Duke reveals a plan to save Claudio, appease Angelo, spare Isabella's chastity, and reunite Angelo's long lost lover/fiance‚ Mariana with him. At the prison, Elbow brings Pompey in for being a bawd (pimp). Lucio talks with the Duke (as the Friar) and hypothesizes that the Duke would be more lenient with Claudio since he (the Duke) doesn't follow the law. Privately, this enrages the Duke, who outwardly vows to expose Lucio's view "to the Duke" when he returns. Escalus and officers bring Mistress Overdone and other prostitutes to the prison. She tells Escalus that Lucio himself has had child with Mistress Keepdown and should also be arrested. The Duke (as the Friar) speaks to Escalus and learns that Escalus truly respects the Duke and disagrees with Angelo's strictness.

The Duke (as the Friar) introduces Isabella to Mariana, who agrees to pretend to be Isabella and sleep with Angelo in order to consummate their marriage. At the prison the Provost asks Pompey to help the executioner, Abhorson, execute Claudio and another prisoner, Barnardine, in exchange for Pompey's freedom, to which Pompey agrees. The Provost receives a letter confirming Claudio's death warrant, to the dismay of the Duke. The Duke, then, convinces the Provost to delay Claudio's execution for four days, but execute Barnardine and deliver his head to Angelo, making it look like Claudio's (per Angelo's request to see Claudio's head). The Duke (as the Friar) convinces the Provost by showing him a letter from the actual Duke. Since Barnardine isn't prepared to die at 4 am, the Duke and Provost bring Angelo the head of a man who died of a fever. To hold the ruse, the Duke tells Isabella that Claudio was beheaded, but reassures her that she will be able to speak to the actual Duke. Lucio appears again, and upon prodding admits to the Duke (as the Friar) that he did indeed impregnate a whore. Angelo, upon learning of the actual Duke's return, regrets that Claudio was executed.

The Duke "returns" to the city, upon which Isabella comes to him and tells her story, the whole city listening. The Duke pretends to doubt her story, and declares her imprisoned. Friar Peter then comes forward and vouches for Isabella's story, then brings forth Mariana who tells all she slept with Angelo. The Duke then appears as the Friar and repeats the accusations. In a scuffle, the Friar is revealed as the Duke. As the Duke, he has Friar Peter marry Angelo and Mariana, then sentences Angelo to death. Mariana and Isabel beg the Duke to spare Angelo to which, finally, the Duke agrees. The Duke then has the Provost bring Barnardine and Claudio to him. The Duke frees Barnardine and reunites Claudio with Isabella. As for Lucio, he has Friar Peter marry him to the whore, then orders him whipped AND hanged, such that the whore will inherit Lucio's fortune.

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Recent Forum Posts on Measure for Measure

measure for measure: some confusing things need translating PART 1

Hey Guys, Going through act 2 scene 4 in this play and need some help with getting the modern day translations for these phrases: -pleased you to do't at peril of your soul were equal poise of sin and charity -your sense pursues not mine these black masks proclaim an enshield beauty ten times louder than beauty could, display'd

Measure For Measure : Angelo's monolgue in 2.2

ANGELO: What's this? what's this? is this her fault or mine? The tempter, or the tempted, who sins most? Ha! Not she, nor doth she tempt; but it is I That, lying by the violet in the sun, Do as the carrion does, not as the flower, Corrupt with virtuous season. Can it be That modesty may more betray our sense Than woman's lightness? Having wasteground enough, Shall we desire to raze the sanctuary And pitch our evils there? O fie, fie, fie! What dost thou? or what are thou, Angelo? Dost thou desire her foully for those things That make her good? O, let her brother live: Thieves for their robbery have authority When judges steal themselves. What, do I love her, That I desire to hear her speak again, And feast upon her eyes? what is't I dream on? O cunning enemy that, to catch a saint, With saints dost bait thy hook: most dangerous Is that temptation that doth goad us on To sin in loving virtue. Never could the strumpet With all her double vigor, art and nature, Once stir my temper; but this virtuous maid Subdues me quite. Ever till now, When men were fond, I smiled and wondered how. I have to do an analysis for this text. But I have no idea what he is saying. If you have the time, can you reply with a literal meaning of this and an analysis. What is the tone, figurative language, form and structure and symbolic meaning. Thanks it would really be appreciated because I spent the last hour trying to find a website that translates and does anaylsis. :crash: :crash: :crash: :crash: :crash: :crash:

Great Production of Measure for Measure!

Hey guys check out this awesome, all female version of Measure for Measure by Shakespeare by the students of New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized of Study. :banana:

Love themes

um hi everyone i'm doin an oral on the love theme in Measure for Measure, requested by my teacher, but i have not yet read about it before so i was wondering if anyone would mind givin me some pointers?much apreciated xx

Measure for measure..

I am writing an as level essay for this question on measure for measure; ' by close analysis of the language in this extract, discuss shakespeares presentation of the duke' and the extract is act 1 scene 3. Any help would be much apprieciated. thanks.

Quote explanations

I was looking over the key quotations I am supposed to be learning and there a few whose meanings I can't quite fathom - I was wondering if anyone could enlighten me as to what they signify or a rough translation into modern English? 1)"Who may, in the ambush of my name, strike home, And yet my nature never in the fight To do in slander" (Act I) 2)"It was a mad fantastical trick of him to steal from the state, and usurp the beggary he was never born to." (Act III) 3)"if he had so offended, He would have weigh'd thy brother by himself And not have cut him off." (Act V, the Duke) Thanks very much!

Angelo's marriage and pardon

I have been asked to write an essay based upon Coleridge's criticism of Measure for Measure that stated that it 'baffles the strong, indignant claim of Justice' when Angelo is married to Mariana and then pardoned. I don't really understand the question too well and was wondering if anyone could give me some help at all? Thank you! x


This may sound like a stupid question... but how do we know that the Duke is called Vincentio? I only discovered this today as i was researching on the net. We have been through the whole play in detail and never come across this name... Thanks!

measure for measure

describe the characterization in measure for meausre in act 2 scene4

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

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