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Comment on Shakespeare's conclusion to 'Measure for Measure'

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Rebecca Johnson 11TD Comment on Shakespeare's conclusion to 'Measure for Measure' The Shakespearean play that I am going to study is 'Measure for Measure' which was performed for King James I on December the 26th, 1604. The text of Measure For Measure was not published until 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death. It is a play written about intensely complex issues, including the uses of morality and sexuality. The play consists of five acts with many scenes showing different aspects of the play and these scenes and different extracts eventually are the basis for the ending of the play. The general plot of the play is that firstly the Duke decides to go away and leaves Angelo in his place for a period of time. As his first order of business, Angelo sentences Claudio to death for impregnating his girlfriend Juliet. Before being imprisoned, Claudio entreats his good friend Lucio to relay his misfortune to his devoted sister Isabella. There is a specific law inn the play which was a law dooming any man to the punishment of death, who should live with a woman that was not his wife; and this law, through the lenity of the duke, being utterly disregarded, marriage became neglected, and complaints were made every day to the duke by the parents of the young ladies in Vienna, that their daughters had been seduced from their protection, and were living as the companions of single men. ...read more.


However if the director chose for Isabella to immediately portray a joyful expression, the audience would conclude that Isabella would accept. Either way the audience can scrutinize the stage directions to decide in their own minds, whether it is a happy or sad ending. Isabella is another character who changes towards the end of the play in the sense that she is closer to her brother, Claudio, once she realises that her brother is more important. At the beginning she was willing to bestow Claudio's life so that she could keep her virginity, which she considered exceptionally more important. The quotation '0 were it but my life, I would lay it down for your deliverance as frankly as a pin!' indicates that if she was in Claudio's position she would surrender her life without question and is an insinuation of her selfish way of thinking. The Duke helps Isabella and arranges for Mariana to go to Angelo in her place. Isabella love for Claudio is implied when she goes to Angelo, to plead for his freedom and when she discover from the Duke that, 'Angelo has released Claudio from this world. His head is off, and sent to the deputy.' The much-grieved Isabella cries out 'O unhappy Claudio, wretched Isabel, injurious world, most wicked Angelo!', which suggests her anger towards Angelo for his deceit. ...read more.


The sections that are serious are when Angelo accepts his death sentence for his contrary ways, as this shocks the audience and causes them to sympathize him rather than continuing to hate him. There is also a romantic section when Marianna and Angelo eventually join in matrimony, when Claudio and Juliet are reunited and the Duke when he proposes to Isabella. I think that Shakespeare wrote this end in this format, because he did not want the audience to be satisfied completely, in the way that he wanted to leave them dwelling on what happened and also leave a moral issue to make the audience think about the play with an open mind. The play leaves a debate on whether the characters will have really learnt their lessons and this ending may also suggest life doesn't always have fairytale endings which insinuates a certain amount of truth. Shakespeare only has issues seeming like they are resolved, because he would have wanted the audience to feel happy that everything had concluded agreeable, but also leave them with a sense of doubt on how happy the ending truly is. In Act Five there are quotations that are significant as they refer to the title of the play. These are spoken by the Duke wherein he says ' Her worth, worth yours', and 'what's mine is yours, and what is yours is mine'. These quotes suggest the balances in married life, which have to be evenly balanced for it to be respectable and decent. ...read more.

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