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AS and A Level: Measure for Measure

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  1. measure for measure

    Thus it seems from our first meeting with Isabella, Shakespeare intends us to view her as chaste, perhaps in need of protection, in this virtuous setting of the nunnery. This portrayal is furthered through other characters' perceptions of Isabella, as the Duke says: "The hand that hath made you fair hath made you good", highlighting Isabella's virtuous and chaste nature. The fact that the Duke of Vienna, with all his power and status, views Isabella in this way, suggests this is indeed what Shakespeare intended.

    • Word count: 1316
  2. Measure for Measure: The fault of Isabella is that she is excessively pious and too proud. Isabella is a symbol for virtue and chastity and a champion of mercy. How do you respond to these different views of Isabella?

    Isabella can also be seen as a champion of mercy by the way she begs for Angelo's life in the final scene of the play. The view that Isabella is excessively pious is supported the instance we meet her character as she 'rather wishes a more strict restraint on the sisterhood'. This gives the audience the idea that Isabella believes the sisterhood is too lenient and she believes there should be more rules and restrictions. The use of 'wishes' is effective as it shows that Isabella hoped to have more rules and restraint posed on her as a nun; therefore supporting the view that Isabella is excessively pious.

    • Word count: 1038
  3. Free essay

    Measure for Measure - 'It is comedy and trickery in the play that engages the audience', 'What intereststhe audience about the play is a serious chance to judge its characters'

    Lucio is one of the main sources of comedy in 'Measure for Measure', his humour and almost careless speech engages the audience which will result in the audience liking his character. His speech on occasions appears to possess no restraint which is evident from his conversation with the two gentlemen when he proudly proclaims 'I have purchased as many diseases under her roof as come to'. Lucio's tone suggests the he is proud of this achievement which in turn results in the audience being humoured by Lucio.

    • Word count: 917
  4. Consider Act II of "Measure for Measure", with regard to ideas of Justice and Mercy

    With such desire it is farcical to outlaw it and not particularly justified. Angelo continually justifies the tough punishment by saying it is a sort of mercy within itself due to future conduct being affected by such an example to draw reference upon. This sentiment is repeated by Escalus on line 280 when he says " Mercy is not itself, that oft looks so; Pardon is still the nurse of the second woe", Angelo believes in his justification due to future deterrence But he is attempting to stop something to which he is prone to himself which is a clear injustice.

    • Word count: 1923
  5. Measure for Measure-A Problem Play?

    It is not clear who, if anyone, Shakespeare intends to be seen as the villain or hero of the play; it seems more an issue of individual interpretation, which could be showing Shakespeare's views that not every situation is straightforward and most outcomes don't have just one culprit behind them but are a result of many people's wrongdoings, mistakes or problems. For example Isabella could be played as an extremely reliable woman, devoted to the Church and completely innocent with her only bad influence being the corrupt society in which she lives.

    • Word count: 1009
  6. Measure for Measure-Themes Presented in Act 1

    wish to be a replacement for someone's faith; it perhaps allows the audience to hold a respect for the Duke from the beginning of the play. In scene 2, the references to religion continue with Lucio speaking of 'the sanctimonious pirate that went out to sea with the ten commandments, but scraped one off the table'. This suggests a corruption of religion and its associated beliefs, which may foreshadow other themes coming later in the play-those of right and wrong, particularly when interpreting laws on prostitution and the confusion about marriage (should it be based on good faith or a legal ceremony).

    • Word count: 802
  7. Isabella defines Angelo as an arch-villain(TM). To what extent do you agree with her that Angelo is the villain of the play?

    This highly puritanical approach to justice can easily be deemed as villainous especially to a more liberal thinking twenty-first century audience. However it is important to note that Angelo is only putting in place the law "it is the law who condemns your brother not I" and his severity only stems from the necessity to reinforce the law "setting it up to fear the birds of prey" especially after the dukes laxity on Vienna. Angelo's role also takes the form of the so-called corrupt magistrate that rose from a novella by Giraldi Cinthio and George Whetstones Promos and Cassandra.

    • Word count: 1090
  8. How does Shakespeare interest his audience with both the moral debate and the action on stage in Measure for Measure?

    Isabella's speech notably resembles "the Quality of mercy" speech from The Merchant of Venice, one of Shakespeare's most famous speeches. One can conclude that perhaps that Shakespeare was questioning the judicial system and the application of justice in his life. By exploring this through this powerful exchange of wills Shakespeare would certainly have created a dramatic theatrical impact while perhaps leading an audience to question the implementation of the law. Shakespeare also engages his audience through the exploration of gender politics through these two characters.

    • Word count: 1235
  9. presentation of Isabella in Measure for Measure

    In contrast to this, it is suggested that Isabella uses language, which in some cases can sometimes unconsciously be erotically charged and this could be one of the things that Angelo is attracted too. "...To strip myself to death as to a bed That longing have been sick for..." (pg 46) In act two scene four, Isabella tries to assert herself against Angelo by saying; "...my brother Or with an outstretched throat I'll tell the world Aloud what man thou art" (pg45)

    • Word count: 883
  10. Presentation of Escalus in Measure for Measure

    In a way he can be seen as a kind and gentle hearted man who will show mercy where needed. When Angelo shows his strict and "cold" view that "We should not make a scarecrow of the law", Escalus tries to give him advise to be more yielding and gentle with the people of Vienna; "Let us be keen and rather cut a little Then fall, and bruise to death" (p20) As well as a kind-hearted man he is also seen to be very formative, but at the same time fair in the way is does this.

    • Word count: 1155
  11. In measure for measure,the characters of Angelo and Isabella are similar.discuss

    Isabella like Angelo is denying her sexuality. Isabella uses religion as a repression of sexuality where as Angelo represses his sexuality by enforcing harsh rules in Vienna regarding fornification and does not allow himself to express any feelings openly. One could argue that both Angelo and Isabella are sexually frustrated. Isabella is a pure and chaste young woman who happens to be in a corrupted society and it could be argued that her decision to join the nunnery was a way of sexual control and that she does not trust herself in the society that she is in and needs restraint "but rather wishing a more strict restraint" (1:4,L3).

    • Word count: 1088
  12. 'A complex character deserving of sympathy'. To what extent do you agree with this view of Angelo in Measure for Measure?

    On the other hand, others have argued that Shakespeare depicts Angelo as a purely evil man. These critics emphasise Angelo's treatment of Marian, the Duke's possible suspicion of Angelo, his desire for Isabella, and his broken promise to Isabella. By examining Angelo in both of these circumstances, it will become apparent that the most successful interpretation of Angelo's character is a combination of both of these facets. One of these critics, Leo Kirschbaum, suggests that the change in the structure of Measure for Measure is the result of a change in the characterization of Angelo.

    • Word count: 973
  13. How far and in what ways do the opening three scenes constitute a suitably problematic opening to Measure for Measure?

    Instead, here, it seems that nobody apart from the Duke has the inside story behind what is happening. This is most clearly proved by the beginning of the play commencing mid conversation. The Duke refers to his and Escalus' 'commission', yet throughout the rest of the play the exact details of this are never mentioned; this means that the ordinarily all-knowing audience is unsure of what is going on. The context of why the Duke chooses Angelo is also indefinite; although Angelo almost pleads with the Duke to 'let there be some more test made of [his] metal', the Duke simply tells him to stop evading his duties, and take over.

    • Word count: 1480
  14. Paying close attention to the language, tone and action of the passage, show how it contributes to your understanding of Isabella and Claudio's relationship

    Isabella had been literally placed in a life - death situation here, for if she were to give in to Angelo she would lose her integrity, and essentially her soul, but were she to defy him, her brother would be beheaded the next day. Isabella, as we have witnessed in past scenes, holds strong morals, and she indeed refuses to follow with Angelo's proposal. After this seemingly traumatic encounter, Isabella gives the audience a short soliloquy in which she highlights her situation, she has already decided in her head that her brother will die, "Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die."

    • Word count: 986
  15. Look again at Act II, Scene IV which begins "When I would pray and think".. How does Shakespeare control our changing responses to Angelo throughout this scene?

    This language mirrors the grossness of exactly what Angelo is considering doing. He becomes aware that he is actually a human being and that so very often his outer appearance belies what is inside him. Angelo is really beginning to understand exactly what Isabella said to him previously. The person he seems to be is not the person he is at all; he would love to get rid of this "idle plume", which is there just for vanity as its becoming a burden: "...I take pride, Could I with boot change for an idle plume..."

    • Word count: 1055
  16. Angelo, Escalus and the Duke present three kinds of ruler. How does Act I establish similarities and differences between them?

    However, one may question why it is that he has to leave in the first place. Although he claims that it is to do with a meeting with the King of Hungary, this is likely not to be the case (as retrospective audiences will know). The audience may be made to think that the city of Vienna has got into such a slack state in terms of laws and punishment, that it needs a solution. This would mean that the Duke's actions could be seen as cowardly.

    • Word count: 1791
  17. What evidence is these in the play to support these opinions? How do you think that Shakespeare has presented Angelo in the play?

    The title of the play is a key theme throughout. Originally coming from the bible, "what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Matthew 7:2-3). Which translated means, what you do to others, they will do to you. Which is what Angelo finds out in act V, scene I when the Duke condemns him, "Measure still for measure...then, Angelo, thy fault's thus manifested". Angelo is the only character that seems to have more complexity. He appears simply cruel and inflexible at first, then is shown to be hypocritical and moreover allowing himself to be controlled by his emotions and desire rather than rationality, "For I am that going to temptation".

    • Word count: 1625
  18. What different views of the Duke are presented in acts 1-3?

    At the start of the play we see that the Duke is a man with general morals, complimenting the people under him. This is Shakespeare showing us from the start that he wishes the Duke to be seen as a good man. In the first scene we learn that for the head of a city he does not enjoy being in the public eye, "I love the people, but do not like to stage me to their eyes". This quote also shows us that he is an honourable and caring Duke as he loves his people, but he doesn't have the confidence to assert his authority.

    • Word count: 1072
  19. "Measure for Measure is a play without any truly sympathetic characters". To what extent do you agree with this view?

    In Act one, scene one, when the Duke is introduced, the audience learn of the Duke's current role in society and of his intentions to bestow power on somebody else in order for peace and morality to be restored in Vienna, "Hold therefore, Angelo:- In our remove be thou at full ourself, mortality and mercy in Vienna, Live in thy tongue and heart". The understanding that the Duke plans his retreat from power for a seemingly valid reason, that he is unable to restore law and order himself, perhaps causes him to appear to be a sympathetic character with good moral standing.

    • Word count: 2037
  20. Discuss Duke Senior's view of the forest in this extract

    The thought that rural life offered an alternative to the corruption of court was simply not an economic reality. The material realities of the Elizabethan era made it impossible to depict a court in such straightforward terms or to hold up the countryside as an Eden and cure to all problems. Shakespeare employs and yet simultaneously overturns pastoral ideas and themes in "As you like it", which is particularly noticeable in the Dukes opening speech in which the although the Duke expounds the advantages and benefits of Arden in comparison to their previous court life, the hardships of life in exile are not lost on him: "Hath not old custom made this life more sweet than that of painted pomp?"

    • Word count: 947
  21. "Measure For Measure". What is learnt of the character of the Duke as he is revealed in the first scene of the play?

    my strength can give you." He further extends this when he continues: "... you're as pregnant in art and practice hath enriched any." It is with this seemingly strong relationship, that one is lead to feel that the Duke must indeed be that of a good leader, having formed a trustful and honest relationship with those he must indeed depend upon to be reliable. Yet, when he comes to speak of the qualities that a leader must indeed poses, the audience come to sense that he feels negatively towards his ability to rule: "...the properties to unfold would seem in me to affect speech and discourse."

    • Word count: 1118
  22. Compare at least four poems from the ones you have studied where a strong dislike for another person is shown. Write about 'My Last Duchess' a poem from Duffy, one form Armitage and another from the pre 1914 poetry bank.

    Beneath the surface, however, is a ruthless story of ruthless power and the Dukes disapproval of the natural and innocent behaviour of his na�ve wife, who apparently does not know the value of his great name. The poem has a very abrupt beginning and appears to be one half of a conversation. Browning opens with the Duke explaining why he has named the painter, and that the painting is kept behind a curtain which he alone is permitted to draw back.

    • Word count: 1062
  23. The principalcharacters in 'Measure for Measure' are motivated by personal gain.' How far would you agree with this view of the play?

    Is he, as Lucio offers, a "Duke of dark corners" or does he bear "the sword of heaven"? Is his "ethical attitude exactly correspondent with Jesus", as the critic G. Wilson Knight has suggested, or is he a Machiavellian power monger who moves unseen amongst his people in order to dominate them, as has been argued by Richard Wilson? The Duke's motivations are suspect and unexplained by the law: why does he announce that the rules need to be better enforced, and then run away at the crucial moment?

    • Word count: 1735
  24. "Explore Shakespeare's portrayal of The Duke and Angelo and the consequent nature of their relationship in the play Measure for Measure."

    Much of his corrupt behaviour invites hostility from the audience, none more so than when he propositions Isabella. She must choose between loosing her brother's life ("Most just law") or saying it by submission to, "Such a sweet uncleanliness" (Act ? scene four). The fact that Angelo is aware that taking Isabella's chastity is "unclean", shows that he acknowledges that what he's doing is wrong yet at the same time he cannot help surrendering to what is "sweet". The audience (initially at any rate) feel pity for Isabella's innocent, unstained but assaulted character, which inevitably produces a loathing of Angelo.

    • Word count: 2145
  25. Is Lucio seen as just a comedian in 'Measure for Measure'?

    I have purchased as many diseases under her roof as come to/judge." Once he hears Claudio had been arrested and condemned to death, Lucio stops joking and rushes off to "learn the truth of it". He isn't as devoted to his friend Pompey, who asks him for bail. Lucio refuses: "Well then, imprison him: if imprisonment be the due of a bawd". Lucio shows his loyalty to Claudio by getting Isabella to plead for mercy to Angelo: "Go to Lord Angelo and let him learn to know, when maidens sue men give like Gods".

    • Word count: 1090

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Isabella defines Angelo as an arch-villain(TM). To what extent do you agree with her that Angelo is the villain of the play?

    "To conclude in Measure for Measure there are no outright, atypical villains. Angelo though antagonistic has none of the malevolence that made characters such as Iago and Claudius so evil. Angelo is merely part of the ensemble of characters that that all are a mixture of faults and virtues. And considering the conflicting nature of tragedy against comedy in this play, Angelo's character is nether unfitting or unsurprising."

  • Discuss Shakespeare's dramatic presentations of the Duke in Act I of 'Measure for Measure'. What do you find to be interesting and / or problematic about his character?

    "In the conclusion, the Duke is portrayed to be a rather interesting character in comparison with others. He is a authoritive man who has the power to do almost anything to his city but willingly hands it over to his right hand man called Angelo while he conceals he identity as a Duke and turns into a friar, this emphasizes the view that the Duke is kind of a political figure. All his disguise and hiding from the crowd exposes him to be a rather as he "Loves the people, But do not like to stage me to their eyes" Act I Scene I Never the less the Duke is most to blame for the state of the city and he is equally as responsible for the acts in play then anyone else. Although the Duke is represented to be a hierarchical character that is at the very apex of the stage he is just as low in moral values as the other characters. This is what makes him a to a certain extent an interesting character. Vishal Chita " Measure for Measure" by William Shakespeare"

  • To what extent is Measure For Measure a conventional comedy?

    "In conclusion, Measure For Measure should be described as a tragicomedy, as it is not definitively either comedy or tragedy. But in terms of comedy or tragedy alone, it is more a comedy than a tragedy and meets my expectations of such far more due to the more numerous comedic features listed above."

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