• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare show the theme of hypocrisy up to Act 4, Scene 3?

Extracts from this document...


How does Shakespeare show the theme of hypocrisy up to Act 4, Scene 3? Three of the main characters in this play; Angelo, Isabella and the Duke, are seen as being hypocritical. This hypocrisy centres on the theme of pre-marital sex. This theme is started by Claudio having sex with his bride-to-be, Juliet. This was usually seen as acceptable behaviour, but as Angelo, who is strict, moralistic and unwavering in his decision-making, has been put in charge by the Duke, he is starting to run things his way. He is going to punish Claudio with death for having sex with, and impregnating, Juliet. The only way that Claudio can be saved from death is if Isabella, his sister, has sex with Angelo. By attempting to bribe Isabella into fornication, Angelo is committing the same 'crime', if not a worse one, than Claudio. Which had you rather... As she that he hath stained? (Angelo, II.4, 51-55) Isabella argues to Angelo that many have committed the same offence, but have not been punished for it, to which Angelo replies; These many had not dared to do that evil... ...read more.


This is why, when Angelo wants Isabella to sleep with him, she doesn't even give it any consideration. Even though her decision will result in her brother's death, there is no discussion on consideration of this matter in any detail. It doesn't validate as an option to Isabella. This could be and everlasting argument, as on one hand Isabella is standing up for her principles by refusing to have sex with Angelo, but on the other she is sentencing her brother to death. Isabella claims this is entirely out of moral and religious concerns, but it seems she has herself in as top priority. There is the argument that Isabella should not need to have sex with Angelo, and is right to protect herself, but she could also be seen as being cold and selfish. Contrary to this Isabella has a completely different opinion when it comes to anybody else having illicit sex. When Isabella hears of Claudio's illicit sex with Juliet, she is of the opinion that there is no great harm done; O, let him marry her. (Isabella, I.4, 48) Isabella has no difficulty in persuading Marianna to sacrifice her virginity in the plan that the Duke culminates. ...read more.


(Duke, I.3, 40-43) The supposed real reason is to test the virtue of the people in the city, as the Duke will not really be leaving the city, but staying dressed as a friar. This seems insincere of him as he does not appear very virtuous when he under mind's Angelo's authority by plotting against him. Despite leaving Angelo in charge, the Duke is still manipulating all events in the town. The Duke plans to trap Angelo by fooling him into thinking Marianna is Isabella, and therefore sacrificing Marianna's virginity. He validates this by saying that the end justifies the means. This also shows hypocrisy on the Duke's part, as he employed Angelo to clean up the city by becoming more severe in the way of shutting down brothels, and requiring abstinence before marriage, therefore making illegitimate births a thing of the past and protecting the city's women. Regardless of this, he is the one initiating fornication, the exact behaviour he was hoping to stop. The presentation of the theme of hypocrisy is helped along by the fact that none of the characters reconsider their beliefs about freedom, justice, sexual relationships or morality. These issues are never discussed meaning that the issue of hypocrisy can be presented effectively and in a more straightforward manner. Sarah Ord 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Measure for Measure section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Measure for Measure essays

  1. What do you find dramatically interesting about Shakespeare's presentation of the Duke in the ...

    There is the whole notion of the Dukes power that is certainly restored. Shakespeare portrays the Duke in a more theoretical directorial manner, he tells people where to stand and what to say, he advises Angelo to take the

  2. William Shakespeare - The Comedy of errors - Dromio concludes the play - "We ...

    "Thee will love, and with thee lead my life: Thou hast no husband yet, nor I no wife. Give me thy hand." Although both Antipholus' are portrayed completely different in personality and beliefs, they are treated the same by other characters because the others do not realise that they are two different people.

  1. What might modern audiences find dramatically interesting about the presentation of the Duke in ...

    Modern audiences, I think would have more sympathy for Pompey in this situation and think it more wrong to do such things without having to survive on it. We can see why Pompey does it, he has to, and it is his job.

  2. Look again at Act II, Scene IV which begins "When I would pray ...

    one feels pity for him and it could be thought that perhaps he could really have true, sincere feelings. Indicating that maybe he will not go ahead with these terrible thoughts he has had. However, once Isabella enters he changes and decides to play games with this innocent girl.

  1. Is the plot of Measure for Measure a happy one? Does act 5 make ...

    executed for having sex out of wedlock and causes us to question whether or not it is right that Claudio should be killed? He makes us think whether it is acceptable for him to be executed even though he has broken a serious law which must result in death.

  2. An investigation into the death of the Duchess of Ferera

    I expect to find that her death is related to the counts daughter as she had motives, as she wanted to be with the Duke. I also think that that the counts servant will prove to be helpful in the course of our enquires.

  1. Shakespeare Uses Imagery to create both Characters and Their Environment. Show how he does ...

    An example would be "An Angelo for Claudio, death for death..."(v.i.402), wherein death is balanced by death, also an extreme opposite of life. Just as Angelo's evil is balanced by Isabella's virtue, Lucio's recklessness is balanced by The Duke's planning, so is there for each extreme, a counter balance.

  2. The opening scenes of the play are called the Exposition, where the dramatist introduces ...

    to know your pleasure" Angelo Act I Sc I He has many virtues that are not to be wasted There is much flattery from both the Duke and also by Escalus, when I first read this part, I cannot help but think that Shakespeare is setting Angelo up for his down-fall later in the play.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work