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

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

Extracts from this document...


Measure for Measure Isabella defines Angelo as an 'arch-villain'. To what extent do you agree with her that Angelo is the villain of the play? Though he displays many villainous traits and commits some seemingly irredeemable acts of cruelty, it would be unfair to judge Angelo outright as an 'arch villain' All of Shakespeare's plays contain at least one character who displays villainous characteristics. These vary greatly from the remorseless evil of Iago in Othello to the more comedic antagonists whose main role is act as a block against true romance. Angelo poses a problem as does not fit seamlessly into either group. The dictionary defines the term 'Villain' as a wicked person or evil person. Certain actions that Angelo undertakes certainly would lead some to regard him as that. The most obvious of these would be the seemingly cruel act of ordering Claudio's execution for the human act of impregnating his lover/wife Juliet. This from the outset is an extreme and unjust measure for a crime that even in Jacobean times would not warrant death. ...read more.


Yet there would have been certainly those in the Jacobean era who would have regarded Angelo's behaviour as abhorrent. In a period of where many people were deeply religious and God-fearing, a woman's virtue and chastity was of the upmost importance as Isabella so rigidly declares "More than our brother is out chastity" Forcibly taking this virtue from a woman that would ultimately ruin her life would for some sixteenth century males be villainous. With regards to the twentieth-century where universal perceptions of chastity and sexuality have shifted for many Angelo still remains a villain as even with his lust satisfied with 'Isabella' , Angelo proceeds to have Claudio executed. Even more chilling is the fact he feels more fear that Isabella may oust him as hypocrite "How might she tongue me!" than any real genuine remorse for Claudio's death. This lack of remorse reflects one of Shakespeare's most evil creations; Iago of Othello. Though Angelo does not display the same inerrant evil as Iago, this link to his character does provide more evidence of his villain Yet if ...read more.


We must also consider the character of the Duke and his role in bringing about Angelo's downfall. Though often portrayed as a benevolent presence or even a Christ-like figure, The Duke's manipulation of Angelo to remedy his own failings as a leader has led one to question the Dukes character. The Duke seemingly knowing of Angelo's openness to hypocrisy "Lord Angelo is precise; scarce confesses that his blood flows; or that his appetite is more bread than stone" allows him to be a scapegoat in order to be absolved of where he himself has failed. This act of cowardice and failure to face up to his misdeeds may for twentieth century audiences in particular place him in the role of the villain rather than Angelo. 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. ...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. In measure for measure,the characters of Angelo and Isabella are similar.discuss

    Both Isabella and Angelo are proud characters. Angelo is a proud man because he will not back down from enforcing the severe laws in Vienna even when Isabella pleads with him to spare her brother's life. I think Angelo feels that if he backs down then people will begin to

  2. "Explore Shakespeare's portrayal of The Duke and Angelo and the consequent nature of their ...

    However, Angelo is guilty because he had intended to seduce Isabella. So the Duke's "lies" are in part true. Unlike Angelo, he is working for good. Of course the grief that Isabella endures is only temporary because in fact Claudio is alive and well.

  1. 'A complex character deserving of sympathy'. To what extent do you agree with this ...

    into trusting him enough to give him power over Vienna and then immediately condemns Claudio to death for impregnating his lover, despite his genuine love for her.

  2. "Measure for Measure is a play without any truly sympathetic characters". To what extent ...

    him, giving hint to a sympathetic side, but this proves to be much more deeply concealed until further on in the play. At this point, Angelo is perceived by the Duke and other characters, namely Claudio, Lucio and Isabella, as being a harsh and irrefutably unsympathetic character who intends on

  1. Consider the Attitudes To Women Demonstrated In the Vienna of Measure For Measure.

    Duke: ...her brother Frederick was wrecked at sea, having in that perished vessel the dowry of his sister... she lost a noble and renowned brother, in his love toward her ever most kind and natural; with his the portion and sinew of her fortune, her marriage dowry; with both, her combinate husband, this well-seeming Angelo.

  2. What evidence is these in the play to support these opinions? How do you ...

    Firstly I shall discuss the overbearing evidence to support the first view. Angelo's 'holier-than-thou' attitude makes him pompous towards the society he controls, "tis one thing to be tempted...another thing to fall". This statement has double effect as it is also ironic that Angelo does indeed fall, both in the

  1. Compare at least four poems from the ones you have studied where a strong ...

    Specifically he faults her for finding equal pleasure in four things as if they are not at all of equal value. * The white mule that she rode * The Sun setting * A gift of fruit from an unnamed courtier The Duke emphasises in lines

  2. More than our brother is our chastity How far do you find yourself able ...

    may seem to lack sympathy or mercy; this contrasts with Isabella's emotive language and religious allusions. This juxtaposition may have provided Shakespeare's original audiences with an interesting and current rhetorical debate, as the laws of the church and England's common laws were sometimes distinct and contradictory, causing moral and legal conflict.

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