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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?

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Introduction

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? At the beginning of this scene we see Angelo in a way we haven't seen him before. He is feeling very trapped by his exterior and wishes he could be a different type of person. This gives us the feeling of pity towards this usually harsh and cold man. Angelo is being very honest with himself in this soliloquy; and he realizes his thoughts for Isabella are of pure lust. This being the main reason as to why he can't pray, he can't stop thinking about Isabella. However, he desires her only for the things, which make her good, which is why his prayers are so very hollow: "...Heaven hath my empty words, Whilst my invention, hearing not my tongue, Anchors on Isabel..." This language mirrors the grossness of exactly what Angelo is considering doing. ...read more.

Middle

He blackmails her, he tells her that if she does this her brother will live; and if she doesn't then he will die a painful death. He talks to Isabella in a disrespectful, mocking tone; he believes he has a license to behave and act any way he wishes to get whatever he wants. This indicates there is no way this man can possibly be trusted, he is clearly dangerous and deceitful: "Your sense pursues not mine: either you are ignorant, Or seem so, crafty; and that's not good" Angelo then goes straight ahead with saying what he wants; he makes his case very clear. He has played these verbal games with her, confusing and mocking her and now he wants to just tell her exactly what it is he desires. He gives her an ultimatum: "You must lay down the treasures of your body To this suppos'd, or else to let him suffer..." ...read more.

Conclusion

It is very cruel the way he deals with her, he tells her to do it otherwise he will make Claudio suffer. Angelo is truly lacking in any compassion what so ever towards the end of the act. Having unleashed his sexual desires he is another person: "But thy unkindness shall his death draw out To ling'ring sufferance" Isabella talks about how people can use power to get what they want; this lets us know just how they can scar people. We sympathize immensely for her and can feel his terrible hypocracy. Angelo's weakness is portrayed, and Isabella's strength really highlights this. Isabella ends in a very strong way by not giving in and agreeing to Angelo, therefore Isabella's strength and Angelo's weakness are in great contrast. Not only do we feel a weakness appear in Angelo though, as we see his absolute desperation and sexual needs of Isabella by stooping so low: "Answer me tomorrow, Or, by the affection that now guides me most, I'll prove a tyrant to him" ...read more.

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