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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?

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Introduction

"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? What is your opinion of the way Shakespeare present Isabella in the play? Isabella's character blossoms in debate, on a number of occasions throughout the play she can be perceived as being excessively pious and too proud. This perception of Isabella is evidenced in the play when she puts her virginity and spiritual life ahead of her brother's life which hangs in the balance, this view is emphasised when she refuses Angelo's proposal to save Claudio's life. However it can also be argued that Isabella's actions and decisions can also support the view that Isabella is a symbol for chastity and virtue. Thus Isabella's character is a perfect example of body versus soul as her actions and decisions can be debated and argued thoroughly. ...read more.

Middle

O you faithless coward! O you dishonest wretch!' This attack on Claudio will be seen as severe by the audience as Claudio fears death and the unknown, but ultimately he wants to live 'O please sister let me live'. However Isabella appears to be ignorant of his desires and emotions 'O, fie, fie, fie!', therefore the audience will feel sympathetic for Claudio but will also view Isabella as single minded and inflexible as she only seems to consider the effect the illegitimate sex will have on her character. Thus Isabella can easily be viewed as being too proud. Isabella's devotion to her virginity is also measured by Angelo as he offers Isabella the chance to save her brother's life if she 'lays down the treasures of your body to this supposed or else let him suffer'. The use of 'treasures' is effective as Angelo knows Isabella's virginity is everything to her, and hence it is her excessive piety and the fact she is proud that attracts Angelo to her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore Isabella's actions agree with the view that she is a champion of mercy as she is willing to forgive Angelo's intentions and thoughts. Isabella's language again contradicts her philosophy and her status of being excessively pious. Christianity as a religion is based upon ideas of ideas and thoughts, however according to Isabella 'thoughts are no subjects'. Therefore the audience will question Isabella's status as a nun and if she devoted to the church as we have become accustomed to throughout the majority of the play. There are many arguments to support both of these views. However I believe the arguments for the view that Isabella is a symbol for virtue and chastity outweigh the arguments supporting Isabella as being too proud and excessively pious. There is ambiguity in many of Isabella's actions and decisions which bring Isabella's character into debate. I believe Shakespeare presents Isabella as a symbol for virtue and chastity as she ultimately puts her spiritual life and virginity ahead of her brother's life which hung in the balance. ?? ?? ?? ?? Liam O'Donnell ...read more.

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