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Measure for Measure-Themes Presented in Act 1

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Introduction

Themes presented in Act 1-Measure for Measure. A theme becoming noticeably present throughout Act 1 is that of religion, possibly part of the larger them of morality. The Duke, Scene 1 line 70, speaks of being greeted by 'aves vehement'. The word 'Ave' in Latin means 'Hail' and is often associated with prayer, particularly to the Virgin Mary (a figure prominent in Catholicism). This suggests that the public in Vienna see the Duke as a saviour and a figure to be worshipped. At the time of its original performance this would have conveyed to the audience the prominence and power of the Duke in Vienna. However, the Duke says this greeting is good he does not 'relish' it, showing the audience possibly that the Duke is not arrogant and does not ...read more.

Middle

The pirate reference, particularly to the original audience, may have suggested that personal interpretations and sinister dealings were going to occur in the performance. Both the reference to the pirate and 'aves' could show how Shakespeare is presenting a 'problem play'. They raise the question of how religion should be carried out and how it can creep too far into everyday behaviour, until people begin to make powerful/adored figures idols and interpret religious teachings to suit their own behaviour. Scene 3, in the monastery, has two intertwining themes running through it-those of power and religion. The audience is presented with two powerful figures in their own right, one powerful due to his allegiance to God and perhaps less powerful in the workings of society and the other powerful due to his position in society and perceived almost as a 'God' by his people. ...read more.

Conclusion

This comes across in his greetings of 'Holy father' and 'holy sir' and flattery 'none knows better than you'. The friar speaks politely to the Duke 'Gladly, my lord'. There is some sense of balance or equality in this scene, as ordinarily the Duke would be seen to be more powerful, due to his reign on the justice system however, he knows that the only person who can help him is the friar and the friar has the weapon of being aware of why the Duke has disappeared. Justice and morality are two another themes running throughout Act 1. The main plot line of Claudio being sentenced is at the centre of these themes. At the time of the first performance, brothels were widely apparent and many powerful figures were known for making use of their services. ...read more.

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