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More than our brother is our chastity How far do you find yourself able to condone Isabellas point of view

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Introduction

?More than our brother is our chastity? How far do you find yourself able to condone Isabella?s point of view John 15:13 says: ?Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends?. In the traditional Christian Elizabethan society; this sentiment would have been revered; Shakespeare?s Puritanical and Catholic audiences would have loved the ideas of self-sacrifice and the immediate ascension into heaven. However, in Measure for Measure, Shakespeare manages to challenge this verse; he manipulates the situations and then causes the audience to digest the complexity of the verse, and causes the audience to question whether Isabella?s estimation that fornicating to save the life of another is not only morally wrong and a direct rebuttal of Jesus? sentiment; but a damning sin. Isabella?s introduction into the play arouses intrigue in audiences and readers, as she is described as having a ?speechless dialect/Such as move men?; so it is expected that audiences and readers would be waiting with bated breath fro Isabella to meet Angelo; and Shakespeare does not disappoint. The scene is written in blank verse, with unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter; Isabella first line is not quite metrically even; the word honour cannot be properly stressed, and that falter changes the rhythm of her speech. ...read more.

Middle

The Duchess is portrayed as sensual and aware of her sexuality, but is still able to become the embodiment of Christian virtue. In some ways Isabella and the Duchess are strikingly similar, but where The Duchess is overtly sexual, Isabella ? like Angelo, has a moral compass that causes her to view situations as either Black or White, with no in-between {Insert quotation here} Isabella may therefore represent the difficulties of being a model of virtue, and of holding strict values of chastity and restraint whilst upholding sometimes contrasting principles of mercy and compassion. These themes would have been relevant in Jacobean society, as puritan values ? which Isabella's devotion may represent ? were becoming increasingly influential politically and socially, for instance the theatres of the suburbs were at times closed by puritan intervening. Furthermore, the play's genre of problem play allows for moral dilemmas to be raised and viewed from both sides. Therefore although seems to Isabella demonstrate a struggle to become ideally virtuous, it cannot be said definitively whether she succeeds as Angelo brings to light an equally challenging view ?Is there no charity in sin?? However, it could be argued that modern values make it difficult for todays? audience and readers to full grasp the gravity of Isabella?s situation. ...read more.

Conclusion

The imagery of the "unsoiled" name implies that Angelo's power stems from his past reputation, in that no one would believe that he would be capable of succumbing to the same weaknesses as other's. This point is mirrored in the "Duchess of Malfi" in which the Cardinal places his power in his reputation as no one expects him to be a fornicator as his position supposedly attests to his morality. In conclusion, Isabella's conflict in the play has a deep moral centre. She wants to become a nun, but can only save her brother's life by surrendering her chastity to Angelo. When she says, "More than our brother is our chastity? I believe she is not being cruel or selfish, but trying very hard to adhere to an ingrained sense morality, and unlike many characters in the play, she sticks to her values and her faith; and this might seem foreign even to some Elizabethan audiences, as in some cases, representations of women of this time can be seen as being limited to idolised virgins, or sexual women who were often demonised as whores. So, because Isabella is not a perfect religious ideal, but as a woman with flaws who is placed in a difficult situation, and tries to achieve the best outcome; it is easy to respect her. ...read more.

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