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presentation of Isabella in Measure for Measure

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Introduction

Throughout the Measure For Measure Shakespeare presents Isabella as an innocent victim of male desires and exploitation. However, some may argue that she is a worldly woman who is capable of taking care of herself and not been dependant on others. This essay will discuss these assertions and how far they can be justified by the text of the play and it will show the judgement, which I have made towards Shakespeare's choice of character. In his attempt to exploit Isabella, Angelo uses blackmail to get her to sleep with him in return for the rescue of brother from his proposed execution. She does motivate his lust towards her, but does not physically do anything to provoke it, he Angelo admits himself in his soliloquy at the end of act two scene two; "Nor she nor doth she tempt; but it is I That, lying by the violet sun, Do as the carrion does, not as the flower, Corrupt with virtuous season..." ...read more.

Middle

However, she only does this at the instruction of the Duke, and does seem to become more in thrall to men as the play progresses. On the other hand, many argue that Isabella is sexually repressed. Her character is the centre of all sexual desires and the plays sexual plot line, attracting both e Angelo and the Duke and getting herself involved in the 'Bed trick. She is the one that encourages Marianna to take her role in the 'bed trick' and sleep with Angelo, subjecting another women to the sexual fate she so fervently defends herself against. Her decision to enter the convent is never explained. By many nuns are stereotypically seen as being sexually repressed women; however, Isabella is a beautiful young women who would presumably have no problems wit getting a husband, and so becoming a nun must have been a choice of her own. Many may argue that Isabella is running away, desiring to escape the problems and pressures of real life, rather than as a considered result of her piety. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lucio in act one, refers to her as "a thing enskied and ensainted" (pg18), proposing her saint like qualities. Saints can be seen from two different approaches, one that they are views as passive victims, and their innocence is exploited by the evil, sacrificed for their virtue. And secondly, they can be seen as assertive characters that are not afraid to express their views and feelings and live their life according to their beliefs, which many would argue is what Isabella is facing. She can also be viewed as very cold and unemotional. Lucio states this several times throughout the play; "you are too cold". This could imply that she is does not require support from others and that she is self contained and holds self-possession and emotional distance. One the other hand it could suggest that she id totally feeble and uncertain of herself. Isabella's character is extremely important to the plays plot. Some see her as a victim and some as a woman who can look after herself. I believe that Isabella is in some cases a victim of male desires but yet at other times she is not. Harriet Gardner Isabella 1 ...read more.

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