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What might modern audiences find dramatically interesting about the presentation of the Duke in Measure for Measure?

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Introduction

What might modern audiences find dramatically interesting about the presentation of the Duke in Measure for Measure? The Duke in Measure for Measure is one of the main characters. He is also has high status. He rules the city, yet he is one of the most underhand, deceitful characters. Even in our first meeting with the Duke, he is complex and confusing. He praises Escalus, even going so far as to say Escalus knows more about ruling than he (the Duke) does, but then he appoints Angelo as his substitute, and carries on throughout the entire play to contradict himself, to lie and to act hypocritically. Act 1 Scene 1 sees the Duke with Angelo and Escalus. He appoints Angelo as his substitute after praising Escalus extremely highly. "Your own science Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice My strength can give you" This would interest a modern audience because it would perplex them. They would be sure to ask why the Duke would leave Angelo, whom he seems to regard as second choice, in charge? This seems a very strange thing to do, unless there is an ulterior motive, which the majority of a modern audience would already begin to expect. There is the possibility however, that he may be letting Escalus down gently, this however, is not a common theory as it is too obvious and that is not Shakespeare's style. In Act 1 Scene 3, we see the Duke defend himself from a friar's belief that he is in love. "Throw away that thought, Believe not that the dribbling dart of love Can pierce a complete bosom." We find out this conversation is about the Duke wanting to borrow a friar's habit. The real friar thinks the Duke wants this to woo a lady, but the Duke denies this at length and goes on to explain that he wants to spy on his city and his substitute. ...read more.

Middle

Lucio does not agree though, and says that nothing will stop the problems and to think that rigidity alone can rid the city of all its problems is no more than wishful thinking. Lucio then says that the citizens of Vienna think Angelo too cruel to be human, and that he agrees with them. Lucio then goes on to describe some ways in which Angelo is said to have been created. Lucio says he isn't sure which theory is correct, but that he thinks Angelo is unbelievably cold, "But it is certain that when he makes water, his urine is congealed ice" The Duke then comments that Lucio is pleasant, in sarcasm, I think. After this comment Lucio says that the Duke would not have punished Claudio so heartlessly for the Duke was guilty of those same crimes. Lucio goes on to say that the Duke was not even fussy about women, would even sleep with a beggar and enjoyed his alcohol. Lucio continues to talk of the Duke in derogatory terms and calls him "A very superficial, ignorant, unweighing fellow" The Duke then seems to lose his temper, and his stance of seeming like a real friar and retorts: "Either this is envy in you, folly, or mistaking" and starts to rant about the Duke's good reputation. The Duke tells Lucio that what Lucio is saying is rubbish and Lucio does not know what he is talking about. Lucio replies: "Sir, I know him, and I love him" But the Duke dismisses this: "Love talks with better knowledge, and knowledge with dearer love" Lucio says "Come, sir, I know what I know" This comment is sure to make audiences react in a certain way. Lucio is so sure of himself, maybe there is some truth in it? This is one of few portrayals of the Duke that is not said by the Duke. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Duke finally starts to give it away in his speech, in which he says: "The Duke Dare no more stretch this finger of mine than he Dare rack his own" And later when he says "I protest I love the Duke as I love myself" The Duke is discovered and finally starts to resolve all the problems he has helped to create. He tells Angelo "Hold no longer out" This is another hypocritical comment, because all he has done throughout the play is hold out and hold back information. Perhaps the most bewildering thing to a modern audience is that he persists to tell Isabella that Claudio is dead. There can be no reason for this anymore, and he can only be dramatising the end solution. And as he mocks Isabella with grief, he also does it to Mariana by marrying her to Angelo and then telling her Angelo must be beheaded, to which she replies: "Oh, my gracious lord, I hope you will not mock me with a husband" Eventually the Duke is persuaded and also reveals Claudio to Isabella, but as he does he also proposes to Isabella! Modern Audiences are unbelievably shocked by this and find it implausible that Isabella would agree, but it is implied that she does. The Duke marries Claudio and Juliet but punishes Lucio in a way that most audiences agree to be the most evil of all the punishments. He torments him with tales of torture, marriage to a prostitute and death and only repents when Lucio begs "Do not marry me to a whore" It is as though when the Duke realises this is the last thing Lucio wants this is what he does, letting him off without his other punishments. The Duke is shown to be egotistical, dishonest, a liar, a hypocrite and also rather evil. He feels no compassion or forgiving for others, and considers himself inferior to no-one. He has an inflated sense of his own importance and is not a nice character at all. Emma Bone English Literature CG 1 ...read more.

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