Compare the characters of Angelo and Isabella and discuss how they are characters of absolutes in 'Measure for Measure'.

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Compare the characters of Angelo and Isabella and discuss how they are characters of absolutes.

'Measure for Measure' is a play about moral behaviour, both in sexual and political relationships, and about people acting immorally in these situations. Angelo is a character who, is temporarily filling the Duke's place, becomes torn between his rigid morality and desire for a woman he cannot have. He ends up abusing his position and taking advantage of his power.

Isabella, a nun and sister of Claudio, plays a key role in Measure for Measure. All of the major events that occur in the plot are in some way linked to her. For example she is instrumental in saving Claudio's life when he is found to have made Juliet pregnant, this leads to her involvement with the other major characters. She seems to bring a lot to the play in the sense that she is really the only female lead character, and she seems to be the most morally upright and genuine individual in the play

The first time Shakespeare introduces her is in the convent in Act 1 Scene 4, that she is about to enter, probably for the rest of her life. This initially shows us that her faith is very strong, as she has pledged her life to God and the church. She also displays how devout she is when talking to the head nun; she asks, "have you nuns' no further privileges?" this is Isabella asking for the rules to be stricter. You can see right from the outset that Shakespeare presents her a very strong and single-minded character. Her character is shown to be very loyal to her brother, Claudio. She initially doubts her power to change Angelo's mind about the execution, but Lucio skilfully persuades her by saying "our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt". She agrees, and makes preparations to speak with Angelo. This first impression of Isabella in Act 1 Scene 4 is representative of how we see her throughout the play; a strong-willed and loyal character. It is because of this that I believe the audience would promptly warm to her, her character is such that she is instantly likeable; denoting that you can easily forgive her for any shortcomings

When Angelo first replaces the Dukes role, which at first gave me the impressions that Angelo is well trusted and responsible, we see him as a man who believes in strict, moral laws which should be enforced at any cost: "The law hath not been dead, though it has slept... Now 'tis awake" and also "We must not make a scarecrow of the law". Here Angelo shows his belief in the law, he wants to make himself feared in order to enforce it. He felt that he had to prove to himself as well as to the people, that he was serious about reviving certain laws in Vienna, something that the Duke was not brave enough to do. He believed that he had to show the people that he is a strong leader who will enforce the laws, which he believes, must be obeyed, and that those who do not obey would be severely punished. At this stage in the play, Angelo is not yet a hypocrite, and although Shakespeare portrays him as a harsh figure, we feel that he is upright and trustworthy, and will keep to his word.
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Isabella wants to avoid the pressure that the world would require of her. She would be expected to get married, have children, run a household, and submit her will to that of her husband, who may or may not be a virtuous person himself. If she once had any property it would become the property of her husband as soon as they were married. She would then become solely reliant upon the good will of her husband, something that the modern audience cannot comprehend. Once she joins the convent Isabella would be spared the need to go into ...

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