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Shakespeare Uses Imagery to create both Characters and Their Environment. Show how he does this in Measure for Measure and with what Effects.

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Shakespeare Uses Imagery to create both Characters and Their Environment. Show how he does this in Measure for Measure and with what Effects. Shakespeare's plays are full of images of the stage as a reflection of the world and of the world as a stage, thus producing the motto of the Globe Theatre where much of his work was performed, 'All the world's a stage'. It was named 'The Globe' because there were still large areas of the world that had not yet been discovered. Exploration of 'new 'worlds was all the rage in Europe; so going to see a play was giving the audience a chance to explore a far off, exotic place. Even the concept of the world being a sphere or 'globe' was fairly new still, which added another trendy feature to Shakespeare's theater's name. However theatres and acting were still very controversial since people saw the playing of a role as not 'for real' and therefore entailed lying. Theatres were contentious also because it was argued that it was morally and philosophically wrong, to have people claiming to be who they were not and where they were not. For these reasons, theatres were allowed only outside the city walls, if at all with The Globe located almost adjacent to a row of brothels. Before Shakespeare could perform his plays, he had to gain the legal protection of an important person. In Shakespeare's case it was the King James- thus the name 'The King's men'. As in Shakespeare's time (the late sixteenth century) most people believed in everything in life having a fixed place. This was demonstrated by the fact that a peasant who even dressed like a noble could be lynched. It struck people that if the world were a stage then people would not necessarily be who they seem, but only actors playing a role. Performances given were seen as representations of things that might happen, so if the world was all a stage then a stage could be a representation of the world. ...read more.


This is summed up by the phrase 'the end justifies the beginning'- or the use of any means to secure your own interests. The man Machiavelli himself has been thought of as one of the most evil men in history. He believed in the total separation of politics and morals, depicted in his book 'The Prince'. This book was banned soon after it's publishing because it was branded as malevolent. The instructions it contained concerned the ruling of people and in a nutshell entailed bringing in another to do the dirty work of punishing misdeeds, having allowed the region to fall into corruption. Then destroying the unpopular ruler and returning yourself to your former position looks you looked upon as the saviour of the people. When the Duke applies this principle of the procession from false justice, to merciless rigour, to merciful grace, what everyone does not realize is that The Duke, in his experiments to find who are the "seemers", is himself the greatest seemer. Since Machiavelli was seen by some to be the Devil incarnate, the audience can note on several occasions The Duke being associated with the Devil. First and foremost is the imitation of Machiavelli, but also in other ways. It was the poet Milton himself who wrote in Paradise Lost, "better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven". Images of fire and the Devil are littered through the text of the play. For example here the disguised Duke says, "and let the Devil/ Be sometime honored for his burning throne..."(v.i.288-289). This indicates irony to me at first, because The Duke suggests that even the Devil deserves some credit for always managing to be so good at being bad. This has some reference to Angelo, because he did such a 'good' job of being corrupt and hypocritical. On closer examination of this imagery, it is a phallic image of repressed sexual desires, as the Devil's horns were connected with the sign of horns, which would be stamped on the door of a person if their partner had illegal sex with someone else. ...read more.


It would be interesting to note also that it is almost always night in Vienna whenever a scene takes place, which adds an extra 'dark' character to it. Vienna would have been a very far off, mysterious place for the general public in Shakespeare's time. They would have known practically nothing about it, thus allowing him to build whatever image of Vienna he likes. In The Duke's same speech he tells Escalus (the neutral or weighing man as his name suggests) to be not so "hot", while a fire is needed to heat a stew. So we could think of Vienna as a fiery hot place, in which the imagery of fire is continued. Fire was a risky thing to use in those times, when for the most part buildings were very prone to burning down as a result of them catching fire. Whereas they were a huge safety hazard in that respect, torches were also safety devices, used as protection from vagabonds and bandits if you had to venture out onto the streets at night. Earlier in the play The Duke mentions, "The needful bits and curbs to headstrong jades..."(i.iii.21), which again repeats the image of the need to curb the anarchy that the neglect of Vienna's strict rules has brought. Restraint of "scope" is the image here again. Putting on bits on horses to control them, where the "bits and curbs" represent the Law echoes the words of Claudio where he says that imprisonment results from too much freedom. The corrupt nature of the city is suggested in the association of sex with disease in the conversation of Lucio and the two gentlemen, and of sex with sin in the soliloquies of Angelo, but is not maintained throughout the whole play. Shakespeare in his desire to show that sexuality can have positive associations, those of fertility and plenty, gives Lucio the lines in his encounter with Isabella which are hardly in character (i.iv.40-44). ...read more.

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