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GCSE: Measure For Measure
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Isabella's decision to enter a convent is never explained in the play and many could argue that she is running away from pressures of 'real life'. Shakespeare does this to make us ask why we personally think she is religious and whether it is a cover she uses to hide her own insecurities. When Isabella asks Francisca, the nun for 'Strict restraint' the reader could also assumes that Isabella may be joining the convent to protect herself from men, especially at a time when Vienna is debauched and immoral.
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Others however feel Isabella's true character is that of complete harshness, with lack of emotion and no real concern for religion. Ellis-Fermos states, 'a nunnery contains no cure for Isabella's malady and we have a shrewd suspicion that she will not end there.' From both points of view it is interesting to see similarities appearing between Isabella and Angelo in their absolutist views, on religion and justice or in their detached almost inhumane natures of never compromising their morals. Also both characters can be seen to take falls.
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Three themes that go together when looking at the character of Isabella are: blackmail, power of persuasion and her obstinacy. These can be analysed very well in the scenes where she is speaking to Angelo, namely, Act 2 Scenes 2 and 4. Isabella's 'mission' is to persuade Angelo to stop Claudio's execution; she uses her natural skills of reasoning and persuasion to attempt this. This is a quality that Shakespeare has given her to make the audience sympathise with her and perhaps be more aware of her position; because she tries so hard and does so well but it eventually gets her nowhere.
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The character Pompey does not express a particular s****l attitude, but Shakespeare's presentation of this character shows pessimism towards the corrupt Vienna, as Pompey makes a humorous comment that the brothel trade cannot be eliminated unless all of Vienna's people are spayed, 'Truly sir, in my poor opinion, they will to't then.' This could also be the harsh reality of the play, or in fact reality in general as a lot of cities today appear to contain degrees of promiscuity.
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This quote, or sections of it can be found in four different places in the Bible. (Exodus 21:23-25) (Leviticus 24:18-20) (Deuteronomy 19:21) (Matthew 5:38). All these extracts are basically saying 'you reap what you sow' or 'do as you want to be done by'. They all show that there are two sides to everything. Justice must be measured out. This is summed up well in another biblical reference- "Do not judge lest you be judged yourselves. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it shall be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2).
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