How far does Shakespeare make his characters represent his themes?

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Hannah Dagnall 13P                                                         English Literature

How far does Shakespeare make his characters represent his themes?

Shakespeare’s characters have been named and moulded carefully to represent different themes in the play. The character of the Duke holds the overall power in the play and his name Vincentio is only mentioned in the ‘dramatis personae’ at the beginning of the play. By calling him ‘Duke’ the audience is also continuously aware of this power. A Duke is supposed to have a divine right from God, when the Duke disguises himself as a Friar, he also has the right of confession which he abuses when other characters confess to him. One of the themes of ‘Measure of Measure’ is the abuse of power which many characters do in different circumstances. The Duke however does appear weak and somewhat cowardly by leaving Angelo to reinforce all of the laws and to do the so-called dirty work, while the Duke goes into hiding to see what the town’s people think about him.

Angelo abuses the power given to him by the Duke while he is in hiding, by first pulling back a fourteen year old rule that has not been in existence without any announcement, and then by bribing Isabella to save her condemned brother who was arrested for breaking the law Angelo wants to commit. Angelo actually wants to go against the law he brought back for the sake of lust. Angelo is an immoral and unjust character by abusing this power as well as hypocritical. All the characters who described Angelo, said almost the same thing, that Angelo, ‘whose blood is very snow-broth.’

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The job of Duke however is not so important to Angelo when the lower classes need dealing with as he cannot make a name for himself in the higher social circles, therefore in Act 2 Scene 1, Escalus is given the job of sorting out Froth, Pompey and Elbow. With this scene, it shows the audience how good a Duke Escalus would have been if he was left in the position. He was going to be the Duke’s first choice; however the Duke may have wanted to test Angelo’s loyalty and honesty. The name ‘Escalus’ itself refers to the scales ...

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