• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5

In what ways does Shakespeare present Isabella up until the end of Act 2?

Extracts from this document...


In what ways does Shakespeare present Isabella up until the end of Act 2? Shakespeare presents Isabella as a key character in Measure for Measure. Isabella is the sister of Claudio who has been condemned to die under the power of Lord Angelo, so she is vital to the plot as she attempts to persuade Angelo to pardon her brother. Interestingly, at the beginning Isabella is joining a convent as a trainee nun. This makes her somewhat different from the other characters presented in Measure for Measure as religion primarily controls her life. At a time when Vienna is corrupt Isabella seems the one of the few characters who has genuine moral values, making her a likeable character. Isabella is the focus of male interest in the play and both of the two males in control; the Duke and Lord Angelo are entranced by her. Angelo finds himself overwhelmed with desire for the Isabella and in the dying moments of the play, the Duke proposes marriage to her. Her dramatic impact on these two, powerful men reflects Isabella's incorruptible charm, portraying how she can attract men with her innocence. There are often times when Isabella's religion is tested such as when Lord Angelo propositions her. However, his tyrannous use of power does not intimidate her and she maintains her principles. Although a modern audience, respect her moral values they cannot always understand how religion can control her to the extreme that she would rather let her brother die than for her to lose her virginity. Isabella first appears in Act 1 scene 4 when Lucio visits her at the nunnery to tell her that her brother has been arrested for fornication. ...read more.


Soon the audience begins to notice that Isabella is having an effect on Lord Angelo, however, it is not necessarily one of mercy and forgiveness for her brother: "She speaks, and 'tis such sense. That my sense breeds with it- Fare you well" Here Angelo speaks aside and we begin to notice how he is really feeling towards Isabella's visit. We even see that he has come to the realisation that he does not have the right to condemn her brother. This strongly illustrates how Isabella's innocence and sheer determination can have affect on other characters. The word "sense" suggests Isabella's influential argument as well as implying a s****l urge that Angelo feels for her. In her last attempt to save, her brother from execution is bribery. Instantly Angelo sees this as a s****l offer: "Ay with such gifts that heaven should hare with you" Although we do not suspect that Isabella deliberately indicates that she will bribe him with s*x, the audience may speculate that here she shows her illicit sexuality in where she purposely hints at s*x. However, we must not put past the idea that Angelo is clearly already s******y aroused and may have misunderstood her because of this. In his final soliloquy, the audience are confirmed on their speculation towards Angelo's l**t for Isabella. Interestingly he feels that he is tempted by a "cunning enemy", meaning the devil. This is unusual considering Isabella is a nun and therefore is closer to God. This makes us consider whether there is more to Isabella than first imagined and if she has the ability to tempt some one who is primarily focused on power and leadership. We wonder if Isabella is innocently tempting Angelo or whether in fact she knows the effect she has on men and she cunningly tries to use it to get her own way. ...read more.


Although we never find out which of these is Isabella's true character we do know that Isabella also goes on to tempt the Duke. Again, this could be through her innocence; however it seems rather coincidental that two men of great power fall for her entirely because of this and we are led to believe that she subconsciously flirts to get her own way. Isabella's character is rarely on her own and Shakespeare uses her to interact with other characters to allow for comparison. This is because she is so different due to her religious morals and high standards. Her character is used as a device to provide drama to the plot, as she is incredibly passionate over issues that she believes in. Shakespeare cleverly uses Isabella in the first half to set up the audience for the emotional roller coaster in the second half of the play. She has a prevailing affect on the play as a whole as she, like the Duke are able to manipulate people. It may be said that she is the focus of the play as she is the major female character that is central to the leading male characters, the Duke, Angelo and Claudio. At times, she controls all of them. This not only shows her influence on the male characters but also shows that in fact it is she who has real control over the play, not the Duke as Isabella manages to manipulate him emotionally. At the end of the play, the audience believes that the Duke has conclusively tested all the characters, and he does to a certain extent. However, it is Isabella who the reader presumes, unknowingly is the major puppeteer for the plot. Shakespeare uses the seemingly most innocent character to have the most control. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Measure For Measure section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Measure For Measure essays

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

    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 the world outside with the responsibility of a husband, household, children, etc...

  2. Measure for Measure By William Shakespeare - Explain the significance of the title.

    And at the end of the play Isabella confirms that, when arguing for forgiveness for Angelo: "Let him not die. My brother had but justice, In that he did the thing for which he died: For Angelo, His act did not o'ertake his bad intent, And must be buried but as an intent That perish'd by the way.

  1. How does the balance of power change in pages 42-51? Trace the arguments, and ...

    Isabella feels her brother is not ready for death, spiritually, and tries to delay Angelo's actions. "Who is it that hath died for this offence? There's many have committed it."

  2. How does Shakespeare represent corruption on a political, social and religious level in the ...

    Mistress Overdone: 'O. Well! What has he done? Pompey: 'A woman' Mistress Overdone: 'O. But what is his offence?' Act 1, Scene 2, lines 80, 81 & 82. After this comical relief provided by Shakespeare, the scene is darkened again as the audience is reminded once more of what Claudio is facing.

  1. "The last act of Measure for Measure raises more questions than it solves, is ...

    However there are three major problems that are both created and left unresolved by the last act of Measure for Measure. The first, most obvious and most pressing quandary is whether Isabella marries the Duke or not. The closing speech of the Duke shows that he clearly believes that she

  2. How Does Shakespeare Create Dramatic Interest in Act1 Scene2 Of Measure for Measure

    'Why, how now Claudio? Whence comes this restraint'... 'I thank you, good friend Lucio." After seeing him talking with Claudio in such an affectionate way one wonders why Lucio would want to associate himself with the lower order of society when he could mix with the upper class like Claudio.

  1. How far does Shakespeare make his characters represent his themes?

    When Isabella and Angelo are arguing for Claudio it is clear the differences between them, and between immorality and morality. Isabella in helping her brother is torn between her own morality and her love for her brother as he committed a sin that she really disliked.

  2. What do you find interesting in the presentation of Isabella?

    Having refused to give up her chastity in order to save her brother's life, as it would prevent her an eternal life in heaven, too greater price for Claudio's mortal life, she says 'Better it were a brother died

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work