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Measure for Measure   By: (1564-1616)

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Measure for Measure, one of William Shakespeare's lesser-known plays, takes readers on a thought-provoking journey through the complexities of morality, power, and justice. Set in Vienna, the story unfolds against a backdrop of political corruption and social decadence.

From the very beginning, Shakespeare's exploration of human nature captivates readers, thrusting them into a world where the boundaries between right and wrong blur. The play centers around the strict enforcement of long-forgotten laws, revealing the arbitrary nature of morality when faced with personal desires and hidden motives. Themes of lust, hypocrisy, and punishment interweave to create a rich tapestry that challenges conventional wisdom and forces readers to question their own beliefs.

The characters in Measure for Measure are as flawed and contradictory as the society they inhabit. Duke Vincentio, disguised as a friar, exudes a moral ambiguity that mirrors the world around him. His sense of justice is constantly tested as he manipulates events and individuals to achieve his own hidden agenda. Isabella, a virtuous novice, willingly enters the dark underbelly of Vienna's society in her pursuit to save her brother from the death penalty. Her unwavering commitment to her principles clashes with the increasing moral compromises others make around her.

Shakespeare's masterful use of language shines through in Measure for Measure. The play is filled with exquisitely crafted soliloquies and poignant dialogue that convey the complex emotions and motivations of the characters. The eloquence of his writing serves as a reminder of the enduring power of his words, even in a play that is often overlooked by audiences.

Despite its dark and somber tone, Measure for Measure is not without moments of levity. Shakespeare skillfully employs comedic relief through the bawdy humor of Lucio and the foolishness of the supporting characters. These moments of lightheartedness provide a necessary reprieve from the weightiness of the play's themes, adding depth and nuance to the overall narrative.

Measure for Measure stands as a testament to Shakespeare's ability to delve into the depths of human nature and expose societal flaws. Its exploration of morality, justice, and the abuse of power resonates as strongly today as it did during the Elizabethan era. In a world where ethical boundaries often blur, this play serves as a timely reminder to question our own actions and the systems we uphold.

Overall, Measure for Measure is a thought-provoking work that offers a glimpse into the darker corners of humanity. Shakespeare's poetic prowess and profound insights elevate this play beyond its lesser-known status, making it a must-read for lovers of his works and those interested in exploring the complexities of morality and justice.

First Page:


by William Shakespeare


VICENTIO, Duke of Vienna. ANGELO, Lord Deputy in the Duke's absence. ESCALUS, an ancient Lord, joined with Angelo in the deputation. CLAUDIO, a young Gentleman. LUCIO, a Fantastic. Two other like Gentlemen. VARRIUS, a Gentleman, Servant to the Duke. PROVOST. THOMAS, friar. PETER, friar. A JUSTICE. ELBOW, a simple Constable. FROTH, a foolish Gentleman. CLOWN, Servant to Mistress Overdone. ABHORSON, an Executioner. BARNARDINE, a dissolute Prisoner.

ISABELLA, Sister to Claudio. MARIANA, betrothed to Angelo. JULIET, beloved by Claudio. FRANCISCA, a nun. MISTRESS OVERDONE, a Bawd.

Lords, Gentlemen, Guards, Officers, and other Attendants.

SCENE: Vienna


SCENE I. An apartment in the DUKE'S Palace.


DUKE. Escalus,

ESCALUS. My lord.

DUKE. Of government the properties to unfold, Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse; Since I am put to know that your own science Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice My strength can give you: then no more remains But that to your sufficiency, as your worth is able, And let them work. The nature of our people, Our city's institutions, and the terms For common justice, you are as pregnant in As art and practice hath enriched any That we remember... Continue reading book >>

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