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Measure for Measure   By: (1564-1616)

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Measure for Measure is a captivating play written by William Shakespeare. Set in the city of Vienna, the story unfolds with a prominent theme of justice and the struggle between morality and desire.

The plot revolves around the Duke of Vienna, who disguises himself as a friar and appoints Angelo as his deputy. Angelo, a highly moral character, decides to enforce strict laws against sexual immorality, leading to the arrest of Claudio, a young man who has impregnated his fiancée. Claudio’s sister, Isabella, a novice nun, pleads for her brother’s life and confronts Angelo. This encounter sets off a series of events that challenge the blurred lines of morality.

Shakespeare expertly utilizes various dramatic techniques to explore the complexities of human nature. The characters are vividly portrayed, with their flaws and virtues laid bare. Angelo, the self-proclaimed virtuous, displays an internal struggle as his own desires are awakened by Isabella's beauty and integrity. This moral battle within Angelo emphasizes the theme of hypocrisy, highlighting how power and lust can corrupt even the seemingly virtuous.

Isabella’s character emerges as a symbol of steadfastness and unwavering moral commitment. Her internal conflict between saving her brother's life and preserving her chastity showcases the inner turmoil of someone trying to adhere to religious ideals while navigating the harsh realities of life. Isabella's strength and resilience shine through her powerful speeches, making her one of Shakespeare's most memorable female characters.

The play also addresses the concept of mercy and forgiveness. The Duke's return near the end of the story brings to light his manipulation of events and his desire to test the virtue of those around him. Through his actions, Shakespeare offers a profound reflection on the nature of justice and the possibility of redemption.

Measure for Measure is a thought-provoking play that challenges societal norms and explores the duality of human nature. Shakespeare's mastery of language and his ability to delve into the depths of human psychology make this play a profound and timeless piece of literature. Its relevance transcends the era it was written in, addressing themes that are still relevant today.

Overall, Measure for Measure is a thought-provoking play that compels readers to question the complexities of justice, morality, and human behavior. With its well-drawn characters, powerful dialogue, and exploration of timeless themes, this play continues to captivate audiences, solidifying its place as one of Shakespeare’s most compelling works.

First Page:



by William Shakespeare


VINCENTIO, the Duke ANGELO, the Deputy ESCALUS, an ancient Lord 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 POMPEY, a clown and servant to Mistress Overdone ABHORSON, an executioner BARNARDINE, a dissolute prisoner

ISABELLA, sister to Claudio MARIANA, betrothed to Angelo JULIET, beloved of Claudio FRANCISCA, a nun MISTRESS OVERDONE, a bawd

Lords, Officers, Citizens, Boy, and Attendants

SCENE: Vienna

ACT I. SCENE I. The DUKE'S palace


DUKE. Escalus! ESCALUS. My lord. DUKE. Of government the properties to unfold Would seem in me t' 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, y'are as pregnant in As art and practice hath enriched any That we remember... Continue reading book >>

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