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Shakespeare's Measure by Measure: A Play Misunderstood - Book Report/Review Example

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An author of this review aims to critically discuss Shakespeare's play "Measure by Measure". Particularly, the writer investigates some questions on the morality of the major characters. Finally, the writer provides a short discourse on the main themes of the play…
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Shakespeares Measure by Measure: A Play Misunderstood
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Download file to see previous pages First, the Duke decides to hide under a friar’s identity and resolves several issues after disclosing his true identity. Second, the Duke plans two situations that entail mistaken identity --- Mariana pretending to be Isabella, and a pirate’s head instead of Claudio’s. The Duke creates intrigue unraveled towards the end of the play. The Duke, under disguise, plays the role of a master manipulator despite the fact that he appoints Lord Angelo to take his place during his absence. Compared to other Shakespeare lead characters, the Duke proves himself to be smart enough not to be outwitted by the other characters. He mainly uses Lord Angelo to fill in for his failure to maintain order in his jurisdiction. Due to this, despite Lord Angelo’s defects, the Duke pardons him at the end (Levin 21-3). Aside from the genre, there are other aspects of the play that can easily earn questions, particularly from modern readers. For one, discussions on each character’s beliefs on morality, sexual relationships, justice, or freedom are not thorough (Watson 242). One particularly fascinating fact is the lack of exploration on the fact of whether Isabella should commit a moral crime to save her brother’s life. Isabella thinks it is not right to do so. Her brother thinks it is fine and asks her to save his life. The Duke disregards the two choices and proceeds on giving Isabella a new plan. This gives the story a chance to prove that the Duke is again wise and correct in being suspicious of Angelo’s proposal to Isabella. Due to this, Isabella comes out without sin, and although people may think of her as cold-hearted because she does not save her brother, they would eventually realize that if Isabella exerted efforts, they would still be futile and she would have sinned for nothing (Levin 25-6). Another aspect is the bed trick, which appears to be a foolish ploy planned by a supposedly wise Duke (Desens 11). People today clamor for realistic plots --- the more true-to-life, the better. This mindset alone can put this scene under scrutiny that could add to the many questions thrown at the play due to misunderstanding. This paper aims to some issues that will help even the ordinary reader understand one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces, and how each of these issues is necessary to make the other issues emerge, thus lead the play towards its happy ending. Comedy or Tragedy As stated above, despite being generally classified as a comedy, several critics consider “Measure for Measure” as allegory, satire, tragicomedy, and even tragedy (Clark 21). It seems that not only the characters’ hidden identities are confusing in the play, but its form as well. Some scholars point out that the play is comedy merely due to its forced happy ending, however, the actions, characters, and even the themes are tragic (Levin 37). This is proven by the fact that if not for the Duke’s manipulations, there would be no happy ending in the play. Even the play’s poetic lines that discuss the humans’ fleeting stay on earth and the fear of death’s mystery indicates style commonly used in tragedy (Hadfield 71). To better understand this, one has to look at how the play relates to Shakespeare’s life. At the time the play is written, Shakespeare is said to be going through a tragic streak. It is said that this very streak causes him to author several other tragedies like Macbeth, King Lear, Othello, and Hamlet. Additionally, it is said that he is going through revulsion to sex at this time. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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