MEASURE FOR MEASURE PDF
Nay, not as one would say, healthy; but so sound as things that are hollow: thy bones are hollow; impiety has made a feast of thee. Enter MISTRESS. Measure for Measure is clearly one of Shakespeare's more puzzling plays. Investigation, by stating, “Measure for Measure holds today an unassailable. The second phase of the Bodleian First Folio project was made possible by a lead gift from Dr Geoffrey Eibl-Kaye and generous support from the. Sallie Dickson.
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Human nature and the law often collide in Measure for Measure. As the play begins, the Duke of Vienna announces he is going away and puts his deputy. M E A S U R E FOR M E A S U R E Since the rediscovery of Elizabethan stage conditions early in the twentieth century, admiration for Measure for Measure has . Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg.
Act 1, Scene 2. Act 1, Scene 3. Act 1, Scene 4. Act 2, Scene 1. Act 2, Scene 2. Act 2, Scene 3. Act 2, Scene 4. Act 3, Scene 1. Act 3, Scene 2. Act 4, Scene 1. Act 4, Scene 2.
Measure for Measure
Act 4, Scene 3. Act 4, Scene 4. Act 4, Scene 5. Act 4, Scene 6. Act 5, Scene 1. LitCharts Teacher Editions.
Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. The original text plus a side-by-side modern translation of every Shakespeare play. LitCharts From the creators of SparkNotes, something better. Measure for Measure Translation Table of Contents. Duke Vincentio decides to leave Vienna for a while, and appoints Angelo to rule in his place.
Lucio learns that Mistress Overdone's brothel is going to be shut down, and that Claudio is sentenced to death. Nor are women's bodies the only ones to be exchanged in the play as Barnardine is substituted for Claudio. Like other characters in the play, they also serve the role of empty signs waiting to be inscribed by the Duke's own, not disinterested, version of the nature of law and justice. Desire and the Institution Having charted a series of exchanges of bodies, the play concludes with the Duke meting out pardons and punishments.
His chief instrument, or weapon, in these manoeuvres is the institution of marriage: Claudio is reunited with Juliet, Angelo with Mariana, he himself offers his hand to Isabella, and Lucio is forced to marry Kate Keepdown. Marriage is the State's preferred solution to the threat posed by desire; whether it is a just solution or a repressive mechanism hiding exploitation depends on the view one takes of the institution of marriage generally, and of the marriages in the play in particular.
These vary from seeing it as an interference with self-fulfilment, as a necessary institution for the maintenance of the social order, as an ideal dissolution of the contradiction between self and other, as an approximation of justice or, lastly, as a subtle form of social control silencing women.
Measure for Measure
In an early essay, Terry Eagleton proposed that marriage is the public sanctioning of personal passion, making personal life socially responsible without diminishing its authenticity. In this sense, he says, marriage serves as an image of the synthesis toward which the play struggles, and is akin to language in bringing man into relationships and community by 59 J. Parker and G. This conclusion cannot be separated from his view that marriage is a public commitment, a way of relating individual experience to society and of resolving the contradiction between self and other by representing the true and mutual receiving of the print of the other.
For some, bourgeois marriage, by uniting procreation, sexuality, love and a legal contract, functions as a moral legitimation of the political and social subordination of women. For Carol Thomas Neely, "women are defined and contained through their place in the marriage paradigm These modes are in turn defined by the mode of sexuality appropriate to them: virginity for maidens, marital chastity for wives, abstinence for widows.
Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, 5. Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, 2.
Neely, "Constructing Female Sexuality in the Renaissance", supra n. The Duke manipulates marriage as an i n s t r u m e n t of p u n i s h m e n t or forgiveness where the men are concerned for both Angelo and Lucio marriage is a substitute for threatened execution while the women are thought to be saved by it from moral and very often financial ruin; their silence reflects this dependent status.
Isabella's lack of response to the Duke's proposal has allowed critics and directors to interpret her silence as affirmation in earlier productions, blanket refusal in Jonathan Miller's production, or even leaving the answer to the audience in Steven Pimlott's production. In Foucaultian terms, marriage is an instrument of social control and social harmony.
That the Duke's primary objective is the preservation of the social order is shown from the fact that the law of the father is used to repress the male characters, Angelo and Lucio, as much as the female characters. The panic over one-parent families and the Child Support Agency's attempts to track down absent fathers in our own society is a sign that the Duke's preoccupations in Shakespeare's Vienna are not as alien as might at first appear.
The view that the legal institution of marriage is a panacea for our social and personal problems of course preceded and outlived Shakespeare.
For Claude Levi-Strauss, the exchange of gifts is the fundamental form of social intercourse, with the exchange of women mothers, daughters or sisters in marriage as the supreme gift. Such exchanges, by forging artificial alliances between men, guarantee the survival of the group.
Needham Boston: Beacon Press, , especially Marks and I. In the same way, the symbolic order Lacan describes is a patriarchal order, structured around the transcendental signifier of the phallus and dominated by the law of the father. Despite the patriarchal bias of this system, Lacan's grounding of the subject in language, rather than, as Freud did, in biology, raises the possibility of an alternative system of representations and an alternative system of laws.
Irigaray explains the law of the father as a mechanism for compensating for the uncertainty of paternity as well as protecting the father from his desire for the daughter.
Women m u s t therefore resist the t e m p t a t i o n of accepting male representations of themselves and succumbing to the law of the father and to celebrate, instead, their sexuality which, rather than being singular, is plural, heterogeneous, fluid and indefinite. One site of female resistance is provided, of course, by the practice of adultery which undermines the name of the father. Mario DiGangi finds such a reading by focusing on an often neglected character, Mrs Elbow, who defies the authority of both physician and husband and enters a hot-house "before due season", an action that was thought to risk premature birth.
Marriage as portrayed in the play, he concludes, does not solve male anxiety about female sexuality and there is no guarantee that the marriages ordered by the Duke at the end will be less troublesome for the husbands: [B]ecause none of the couples which crystallise at the end demonstrate mutual affection and commitment, they are no more the heralds of a renewed, redeemed society, than Elbow and his wife.
Like the Duke's unanswered "motion" to Isabella the motion of the final scene constitutes a deferment of resolution, a suppression of the dangers of unsanctioned pleasure through an institution which poses dangers of its own Each woman may be economically and legally subject to her husband but her sexuality L a w and D e s i r e in Measure for Measure control..
Desiring Subjects in Law and Language The gap created by the instability and ambiguity of language on the subject's entry into the symbolic order, leaves the subject, Lacan tells us, in a state of lack, alienation, and, of course, with a desire to regain her former fullness. This lack, which is experienced by men and women, comes to be filled, in a patriarchal order which for Lacan seems to be at times, an inevitable one by the law of the father.
Needless-to-say different characters in the play negotiate this lack and this law in different ways, oblivious perhaps to the doomed nature of their quests. For Angelo the law, literally as well as metaphorically, comes to supplant his desire for unity. He seems to have fully internalised the social and legal rules and thinks he has found a plenitude that the other characters are still seeking.
Such is the difficulty of attaining this state that the others scarcely believe his humanity. For the Duke, "Lord Angelo Some report a sea-maid spawned him. Some, that he was begot between two stockfishes. But it is certain that when he makes water his urine is congealed ice, that I know to be true.
As Victoria Hayne puts it, Angelo adopts a legal absolutism according to which to be "the voice of the recorded law "74 is to speak a transparent, absolutely referential language, the personification of justice itself. TM Angelo is, in other words, an insecure, social misfit who clings to language and the law for security and confidence; as Isabella shows him, however, neither domain is as unambiguous and unproblematic as he would like to believe.
Angelo's views on the nature of the law, language and desire, however, are contested in the play. As Terence Hawkes points out, for Angelo to be right, the legal text must be unified, objective and coherent, and its meaning can take place outside the person reading it. Other characters in the play, however, do not share this view of the law or the language in which it is expressed; conflicting readings of the law, notably the meaning of the marriage contracts between Angelo and Mariana and Claudio and Julietta, shatter its alleged unity and coherence as well as problematising the legality on which Angelo bases his terror.
There is a big difference between this interpretation and Posner's dismissal of Isabella as a cold and priggish young lady who becomes, at the end, with the Duke's proposal, "a woman fit for a glorious marriage", s3 76 Supra n. Coleridge also ignored her: Isabella, "of all Shakespeare's female characters interests me the least ", in Coleridge's L a w a n d D e s i r e i n Measure for Measure IX.
The Culture of Desire and its End Desire, celebrated and feared in equal measures, in law and in literature, is itself culturally induced and historically contingent. Despite this, both law and literature, part and parcel of our culture's existing order of things, affirm and maintain the notions of sexuality, desire and love as natural, spontaneous and instinctive.
This is not just true of Shakespeare and the laws of Vienna, but of the countless texts and laws t h a t relate or dictate tales of desire, contained, in the end, by marriage. The implication is that the married couple and the nuclear family are the ideal form of societal organisation and reproduction. Law's, and literature's, preference for this form of organisation are not, however, disinterested.
As Catherine Belsey argues, the religious vows of poverty and chastity were one response to the Western anxiety about the lure of property, on the one hand, and passion on the other.
Since both law and literature, consciously or unconsciously, connive and exalt this view, it is up to resisting readers, male or female, to exploit any ambiguities or openings that contest this conclusion in legal as well as literary texts.
The text of Measure for Measure, moulded and refined by generations of directors and readers, gives us room to argue with this conclusion. For contemporary audiences, overfed on a diet of promised desire, such an ambiguous ending is, by deferring satisfaction, paradoxically more satisfying than a closed reading or neat resolution which, by satisfying, would also kill, desire.
The frequent equation of marriage with death in the play certainly offers no encouragement to the view that the efforts of the Western world to confine desire within the legal institution of m a r r i a g e have been successful, or t h a t the unions ordered by the Duke are either just or happy.
Raysor Cambridge: Harvard University Press, , Barnardine, who, unlike Claudio, refused to embrace his death sentence earlier in the play, is also the only character spared the punishment of both marriage and death at the end. At the end of the play all unofficial relationships are brought within the ambit of legal definitions, with marriage representing the resolution to Vienna's social and moral issues.
With desire channelled into the institutional, its threat to the social order is allegedly deflected. However, as Eagleton argues, no unblemished justice can ever be achieved from this final distribution of bodies as no two things are exactly identical; there is always some residue of difference, dislocation or disparity which threatens to undo it.
And for Lacan, the state of lack following the subject's entry into language cannot be satisfied by the institutional or legal, that is, by marriage; on the contrary, desire knows no law. Then, after dining with Epitia and before taking her to bed, he secretly gives orders for the brother to be beheaded. Next morning he lets Epitia go home and promises that he will send her brother home to her. The gaoler has the brother's body placed on a bier with the severed head at its feet, covered in a black cloth, and sent to Epitia, who, shocked and stricken with grief, but steadied by philosophy, pretends she is resigned to the situation; as soon as she is left alone she expresses her grief, and then meditates vengeance.
Recalling the emperor's reputation for justice, she resolves to complain directly to him. She puts on mourning and travels alone and in secret to Maximilian. At the climax of her tale to the emperor she gives so great a cry and her eyes so fill with tears that the emperor and his lords stand 'like men pale as ghosts for pity'.
In the final phase there are close parallels to Shakespeare. Juriste, without knowing why, is summoned and confronted suddenly with Epitia.
Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare
The emperor sees Juriste is stricken by conscience and dismay, trembling all over. Epitia repeats her accusation, weeping, and calls on the emperor for justice. At first Juriste tries to flatter her but Maximilian rebukes him; then Juriste declares he had her brother beheaded to uphold the law. Epitia replies that Juriste has committed two sins where her brother committed one. Juriste pleads for mercy, Epitia for justice. Maximilian decrees that Juriste marry Epitia.
After the marriage Juriste supposes his troubles are over, but Maximilian now decrees that he must suffer execution since he had her brother's head cut off.
Now Epitia, who has been so inflamed against Juriste, suddenly has a change of heart - she decides that having accepted him as her husband she cannot now consent to his execution because of her. The emperor is deeply moved and the goodness he sees in her persuades him to grant her plea.
So Juriste's life is saved and, recognising her generosity, Juriste lives with Epitia henceforward in love and happiness. Cinthio then puts this exemplary tale in perspective: They find it hard to decide whether the justice or the mercy pleases them more; at first they would be happy if the rape of Epitia were punished, but it seems no less praiseworthy that her plea for mercy for Juriste should succeed.
The more experienced conclude that mercy, in tempering punishment, is a worthy companion to royal justice, and leads to a certain moderation in the minds of princes. There are two other novelle in Cinthio's Hecatommithi which should be noted; novella 52 tells of a governor who fails in his attempt to blackmail the wife of a merchant and dies confessing his corruption, and in novella 56 a tailor's wife, under the same kind of pressure from the judge, appeals successfully to the duke, who condemns the judge.
Both these women, it will be noticed, refuse to surrender, unlike Epitia - but like Shakespeare's Isabella. Introduction 9 Cinthio later wrote a drama,1 Epitia, on the subject, in neo-classical form, and made some significant changes to the story: These features are closer to Shakespeare. It is the revelation that her brother's life has been saved that changes Epitia's heart and makes her finally plead for Juriste's life.
Both Cinthio's versions of the Epitia story, though containing horrific events, atrocious cruelty and shocking surprises, show a lively intellectual interest in the arguments for and against mercy, and these arguments are related to the social and psychological factors influencing the protagonists; moral judgement is tempered by equity, or to put it another way, the general principle is shown to be in need of scrupulous modification by the particulars of a given case.
Shakespeare's treatment of the story is in these respects like Cinthio's. Whetstone's dramatisation2 applies the presentational conventions of Morality drama to give an essentially typical, external account of character and situation, but in being designed for practical performance on an Elizabethan stage, Whetstone's play did present Shakespeare with a model providing many ideas for dramatising and staging the narrative; it may well be that a number of scenes in Measure for Measure, especially those of public ceremony, were influenced by Whetstone.
Whetstone emphasises his demonstration as showing 'the confusion of Vice and the cherising of Vertue', justifying the comic elements he adds to the story since 'with the scowrge of the lewde, the lewde are feared from evill attempts'. The play is dedicated to Fleetwood, the Recorder of London, whose duties involved him in trying to clean up the London underworld - an exasperating business, as the frequent tone of complaint in Fleetwood's letters shows.
Promos and Cassandra was apparently not performed. Whetstone got it published as he was leaving on a long voyage; he was aged He later published a novella version of the same story in his Heptameron of Civill Discourses , reprinted in with the title Amelia. Blakemore Evans quotes some vivid letters from Fleetwood in his anthology, Elizabethan-Jacobean Drama, , pp.
Fleetwood thought that the existence of theatres was the cause of much of the civil disorder he had to deal with day after day. He seems not to have been mollified, in the long run at least, by having Whetstone's play dedicated to him.
Measure for Measure 10 vitality and humour which constitute a stronger challenge to Puritan attitudes than he apparently recognises. Furthermore, in accepting the structural conventions of English stage comedy of the time, Whetstone transmits the effect of counterpoint between the main plot concerning noble characters and sub-plots of trickery and low comedy, so that the comic episodes not infrequently give an ironically critical reflection of events in the main plot. A vivid instance of this is the sexual bribing of the corrupt official Phallax by the Courtesan abetted by her servant Rosko a prototype for Shakespeare's Pompey , which parallels the bribe Promos offers Cassandra - that he will save her brother and perhaps marry her if she gives herself to him.
Promos the Deputy does not simply enforce the law - he revives a law that a merciful magistrate has allowed to fall into neglect. The condemned young man Andrugio has not committed rape but anticipated marriage, sharing a love relationship with his partner, who is here given a speaking part and a name. Shakespeare follows Whetstone here.
At the opening of Part 2 she has a solo scene before the supposed tomb of her beloved in the temple, expressing her grief and melancholy in an emotional speech and a mournful song. This gives an additional focus of sentiment to the story which Shakespeare may have thought valuable. The young man she mourns is saved by a sympathetic gaoler who substitutes a head, but unlike that in Epitia it is mutilated beyond recognition.
Shakespeare again follows Whetstone. The young man then departs to hide disguised as a hermit in the woods. Only on learning of his sister's distress at her new husband Promos's impending death does he return.
Whetstone makes important additions of conventional Elizabethan kinds, in subplots and characters, to extend the themes of justice and government, which possibly influence Shakespeare. Whetstone's visualisation, in terms of Elizabethan staging, of these episodes of city life, prison, and the Royal Entry, could well have influenced Shakespeare and may indicate the kind of detail with which Measure for Measure s setting was realised in performance in He features the city's mayor, sheriff, aldermen, and upright officers, and directions call for the sword of justice, the keys of the city, the mace, royal letters patent, a proclamation, citizens' petitions, perhaps even the executioner's axe Part 2 5.
Recalling the Tudor interlude Vice, a favoured officer of Promos called Phallax perverts justice and develops a blackmail and bribery racket.
Phallax is in turn sexually bribed by the Courtesan, who has been put out of business by Promos's strict rule. She is eventually arrested by officers of the law in the wake of the king's return and Phallax's downfall. Whetstone makes the heroine Cassandra's first interview with Promos take place in the presence of the Sheriff, and follows it with a scene in which Phallax dispatches his henchmen as spies to detect likely citizens as targets for blackmail.
Soon follows a partly comic macabre prison scene with the hangman, 'a great many ropes about his neck', commenting on his increased work-load under the Deputy.
Then a procession of bound prisoners, including a woman and a gipsy, enters on its way to execution, led in a penitential hymn by a 'Preacher'. These dramatic emphases are taken over by Shakespeare, though his treatment differs very distinctly in particulars. Promos himself, in the final act of Part 2, is shown led by II Introduction halberdiers in procession to execution, and passing Cassandra and Polina dressed in mourning.
In these ways Whetstonefindsmeans to embed the Epitia story in a more fully realised city setting, and to develop parallels to the main plot.
This too may have influenced Shakespeare's overall design. Significant effects are won through costume, as when the 'brave' gown of the Courtesan contrasts with the sombre mourning of Cassandra and Polina - something stressed when the Courtesan angrily resists when she is at last arrested: Hands off my gown!
He appears disguised again, in a 'long black cloak', in the final scene. The king's return is formally spectacular, accompanied by aldermen in red gowns and the sword bearer; Promos presents him with the sword of justice, the mayor presents him with 'a fair purse', and musical entertainment is performed during which the king is seen seriously talking with some of his council before leaving 'leisurably'.
A later, equally formal scene presents the king receiving petitions for justice, when Cassandra makes her appeal in public. Furthermore, in handling the narrative, Whetstone shows concern to create effects of melodramatic thrill and surprise which evidently interested Shakespeare, especially at this point in his career when tragi-comedy was a focus of his attention.
Only after her scene of shocked reaction does Whetstone reveal to the audience only that Andrugio is indeed still alive. A similar pattern is apparent in the conclusion in Part 2 where the grief of Polina and Cassandra seems complete, Cassandra having given her condemned husband a last kiss as he proceeds to execution, and having sung her song of mourning, when a page enters to announce the astonishing news that her brother lives.
Moreover Whetstone makes regular use of soliloquy as a means to depict the inner struggles of his chief characters, another feature paralleled in Measure for Measure, especially in Angelo's soliloquies at the end of 2. Do what I can, no reason cooles desire, The more I strive, my fond affectes to tame: The hotter oh I feele, a burning fire Within my breast, vaine thoughts to forge and frame. O strange effecte, of blind affected Love.
Here, as in other crucial moments in the main plot, Whetstone achieves a forceful succinctness in the opening which is dissipated in what follows; another instance is Cassandra's outburst at the end of this interview: What tongue can tell, what thought conceive, what pen thy grief can show?
Measure for Measure 12 Shakespeare evidently knew Promos and Cassandra for some years before he wrote Measure for Measure there is an allusion to it in Love's Labour's Lost of ,1 so we may conjecture that external events and circumstances prompted his decision to base a play on it now, in The most important public events of the time concerned the accession of the new monarch James I in The city of London devised elaborate festivities of welcome for the king, and certain playwrights were involved in pageants at the triumphal arches erected for the royal entry to the city2 first planned for the day of his coronation but delayed by an outbreak of plague and eventually accomplished the day James I opened his first Parliament, 15 March A Royal Entry of this kind features in Promos and Cassandra too.
Shakespeare, as a member of the leading company of actors in London, was directly involved in the new monarch's accession; James I honoured the company by becoming their patron, and their name changed from the Chamberlain's Men to the King's Men.
With other leading players Shakespeare participated in the Royal Entry procession. SEVERUS If events in the city of London in could have recalled Whetstone's play to Shakespeare's mind, the new monarch's declared interest in the ethics of government, in his newly reprinted work Basilikon Doron,4 could have reminded Shakespeare of another work of Whetstone's, A Mirrour for Magistrates of Cyties There Whetstone is concerned with London and the urgent need to reform its vice and corruption, particularly brothels and gambling.
Whetstone compares London's corruption to that of imperial Rome. The king proceeded to Temple Bar from the Tower through a series of specially built ceremonial arches paid for by the Freemen of the City devised by Jonson, Dekker and others.
The king had a canopy borne over him by eight knights and was preceded by two marshals on horseback, each attended by six suitably attired men. The route was railed, the livery companies having spread their streamers, ensigns and bannerets on top of the rails all the way from Marke Lane to Temple Bar.
An oration was delivered by the Recorder of London and the king, queen and prince were presented with cups of gold.
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The Fenchurch or 'Londinium' arch had gates 12 feet wide and 18 feet high. Bacon's remark that it fell 'into every man's hand' Works, ed. Spedding, Ellis and Heath, 14 vols. From Harrison's Seven Arches of Triumph merchant, to observe the people and the conduct of the officers of the law. In repeating1 this, Whetstone urged the need for 'informers' to report offenders, and Lever persuasively suggests that Shakespeare's 'Duke of dark corners' may have been suggested by Whetstone's phrase for such informers, 'visible Lightes in obscure Corners'.
Lever, p. Walter Hodges i5 Introduction featuring monarchs in disguise. In fact Shakespeare seems to have been the first Elizabethan dramatist to use the disguised-ruler story as a frame plot, for in the Henry IV plays he shows the future Henry V, Prince Hal, consciously choosing to re-enact the role of the disguised ruler, choosing to adopt the disguise of a prodigal and so observe the people and the officers of the law,2 in the mode of Severus, as a prelude to thorough reform.
The psychological pressure and political riskiness involved in the scheme are explored with hitherto unexampled intelligence and imaginative power in the Henry IV plays. It is important to notice, at the same time, that while the analogy with Severus is a high compliment, Shakespeare had demonstrated in Henry V that when disguise removed the protection of rank a prince could find himself facing extremely awkward questions posed with unwonted clarity and directness.
In this sense, the disguised-ruler tale offered intellectual interest of the same high order as that of the corrupt magistrate, and comparison with two plays by contemporaries of Shakespeare, Middleton's The Phoenix and Marston's The Malcontent, helps to illuminate the degree to which Shakespeare exploited the sheer intellectual interest of the material. The title page of the first edition of declares it to have been played by the Paul's boys 'before his Maiestie', and Chambers thought this could have been on 20 February , but earlier dates have also been plausibly proposed.
His son Prince Phoenix apparently goes on a long journey abroad, but in fact adopts disguise to fulfil a plan 'to look into the heart and bowels of this dukedom and, in disguise, mark all abuses ready for reformation or punishment' 1.
With Fidelio a trusted confidant , Phoenix witnesses or becomes agent in a series of minor intrigue plots. There are references to many popular topics of 1 On this topic see V. He meets a constable, a murderer and some prisoners, and gets involved in a fight, but the episode recalls non-satiric popular plays rather than other disguised-ruler plays of ; Marston's The Fawn, probably written in after The Malcontent, indicates that this type of satiric play was fashionable.
Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, 4 vols. Measure for Measure 16 Elizabethan satire, as when a groom at an inn justifies accepting an unsavoury clientele: Interspersed soliloquies from Phoenix in propria persona deliver sombre moral meditation on what he observes.
Phoenix contrives to engineer the exposure of a plot among courtiers to overthrow his father, the Duke; in afinaltrial scene he appears in disguise, and confesses that he has been an accomplice in several plots; when the guilty courtiers come forward to arrest him they are themselves exposed by a document Phoenix has already handed to the Duke.
Dramatic tension is created by suspense in this scene, which concludes in the revelation of Phoenix's true indentity and the completion of the disguised-ruler frame plot. Because what is simple in Middleton is complicated in Shakespeare it has recently been argued1 that it is more likely that The Phoenix is the earlier play.
Phoenix undertakes to travel in response to a villain's suggestion, and the preceding lax rule is his father's; in Measure for Measure the Duke himself devises the deceptive scheme of travelling abroad, and his purpose is to observe both abuses in Vienna and Angelo's conduct as magistrate; the Duke also emphasises that he himself is at fault for the years of lax rule.
The ironic tone of the dialogue concedes that corruption is inevitable, though the upright maintenance of law is vindicated; but despite the serious nature of some of the issues, this play is more exuberant than might have been expected if Middleton were responding to Measure for Measure.
There are certainly close connections between the two plays at the beginning and at the end but the dramatic styles are quite distinct.
The question of which came first remains uncertain but indications do suggest Middleton. Comparison makes clear how much more morally and psychologically complex the situation in Shakespeare's play is, where the roles of Phoenix and his father are fused in the Duke, and then this plot is entwined with other plots producing parallels and interconnections which have no equivalent in Middleton, where the frame plot is used to allow the exhibition of folly and vice in a sequence of episodes connected by the common presence of Phoenix.
In the middle of the play Malevole 1 See the argument by Thomas A.
Pendleton, 'Shakespeare's disguised duke play: John W. Mahon and Thomas A. Pendleton, , pp. The political action in the play is violent, and concludes in the toppling of a tyrannous usurper who holds sway at the beginning. As in Shakespeare's version the action places stress on characters' attitudes to sex as a guide to their moral and social condition and psychological motivation; the bawd Maquerelle cynically but forcefully complains of a lady's chastity that it 'had almost brought bed-pressing out of fashion'.
The Malcontent is emphatically concerned with courtly ambition, flattery, and tyranny; but Malevole reclaims Pietro, Aurelia and Ferneze to virtue, and does not deign to punish his enemies with the worst penalty after recovering his power.
In contrast to Shakespeare's play, however, this is achieved not through his own successful plots, but rather through a popular uprising against his usurping enemy, a providential and surprising outcome, perhaps intended to be recognised as the counterpart of the individual spiritual reclamation to virtue which he achieves with certain characters.
Some features of language, structure and narrative suggest links between The Malcontent and Measure for Measure. It needs to be taken into account that both The Phoenix and The Malcontent were written for the so-called Children's Companies, the troupes of boy actors at Paul's and Blackfriars.
It may be that this explains, in Middleton's play, a brightness of style, the witty plotting, and the emphatic youth of Phoenix himself, features which contrast, as we have noted, to Measure for Measure. The Malcontent is a special case, however, as it was acquired by Shakespeare's company, and certain additions were made before it was performed by the King's Men. Shakespeare, as the chief playwright and a sharer in the company, would probably have been involved in approving the additional material written for the Globe performance of The Malcontent, and there are a number of apparent verbal echoes of Marston's play in Measure for Measure.
It seems likely that since the Induction must have been written after the actor John Lowin joined the King's Men, this must have been after 12 March when he is recorded as still with Worcester's Men: For references to the 'burr' and 'serpigo' in MM 4. I owe some of these points to Lever and to Pendleton, 'Shakespeare's disguised duke play'. See G. Measure for Measure 18 Malcontent was probably performed by Shakespeare's company in early Like The Phoenix, its disguised-ruler frame plot tends to separate the character in disguise here Malevole, a bitterly pessimistic railer from Altofront, the figure of authority, but although in Marston's play Malevole is a vividly realised presence and Altofront is somewhat static and remote, they are one person according to the narrative.
The style of performance in the Children's Companies did not favour the representation of fully realised personalities, but Marston is clearly, in any case, imaginatively drawn to Malevole and gives Altofront less life. In the middle part of The Malcontent Malevole is involved in counter-intrigues against murder plots, and these correspond in their darkness of tone to elements in the Angelo-Isabella narrative in Measure for Measure.
If Shakespeare was already thinking about dramatising the Promos and Cassandra story when The Malcontent came to his attention, he might have seen the usefulness of the disguised-ruler frame plot in allowing him to articulate in effect a double main plot, so outgoing Marston's play.
Shakespeare's narrative in Measure for Measure is composed of distinct though parallel stories, and he needed a means of uniting them in a conclusion where their strikingly diverse tones and modes might be given resolution. Furthermore Shakespeare was evidently greatly interested in the new mode of tragi-comedy, and The Malcontent offered an example of how the Italian drama might be adapted; this could have added fuel to Shakespeare's further development of hybrid dramatic forms, his versions of tragi-comedy, in which Italian novella narrative, satiric and comic depiction of the contemporary social scene in England, and mixtures of elements of tragedy and romance, might beflexiblycombined in dialectical treatment of major problems of moral and social philosophy.
At the time Shakespeare wrote Measure for Measure he also produced Othello, a play astonishingly different from it; yet both link to Much Ado, they utilise common elements and all are based on Italian novelle - but to extremely various effect. If Othello can be recognised as a lyric tragedy wrought from the stuff of cinquecento Italian comedy and elements of romance, Much Ado, a romantic comedy, can be seen to combine English popular comedy with Italian and Plautine elements and a tragi-comic strain.
Claudio is the opposite of his namesake in Much Ado About Nothing, who thinks a dowry very important and rejects his bride in church; Juliet is secretly married, as in Romeo andJuliet, a play which like Much Ado and Measure for Measure has a friar who devises an elaborate deception concerning someone supposedly dead; and Much Ado develops from Romeo and Juliet the form of extremely complicated and exciting final scene, which Shakespeare again utilises in Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well.
Terence in Andria had combined two plots and defended the principle as a principle, that of contaminatio. The dramatist Caro in praised himself for interweaving three plots in Glistraccioni, and in the later sixteenth century in Italian commedia erudita the principle of contaminatio led to the practice of deliberate combination of generically incompatible elements comic, tragic, romantic - not merely multiple intrigues.
These hybrids were often strong in romantic elements and episodes of heroism and pathos usually associated, by Renaissance theorists, with tragedy exclusively. The travelling players of the commedia delVarte borrowed from the printed literary texts of commedia erudita in revitalising their scenarios for improvisation, as well as performing the written plays.
These might be chosen in various combinations and emphases to figure in narratives composed of individual units from the stock of romance and folk-tale; the concern with new and surprising combinations was emphatic.
The sister's high principles seem to point to a tragic outcome. With the addition of Mariana Shakespeare provides for increased strangeness.
The pastoral setting of the Mariana plot suggests its marked generic association with pastoral tragi-comedy. The treatment of the Mariana story is strongly romantic. The description of the place of assignation in 4. Maurice Charney, , pp. This experimental interest in hybrid forms and modes is more dynamic than routine sixteenth-century English mingled comedy with its noble romance and popular low comedy and its mixture of barely coordinated elements, topical and musical.
Such medleys, or romantic fantasies with low comic sub-plots, were a popular staple of the first amphitheatre playhouses in their early years was the year the Red Lion opened, Burbage's Theatre opened in and the Curtain the next year. Whetstone in , like Sidney, Gosson, and others, mocked these popular comedies for their artlessness, but the attacks presumably indicate that the plays were liked by audiences.
See Andrew Gurr, Playgoing in Shakespeare's London, , for an account of the development of different kinds of audience at the time. The Decameron, the ninth novella of the third day, written ; Shakespeare may have come across the motif in the English version by William Painter in The Palace of Pleasure , published again in and The successful use of the 'bed-trick' by the heroine in the Boccaccio story, Giletta, not only ensures the consummation of her marriage to her unwilling husband, it also brings her pregnancy and two sons.
Measure for Measure 20 the place and action described. The song is consonant with this mode, but sufficiently unexpected to prompt some scholars to suppose it not part of Shakespeare's design.
Yet the Duke's account of how Mariana's dowry was lost in the wreck with her brother Frederick, who drowned on the 'perished vessel' 3. Between this and the social and psychological realism of the Angelo-Isabella story, there is an incompatibility; but it is evident that Shakespeare deliberately chose this. The tale of the substituted bed-mate was susceptible of a wide variety of treatment. In Measure for Measure it is used to connect the two major plots, and to give a decisive new ingredient to the last phase of action.
Traditionally in such studies pride of place is given to written texts and specific verbal parallels, but in shaping a play a dramatist may well adapt structural patterns and stagecraft from other plays, features not of a verbal, but a physical and visual language of theatre.
In addition, a dramatist may imitate in his play episodes and characters from the real life of the time; in the case of Measure for Measure it is hard to deny certain events of the status of minor sources in this sense. I shall now discuss some probable sources and allusions which illustrate the complex interplay of these different categories - written imaginative literature, staged plays, historical events - and point to their close connection with the dating of the play.
The matters now to be discussed strongly indicate for the first performance.
When, after James became king in , the city of London was preparing for the Royal Entry to the city which took place in early , Shakespeare might have remembered that Whetstone's play showed similar preparations.
A carpenter in the play is instructed to erect a stage, in preparation for the king's entry, as 'St Anne's Cross', and the Merchant Taylors are assigned 'Duck Alley' for their pageant of Hercules.
On his arrival the king is shown being welcomed at a formal reception. Whetstone seems to have London in mind here, though he calls his city 'Julio', and his king is King of Hungary. A number of specific allusions to James I have been suggested. James Fs book Basilikon Down was naturally the subject of much attention when it was reprinted in , the year of his accession Bacon said the book was in every man's hand.
Honigmann's excellent essay 'Shakespeare's mingled yarn and Measurefor Measure ', Proceedings of the British Academy, ig8i,pp. That the substituted bed-mate story is also used for All's Well does not prove that Shakespeare only knew of such a story from his reading of Boccaccio. Acknowledging the element of public display required of a prince, James stressed nevertheless that a prince should show virtue in action and cultivate it as a private inward state, warning against hypocritical outward show and empty words.
He also confessed that he had been insufficiently strict at the beginning of his rule, and expressed strong disapproval of 'unreverent speakers';1 these are elements which Shakespeare gives special emphasis in his Duke at the beginning and end of Measure for Measure, and which were no doubt intended to be recognised as allusions to the new king.
It has been argued that certain of the narrative elements at the beginning of Measure for Measure need not be supposed to derive from Middleton's play, being available in a prose narrative by Barnaby Riche, The Adventures of Brusanus Prince of Hungaria He encounters a braggart courtier who fails to penetrate the disguise and later charges the supposed merchant with treasonable talk; there is a trial scene before the king's son, and finally the king is recognised and the courtier banished.
While Shakespeare may have known Riche's story, I believe those sources already in dramatic form would have been more likely to have a strong influence on him.
But furthermore the allusion in the play to Hungary points perhaps more plausibly to current events than to the suggested source, Riche's Adventures of Brusanus.
This brings under consideration a further type of source, events in real life at the time of the play's composition. This duke was Queen Anne's brother, Ulrich of Holstein. Hungary was at this time partitioned between the Turks and the Holy Roman Empire, and Turkish support was given to the new King of Hungary, a Protestant, who was installed in Such events seem to be alluded to in the dialogue between Lucio and the Gentlemen in 1.
It is likely that such allusions would be more appropriate at court than at the Globe, and it is now accepted that the entry in the Revels Accounts - 'By his Ma tls plaiers.
On St. Stiuens Night [i. Lever cites several passages from Basilikon Doron on pp. The relevance of Riche's tale as a possible source is suggested by Bullough, and he prints extracts on pp. If so, this would be further evidence that whatever revisions were made to the text of the play elsewhere, the dialogue at the beginning of 1.
See the Textual Analysis, p. Chambers, William Shakespeare, 2 vols. Measure for Measure 22 Lever noticed the possible relevance of attempts to secure peace with Spain, which James I pursued during and which was ratified on 19 August, following a conference attended by delegates from Spain and the Austrian Netherlands on 20 May Stow speaks of their being 'setled in pyracie', which would be a closer confirmation of Lever's case had it not been first published eleven years later.
Stevenson cites an account from a tract, The Time Triumphant, entered in the Stationers' Register on 27 March , describing a would-be secret visit by James I and his queen to observe the Royal Entry decorations in the city. This account was claimed by Robert Armin, a member of Shakespeare's company, as his own work, based on the observations of Dugdale, under whose name it was published.
James hurried through the coronation procession, which was taken as evidence of his dislike of crowds, and Shakespeare's Duke may allude to this in the play's opening scene. The scheme whereby a number of letters surprises and confuses Angelo seems to recall the letters by Tiberius which have a similar effect on Sejanus, and in both cases the scheme leads directly to the catastrophe. Shakespeare's Duke, like Jonson's Tiberius, professes public honour to the deputy he is about to destroy Tiberius does so in a letter.
The parallels to Sejanus might point to a date near the beginning of for Measure for Measure. There may be direct allusion to the king's treatment of some of the Raleigh conspirators, as R. Shedd supposed. Noted in Stevenson, 'The role of James I', pp. This was noted by Hart The suspicion that Sejanus contained satiric allusions to King James and his court led to the arrest of Jonson, though he was released and not proceeded against. Another play about conspiracy was The Tragedy of Cowrie.
It is referred to in a letter dated 18 December and evidently dramatised the affair which, according to the officiai version by James I, involved an attempt on the king's life: James suppressed all other witnesses' accounts. The play was evidently also suppressed; nothing more is heard of it.
Perhaps, as Chamberlain speculates in the letter referring to the play, it was suppressed because 'it be thought unfit that princes should be plaide on the stage in theyre life time' cited by Bennett, 'Measure for Measure' as Royal Entertainment, p. The prisoners were brought out to the scaffold, then taken back to their cells without explanation, then brought out again to hear a speech condemning treason and stressing the mercy of the monarch who had saved their lives.
Here the king evidently needed no lessons from the playwrights in tragi-comic suspense endings. The alehouse and house of resort owned at the beginning of the play by Mistress Overdone is sited in the suburbs, immediately outside the city proper. These things are openly apparent in the suburbs of the city just as they are in the sub-plot of this play, where disease, poverty and degradation are obvious and contempt for the law is outspoken, but the conditions in which the inhabitants have to survive are also shown to be harsh: Lies and scandal and rumour, theft and deceit and illegitimacy, contaminate relations between them, but they devise nevertheless outside the law a kind of crooked simulacrum of the official system which seems to produce a crude normality, and a means to survival.
Many critics have been troubled by the impression of a disorder, and a latent anarchy, more rooted, defiant, and aggressive than might be thought compatible with 'festive' that is, ultimately reconciliatory comedy. Shedd, unpublished dissertation at the University of Michigan, , cited by David L.
In the Bankside was reported to the Privy Council as being full of'theeves, horsestealers, whoremongers, cozeners, coneycatchers'; Dekker said it was a 'contynuall alehouse' cited by E. Burford, Bawds and Lodgings, , pp. The theatrical impresario Henslowe owned land and brothels on Bankside, including the triple brothel, the Bell, Barge and Cock, next to the Rose theatre.
The major brothel-owner on Bankside was the Bishop of Winchester. Alleyn founded a chantry chapel and a school at Dulwich where prayers are still said for his soul the present writer is a former pupil. The term 'festive' occurs in the title of the influential study by C. Barber, Shakespeare's Festive Comedy, Measure for Measure 24 unfolds if one ignores the impressions of ingrained anarchy in the lower levels of the city's life. In Measure for Measure there is a polarisation of social life into opposed extremes: At first sight there would appear to be a clear contrast between the play's upper and lower social strata - a distinction in which moral and physical health are to be attributed to the upper stratum, where law is respected, whereas crime, sin and physical disease infect and deform the lower stratum, where instinct rules.
Shakespeare makes use of a visual code, a sign system, contrasting the physical appearance of the figures of authority - the Duke, Escalus, Angelo - to that of Pompey and Mistress Overdone.Peace here; grace and good company! At the same time the 'deed' is the personal sexual act so Pompey uses the verb 'done' in 1. John Payne Collier, Plays and Poems, ed. Definitions and examples of literary terms and devices. But furthermore the allusion in the play to Hungary points perhaps more plausibly to current events than to the suggested source, Riche's Adventures of Brusanus.
The play is dedicated to Fleetwood, the Recorder of London, whose duties involved him in trying to clean up the London underworld - an exasperating business, as the frequent tone of complaint in Fleetwood's letters shows.
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