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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Measure For Measure Pdf

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.

download the play 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 Angelo in charge of the state. Claudio's sister Isabella, a novice nun, appeals to Angelo to save her brother. But the supposedly pure Angelo demands that Isabella sleep with him to save Claudio. To Claudio's dismay, Isabella refuses. Although the trick succeeds, Angelo orders Claudio beheaded anyway. The duke saves Claudio, but he tells Isabella that Claudio is dead. The duke, resuming his identity, sentences Angelo to wed Mariana and then be put to death. But Mariana and Isabella plead for Angelo's life. Revealing that Claudio is alive, the duke pardons Angelo and proposes to Isabella. Early printed texts Measure for Measure was first published in the First Folio and that text serves as the source for all subsequent editions of the play. The play was reprinted in the Second Folio, but the copy of F2 digitized by the Folger is one formerly owned and censored by the Jesuit college in Vallodolid, Spain.

As Pompey suggests, "Does your worship mean to geld and splay all the youth of the city? T h a t order is embodied not only in social, moral and religious rules, but also in the laws of property and succession which work towards maintaining and reproducing the social order.

In the regime enforced by Angelo in Measure for Measure this interest is greater where the upper classes are concerned: although members of the lower classes such as Mistress Overdone are occasionally punished for sexual offences, only Claudio is t h r e a t e n e d with death. As Foucault put it, the government's "primary concern was not with the repression of the classes to be exploited, but rather the body, vigour, longevity, primogeniture and descent of the classes that matter or the classes that ruled".

Such institutions, by defining and publicising what is normal and acceptable behaviour, enable governments td intervene in the private lives of their people, m By separating the public and private and assigning desire to the realm of the private, law's regulation of desire polices society more effectively and subtly.

This is nowhere more evident t h a n in the Duke's decision to disperse power to two deputies, enabling the application of power to take place surreptitiously and also to operate at all levels of society. His own withdrawal from the public eye, his disguise and descent into invisibility, are part of this surveillance operation, enabling him to gain access to people's innermost thoughts and feelings.

The dual role of the Duke, as intermittently political ruler and pious friar, exposes the operation and co-operation of religion in the t a s k of social control. State law by itself is not enough for the success of the 16 Supra n.

I, Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. Cookson and B. Loughrey London: Longman, , Confession, an instrument that the Duke uses, and unashamedly abuses by emphasising the subject's intention, what she thinks as well as what she does, performs the function of control and normalisation. The Duke uses his confession of Mariana to elicit her respect and obedience, even whilst he plans to use her in the bed trick. As for Mariana, unresisting and accommodating as the text constrains her to be, she appears to experience this exploitation as "voluntary allegiance to disinterested virtue".

In this context, the religious extolling of marriage is another form of propaganda for state control. Only two characters in the play manage to resist the Duke's attempts at normalisation, and for that reason the roles of Barnardine and Lucio cannot be dismissed as purely comic. Indeed, as will be discussed in the next section, it is through comedy, farce and carnival that elements of subversion and resistance can be glimpsed. Political Authority Attempts to regulate and constrain desire and sexuality through legal 20 Richard Hooker, quoted by J.

Dollimore and A. Sinfield Manchester: Manchester University Press, , Directors have greater facility to register Mariana's disquiet at the Duke's plans as in Steven Pomloy's production where Mariana's agreement is accompanied by a piercing, anguished cry.

L a w a n d D e s i r e i n Measure for Measure and religious instruments mean that binary oppositions between mind and body, public and private, the family and the state, desire and law are not as neat as the state would like them to appear.

Desire affects the private as much as the public relationships of the citizen, particularly when it produces children, hence the state's attempts to impose its own version of normal citizens and approved relationships. Political authority in the play becomes omnipresent with the Duke's descent into invisibility, intervening, overtly and covertly, in every sphere of citizens' lives.

What is the source and nature of this authority and does the play affirm or contest its existence and operation? Critics have suggested that Vincentio bears many similarities to James I, some going further to argue that the portrayal of the Duke in the play was intended as a form of flattery to the then monarch.

Indeed the Duke's dislike of crowds, his delegation of authority to his deputies but continued unwillingness to surrender control, and his interest in the nature of justice and its relationship to mercy find many parallels in James I's character and concerns.

One of the most famous passages from B a s i l i k o n Doron may even sum up the play's themes: "Laws", James I wrote, "are ordained as rules of vertuous and social living, and not to be snares to trap your good subjects: and therefore the lawe must be interpreted according to the meaning, and not to the literal sense Learn also wisely to discerne betwixt Iustice and equitie For Iustice, by the Law, giueth every man his owne; and equitie in things arbitrall, giueth every one that which is meetest for h i m f 24 Commentators have further charted the striking parallels between James' sentencing and last minute reprieve of Sir Walter Raleigh and his alleged conspirators in a plot against the Crown with the Duke's meting out of pardons in the last scene of the play.

Much of this uncertainty stems from the fact that critics are not quite sure 24 C. Rossiter admitted, "What one makes of the play depends on what one makes of the Duke I do not quite know w h a t to make of the Duke". Critics who see the play as a Christian humanist exploration of mercy's relationship to justice justify Vincentio's deceptive behaviour on the grounds that he is acting for the benefit of Isabella's spiritual growth, enabling her to recognise the value of mercy.

In particular, the Duke's absence and the consequent abuse of power by one of his deputies serves to justify the return of full centralised authority in the last Act. Storey London: Longman, , Greeablatt, Norman, Okla. See also L. L a w a n d D e s i r e i n Measure for Measure Greenblatt is similarly cynical about M e a s u r e for M e a s u r e ' s "open, sustained, and radical questioning of authority before it is reaffirmed, with ironic reservations, at the close'.

The play's idealisation of c h a s t i t y and presentation of marriage as a resolution to every conflict further ignores that chastity and marriage are themselves ideological instruments at the service of the existing social order, in particular the laws of property and kinship.

In that sense, as Dollimore and Sinfield argue, the theatre is a "prime location for the representation and legitimation of power". Comic Subversions However, the text does provide us with material for readings that contest the Duke's authority, the choice between alternate readings resting, as always, with the reader. The critical unease the play's conclusion has caused partly explains its labelling as a problem play, with the elaborate restitution at the end appearing more hoax t h a n reaffirmation.

The same show trials that can be seen as celebrating the Duke's wisdom and mercy also demystify the way political theatre is used to affirm state power, showing the Duke as an ordinary man pulling strings behind the scene to project an image mightier than himself. Dollimore and Sinfield, supra n.

Also M. Reifer, "Female Power in Measure for Measure", Shakespeare Quarterly 35 , , at "His ultimate intention seems to be setting the stage for his final dramatic saving of the day - a day which would not need saving except for his contrivances in the first place. Escalus: Is it a lawful trade? Pompey: If the law would allow it, sir. Escalus: But the law will not allow it, Pompey". B a r n a r d i n e ' s refusal to accord seriousness to absolute power is itself, we m u s t conclude, a serious m a t t e r.

Author-itarian Inscriptions and The Traffic in Women I n e x a m i n i n g t h e role of women in t h e p l a y one cannot b u t a d m i t , once 44 Ibid. Such preoccupations are no less political than other issues explored by the reader.

Indeed, the very selection of this issue for consideration shows the sovereignty of the reader in the discussion of texts: early discussions and productions of the play found no problem with or cause for challenging the roles the play appeared to assign to its women characters. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that just as some critics are able to enlist Shakespeare as a revolutionary challenging state authority, while others see in his text a devout and loyal apologist for the Tudor myth, feminists have been equally divided between finding in Shakespeare an ardent proto-feminist, on the one hand, and a proponent of the patriarchal order on the other.

Negative representations of women in the cultural field, one must remember, can end up implying the inferiority and necessary subordination of women on the political field. For women readers it is imperative to expose the contradictions, ambiguities and multiplicity of meanings in the text and in readings of it in order to uncover the operations of gender in literary discourse. Such readings enable us to envisage new forms of social organisation, including alternatives to the patriarchal family.

The view that Shakespeare can be enlisted as a liberal proto-feminist is not uncommon: Coppelia Kahn, for instance, suggests that, "[t]oday we are questioning the cultural definitions of sexual identity we have inherited.

I believe Shakespeare questioned them too". Holderness Manchester: Manchester University Press, They further have the effect of essentialising women by asking them to conform to one pattern of defying male authority. For this reader, the view that Shakespeare questioned patriarchal authority is hard to sustain in the context of a play where women form the main object of exchange, and where contracts are negotiated by, and legal and political power is vested in male characters like Vincentio and Angelo.

The friendship between Isabella and Mariana, although used to outwit male authority, is supplanted in the end by marriage. The play's preferred way of correcting such problems is the institution of marriage. Isabella's silence at the end of the play does allow directors to read a gesture of feminist defiance at the Duke's attempt to co-opt her into his plans, but no such opportunities are afforded to Mariana who is reduced to pleading forgiveness for her treacherous lover.

As Kathleen Macluskie argues, within the parameters of the text feminist criticism can do no more than expose its own exclusion from it; it has no point of entry into it for the dilemmas of the narrative and the sexuality under discussion are constructed in completely male terms. The passages from St Matthew and St Luke would have been so well known to most Elizabethans that very probably they would have taken the play's title to refer in the first place to those Gospels.

Religious issues were sensitive, so such a title would probably arouse some suspicion, not only from religious extremist groups but also from the authorities. The royal proclamation of May had prohibited stage plays from dealing with 'either matters of religion or of the governance of the estate of the 1 Measure for Measure 2 common weale', and this seems to have been interpreted as meaning 'forbidding direct treatment in plays of current public issues or the representation of important living persons'.

In the play itself Shakespeare does emphasise the name of the location as the city of Vienna, a long way away from London, and the religious robes worn in the play are Catholic, which might have been intended to deflect any accusations that the play breaks the law. Shakespeare nevertheless does not allay suspicion that he is making covert allusion to current events, nor apparently does he wish to do so.

Thus in Vienna, the play's setting, would be associated with the efforts of the Holy Roman Emperor to suppress Protestantism in nearby Hungary, and with the successful rebellion of the Protestants there. In Elizabethan England, on the other hand, it was now mainly Puritan extremism that expressed religious intolerance. The list of English Protestant martyrs collected by Foxe is long - there had been some three hundred during the Catholic Queen Mary's reign - but there were also some two hundred English Catholic martyrs under the Protestant monarch Elizabeth.

Measure for Measure's various plots focus on a law - capital punishment for fornication - that seems the stuff of fantasy and folk-tale, until one recalls not only the historical excesses of many fanatical religious regimes but the fact that in the sixteenth century some extreme English Puritans did indeed advocate the death penalty for fornication, and later, in , during the Commonwealth, the death penalty for incest and adultery was for a short period actually introduced.

It was a concession to a century of pressure from Puritan extremists. Characteristic of this extremist vein in Puritanism is the pamphleteer Philip Stubbes, who, concerned with the general question of order in the state, sees threats everywhere, though in the over-simple terms of ascribing all problems to individuals and their neglect of religious teaching.

He proposes in his Anatomy of Abuses that those who commit whoredom, adultery, incest and prostitution should 'tast of present death', though he remarks that his contemporaries are all too likely to be more merciful 'than the Author of mercie him selfe'. Stubbes is unhealthily excited by what he reviles, sadistically urging that those convicted of these sexual crimes should at least 'be cauterized, and seared with a hote yron on the cheeke, forehead, or some other parte' where all could see that they had been branded.

Stubbes deplores the laxity of magistrates in this respect: they 'wincke at [fornication] or els as looking thorowe their fingers, they see it, and will not see it' sig. These are terms like those Shakespeare's Duke uses when confessing to his previous lax rule of Vienna, and we are again reminded of the Duke when we read Stubbes's survey of rampant vice in sixteenth-century English society, seen as the product of lax upbringing of children: 'give a wild horse the libertie 1 2 3 Cited by Glynne Wickham, Early English Stages, 3 vols.

See my discussion of these at pp. It is curious that Hamlet names Vienna as the location for The Mousetrap the play performed before Claudius.

He ironically says to the king that The Mousetrap cannot give any offence since it does not touch any local personalities, being merely 'the image of an action done in Vienna'. Introduction 3 of the head never so litle, and he will runne headlonge to thyne and his owne destruction also. So correct Children in their tender yeres' F7 v.

This recalls Measure for Measure: We have strict statutes and most biting laws, The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds, Which for this fourteen years we have let slip. Now, as fond fathers Having bound up the threatening twigs of birch Only to stick it in their children's sight For terror, not to use - in time the rod More mocked than feared - so our decrees, Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead, And Liberty plucks Justice by the nose, The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart Goes all decorum.

Extreme Puritans believed acting plays to be an offence against religion. Stubbes says stage plays should be condemned and ought to be prohibited: 'If they be of divine matter, than are they most intolerable, or rather Sacrilegious, for that the blessed word of GOD, is to be handled, reverently.

Furthermore interludes and plays 'paint' before the spectators' eyes examples of all kinds of sin and mischief. Shakespeare, whose sense of the complexities of social structures and relationships is far ahead of extreme Puritan views, evidently had such Puritan invectives ironically in mind when designing and composing the complex debate of Measure for Measure.

Stubbes may deliver threats: 'beware, therfore, you masking Players, you painted sepulchres' sig. L5 v , but Shakespeare reverses this in Measure for Measure, where public figures treat the world as a stage for their maskings, and the Puritan, Angelo, explicitly confesses his moral hypocrisy when likening himself to a painted sepulchre 2.

In his eloquent Anatomie of'Absurditie ,1 Nashe had mocked extremist Puritan pamphleteers like Stubbes and illustrated the chief features by which extreme Puritanism was recognised at the time. Shakespeare seems always to have taken the closest appreciative interest in Nashe's work, and here Nashe's objections to Puritan extremism could well have been recalled to mind by Shakespeare when he was composing Measure for Measure.

Especially, perhaps, in the language and ideas of Pompey, and the verbal quickness of Lucio, although neither of these characters reflects the essential moral probity and humanity of Nashe. Measure for Measure 4 against drunkenness 'as though they had beene brought uppe all the dayes of their life with bread and water', and against whoredom 'as though they had beene Eunuches from theyr cradle, or blind from the howre of their conception' p.

Despite all this they enquire into 'every corner of the Common wealth, correcting that sinne in others, wherwith they are corrupted themselves' p. Nashe compares them to actors adopting their stage roles; he turns Stubbes's obsession with attire and clothes, and the theatre, against him: 'the cloake of zeale, should be 5 Introduction i Barnardine: 'I swear I will not die today for any man's persuasion.

Walter Hodges unto an hypocrite in steed of a coate of Maile; a pretence of puritie'. Extreme Puritans are ham actors: 'It is not the writhing of the face, the heaving uppe of the eyes to heaven, that shall keepe these men, from having their portion in hell. Might they be saved by their booke, they have the Bible alwaies in their bosome, and so had the Pharisies the Lawe embroidered in their garments' p.

All Nashe's writings were banned in by official decree; another irony for Shakespeare to accommodate. Moves were also intermittently made throughout the period to suppress plays, arrest actors and playwrights, and close theatres.

The city authorities associated theatres with Measure for Measure 6 public disorder; the court was suspicious of plays because of their potential for political comment.

Shakespeare personally, and his own plays apart from Richard II , seem to have escaped punishment,1 but Shakespeare and his company of players often needed the protection afforded by aristocratic sympathisers and patrons at court and in the Privy Council. Certainly it is clear from the trouble over Sejanus2 in which Shakespeare acted , and over the riskily topical Tragedy ofGowrie,3 that in topical political allusion in plays was a serious matter.

Measure for Measure, as a play no less concerned in its own way with the state and its government, and following in the same playhouse both Sejanus and The Malcontent, might well arouse the suspicion of the authorities. Perhaps it was for this reason that the threat to Lucio of execution for slander and his last-minute reprieve comes so very prominently right at the end of the play, a sign of the commended temperance, but also firmness, of the ruler.

Shakespeare does place obvious compliments to James I in Measure for Measure,A but it is worth noticing that they are incidental to the play's action, and the play's force does not depend upon them. Queen Elizabeth in had pointed to the power - and also the danger - which the public role of monarch had in common with that of the actor: 'We princes, I tel you, are set on stages, in the sight and view of all the world' see 1. Shakespeare seems nevertheless to have contrived penetrating questions in this play about the Prince and the State,5 force and fraud, about the actor and the ruler, even if he did also practise self-censorship.

One occasion was the performing at the Swan theatre by Pembroke's Men of the play The Isle of Dogs, which was held to contain lewd and seditious matter. Its part-author, Thomas Nashe, was forced to flee London. His co-author, Ben Jonson, and Thomas Kyd were thrown into gaol. In another move the mayor and aldermen of the city induced the Privy Council to prohibit plays within the city and for three miles outside in the County of Middlesex, and two playhouses, the Theatre and the Curtain, were ordered to be pulled down.

On 22 June , the Privy Council order allowed that acting plays was 'not an evill in ytselfe' and might indeed 'with a good order and moderation be suffered in a well governed estate'. They conceded to city pressures in ordering some playhouses to be pulled down, but directed that two should be allowed.

Jonson had to answer a charge of treason for writing Sejanus. See p. This play was suppressed in , apparently as a direct result of royal displeasure. Chamberlain speculated in a letter, referring to the play, that the reason was because 'it be thought unfit that princes should be plaide on the stage in theyre life time' see p. See the discussion below, pp. The use of the term 'Prince' in Measure for Measure may be intended to be recognised as an allusion to the treatise II Principe The Prince , a study of the science of power and the art of secular government by Niccolo Machiavelli Il Principe was first published in Machiavelli's comedy Mandragola, with its equivocal friar-confessor and ironic story, first appeared in print in also.

On this speculative topic see the recent study by Annabel Patterson, Censorship and Interpretation, Introduction 7 of the disguised ruler, and of the substituted bed-mate. These stories each have the characteristic moral and emotional charge of primitive folk-tale. By the time he came to write Measure for Measure Shakespeare was already familiar with the sophisticated and psychologically realistic versions of such tales in the Italian novelle of Boccaccio and his followers.

Giraldi Cinthio's Hecatommithi i , reprinted four times and then again in , translated into French in and Spanish in The story of the corrupt magistrate and the infamous bargain is central to Shakespeare's play, and it is helpful to begin with Cinthio's version, even though it is not the earliest known,2 because Cinthio brings out its complex intellectual and structural tension, and gives it a detailed naturalistic setting.

Cinthio's story3 is set in Innsbruck not, as in Shakespeare, Vienna. Juriste, the equivalent of Shakespeare's Angelo, is sent to rule Innsbruck by Maximilian, the Emperor of Rome, whose close friend he is. Juriste is warned by the emperor that he cannot hope for pardon if he offends justice, but as Cinthio observes Juriste, though pleased with the appointment, is not a man who rightly knows himself.

Still, Juriste rules Innsbruck well for a long time, until he decrees that a young man accused of rape be beheaded by contrast in Shakespeare Angelo is not seen ruling well and the pace is very quick. The young man's sister comes to plead for him.

This part of the story runs parallel in Shakespeare. The sister is eighteen, beautiful, sweet-voiced, eloquent, and has been educated in philosophy. Her name is Epitia. She pleads that her brother is young - only sixteen; that he loves the woman he wronged and is ready to marry her; and that anyway the law is drawn up to strike terror rather than to be enforced.

Juriste, she says, should apply equity and show himself merciful, not harsh. Juriste is impressed only by her beauty. He agrees to a stay of execution but privately determines to satisfy his lust for Epitia. She goes to her brother in prison, who asks her to plead for him once more. When she visits Juriste again he rejects her plea - unless she gives herself to him.

She answers that her brother's life is very dear to her, but even dearer is her honour. This corresponds to Shakespeare. Juriste then says that if she does give herself to him, he might marry her. He tells her she must decide by the next day. Epitia goes to her brother in prison and begs him to prepare for death, since 1 2 3 Seven novelle by Boccaccio and his successors provide major sources for Shakespearean plots. For a discussion of Shakespeare's whole concern with novelle, see the discussion by Leo Salingar, Shakespeare and the Traditions of Comedy, , pp.

A number of historical parallels have been suggested, among them an interesting one in a letter from Vienna of printed by Lever in an appendix.

For a discussion of such analogues, see Lever, pp. This following summary is based on the translation by Eccles, pp. Measure for Measure 8 she cannot sacrifice her honour. He appeals to her on the grounds of natural feeling, their blood kinship, their personal affection for each other, and says it is certain that Juriste will marry her because she is so beautiful and gifted.

Epitia then agrees to give herself up to Juriste's bargain and brother and sister embrace in tearful reconciliation.

In this and the following events Shakespeare differs. Next day she tells Juriste her decision and he promises her brother will be saved. In this play the mixed genre of tragi-comedy involved the bringing together of seemingly incompatible narrative materials and deliberately contrasting dramatic styles, which the dramatist would strive to combine in a design offering a spectacularly surprising conclusion, just when this seemed least possible.

Measure for Measure

Perhaps it is more true of this play than of other Shakespeare plays that each fresh production presents it in a different shape by making its own choice of tone, rhythm and emphasis among a number of different yet most important issues. Yet where a selective emphasis may be the key to theatrical interpretation as the stage history on pp.

Shakespeare is inspired to exceptional and adventurous artistry in imposing an answerable style on his materials. The release of such conflicting energies within the chosen frame is daring, and it is important to recognise the newness and complexity of the challenge he sets himself: The play's design generates energies which in some productions may, after thrilling excitement, be brought to a harmonious close, while in other productions they prove resistant to any such harmonious resolution, seeming to justify the claim that this is a problem play.

The Introduction which follows on pp. Mark Eccles in his New Variorum edition , with its large bibliography, G. Blakemore Evans in his Riverside Shakespeare , with its judicious decisions on textual and lineation problems, and J.

Lever, whose Arden edition of presented new and stimulating material. For more particular assistance of various kinds, all in their way valuable, I am indebted to the late Philip Brockbank, to David Bevington, A. I owe a special debt to Robin Hood for his general editorial work on this edition, for his stimulating criticism and eagle eye for detail.

At Cambridge University Press I thank the copy-editor, Paul Chipchase, for his exemplary attention to the manuscript, and Sarah Stanton for her help with the illustrations and much else. The drawings of C. Walter Hodges were produced with his customary vitality and good humour, and patience in handling my suggestions.

The errors and misjudgements that remain I do acknowledge mine. Fulford-Leeds-Zurich B. Other editions of Shakespeare are abbreviated under the editor's surname Rowe, Eccles unless they are the work of more than one editor. In such cases, an abbreviated series title is used Cam. When more than one edition by the same editor is cited, later editions are discriminated with a raised figure Collier2. All quotations from Shakespeare, except those from Measure for Measure, use the text and lineation of The Riverside Shakespeare, under the general editorship of G.

Blakemore Evans. Shakespeare's plays Ado Ant. STM Temp. TGV Tim. Craig E. Abbott, A Shakespearian Grammar, 3rd edn, references are to numbered paragraphs Works, ed.

Peter Alexander, Measure for Measure, ed. James Craigie, Works, ed. Geoffrey Bullough, 8 vols. Clark, J. Glover and W. Edward Capell, [] Measure for Measure, ed.

Alan Holaday et al, ; Tragedies, ed. Parrott, Geoffrey Chaucer, Works, ed. Robinson, 2nd edn, Works, ed. John Payne Collier, Plays, ed. John Payne Collier, Plays and Poems, ed. John Payne Collier, E.

Nicolaus Delius, Measure for Measure, ed. Durham, Yale Shakespeare Works, ed. Alexander Dyce, Works, ed. Alexander Dyce, 2nd edn, Measure for Measure, ed. Blakemore Evans et ai, Mr. Clark and W. Wright, Robert Greene, Works, ed. Grosart, 15 vols. James O. Halliwell, Works, ed. Thomas Hanmer, H. Chichester Hart, '"Measure for Measure": Hart, Arden Shakespeare Works, ed. Henry Hudson, Works, ed. Samuel Johnson, Ben Jonson, Works, ed.

Herford and Percy Simpson, 11 vols. Thomas Keightley, Works, ed. Kittredge, Works, ed. Charles Knight, Works, ed. Charles Knight, Measure for Measure, ed. Lever, Arden Shakespeare M.

Bond, 3 vols. Edmond Malone, Christopher Marlowe, Works, ed. Fredson Bowers, 2 vols. McKerrow, 5 vols. Wilson, Works, ed.

Measure for Measure

Nosworthy, New Penguin Measure for Measure, ed. Dover Wilson and A. James A. Murray et al. Eagleson, Eric Partridge, Shakespeare's Bawdy, rev. Alexander Pope, Works, ed. William J.

Fredson Bowers, — Works, ed. Gregor Sarrazin, 2 vols. Singer, Works, ed. Sisson, Edmund Spenser, Works, ed.

Edwin Greenlaw et al, 8 vols. Howard Staunton, xiii Steevens Steevens2 Steevens3 subst. Samuel Johnson and George Steevens, Works, ed. George Steevens and Isaac Reed, substantively Works, ed. Ludwig Tieck, M. William Warburton, Works, ed.

Richard Grant White, Measure for Measure, ed. Other pointers indicate that the play's first performance was probably in the same year. In the case of Measure for Measure, a play in which allusion to specific events and persons has been recognised, and which also seems to have links to certain closely contemporary plays of which the date of first performance remains uncertain, the discussion of the date is really inseparable from the discussion of the sources.

I have therefore presented the full discussion of factors relevant to dating the play along with all the rest of the discussion of the sources at pp. There is a possibility that the text as it stands in the Folio includes changes made at a time later than of the first performance, and this is discussed, along with the question of the scribe and conjectures about authorship, in the Textual Analysis, pp.

Puritanism, political allusion and censorship Shakespeare's title announces an idea - measure for measure - and he twice pointedly refers to it in the dialogue.

This is in contrast to his sources Cinthio and Whetstone and to his own usual practice. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged, and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again' - and it takes up issues from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 and Luke 6 concerning retribution, justice and mercy.

St Matthew's version of the Sermon on the Mount alludes to the proverbial concept of retribution as 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' 5. In Shakespeare's j Henry VI 2. If mercy is invoked to render justice temperate another sense of'measure' then retribution in turn will be limited to a not-to-be-exceeded measure. If great cruelty is answered by a free outpouring of love, however, the transformation that results is immeasurably joyful.

The passages from St Matthew and St Luke would have been so well known to most Elizabethans that very probably they would have taken the play's title to refer in the first place to those Gospels. Religious issues were sensitive, so such a title would probably arouse some suspicion, not only from religious extremist groups but also from the authorities. The royal proclamation of May had prohibited stage plays from dealing with 'either matters of religion or of the governance of the estate of the 1 Measure for Measure 2 common weale', and this seems to have been interpreted as meaning 'forbidding direct treatment in plays of current public issues or the representation of important living persons'.

In the play itself Shakespeare does emphasise the name of the location as the city of Vienna, a long way away from London, and the religious robes worn in the play are Catholic, which might have been intended to deflect any accusations that the play breaks the law.

Shakespeare nevertheless does not allay suspicion that he is making covert allusion to current events, nor apparently does he wish to do so.

Thus in Vienna, the play's setting, would be associated with the efforts of the Holy Roman Emperor to suppress Protestantism in nearby Hungary, and with the successful rebellion of the Protestants there. In Elizabethan England, on the other hand, it was now mainly Puritan extremism that expressed religious intolerance.

The list of English Protestant martyrs collected by Foxe is long - there had been some three hundred during the Catholic Queen Mary's reign - but there were also some two hundred English Catholic martyrs under the Protestant monarch Elizabeth. Measure for Measure's various plots focus on a law - capital punishment for fornication - that seems the stuff of fantasy and folk-tale, until one recalls not only the historical excesses of many fanatical religious regimes but the fact that in the sixteenth century some extreme English Puritans did indeed advocate the death penalty for fornication, and later, in , during the Commonwealth, the death penalty for incest and adultery was for a short period actually introduced.

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

It was a concession to a century of pressure from Puritan extremists. Characteristic of this extremist vein in Puritanism is the pamphleteer Philip Stubbes, who, concerned with the general question of order in the state, sees threats everywhere, though in the over-simple terms of ascribing all problems to individuals and their neglect of religious teaching.

He proposes in his Anatomy of Abuses that those who commit whoredom, adultery, incest and prostitution should 'tast of present death', though he remarks that his contemporaries are all too likely to be more merciful 'than the Author of mercie him selfe'. Stubbes is unhealthily excited by what he reviles, sadistically urging that those convicted of these sexual crimes should at least 'be cauterized, and seared with a hote yron on the cheeke, forehead, or some other parte' where all could see that they had been branded.

Stubbes deplores the laxity of magistrates in this respect: These are terms like those Shakespeare's Duke uses when confessing to his previous lax rule of Vienna, and we are again reminded of the Duke when we read Stubbes's survey of rampant vice in sixteenth-century English society, seen as the product of lax upbringing of children: See my discussion of these at pp.

It is curious that Hamlet names Vienna as the location for The Mousetrap the play performed before Claudius.

He ironically says to the king that The Mousetrap cannot give any offence since it does not touch any local personalities, being merely 'the image of an action done in Vienna'. Introduction 3 of the head never so litle, and he will runne headlonge to thyne and his owne destruction also.

So correct Children in their tender yeres' F7 v. This recalls Measure for Measure: We have strict statutes and most biting laws, The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds, Which for this fourteen years we have let slip.

Now, as fond fathers Having bound up the threatening twigs of birch Only to stick it in their children's sight For terror, not to use - in time the rod More mocked than feared - so our decrees, Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead, And Liberty plucks Justice by the nose, The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart Goes all decorum. Extreme Puritans believed acting plays to be an offence against religion. Stubbes says stage plays should be condemned and ought to be prohibited: Furthermore interludes and plays 'paint' before the spectators' eyes examples of all kinds of sin and mischief.

Shakespeare, whose sense of the complexities of social structures and relationships is far ahead of extreme Puritan views, evidently had such Puritan invectives ironically in mind when designing and composing the complex debate of Measure for Measure.

Stubbes may deliver threats: L5 v , but Shakespeare reverses this in Measure for Measure, where public figures treat the world as a stage for their maskings, and the Puritan, Angelo, explicitly confesses his moral hypocrisy when likening himself to a painted sepulchre 2.

In his eloquent Anatomie of'Absurditie ,1 Nashe had mocked extremist Puritan pamphleteers like Stubbes and illustrated the chief features by which extreme Puritanism was recognised at the time. Shakespeare seems always to have taken the closest appreciative interest in Nashe's work, and here Nashe's objections to Puritan extremism could well have been recalled to mind by Shakespeare when he was composing Measure for Measure. Especially, perhaps, in the language and ideas of Pompey, and the verbal quickness of Lucio, although neither of these characters reflects the essential moral probity and humanity of Nashe.

Measure for Measure 4 against drunkenness 'as though they had beene brought uppe all the dayes of their life with bread and water', and against whoredom 'as though they had beene Eunuches from theyr cradle, or blind from the howre of their conception' p.

Despite all this they enquire into 'every corner of the Common wealth, correcting that sinne in others, wherwith they are corrupted themselves' p.

Nashe compares them to actors adopting their stage roles; he turns Stubbes's obsession with attire and clothes, and the theatre, against him: Walter Hodges unto an hypocrite in steed of a coate of Maile; a pretence of puritie'. Extreme Puritans are ham actors: Might they be saved by their booke, they have the Bible alwaies in their bosome, and so had the Pharisies the Lawe embroidered in their garments' p.

All Nashe's writings were banned in by official decree; another irony for Shakespeare to accommodate. Moves were also intermittently made throughout the period to suppress plays, arrest actors and playwrights, and close theatres.

The city authorities associated theatres with Measure for Measure 6 public disorder; the court was suspicious of plays because of their potential for political comment. Shakespeare personally, and his own plays apart from Richard II , seem to have escaped punishment,1 but Shakespeare and his company of players often needed the protection afforded by aristocratic sympathisers and patrons at court and in the Privy Council.

Certainly it is clear from the trouble over Sejanus2 in which Shakespeare acted , and over the riskily topical Tragedy ofGowrie,3 that in topical political allusion in plays was a serious matter. Measure for Measure, as a play no less concerned in its own way with the state and its government, and following in the same playhouse both Sejanus and The Malcontent, might well arouse the suspicion of the authorities. Perhaps it was for this reason that the threat to Lucio of execution for slander and his last-minute reprieve comes so very prominently right at the end of the play, a sign of the commended temperance, but also firmness, of the ruler.

Shakespeare does place obvious compliments to James I in Measure for Measure,A but it is worth noticing that they are incidental to the play's action, and the play's force does not depend upon them. Queen Elizabeth in had pointed to the power - and also the danger - which the public role of monarch had in common with that of the actor: Shakespeare seems nevertheless to have contrived penetrating questions in this play about the Prince and the State,5 force and fraud, about the actor and the ruler, even if he did also practise self-censorship.

One occasion was the performing at the Swan theatre by Pembroke's Men of the play The Isle of Dogs, which was held to contain lewd and seditious matter. Its part-author, Thomas Nashe, was forced to flee London. His co-author, Ben Jonson, and Thomas Kyd were thrown into gaol.

In another move the mayor and aldermen of the city induced the Privy Council to prohibit plays within the city and for three miles outside in the County of Middlesex, and two playhouses, the Theatre and the Curtain, were ordered to be pulled down. On 22 June , the Privy Council order allowed that acting plays was 'not an evill in ytselfe' and might indeed 'with a good order and moderation be suffered in a well governed estate'.

Measure for Measure Characters

They conceded to city pressures in ordering some playhouses to be pulled down, but directed that two should be allowed. For the censorship of the deposition scene of Richard II, and a perfomance associated with the Essex rebellion of , see the New Cambridge edition: Jonson had to answer a charge of treason for writing Sejanus.

See p. This play was suppressed in , apparently as a direct result of royal displeasure. Chamberlain speculated in a letter, referring to the play, that the reason was because 'it be thought unfit that princes should be plaide on the stage in theyre life time' see p.

See the discussion below, pp. The use of the term 'Prince' in Measure for Measure may be intended to be recognised as an allusion to the treatise II Principe The Prince , a study of the science of power and the art of secular government by Niccolo Machiavelli Il Principe was first published in Machiavelli's comedy Mandragola, with its equivocal friar-confessor and ironic story, first appeared in print in also.

On this speculative topic see the recent study by Annabel Patterson, Censorship and Interpretation, Introduction 7 of the disguised ruler, and of the substituted bed-mate. These stories each have the characteristic moral and emotional charge of primitive folk-tale. By the time he came to write Measure for Measure Shakespeare was already familiar with the sophisticated and psychologically realistic versions of such tales in the Italian novelle of Boccaccio and his followers.

Giraldi Cinthio's Hecatommithi i , reprinted four times and then again in , translated into French in and Spanish in The story of the corrupt magistrate and the infamous bargain is central to Shakespeare's play, and it is helpful to begin with Cinthio's version, even though it is not the earliest known,2 because Cinthio brings out its complex intellectual and structural tension, and gives it a detailed naturalistic setting.

Cinthio's story3 is set in Innsbruck not, as in Shakespeare, Vienna. Juriste, the equivalent of Shakespeare's Angelo, is sent to rule Innsbruck by Maximilian, the Emperor of Rome, whose close friend he is. Juriste is warned by the emperor that he cannot hope for pardon if he offends justice, but as Cinthio observes Juriste, though pleased with the appointment, is not a man who rightly knows himself. Still, Juriste rules Innsbruck well for a long time, until he decrees that a young man accused of rape be beheaded by contrast in Shakespeare Angelo is not seen ruling well and the pace is very quick.

The young man's sister comes to plead for him. This part of the story runs parallel in Shakespeare. The sister is eighteen, beautiful, sweet-voiced, eloquent, and has been educated in philosophy. Her name is Epitia. She pleads that her brother is young - only sixteen; that he loves the woman he wronged and is ready to marry her; and that anyway the law is drawn up to strike terror rather than to be enforced.

Juriste, she says, should apply equity and show himself merciful, not harsh. Juriste is impressed only by her beauty. He agrees to a stay of execution but privately determines to satisfy his lust for Epitia. She goes to her brother in prison, who asks her to plead for him once more. When she visits Juriste again he rejects her plea - unless she gives herself to him. She answers that her brother's life is very dear to her, but even dearer is her honour. This corresponds to Shakespeare. Juriste then says that if she does give herself to him, he might marry her.

He tells her she must decide by the next day. Epitia goes to her brother in prison and begs him to prepare for death, since 1 2 3 Seven novelle by Boccaccio and his successors provide major sources for Shakespearean plots.

For a discussion of Shakespeare's whole concern with novelle, see the discussion by Leo Salingar, Shakespeare and the Traditions of Comedy, , pp. A number of historical parallels have been suggested, among them an interesting one in a letter from Vienna of printed by Lever in an appendix. For a discussion of such analogues, see Lever, pp. This following summary is based on the translation by Eccles, pp.

Measure for Measure 8 she cannot sacrifice her honour. He appeals to her on the grounds of natural feeling, their blood kinship, their personal affection for each other, and says it is certain that Juriste will marry her because she is so beautiful and gifted.

Epitia then agrees to give herself up to Juriste's bargain and brother and sister embrace in tearful reconciliation. In this and the following events Shakespeare differs. Next day she tells Juriste her decision and he promises her brother will be saved.

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. 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.

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