William Shakespeare: Measure for Measure

(2440 words)
  • Louise Harrington (University of Wales, Cardiff)

Claudio: Sweet sister, let me live.
What sin you do to save a brother’s life,
Nature dispenses with the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue.
Isabella: Oh, you beast!
Oh faithless coward, oh dishonest wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
Is’t not a kind of incest to take life
From thine own sister’s shame? (3.1.133-140)

The above exchange between Isabella and her brother Claudio encapsulates the central dilemma of Measure for Measure: should Isabella, a novice nun, surrender her virginity to Angelo in order to save Claudio’s life? The play is full of similar sexual, religious, moral and socio-political questions, such as the …

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Harrington, Louise. "Measure for Measure". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 29 April 2004
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=3651, accessed 28 September 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. English Renaissance Theatre - Jacobean