Measure for Measure: 19 or 14 years

Quick hit:

In Act One, Scene Two, of Measure for Measure, Claudio says that he’s being punished for breaking a law that has not been enforced for “nineteen zodiacs” (I.ii.167). Yet, in the very next scene, the duke says that it’s been just “fourteen years we have (the laws) let slip” (I.iii.21).

A mistake, I’m sure. But…

c’mon, you knew there was going to be a “but”

But what if it isn’t. You’d think that the duke would know better than Claudio. So maybe Claudio’s statement is a kind of Freudian slip (you know, three hundred years before Freud). Maybe 19 is the age of Juliet.

Here me out…

Claudio uses a metaphor to describe the law and its penalties:

 the enrollèd penalties
Which have, like unscoured armor, hung by th’ wall
So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round,
And none of them been worn
  • I.ii.165-68

Armor, something you get inside, something that holds another object. A vessel. Symbolically, vessels are women. And we know Claudio’s been inside Juliet…

Is Juliet 19?