Category Archives: Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure: wrap-up

So, put another play in the books: Measure for Measure is done. And though it means that I’m now three-quarters of my journey through the Canon, I’m sorry to see it go. I could have have probably gone another week or more on this play, just with topics off the top of my head (rhyme and meter in a weird speech by the ever-lovin’ fruke, a re-examination of the Bed Trick–comparing and contrasting it to the one in All’s Well That Ends Well–and the possible homosexuality of the duke, to name just three). And I’ve certainly enjoyed my two months in Vienna.

How much?

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Podcast 117: Measure for Measure: Concepts, casts, and a wrap-up

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This week’s podcast concludes our two month-long discussion of Measure for Measure with some directorial concepts and casts, a wrap-up and a look at its place within the Canon.

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Measure for Measure: midpoint, midpoint

Using Professor Rodes’ midpoint theory, let’s take a look at Measure for Measure.

There are 2594 lines in in the play, which means the midpoint is at line 1297, or at Act Three, Scene One, line 191. According to Dr. Rodes’ theory, you could find at this midpoint (or within twenty lines either way) a speech that perfectly sums up a major theme of the play. The 20-line leeway was to help remove the differences in prose line lengths between individual editions. Of course, with over 40% of this play in prose, we may need to expand that leeway.

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Measure for Measure: double-double, substitutes and deputies

A couple of days back, I took a look at how Measure for Measure stands in terms of the Canon, talking a little about the concept of mercy in the play. I used the concordance over at OpenSource Shakespeare to find that “mercy” is used more in Measure for Measure than any other play in the Canon. That came as a surprise to me, as I really hadn’t noticed a preponderance of that word in my readings of the play. Instead, early on in my readings, I had noticed a couple of words that did seem emphasized, the related words of “substitute” and “deputed/deputy.”

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Measure for Measure: Shakespeare at the merciful concordant crossroads

As my reading of Measure for Measure comes to a close in the next week or so, I find myself trying to look at the bigger picture, of Measure for Measure’s place in the Canon. With this play, we come to the end of the string of problem plays that precede the great tragedies (next fall’s Timon of Athens’ categorization as a problem play, is debatable… many [as I may in the future, like I did to Troilus and Cressida in this past summer] see it as a tragedy). We come to an end of the comedies most definitely. And so I look back on those problem plays and comedies to find connections.

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Measure for Measure: mock of ages

I’m currently writing a piece for submission to the New Orleans Review, for their special Shakespeare issue next year, focusing on my favorite subject (time) in my favorite piece (Romeo and Juliet). And it got me wondering about the ages of the major characters in Measure for Measure. In Romeo and Juliet, we know Juliet’s age to the week. In this play, however, we have very few clues.

Take the following questions and suppositions with about ten thousand grains of salt…

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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”

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Sexuality so pervasive that even the bawdy is subconscious

[EXPLICIT CONTENT, ADULT LANGUAGE AND SEXUAL IMAGERY AHEAD… SKIP IF EASILY OFFENDED.]

A few weeks back, I bemoaned how Measure for Measure is timeless, but almost too timely. The play’s Vienna is rampant with sexuality, most of it rancid. So is our current world.

We live in the world of Measure for Measure.

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Party in the ‘burbs!

Remember how I’ve been saying (er, writing) that Measure for Measure is perhaps a little too timeless, a little too timely for our world? (how could you, I’ve been banging that subject like a drum lately… and with the discussion of bawdy coming up–you ain’t heard nothin’ yet…) Well, Willy Shakes, that sly societal observer, wasn’t afraid to mix in a little contemporary commentary in his plays.

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Podcast 116: Measure for Measure: Big, Big Bawdy

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[WARNING: The following podcast contains adult language, sexual imagery, sophomoric humor and words to make your mama blush. Skip and wait for Podcast 117 if easily offended. You HAVE been warned.]

This week’s podcast continues our two month-long discussion of Measure for Measure with a whole lotta nudge-nudge wink-wink, dirty innuendo, and some not-so-sexy talk.

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Measure for Measure: Scansion-hidden acting/directing clues

Most of Shakespeare’s plays are written in poetry; in the case of Measure for Measure, nearly 60% of the lines are in verse. When the verse is metrical, and mostly, we’re talking about blank verse–unrhymed iambic pentameter–then variations from that regularity can often point out something to help us as actors and directors. And as I do with every play, let’s take a look at acting direction we get from the scansion.

In most cases, the clues we get are in two forms: pauses and interrupts.

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