When we left Act Two of Measure for Measure, things looked dark: Claudio was awaiting execution, and not only had his sister Isabella been rebuffed in her pleas of mercy from the deputy duke Angelo, but he had demanded sex from her in exchange for her brother’s life, threatening a more torturous death if she refused. As Act Three begins, we’re in the prison as the true duke, now disguised as a friar, meets with doomed man and is taking what I suppose would be confession. I say “would be” because it’s less a listening to and whole lot more like a talking at.
I’ve updated the Bill / Shakespeare Project YouTube channel to include a playlist for Measure for Measure.
When Act Two of Measure for Measure begins, we’re back to our men of power, the deputized duke Angelo, and his lieutenant, Escalus. The first of the act’s four scenes opens with a philosophical debate between the two men regarding the purpose of laws and punishment.
As Measure for Measure opens, we are in Vienna where Duke Vincentio is discussing his impending absence with an aged lord and adviser Escalus. We learn that he is planning to leave the government of the city to a deputy, Angelo. The duke asks the lord, “What figure of us think you he will bear?” (I.i.16). Escalus responds that
To undergo such ample grace and honor,
It is Lord Angelo.
So. All’s Well That Ends Well has ended. And we have a new play: Measure for Measure!
Continue reading “New Month, New Play: Measure for Measure!”