- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Arden Shakespeare; 2Rev Ed edition (12 Oct. 1967)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1903436443
- ISBN-13: 978-1903436448
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 0.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 40 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
"Measure for Measure" (Arden Shakespeare: Second) (Arden Shakespeare: Second Series) Paperback – 12 Oct 1967
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From the Back Cover
When Claudio breaks the new laws against vice in Vienna by getting his fiancee, Julietta, pregnant, a series of ethical issues is brought under scrutiny. His sister's virtue is held to ransom by the deputy ruler of the city until justice is done, mercy shown, and order restored.
About the Author
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English dramatist, poet, and actor, generally regarded as the greatest playwright of all time.
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Top customer reviews
I see Measure for Measure as closest to The Merchant of Venice in its themes. Of the two plays, I prefer Measure for Measure for its unremitting look at the arbitrariness of laws, public hypocrisy and private venality, support for virtue, and encouragement of tempering public justice with common sense and mercy.
The play opens with Duke Vincentio turning over his authority to his deputy, Angelo. But while the duke says he is leaving for Poland, he in fact remains in Vienna posing as a friar. Angelo begins meting out justice according to the letter of the law. His first act is to condemn Claudio to death for impregnating Juliet. The two are willing to marry, but Angelo is not interested in finding a solution. In despair, Claudio gets word to his sister, the beautiful Isabella, that he is to be executed and prays that she will beg for mercy. Despite knowing that Isabella is a virgin novice who is about to take her vows, Angelo cruelly offers to release Claudio of Isabella will make herself sexually available to Angelo. The Duke works his influence behind the scenes to help create justice.
Although this play is a "comedy" in Shakespearean terms, the tension throughout is much more like a tragedy. In fact, there are powerful scenes where Shakespeare draws on foolish servants of the law to make his points clear. These serve a similar role of lessening the darkness to that of the gravediggers in Hamlet.
One of the things I like best about Measure for Measure is that the resolution is kept hidden better than in most of the comedies. As a result, the heavy and rising tension is only relieved right at the end. The relief you will feel at the end of act five will be very great, if you are like me.
After you read this play, I suggest that you compare Isabella and Portia. Why did Shakespeare choose two such strong women to be placed at the center of establishing justice? Could it have anything to do with wanting to establish the rightness of the heart? If you think so, reflect that both Isabella and Portia are tough in demanding that what is right be done. After you finish thinking about those two characters, you may also enjoy comparing King Lear and Claudio. What was their fault? What was their salvation? Why? What point is Shakespeare making? Finally, think about Angelo. Is he the norm or the exception in society? What makes someone act like Angelo does here? What is a person naturally going to do in his situation?
Look for fairness in all that you say and do!
Overall I would definitely recommend this for both students and teachers of the play, and for those simply interested in understanding the play better it would also be well suited.
The text itself doesn't really need my recommendation, does it? It's one of Shakespeare's more controversial plays, in the sense that it doesn't sit easily in any of the main groupings. Personally, I found that made it easier to study. It felt like we were already shown the cracks to tease open and really understand the text, which is perhaps harder with some of the more 'well rounded' and well known plays.
You'll feel in safe hands reading these editions, knowing that any ambiguity or discrepancy between editions will be meticulously noted at the bottom of the page. Although daunting at first, these extensive footnotes become welcome and even necessary.
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