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Title: Measure for Measure
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play, Comedy
Format: Digital Edition
Duke Somebody leaves his city-state in the hands of a man the Duke trusts, or so he says. His real plan is for the stand-in, Angelo, to enforce the moral laws of the land that the Duke has been ignoring. Thus the Duke will get a more moral populace without having the outrage directed against him.
Unfortunately for him, Angelo turns into a tyrant and condemns a man to death for fornication. When the doomed man’s sister pleads for mercy, Angelo says he’ll forego the death sentence if she’ll have sex with him. The Duke, disguised as a monk, over hears everything that is going on and sets things up so that a woman Angelo spurned years ago takes the sister place. Angelo is fooled but reneges on his word. The Duke reveals himself to the jailor and comes up with a plan to save the doomed man.
The Duke sets everything in motion, then “returns” publicly. The sister and spurned woman cry for justice, Angelo says everything is all lies and then the doomed man comes forth, not dead after all. Angelo is forced to marry the spurned woman, so she has all the legal rights of a wife. The Duke then sentences Angelo to die just like Angelo sentenced the doomed brother to die.
The sister marries the Duke and everything turns out alright for everyone who is good.
There was a lot of wordplay humor here that amused me. Almost no physical comedy so that also helped. The story of a hypocrite getting his just desserts is always a good one.
That being said, I think the Duke is an ass. He supposedly knows Angelo from all the way back “when” and even knows he spurned the poor girl when her dowry fell through and yet he seems so surprised at how Angelo acts once he’s in control.
The way Angelo is presented at first came across as a hard nosed, take no nonsense kind of guy. I was rooting for him in fact. Time somebody cleaned up the filth. But of course, nobody can actually be good if they want to enforce the laws, oh no! They’re heartless brutes who secretly break the law themselves at every turn. Now, doesn’t THAT narrative sound terribly familiar? Wouldn’t surprise me if Democrats read Shakespeare as a How To instead of as a warning.
The whole thing with the Duke and the sister getting married just made me laugh. She is going to be a nun but puts her final vows on hold so she can save her brother. A couple of days later the Duke pretty much says ‘Woman, marry me!” and she’s all “You got it, you sexy beast”. Somehow I wonder if she would have turned into a “Naughty” nun, hahahahaa.
Overall, this was MUCH more enjoyable than the previous plays. I needed that, as reading unlikeable plays time after time was getting a bit wearisome.