Monday, March 02, 2015
Review: Measure for Measure
Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Claudio has just been arrested because he left a prostitute pregnant, and that is chastised with death. Her sister, a novice, is informed of this situation. She runs to Angelo, the man who imprisoned Claudio, and begs for his mercy. Angelo, seeing only a beautiful and virgin nun, is aroused by her and thus, he decides he will let Claudio live if Isabella, Claudio's sister, surrenders her virginity to him. As a good girl that Isabella is, she obviously rejects the offer.
Things get more complicated after this point. Isabella, then, goes to her brother to tell him the awful news. What do you think he does? He, as a perfect gentleman (I'm being sarcastic now), tells Isabella to consider Angelo's offer. What do you think Isabella does? She, as a girl who respects herself (I'm not being sarcastic anymore), leaves Claudio to rot because he just implied that his life is much more valuable than his sister's reputation and spirit. What neither of them knew was that the Duke of Vienna, dressed as a friar, was present throughout the whole discussion, and he's willing to help.
It turns out Angelo was, some years before, engaged to marry a young lady called Mariana, but he broke the engagement because she lost all her dowry. The "friar" thinks it's a great opportunity for her to take "revenge" on him, and thus, he tells Isabella to accept Angelo's offer, but taking into account that Mariana will take Isabella's place in Angelo's bed.
Angelo and Mariana (he thinking is actually Isabella) have sex and after that, as a great asshole and bastard Angelo is, decides to not forgive Claudio's life because he fears Isabella will want to take revenge on him for forcing her to give away her virginity.
Of course that ruins everyone's plans and the "friar" has to come up with another one before it is too late. After many conflicts, the Duke (as himself) returns to Vienna and there's already an angry bienvenue committee waiting for him. Isabella tells him the story so she gets justice for "having lost her virginity" and also lost her brother, whose life had been promised to be saved. The play ends with the Duke revealing himself to be the friar and thus proving that Isabella and Mariana's story is true. There's justice for everyone and a "happy ending" for all.
What a complicated and dark play, is the first thing that comes up to my mind. In this one, as well as in All's Well That Ends Well, the happy ending is ambiguous. The play cannot be classified as a tragedy because the ending wouldn't let it be called so, nonetheless, I don't see it as a comedy, either. This situation has happened to me with several of Shakespeare's plays. For me, his plays should not be classified as simply "tragedy" or "comedy," because they're much more than solely that.
The set of characters in this one was quite interesting. I actually had some feelings towards them. Isabella was by far my favorite. She's intelligent and self-respectful. I admired her conviction and her strong spirit. At the ending, I was not quite convinced of her attitude, but I am not angry at her. The other character for whom I felt anything was Angelo. Oh, how I hated that man! Abhorrent, selfish and proud. Yuck.
It's a fascinating thing that even when many centuries have passed since this was written, people still get entertained by Shakespeare's works. I've no doubt that many more centuries will pass and his works will remain being read and enjoyed by a wide span of people. I've not read half his works, but I will keep on reading them until I finish them, hopefully before 2015 ends.
Finally, I recommend this wholeheartedly. Maybe you have read it, but anyway, it does not hurt to recommend this masterpiece.
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