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Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure

Written by William Shakespeare

Narrated by Flo Gibson


Measure for Measure

Written by William Shakespeare

Narrated by Flo Gibson

ratings:
4/5 (16 ratings)
Length:
2 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 27, 2003
ISBN:
9780060743154
Format:
Audiobook

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Description

When a young woman is offered the choice ofsaving a man's life at the price of her own chastity,what should she do?

The political and moral corruption of Vienna has driven Duke Vincentio into hiding while his deputy governor, Angelo is left to revive the old discipline of civic authority. Angelos First act is to imprison Claudio, a young nobleman who has gotten his betrothed, Juliet, with child. Under the old laws, this is punishable by death. Angelo next offers Isabella, sister to Claudio and a beautiful young novice about to take her vows, the chance to save her brother's life at the price of her own chastity. Disguised as a friar, the duke returns to manipulate the players and deliver justice in one or Shakespeare's darkest plays concerned with the nature of justice and morality.

Publisher:
Released:
Dec 27, 2003
ISBN:
9780060743154
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest playwright the world has seen. He produced an astonishing amount of work; 37 plays, 154 sonnets, and 5 poems. He died on 23rd April 1616, aged 52, and was buried in the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford.


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Reviews

What people think about Measure for Measure

3.9
16 ratings / 13 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    I read this play prior to going to see it enacted onstage. (And I am glad I did - for it was an unusual interpretation!). As I started reading, I wondered why this was classified as comedy, but as I read on I understood why, even notwithstanding the topic (corruption vs purity) and things like capital punishment discussed. I almost felt Shakespeare winking at me from above... Comedy it is - even though of a darker kind. And the thing is that though the old English phraseology made me at times re-read a line or two, Shakespeare's dialogue is so witty, his language is so enchanting that it didn't take away from the joy of reading. Like this, for instance: "... Lord Angelo; a man whose blood is very snow-broth..."; and, referring to an exhaustingly long explanation in conversation: "This will last out a night in Russia, when nights are longest there..."; and last but not least, the well-known phrase: "Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall" - which pretty much sums it all up.
  • (3/5)
    Another one where the climactic plot resolution is a rape and counter-rape scheme. I like the portrayal of the Duke in this, though, it's one of the best "disguised ruler" roles I've read. He's in almost every scene, gets some cool comic bits and is basically kind of front and center as the protagonist despite being incognito the whole time.
  • (4/5)
    While certainly not amongst my favorite of Shakespeare's plays, I did find "Measure for Measure" an enjoyable one.It's a dark comedy. Claudio and gets his fiance Juliet pregnant, so he is sentenced to death for having sex before marriage by Angelo. Claudio's sister begs for his life and the once righteous Angelo attempts to strike a horrible bargain with her. The play also featured a disguised Duke who comes to the rescue. This play is well-paced and not terribly difficult to follow. It lacks some of those great lines that have migrated into our vernacular though.
  • (2/5)
    A very dark tragi-comedy. Makes the 20th century sexual revolution look chaste by comparison. Not a fave -- characters are very 2-dimensional. The Duke is cruel in his kindness. If I were Isabella, I would have slapped him rather than marry him.
  • (4/5)
    A Duke decides to test the character of one of his trusted aides, and at the same time get away from the heavy load of Dukedom. The aide decides that the law is not being enforced strictly enough and puts a man in jail, condemned to death, for getting a woman (not his wife) with child. Then he (the aide) succumbs to temptation and tries to corrupt the condemned man's sister, hiding his failure by killing the man and denying the truth of the sister's complaint. The Duke is working behind the scenes trying to right the wrongs; balancing the law, justice and mercy.Shakespeare weaves it all so much better than I, just go read the play.
  • (4/5)
    I am very fond of this play. I am always moved by the horror of the situation and enjoy the machinations by which the incognito Duke restores justice. I don't care much for the complaints about its supposed uneven tone, since I regard it as a "serious" drama with a little humor.
  • (3/5)
    Measure for Measure is a play about lust in the sense that Claudio has been sleeping with a woman, Juliet even though they are not married. Is it love or is it lust. In my mind this is really love turned into lust because they had been married, but could not acknowledge it because of some problem with the legality. They are in love but lust creeps into the scene because they refuse wait any longer and thus they break the law.

    Angelo is passing judgement on Claudio once he gains power. He appears to be an honest, just person in the beginning of Act One. His true desire is revealed when Isabella comes to try to save her brother. Angelo than is portrayed as a creep and someone who no one would like to meet in a dark alley. He pretends to be something but he really is not. He reminds me of (the Disney) version of Claude Frollo, (I can't speak for Victor Hugo's version, as I haven't read it yet) from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, with Isabella in the place of Esmeralda, as the kind, innocent woman he lusts for and is trying to manipulate in order to get what he wants.

    The Duke believes his city is corrupt and he believes that he cannot fix the city without his people hating him because he has not enforced the law. He believes the law needs to be enforced now but he does not believe that he will be able to do it because he has been so lax in allowing the people not to follow the law. He leaves this problem to Anglo thus abdicating his responsibility. "I do fear, too dreadful:/Sith ‘twas my fault to give the people scope,/For what I bid them do: for we bid this be done/When evil deeds have their permissive pass/And not the punishment. Therefore, indeed, my father,/I have on Angelo impos’d the office;/Who may, in the ambush of my name, strike home,/And yet my nature never in the fight,/To do it slander. And to behold his sway,/I will, as ‘twere a brother of your order,/Visit both prince and people: therefore, I pr’ythee,/Supply me with the habit, and instruct me/How I may formally in person bear me/Like a true friar."

    The Duke’s true desire is to have people like him but he also wants his city to be a city of people with good morals. He believes Angelo is of good character and by leaving the city in the hands of Angelo, he is able to see if his people will live a moral life and if Angelo is a good leader who is able to get the people to follow a moral life. I also wonder if the Duke perhaps does not have an heir thus trying out Angelo as a potential heir, and therefore, in leaving him in charge of the city, yet remaining behind to watch, may have been his way of testing to see if Angelo could be a good leader. I don’t think the Duke, Vincentio, is trying to torture his citizens. He seems to want to help them and have a city that is morally good but he doesn’t think they will listen to him because he has not enforced the law so it will be too hard to change the behavior. Yet even if he had good intentions, leaving his people at the mercy of Angelo was a cowardly way to fix the problems he saw. At the very least he should have revealed himself when he learned of Angelo's corruption, and attempts to get Isabella into his bed, instead of going through the elaborate hoax to make Angelo think he had gotten what he wanted.

    The Duke is the driving force behind the play because it him who decides the city needs to change. The message Shakespeare leaves me with is that man is unconsciously immoral and there is corruption even in men who we believe are good. This is of course illustrated in Angelo who in the beginning uses Claudio as an example of immoral behavior but he himself becomes even a bigger example of immoral behavior when he tries to corrupt the good and innocent Isabella.

    I'm not entirely satisfied by the ending of the play. I admire Isabella's forgiving Angelo who wronged her so, much as I admire Immaculee Ilibagiza for forgiving the people who did her wrong, but just because Angelo was forgiven doesn't mean that he should have gotten out of punishment. Only Mariana's grief kept him from death, but I feel she deserved better than Angelo. Claudio has survived, and I'm sure that Isabella will forgive him for what he asked her to do to save his life, but will he forgive himself? Even ignoring the fact that Isabella wanted to become a nun, the tactics of manipulation Angelo was using were such that I would say he was trying to rape her, and Claudio wanted her to let him.

    I liked the way that the duke conducted himself, coming as the duke, then the friar, and then revealing himself, as the friar to be the duke, but I don't like what he asked of Isabella. She was trying to become a nun, and this play has taken place over the course of, at most, three or four days. That is not enough time to discern out of your perceived vocation. My grandma almost became a nun, but discerned that she was called to marriage, and years later, married my grandpa. (I have pictures of her in a habit dated 1947 and she got married in 1952). If I was confident that Isabella had discerned that she was called to marriage I wouldn't object to the duke asking for her hand, but four days (at the most) is not enough for her to have made that decision, especially since she was preoccupied with trying to save her brother and believed the duke to be a friar. It makes me doubt the duke's motivations in saving Isabella and her brother. Did he do it just because he wanted Isabella, not because it was the right thing to do? I haven't completely lost faith in him, but I do doubt his character now.

    The beginning of my book has summaries of all of Shakespeare's plays so that, I suppose you can read to supplement your understanding of them. I feel that Isabella would be justified to be upset with the duke's proposal, but the summary says "He himself makes Isabella his Duchess," and even Wikipedia says that "her reaction is interpreted differently in different productions: her silent acceptance of his proposal is the most common in performance. This is one of the "open silences" of the play." I find this frustrating because she wanted to become a nun and while it's possible to change your mind and discern that you're called to marriage it would take a lot of prayer and more time than was given in the play to come to that decision.

    While I liked the duke in most of the play, I found his marriage proposal to Isabella to be disrespectful to her and her vocation.

    The ending isn't a comedy, that's for sure. The only comedic part of the play was Lucio (slandering the duke, unknowingly, to his face), and he is going to prison to be executed. But all isn't lost, the main characters yet live, so it's not really a tragedy either. I describe Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand as a Tragicomedy because, though it is subtitled 'a comedy in five acts' and until the very end of the fourth act it does seem like one, but the ending is tragic. Measure for Measure can't even have that title, as it doesn't have enough comedy or tragedy to be called either, or both.

    I liked parts of this ending, but I disliked other parts. Because of this, I did not find it satisfying.

    (this review is made up of comments I made for an online Shakespeare class)
  • (4/5)
    Wow. Only Shakespeare could take such an unlikeable bunch of characters and implausible plot and create such an enjoyable play, though a fair lot of the fascination is of the “train wreck” variety – desire to see Angelo get his “just” desserts, amazement at the Duke's stupidity, and revulsion at Isabella's priorities. The scene I really missed was the one where the oh-so-holy Isabella asks Mariana to “fill in” for her with Angelo in order to save Isabella's brother. That was a request that took some gall! I found the concluding “trial” scene rather unsatisfactory, but there are some really beautiful speeches here. I read this in the Folger edition, which has decent size print and fine facing explanatory notes, and listened to the Archangel recording, which is excellent and really brought the play vividly to life.
  • (3/5)
    Measure for Measure is a play about lust in the sense that Claudio has been sleeping with a woman, Juliet even though they are not married. Is it love or is it lust. In my mind this is really love turned into lust because they had been married, but could not acknowledge it because of some problem with the legality. They are in love but lust creeps into the scene because they refuse wait any longer and thus they break the law.

    Angelo is passing judgement on Claudio once he gains power. He appears to be an honest, just person in the beginning of Act One. His true desire is revealed when Isabella comes to try to save her brother. Angelo than is portrayed as a creep and someone who no one would like to meet in a dark alley. He pretends to be something but he really is not. He reminds me of (the Disney) version of Claude Frollo, (I can't speak for Victor Hugo's version, as I haven't read it yet) from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, with Isabella in the place of Esmeralda, as the kind, innocent woman he lusts for and is trying to manipulate in order to get what he wants.

    The Duke believes his city is corrupt and he believes that he cannot fix the city without his people hating him because he has not enforced the law. He believes the law needs to be enforced now but he does not believe that he will be able to do it because he has been so lax in allowing the people not to follow the law. He leaves this problem to Anglo thus abdicating his responsibility. "I do fear, too dreadful:/Sith ‘twas my fault to give the people scope,/For what I bid them do: for we bid this be done/When evil deeds have their permissive pass/And not the punishment. Therefore, indeed, my father,/I have on Angelo impos’d the office;/Who may, in the ambush of my name, strike home,/And yet my nature never in the fight,/To do it slander. And to behold his sway,/I will, as ‘twere a brother of your order,/Visit both prince and people: therefore, I pr’ythee,/Supply me with the habit, and instruct me/How I may formally in person bear me/Like a true friar."

    The Duke’s true desire is to have people like him but he also wants his city to be a city of people with good morals. He believes Angelo is of good character and by leaving the city in the hands of Angelo, he is able to see if his people will live a moral life and if Angelo is a good leader who is able to get the people to follow a moral life. I also wonder if the Duke perhaps does not have an heir thus trying out Angelo as a potential heir, and therefore, in leaving him in charge of the city, yet remaining behind to watch, may have been his way of testing to see if Angelo could be a good leader. I don’t think the Duke, Vincentio, is trying to torture his citizens. He seems to want to help them and have a city that is morally good but he doesn’t think they will listen to him because he has not enforced the law so it will be too hard to change the behavior. Yet even if he had good intentions, leaving his people at the mercy of Angelo was a cowardly way to fix the problems he saw. At the very least he should have revealed himself when he learned of Angelo's corruption, and attempts to get Isabella into his bed, instead of going through the elaborate hoax to make Angelo think he had gotten what he wanted.

    The Duke is the driving force behind the play because it him who decides the city needs to change. The message Shakespeare leaves me with is that man is unconsciously immoral and there is corruption even in men who we believe are good. This is of course illustrated in Angelo who in the beginning uses Claudio as an example of immoral behavior but he himself becomes even a bigger example of immoral behavior when he tries to corrupt the good and innocent Isabella.

    I'm not entirely satisfied by the ending of the play. I admire Isabella's forgiving Angelo who wronged her so, much as I admire Immaculee Ilibagiza for forgiving the people who did her wrong, but just because Angelo was forgiven doesn't mean that he should have gotten out of punishment. Only Mariana's grief kept him from death, but I feel she deserved better than Angelo. Claudio has survived, and I'm sure that Isabella will forgive him for what he asked her to do to save his life, but will he forgive himself? Even ignoring the fact that Isabella wanted to become a nun, the tactics of manipulation Angelo was using were such that I would say he was trying to rape her, and Claudio wanted her to let him.

    I liked the way that the duke conducted himself, coming as the duke, then the friar, and then revealing himself, as the friar to be the duke, but I don't like what he asked of Isabella. She was trying to become a nun, and this play has taken place over the course of, at most, three or four days. That is not enough time to discern out of your perceived vocation. My grandma almost became a nun, but discerned that she was called to marriage, and years later, married my grandpa. (I have pictures of her in a habit dated 1947 and she got married in 1952). If I was confident that Isabella had discerned that she was called to marriage I wouldn't object to the duke asking for her hand, but four days (at the most) is not enough for her to have made that decision, especially since she was preoccupied with trying to save her brother and believed the duke to be a friar. It makes me doubt the duke's motivations in saving Isabella and her brother. Did he do it just because he wanted Isabella, not because it was the right thing to do? I haven't completely lost faith in him, but I do doubt his character now.

    The beginning of my book has summaries of all of Shakespeare's plays so that, I suppose you can read to supplement your understanding of them. I feel that Isabella would be justified to be upset with the duke's proposal, but the summary says "He himself makes Isabella his Duchess," and even Wikipedia says that "her reaction is interpreted differently in different productions: her silent acceptance of his proposal is the most common in performance. This is one of the "open silences" of the play." I find this frustrating because she wanted to become a nun and while it's possible to change your mind and discern that you're called to marriage it would take a lot of prayer and more time than was given in the play to come to that decision.

    While I liked the duke in most of the play, I found his marriage proposal to Isabella to be disrespectful to her and her vocation.

    The ending isn't a comedy, that's for sure. The only comedic part of the play was Lucio (slandering the duke, unknowingly, to his face), and he is going to prison to be executed. But all isn't lost, the main characters yet live, so it's not really a tragedy either. I describe Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand as a Tragicomedy because, though it is subtitled 'a comedy in five acts' and until the very end of the fourth act it does seem like one, but the ending is tragic. Measure for Measure can't even have that title, as it doesn't have enough comedy or tragedy to be called either, or both.

    I liked parts of this ending, but I disliked other parts. Because of this, I did not find it satisfying.

    (this review is made up of comments I made for an online Shakespeare class)
  • (4/5)
    When the Duke leaves Vienna, he puts a deputy, Angelo, in charge. Angelo is a bit hard-nosed, and decides to revive some of the laws that have been largely ignored by both populace and ruler. Specifically, he imprisons a man who impregnated the woman. Despite the fact that Claudio is willing to marry this woman, Angelo orders that the law be carried out and Claudio must die. Can Claudio's sister, Isabella, convince Angelo to relent?While not one of Shakepeare's most obscure plays, Measure for Measure is also not one I had ever read for school. It does not have oft-quoted lines like Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, though it does still have sentiments that have found its way into our popular culture (the idea of "hate the sin and love the sinner" shows up). The title is taken from Matthew 7:1-2: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." In this case, our judge Angelo is the least sympathetic character in the play. Instead, you really feel for people like Claudio, who makes a mistake but wants to make it right as well as he can, and Isabella who truly loves her brother but is given an awful choice to save his life. I'm not sure I fully agree with the sentiments of the play, and I was a little surprised by the frank discussion of sex and prostitution (I'm not sure why, it's not like I never read Shakespeare before...). If not one of my favorites, it was still a thought-provoking read.
  • (3/5)
    Dark comedy with few if any redeeming characters
  • (4/5)
    This was listed as a comedy in a collection I have of Shakespeare's plays...it didn't seem quite one to me given the basic plot element of "sleep with me or I'll kill your brother." Still, I enjoyed it more than average.
  • (4/5)
    Unlike some critics, I do not find this a "problem play" because of Isabella's refusal to save her brother by having sex with Angelo. As my teacher at Oxford pointed out, giving in to tyranny is never the best answer, and in fact we know within the play that if she had submitted Angelo would have betrayed her and killed her brother anyway.