Measure for Measure
Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604. Originally published in the First Folio of 1623, where it was listed as a comedy, the play's first recorded performance occurred in 1604. The play's main themes include justice, "mortality and mercy in Vienna," and the dichotomy between corruption and purity: "some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall." Mercy and virtue predominate, since the play does not end tragically.
Measure for Measure is often called one of Shakespeare's problem plays. It was, and continues to be, classified as comedy, though its tone and setting defy those expectations.
Vincentio, the Duke of Vienna, makes it known that he intends to leave the city on a diplomatic mission. He leaves the government in the hands of a strict judge, Angelo.
In the next scene, we find a group of soldiers on a Vienna street, expressing their hopes, in irreverent banter, that a war with Hungary is afoot, and that they will be able to take part. Mistress Overdone, the operator of a whorehouse frequented by these same soldiers, appears and tells them "there's one yonder arrested and carried to prison was worth five thousand of you all." She tells them that it is "Signor Claudio," and that "within these three days his head to be chopped off" as punishment for "getting Madam Julietta with child." Lucio, one of the soldiers who is later revealed to be Claudio's friend, is astonished at this news and rushes off. Then comes the first appearance of Pompey Bum, a character whom Harold Bloom has described as "a triumph of Shakespeare's art, a vitalistic presence who refuses to be bound by any division between comedy and tragedy." Pompey, who works for Mistress Overdone as a pimp, but disguises his profession by describing himself as a mere 'tapster' (the equivalent of a modern bartender), avers to the imprisonment of Claudio and outrageously explains his crime as "Groping for trouts in a peculiar river." He then informs Mistress Overdone of Angelo's new proclamation, that "All houses [of prostitution] in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down." The brothels in the city "shall stand for seed: they had gone down too, but that a wise burgher put in for them." Mistress Overdone is distraught, as her business is in the suburbs. "What shall become of me?" she asks. Pompey replies with a characteristic mixture of bawdy humor and folk-wisdom, "fear you not: good counselors lack no clients: though you change your place, you need not change your trade... Courage! there will be pity taken on you: you that have worn your eyes almost out in the service, you will be considered."
|Product dimensions:||8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.18(d)|
About the Author
Widely esteemed as the greatest writer in the English language, William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an actor and theatrical producer in addition to writing plays and sonnets. Dubbed "The Bard of Avon," Shakespeare oversaw the building of the Globe Theatre in London, where a number of his plays were staged, the best-known of which include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth. The First Folio, a printed book of 36 of his comedies, tragedies, and history plays, was published in 1623.
Date of Death:2018
Place of Birth:Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom
Place of Death:Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom