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Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure


by William Shakespeare

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Comedy

Shadow of Darkness

The people of Vienna are running wild.

According to Booker, in this stage, "we see a little world in which people have passed under a shadow of confusion, uncertainty, and frustration, and are cut off from one another." Vienna is a world in which the people have thumbed their noses at the law – the (illegal) sex industry is out of control, STDs are rampant, and the numbers of illegitimate children are on the rise.

Pressure of Darkness

Angelo's "vengeful hypocrisy" makes everyone miserable.

Booker says that in this phase, the "pressure of darkness" puts everyone in a "nightmarish tangle." Angelo has sentenced Claudio to death for the crime of "fornication" and places Isabella in the worst possible position – she can have sex with Angelo to save her brother's life or, she can refuse and watch her brother die.

Everything Comes to Light

Angelo is forced to recognize his own darkness.

When the Duke shows up and confronts Angelo, this "dark figure" is forced to recognize that he is a "monster of vengeful hypocrisy." Angelo is contrite so the Duke can offer him a pardon. This, according to Booker, is what paves the way for every other character's "happiness" (i.e., marriage). We'd like to point out, however, that, even though four couples are set to get married at the play's end, not everyone is "happy." Check out "What's Up With the Ending?" for more on this.

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