Measure for Measure
Measure for Measure Gender Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Hail, virgin! [...]I hold you as a thing enskied and sainted (1.4.2)
Lucio, a self-professed ladies' man, places Isabella on a pedestal and separates Isabella from other women because she's a virgin. Angelo, on the other hand, is turned on by Isabella's chastity, but seeks to destroy it by blackmailing our girl into having sex with him. What's up with that?
Go you to Angelo; answer hisrequiring with a plausible obedience; agree withhis demands to the point; only refer yourself tothis advantage, first, that your stay with him maynot be long; that the time may have all shadow andsilence in it; and the place answer to convenience.This being granted in course,--and now followsall,--we shall advise this wronged maid to stead upyour appointment, go in your place; if the encounteracknowledge itself hereafter, it may compel him toher recompense: and here, by this, is your brothersaved, your honour untainted, the poor Marianaadvantaged, and the corrupt deputy scaled. (3.1.12)
When the Duke comes up with a "bed trick" to fool Angelo into sleeping with his jilted, ex-fiancé, Isabella and Mariana both go along with it. Why? We thought Isabella was anti-sex. Also, why would Mariana want Angelo back after what he did to her? For feminist scholars like Eileen Cohen, this kind of bed trick, which is a popular plot device in Shakespearean drama, is an expedient way for women to subvert patriarchal authority.
Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die:More than our brother is our chastity. (2.4.23)
Isabella is then placed in a terrible position by a corrupt deputy – if she sleeps with Angelo to save her brother's life, she will compromise her values. If she doesn't sleep with Angelo, her brother will die. Here, she decides that that her chastity is more valuable than anything else, which all but invites the audience to judge whether or not Isabella makes the right decision.