Measure for Measure
How we cite our quotes:
See you the fornicatress be remov'd.
Let her have all needful but not lavish means; (2.2.6)
Much like Nathaniel Hawthorne's Hester Prynne, Juliet is jailed for having sex outside of marriage and gives birth to a child in prison. Although Hester's crime is adultery and not merely fornication, the fates of both women are frightening reminders of what can happen when the government has the power to regulate sexuality and biological reproduction.
Why, you are nothing then: neither maid, widow, nor wife?
My lord, she may be a punk; for many of them are
neither maid, widow, nor wife. (5.1.25)
This passage is interesting, because the conversation between Duke Vincentio suggests that the only respectable title for a woman is "maid, widow, or wife." According to Lucio's logic, if a woman is neither of these things, she must be a prostitute. See what we mean when we say women have limited roles?
I beseech your highness, do not marry me to a whore.
Your highness said even now, I made you a duke:
good my lord, do not recompense me in making me a cuckold. (5.1.29)
Lucio believes that marrying a prostitute is a fate worse than torture because being hitched to a promiscuous woman will make him a "cuckold" (a man cheated on by his wife). In other words, he feels that marriage to a "punk" will compromise his masculinity and destroy his life.
Interestingly, the woman Lucio has been ordered to marry is yet another jilted woman (like Mariana). Earlier, we learned that Lucio got a girl pregnant and promised to marry her, but left her high and dry after she gave birth to their child.