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Quotes

Quote #1

Supply me with the habit and instruct me
How I may formally in person bear me
Like a true friar. More reasons for this action
At our more leisure shall I render you;
Only, this one: Lord Angelo is precise;
Stands at a guard with envy; scarce confesses
That his blood flows, or that his appetite
Is more to bread than stone: hence shall we see,
If power change purpose, what our seemers be. (1.3.4)

When the Duke admits that he's suspicious of Angelo, we have to wonder what kind of a man would leave his dukedom in Angelo's hands while he traipses around pretending to be a friar.

Brain Snack: Some literary critics read the Duke's behavior as an allusion to King James I's style of government. As scholar Marjorie Garber points out, it was well known that James (a deeply religious guy who sat on the throne when Shakespeare wrote Measure for Measure) liked to spy on his subjects.

Quote #2

ISABELLA
Ha! little honour to be much believed,
And most pernicious purpose! Seeming, seeming!
I will proclaim thee, Angelo; look for't:
Sign me a present pardon for my brother,
Or with an outstretch'd throat I'll tell the world aloud
What man thou art.
ANGELO
Who will believe thee, Isabel?
My unsoil'd name, the austereness of my life,
My vouch against you, and my place i' the state,
Will so your accusation overweigh,
That you shall stifle in your own report
And smell of calumny.  (2.4.18)

When corrupt Angelo warns Isabella not to tattle on him because he'll deny everything and  nobody will believe Isabella over him, we learn something about the relationship between power and gender.  Isabella is a mere woman and Angelo is a man in a position of great authority.  Yet, when Duke Vincentio overhears Isabella talking to Claudio about Angelo's proposition, he does believe her.

Quote #3

Haste you speedily
to Angelo: if for this night he entreat you to his
bed, give him promise of satisfaction. (3.1.12)

Shakespeare sure does like the "bed trick" as a plot device, wouldn't you say? Here, the Duke advises Isabella to agree to a secret rendezvous with Angelo, but to send Mariana in her place.

Brain Snack: Something similar goes down in Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well (c.1604), where Bertram thinks he's hooking up with Diana but is tricked into sleeping with Helena. There's also a bed trick in the Bible, when Leah is substituted for Rachel on Jacob's wedding night in Genesis 29. Check out "Quotes: Marriage" if you want to know more about this.

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