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Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure Analysis

Literary Devices in Measure for Measure

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

We bet you're wondering about all the references to horses, reigns, and bits. You're probably also wondering what the heck horse-related metaphors and imagery are doing in a play about whether or...

Setting

Welcome to the Catholic city of Vienna, which is under the fictional reign of Duke Vincentio. In the play, Vienna is a place of sexual depravity, where brothels are a dime a dozen and citizens run...

Genre

They don't call Measure for Measure a "problem play" for nothing. While the play seems to fit in the category of Shakespearean comedy (we'll explain how in a moment), it also contains some dark el...

Tone

Measure for Measure is one of Shakespeare's darkest "comedies." The play is obsessed with death and corruption (in society and the legal system) and offers up one of the most artificial "happy end...

Writing Style

About 65% of Measure for Measure is written in verse (poetry) and the rest in prose (how we talk every day). We break all of this down in the paragraphs that follow, but here's what you should re...

What's Up With the Title?

The play's title comes from a biblical passage that resonates throughout the play:Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with that judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure you m...

What's Up With the Ending?

Spoiler Alert! Close your eyes if you don't want us to ruin the ending for you...Anyone familiar with Shakespeare's comedies knows what to expect at the end of the play – wedding bells. In the...

Tough-o-Meter

Let's face it. The ornate and formal language in Measure for Measure makes this one of Shakespeare's tougher reads. The Duke's opening speech alone is enough to give us a headache:Of government t...

Plot Analysis

Vienna's Looking a lot like Sin City.For the past fourteen years, the people of Vienna have been running amok – disobeying laws, fornicating, and visiting the city's brothels. STDs and illegitim...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

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 o...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

Duke Vincentio is frustrated that his people don't obey the law. Instead of cracking down on crime himself, he appoints a strict deputy, Angelo, to clean up Vienna. Angelo doesn't waste any time....

Trivia

Unlike Vienna in Measure for Measure, fornication wasn't punishable by death in Shakespeare's England, but some people wanted it to be.  Uptight Puritan extraordinaire Phillip Stubbes (the guy...

Steaminess Rating

If Angelo was in charge of this play's steaminess rating, he'd probably give it an "R" for the theme of "fornication" (sex outside of marriage) and all the dirty jokes about venereal disease and pr...

Allusions

George Whetstone, Promos and Cassandra Parts 1 and 2 (1578)Matthew 7:1-2 (Play's title)Ten Commandments (1.2)St. Clare, the 13th century founder of the Franciscan "poor Clares" (1.4)
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