Measure for Measure
How we cite our quotes:
Yes, truly; I speak not as desiring more;
But rather wishing a more strict restraint
Upon the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare. (1.4.1)
Before Isabella takes her final vows, she discusses three kinds of privileges nuns have at the convent. What's interesting about Isabella is that she wishes the convent was even more strict than it already is. What's up with that?
I hold you as a thing ensky'd and sainted.
By your renouncement an immortal spirit,
And to be talk'd with in sincerity,
As with a saint. (1.4.5)
Because Isabella is a virgin (and plans on staying that way permanently), Lucio thinks of her as a saint. Interestingly enough, when Shakespeare wrote Measure for Measure, there weren't any convents (or monasteries) because Henry VIII (the king who broke from the Catholic Church and created the Protestant Church of England) began closing them down in 1538. So, entering a convent wasn't even an option for women in Shakespeare's England.
And have you nuns no farther privileges? (1.4.1)
Is Shakespeare trying to tell us something about the dangers of religious devotion? Literary critic Brian Gibbons thinks so. Gibbons says the "play's emphasis on Vienna [a Catholic city and the 16th century seat of the Holy Roman Empire] is an emphasis on religious extremism."