"Mortality and mercy" measure for measure and the law /
Abstract (Summary)In this paper I argue that Shakespeare uses the legal troubles of the fictional city of Vienna to illustrate dramatically the conflict which occurred in late sixteenth and early seventeenth century England between different modes of justice, specifically those practiced by the common law court, the ecclesiastical court, and the court of chancery. My central argument is that the characters of Duke Vincentio, Angelo, and Escalus all represent different means of enacting justice, and I ultimately conclude that in the world of the play, just as in the England it represents, blind adherence to one philosophy of justice leads to the abuse of power and a failure on the part of the law to protect subjects from their rulers. The play presents a solution to the problem it identifies through the character of Isabel, who, as a result of her encounters with various visions of justice, comes to express the message implicit in Measure for Measure—that a fully realized system of justice embodies the multiple desires of the community that it serves.
School:The University of Georgia
School Location:USA - Georgia
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication: