Since the rediscovery of Elizabethan stage conditions early this century, admiration for Measure for Measure has steadily risen. It is now a favorite with the critics and has attracted widely different styles of performance. At one extreme the play is seen as a religious allegory, at the other it has been interpreted as a comedy protesting against power and privilege. Brian Gibbons focuses on the unique tragi-comic experience of watching the play, the intensity and excitement offered by its dramatic rhythm, the reversals and surprises that shock the audience even to the end. The introduction describes the play's critical reception and stage history and how these have varied according to prevailing social, moral and religious issues, which were highly sensitive when
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A dark and difficult play, Measure for Measure has been a popular play since the latter half of the 20th century for its prescient dramatisation of the issues of sexual and political hypocrisy, and the ways in which the state interferes in the private lives of its citizens. Set in Duke Vincentio's Vienna, where poverty, disease and prostitution are rife, Claudio and his fiancée Juliet are arrested for having sex before marriage, and Claudio is sentenced to death. Angelo, the Duke's deputy, who stands in for the Duke whilst he ostensibly goes off on a pilgrimage, enthusiastically endorses the sentence. In fact the Duke remains behind the scenes, watching Angelo as he falls for Claudio's sister Isabella, who comes to beg for her brother's life. Angelo is a wonderful creation, loathsome yet fascinating as he struggles with the double standards of his enforcement of draconian laws whilst lusting after the sister of the man he is prepared to execute, debating "The tempter or the tempted, who sins most?".
No one is spared Shakespeare's withering look at the mores of early 17th-century life, not even the pimps and madams who try to get by in the midst of the Duke's bizarre and coercive disguises and performances. The deeply ambiguous ending of Measure for Measure confirms it as one of Shakespeare's most ambivalent and arguably despairing plays. --Jerry BrottonReview:
"Professor Bawcutt has produced an edition that should flourish in the classroom. The introduction is both thorough and user-friendly, while the notes consistently promote clear explication. Overall the edition is crisp, efficient, and illuminating."--Ronald J. Boling, Lyon College
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Book Description Penguin Classics, 1981. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140707158