Tag Archives: puritan

The Puritan Agenda

In Measure for Measure, Shakespeare plays with themes of Puritanism. On a micro, specific level, Isabella is a Puritanical character. Her devout repudiation of sexual intercourse and her choice to remain chaste in the name of God to preserve her immortal soul, exemplifies Puritan values. However, the entire play can be seen as a discussion of the “Puritan campaign” because Shakespeare situates the characters in a world where “that sexual offenses like fornication, adultery, and bastardy [can be punished] by death” (Policing).  Continue reading

Competitions of Ethics

Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure has been popularly referred to as a “problematic play” because of its seemingly convoluted plot. The play has earned this title because the Claudio’s punishment does not fit his supposed crime, because Angelo’s offer to spare Claudio comes at a perverse and indecent trade, and because the way in which Claudio is finally saved is a kind of underhanded operation conceived by the Duke. In each of these three major points of the play, there is some subversion of the ethics understood by an audience. The questions are, then: why create this tension? With what ideas of morality or conduct is Shakespeare playing? How does the play resolve, if at all, the conflict between the ideas it thematically explores throughout its course? Continue reading