Measure for Measure is among the most passionately discussed of Shakespeares plays. In it, a duke temporarily removes himself from governing his city-state, deputizing a member of his administration, Angelo, to enforce the laws more rigorously. Angelo chooses as his first victim Claudio, condemning him to death because he impregnated Juliet before their marriage.
Claudios sister Isabella, who is entering a convent, pleads for her brothers life. Angelo attempts to extort sex from her, but Isabella preserves her chastity. The duke, in disguise, eavesdrops as she tells her brother about Angelos behavior, then offers to ally himself with her against Angelo.
Modern responses to the play show how it can be transformed by its reception in present culture to evoke continuing fascination. To some, the duke (the government) seems meddlesome; to others, he is properly imposing moral standards. Angelo and Isabellas encounter exemplifies sexual harassment. Others see a womans right to control her body in Isabellas choice between her virginity and her brothers life.
The authoritative edition of Measure for Measure from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:
-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
-Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play
-Scene-by-scene plot summaries
-A key to the plays famous lines and phrases
-An introduction to reading Shakespeares language
-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play
-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Librarys vast holdings of rare books
-An annotated guide to further reading
Essay by Christy Desmet
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the worlds largest collection of Shakespeares printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit Folger.edu.