The Moral Compass in Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure' Analytical Essay by kaiser

The Moral Compass in Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure'
A look at the approach of various critics to the play 'Measure for Measure.'
# 1814 | 1,800 words | 4 sources | 2001 | US

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This paper looks at the drastically different interpretations by critics of "Measure for Measure." The comments of H.C. Goddard, Harold Bloom and Martin Lings are contrasted, who variously take the play as: a moral tale on the nature of authority and governance, a spectacle of extreme nihilism, and a mystical quest for spiritual redemption. The paper asserts that each of these writers has a distinctly valuable approach to Shakespeare's text, but none has captured the mysterious whole.

From the Paper:

"Measure for Measure has always been a difficult play to interpret, engendering many conflicting viewpoints. Much of twentieth century criticism tried to find a moral direction in the story, redeeming it from charges of inconsistency and vulgarity. R.W. Chambers, for example, insisted that "from first to last, the plot turns on the problem of punishment and forgiveness." [1] He took particular care to defend both Claudio and Isabella against accusations of selfishness, pointing out that Isabella is simply being human when she erupts at her brother Claudio in his prison cell, noting "there are things about which we cannot argue calmly.""

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The Moral Compass in Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure' (2003, February 17) Retrieved September 26, 2023, from

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"The Moral Compass in Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure'" 17 February 2003. Web. 26 September. 2023. <>