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Sunday, 12 January 2014

Characterization; The Duke: critical commentary (Act I, scene III)

The Duke is fully conscious of the laxity of which he had been guilty in governing his country. He had allowed the strict statutes and the rigorous laws to become a dead letter, with the result that people had been taking more and more liberties, and been committing all kinds of offences and crimes. The Duke has a picturesque manner of speaking. He compares himself to an over-grown lion living in a cave, and not moving out to hunt his prey but inviting animals to visit him in his den so that he might feed upon them without having to take the trouble of going out. Then he compares himself to those foolish fathers who spare the rod and thus spoil the children. The Duke frankly admits that the conditions in the country have become so bad that his laws and decrees are now dead:
“And Liberty plucks Justice by the nose,
 The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum.”
The Duke’s smiles and his sententious manner of speaking lend special interest to his speeches. The Duke assures Friar Thomas that he has not come to lead a scheduled life because of any disappointment in love which he may have suffered. He says that “the dribbling dart of love” cannot pierce a strong heart like his. However, as subsequent events will slow, the Duke is certainly not proof against the arrows of Cupid.

Plot- Development: critical commentary (Act I, scene III)

The Duke now approaches a friar by the name of Thomas and seeks his permission to disguise himself as a friar and to live in the friar’s cell. The Duke explains to Friar Thomas why he wishes to assume this disguise. He tells Friar Thomas that his laxity in enforcing the laws had led to a great increase in crime and that, in order to check the growing evil, he had, for a time, transferred his powers and authority to Angelo. The Duke says that he would now like to go about in a friar’s disguise and observe how Angelo governs the country.

Pathos and comedy:Critical commentary (Act I, Scene II)

The plight of Claudio, who is under arrest for having made Juliet pregnant without having been able to marry her firs, certainly arouses our sympathy for him. He wins our sympathy because of his good intentions towards the wronged girl. He earnestly wanted to marry her but had not able to do so because her dowry has not being released by her relations. However, there is plenty of comedy too in this scene. The conversation between Mistress Overdone and others is very amusing. Lucio, on seeing her, says:

 “Behold, behold where Madam Mitigation comes!
 I have purchased as many diseases under her roof as come to-”. 

When Mistress Overdone complains that the new proclamation issued by Angelo is likely to result in her brothel being dismantled, and when she asks what would become if her, Pompey makes and amusing speech. He says:  
“Come: fear not you: good counselors lack no clients:
 though you change your place, you need not change your trade:
 I’ll be your tipster still; courage, there will be pity taken on you; you that having worn your eyes almost out in the service, you will be considered.”
Pompey means to say that Mistress Overdone has been plying her trade as a whore so long that the authorities will show due consideration to her, and that she should not therefore worry too much about her future, especially when he would continue to be her tapster (or pimp). Towards the close of this scene, Lucio makes a witty remark when he tells Claudio that Claudio’s head stands so insecure on his shoulders that even a milkmaid in love can blow it off with her sighs. Lucio is the kind of man who must say something funny even in a situation which means trouble for others.