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Saturday, 4 January 2014

A discussion on Shakespeare’s plot-building in 'Measure for Measure'

A keen lender of plots
 Where the plots of his dramas were concerned pertained, Shakespeare was a heavy lender. Still he altered the lent plots to fit his own thought and intentions. It was in the way he carried on the origins of his plots that he demonstrated his science and originality in this finical domain of the striking artistry. The basics of Shakespeare’s plot for ‘Measure for Measure’ was lent from George Whetstone’s story ‘Promos and Cassandra’, but he had added and changed many consequences to make the story highly reach, because of that needed advances the play accomplished his dramatic ends.

The directional effect of the plot in this drama, the Duke
However, scorn all his workmanship, Shakespeare has, in the case of ‘Measure for Measure’ diminished far short of his common standard of accomplishment in the twist of plots. The plot of this drama is doubtlessly impaired by an exuberant trust on dramatic gadget and handling. The gadget and the handling are the work of the Duke, who may be considered as the most important spring of the carry out and who deeply determines the maturations of the plot. As a matter of fact, more than any fancied role in Shakespeare excludes Iago the Duke is the directional effect in the machination of the plot. From the very root of the play, The Duke immerses into a convolution of scheming and machination; and, as Hazlitt tells, he is more captive in his own schemes than nervous for the benefit of his nation.

A ploy, engaged by the Duke at the very beginning
 The Duke is a great operator, and his handlings bring in a dazzling unnaturalness into the primary of the drama. The first scene itself carries a strategy which the Duke has invented and which fix the principal plot underway. The Duke’s strategy or gambit here is to channel his ability and authority impermanent way to a lord named Angelo, on the supplication that he desires to go on an extraneous trip. Shortly later on, however, we came to know that Duke has misled to Angelo and Escalus, and that he has no intent to go out of Vienna. He says to Friar Thomas that his motto in temporarily resigning his power was to make it true for the interest of Angelo to disembarrass the land of complete evils which have turn rearing for the reason of the Duke’s own remissness in imposing the constabularies throughout the past several years. This contrived twist, recurred to by the Duke, for sure collides upon our mind of decorousness. If the Duke was queasy to bestow about rectifies in the country, he should himself have dealt with the trouble presenting him. But he says to Friar Thomas that, if he were himself to go abruptly rigorous and were to implement the constabulary strictly, the citizenry would get unfriendly to him. But this is barely a logical conclude for the Duke to renounce his authority, particularly when he has come to the decision not to leave the land with the objective of observing the progresses. 

(In act ii) An utterly naturalistic evolution of the plot
Thenceforth, the plot progresses of course adequate, but just for a time. Act II keeps us transfixed with its scenes of encounter amongst Angelo and Isabella. Surely, act II is absolutely naturalistic. No unreal contraptions are shown. Isabella comes in to try an amnesty for her brother. At the beginning she talks to Angelo in a balking, stumbling and restrained style. However, when Lucio exhorts her in private to place more sense of touch into her solicitation, she limbers up to her chore and prepares a serialized set of outstanding deliveries, the abstain of which is the call for cl
emency to temper jurist. It is exactly normal for a sister to solicit mercy for her brother who has been sentenced to death. The only contentions that she can apply in asking a forgiveness for her brother is the call for forgiveness in this mundane world of human being, particularly when paradise itself is kind to those who are blue-blooded and faint like the myrtle. But it is likewise accurately in maintaining with his image that Angelo disapproves Isabella’s call for kindness. Angelo is the avatar of jurisprudence and of effectual justice, as Escalus remarks to a workfellow of his. Every time does Angelo appeal the superior of the justice to absolve the determination which he has taken regarding Claudio. There are no fake expressions either in Isabella’s calls for mercy or in Angelo’s rejection of those invokes.

The stilted camouflage
In this act, the Duke comes along only concisely in his camouflage of a friar when he barracks Juliet to regret, and regret authentically, of the sin which she has consecrated. The Duke’s camouflage is in itself a variety of appliance. His camouflage is in itself a conjuration which he applies across the dramatic play. His camouflage is a stilted gadget by substance of which he holds his true individuality a closed book. Naturally, there was lot of cases in point in drama for the kind of camouflage which Shakespeare causes the Duke assume for his function; but the fact persists that the camouflage is a stilted gadget.

The Duke’s contrivance in stripping Claudio of promise
The Duke afterwards comes out over again at the starting of act iii, and now we see him engaging some other contrivance which is to affirm Claudio’s awe that he will be put to death. The Duke’s aim after this contrivance is to remove whatever little hope of endurance, Claudio has been nursing. The Duke deep down knows that he can, and will, spare Claudio’s life, but he drills a dissimulation on Claudio because, for spectacular intention, it is crucial the Claudio should think that he is going to meet death. Only when Claudio has cast off all trust of an amnesty, will he pop the question to his sister that she should concord to Angelo’s requirement with the objective of saving her brother’s life. 

The Duke, a double-faced man (The Duke’s lies)
The Duke’s following conjuration is to let Claudio know that his sister has constituted an awry notion about Angelo’s quality. The Duke misguides that Angelo never had a desire to spoil Claudio’s sister and so on Angelo had, while arriving at a demand that Isabella should give up her virginity to him, been just examining her chastity. The Duke here lies as he cognizes well enough that Angelo in reality designates to score Isabella if it goes possible for him to do so. The Duke again lies when he tells Claudio that, being a friar, he has heeded to Angelo’s admission of misdeeds and that he consequently knows that Angelo was just trying Isabella’s virtue. After these two lies, the Duke tells Claudio not to be optimist at all for any forgiveness but to be prepared for death. After some time, the duke, having talk to Isabella, says that Angelo’s wishes to Induce to have sex with her only pretends that he has gone down a dupes to the kind of enticement to which many men have in the past also gone down dupes. This way we come to see that the Duke here comes along as a double-faced man who speaks with one manner to Claudio and with another manner to Isabella.

A raw contrivance, prepared by the Duke
Then, the Duke’s tremendous proffer to Isabella. After having distinguished her chronicle of Mariana, he suggests that Isabella should go and accept Angelo’s desire and tell, she is willing to satisfy his desire if he anticipates forgiving her brother. The duke insures Isabella that she herself not to go to Angelo in order to fill his desire, but the Mariana would be directed instead of her to prevent the affectionate. The Duke says that, if Isabella takes his hypnotism, her brother’s life would be saved, and her own pureness would persist inviolate, miserable Mariana would be reinstated, and the debauch Angelo will be sanctioned.
The bed-trick, (a farfetched twist)
The contraption, which the Duke evokes to Isabella at this time, is the about farfetched of all the twists and strategies which the Duke conceptualizes. This twist is recognized as the device of the bed-trick. It is a twist which also had cases in point in drama and which Shakespeare had himself antecedently employed in his play, ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’. But this appliance of the bed-trick is merely astonishing; it breaches all averages of the appearance of truth. How can we conceive that Isabella responsively corresponds to this plan? With what face will she appear in front of Angelo and enjoin him that she is uncoerced to go to bed with him? Then, how can she accord that some other girl should be going and actually get indulge in foreplay with Angelo, establishing Angelo a picture that she is Isabella? A girl, who is herself extremely conscientious astir her celibacy, can never grant to place another woman’s celibacy at peril. Then, how can we believe that Mariana would agree to this absurd design? Why should Mariana adventure the loss of her virginity on the tenuous footing that, after Angelo’s dishonest behave goes known to the hoi polloi, Angelo would find obligated to get hitched with her? But still acquiring that both Isabella and Mariana correspond to the Dukes contrive because he is a mendicant and because the words of a mendicant convey much value, who can we believe that Angelo would genuinely grant Mariana for Isabella and would not disclose the artifice at all?  The twist of the bed-trick, hence, it appears to us to be exclusively impractical, flimsy, and versus all laws of exceedance.   The bed-trick was a conventional method in drama of the present and of the past likewise; but the application of this fox smashes the rear motivated by the pragmatism of our play, peculiarly when this fox establishes the fundamental consequence which is to ascertain the destiny of Angelo. At the final stage of act iii, we notice the Duke predicting with some malicious satisfaction the success of the bed-trick which he has designed. In a monologue here, he says that he is going to engage “craft against vice”, indicating that he is about to nail down Angelo by crafty caper in order to penalize that man of his morally objectionable behavior. He says further, in this monologue, that he will “pay false exacting with falsehood”; signaling that he is going to penalize Angelo’s past disloyalty of Mariana with conjuration. 

Several unnecessary lies, told by the Duke
Apart from initiating all short of schemes, the Duke tells all sorts of lies too, as already indicated. It is, indeed, strange to find lies issuing from the Duke’s mouth with such facility.  These lies certainly militate against our forming a high option about the Duke. A country’s rule is a sacred personality who is expected to observe the high principles of conduct. But we find the Duke lying unscrupulously and unhesitatingly. The Duke’s lies can certainly be regarded as white lies, because he was doing this for the sake of the benefits of people, but even a white lie is a lie, after all. When the Provost complains that Angelo is a cruel and relentless man because Angelo is not prepared to pardon Claudio’s life, the Duke, who knows that Angelo has already seduced Mariana, replies that Angelo is persisting in his judgment against Claudio because Angelo’s own character is above reproach. The Duke here says further that Angelo is leading a life of holy abstinence and that Angelo is rigorously enforcing the laws according to which Claudio had to be sentenced to death. In this reply of the provost, the Duke is deliberately and falsely depicting Angelo’s character as almost saintly. Later, the Duke will tell Isabella that her brother has been executed and that the severed head of her brother has already been sent to Angelo for Angelo’s satisfaction. Now the Duke is perfectly aware of the fact that Claudio is alive and safe. Actually, it is the Duke himself who saved has Claudio’s life. But he tells a lie to Isabella simply in order to spring a pleasant surprise on her afterwards by revealing the true fact to her. Not only are the Duke’s lies annoying to us, but most of his lies are unnecessary too.

Some more contrivances by the Duke
The Duke makes use of an artificial contrivance in order to save Claudio’s life. He is able to provoke the provost because, in his character of a supposed friar, his advice must have weight and must be heeded. The Duke first prevails upon the provost to agree to execute Barnardine and postpone the execution of Claudio. When barnardine refuses to be executed on the ground that he is drunk, and when the Duke, still disguised as a friar, agrees that Barnardine should not be executed without the Christian rituals of a confession by a ding man, the Duke accepts the suggestion by the provost to the effect that the severed head of ragozine, who has died of a fever, be shown to Angelo as Claudio’s head. Subsequently, the Duke employs the stratagem handing over a latter to Isabella, asking her to deliver it to Friar Peter. Indeed, the introduction of Friar Peter who is actually Friar Thomas is an absolutely unnecessary device. There was no need to introduce Friar Peter at all. And then it is not only Isabella who is to deliver a letter to Friar Peter. Friar Peter himself is given a few letters by the Duke to be delivered to some of the Duke’s friend in the city. Subsequently, in the course of Angelo’s trial, Friar Peter again appears; and it is Friar Peter who brings the veiled Mariana as a witness in the case against Angelo. Friar Peter is then made to defend Friar Lodowick against the allegation made by Lucio. Friar Lodowick, as we know, was the Duke himself in the disguise of a friar. The role assigned to Friar Peter is essentially as superfluous one. But the Dukes contrivances do not end here. The Duke tutors both Isabella and Mariana to bring charges against Angelo at the appropriate time, also telling them in advance that his reaction to their charges would be an adverse one. When the two girls do bring charges against Angelo, the Duke pretends not to believe them. And he continues this pretence for some time, giving Angelo the false impression that he regards Angelo as perfectly innocent. Then, in the course of this trial, the Duke leaves his seat of a little while, returning in the disguise of Friar Lodowick. Here is another artificial and unnecessary device. The Duke could have continued with the trial without this farce of resuming his disguise briefly in order to puzzle and confound everybody.

Events in the play, manipulated by the Duke
Thus, at every step, the Duke initiates one or more other line of the action of the play. He appointed a deputy to function on his behalf; he has been going about the city and its environs in the disguise of a friar; he devised the bed-trick without which the plot could not have moved further; he prevailed upon the Provost to frustrate Angelo’s design to have Claudio executed; he manipulates the provost so that the provost produces Barnardine and Claudio before the Duke appropriate time; he has instigated Isabella and Mariana to bring charges against Angelo; he has manipulated Friar Peter to escort the two women to the Duke, to carry letters to some of his friends, and then appear before him during the trial of Angelo. In short, we find that the events of the play do not occur in a natural sequence but are made to occur in accordance with the Duke’s schemes. The Duke plays the roll which would normally be played by Fate or by providence. By the end of the play, and even much before that, we have ceased to think of the Duke as an unpractical ruler, incapable of handling the duties of his office. Rather the Duke holds, within the dramatic universe of the play, the dignity and power of a Prospero, to whom he bears a strong resemblance. In the case of both Prospero and the Duke, their plot and plan is the plot and plot of the play; they both make and forge the play. Like Prospero, the Duke tends to assume proportions eventually divine. Angelo even describes the Duke as a “power divine”. But we cannot help feeling that some of the schemes and contrivances initiated by the Duke are ungodly because of the deceptions and the lies which they necessitate. In any case, the plot of ‘Measure for Measure’ is marred by the various schemes and devises which constitute the substance and the staple of the play.

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