In Measure for Measure There Are No Truely Good or Evil Characters- Discuss

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‘In Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure there are no wholly virtuous characters.’ Discuss this statement focusing on the presentation of Duke Vincentio and Isabella. Measure for Measure is a tragi-comedy which concerns itself with justice, truth and morality and invites us to judge characters once their true moral worth has been revealed to us. The Duke and Isabella are both strong and unusual characters who certainly possess heroic qualities and their out of the ordinary goodness, great humility, judgement and resistance to temptation is to be lauded. However, in their search for truth they often behave hypocritically and with egotism, thus less in accordance to their divine right, altruism, or Christian principles, and more in keeping with a powerful desire for self-preservation. Throughout the play, Shakespeare indicates the wisdom of the Duke and his comparison to James I. Duke Vincentio is viewed by other characters as a ‘worthy’ leader who comforts and counsels others. This is evident when the Duke comforts Isabella and offers her his hand and plan. He gets ‘satisfaction’ from her ‘benefit’ by helping save her brother. The Duke asks Isabella to ‘fasten her ear’ on his ‘advising’s’, showing that he is a willing and giving prince, who is willing to help those who desire it. The ‘love’ he has in ‘doing good’ is evident as he helps Claudio in redeeming his life, by helping Isabella, and those who are in distress. The Duke’s model is a desirable characteristic with understanding principles. He shows that he is dedicated to his people, loyal but humble. He ‘loves the people’ but does not like the ‘stage’. This is associated to Shakespeare relating the Duke to James I. The Duke let the law which Angelo used to imprison Claudio ‘sleep’ for nearly ’19 zodiacs’, a practice that was also common practice of James I, who let some laws lie dormant and ‘lax’ for his

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