Explain how Shakespeare's portrayal of characters in Act1 of 'Measure for Measure' link with its genre of a problem play.

Essay by jlaHigh School, 12th gradeB, January 2004

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Explain how Shakespeare's portrayal of characters in Act1 link with its genre of a problem play.

Measure for Measure does not fit neatly into any of the genres of most of Shakespeare's other plays. It contains elements from both genres of tragedy and comedy while having unique aspects that don't fit either. Therefore, it is given the genre of a problem play. I am going to look at the characters of the Duke, Angelo, Isabella, Lucio, and Claudio. Shakespeare portrays them through different methods such as through their actions, the way that other characters act around them and the opinions of those other characters, their speech and language and the way that Shakespeare uses structure and form.

The Duke's actions can be portrayed in any number of different ways in Act 1 and therefore, the character can be played in different ways. Scene 1 begins with the Duke leaving Vienna, supposedly bound for Poland.

He leaves the area in charge of Angelo.

"therefore take your honours."

Later in the scene 3 the audience actually discovers that the Duke has gone only a little outside of Vienna to consult with a Friar. The audience discovers that the Duke has been very lenient with the laws, 'which for this fourteen years (he has) let slip'. This is why he has "on Angelo imposed the office".

"And yet my nature never in the sight to do it slander."

This means that the new laws will not be blamed on him and he will not be made to look as a harsher Duke, therefore retaining his reputation in Vienna. This can be interpreted in two ways. The Duke can be portrayed as very clever for this action or cowardly in protecting himself against dislike. This then links with the fact that Measure for Measure...