Angelo is left in charge by the Duke, who pretends to leave town but instead dresses as a friar to observe the goings-on in his absence.
Isabella, sister to Claudio, a novice Mariana, betrothed to Angelo Juliet, beloved of Claudio, pregnant with his child Francisca, a nun. Mistress Overdone, the manager of a thriving Viennese brothel Vincentio, The Duke, who also appears disguised as Friar Lodowick Angelothe Deputy, who rules in the Duke's absence Escalus, an ancient lord Claudio, a young gentleman, brother to Isabella Pompey Bum, a pimp who acquires customers for Mistress Overdone Lucio, a "fantastic", a foppish young nobleman Two gentlemen, friends to Lucio The Provost, who runs the prison Thomas and Peter, two friars Elbow, a simple constable Froth, a foolish gentleman of fourscore pound a year Abhorson, an executioner a Justice, friend of Escalus Varrius Measure for measure by shakespeare rolea friend of the Duke Claudio and Isabella by William Holman Hunt Vincentio, the Duke of Viennamakes it known that he intends to leave the city on a diplomatic mission.
He leaves the government in the hands of a strict judge, Angelo. In the next scene, we find a group of soldiers on a Vienna street, expressing their hopes, in irreverent banter, that a war with Hungary is afoot, and that they will be able to take part.
Mistress Overdone, the operator of a brothel frequented by these same soldiers, appears and tells them "there's one yonder arrested and carried to prison was worth five thousand of you all.
Then comes Pompey Bum, who works for Mistress Overdone as a pimp, but disguises his profession by describing himself as a mere 'tapster' the equivalent of a modern bartenderavers to the imprisonment of Claudio and outrageously explains his crime as "Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.
Pompey replies with a characteristic mixture of bawdy humor and folk-wisdom, "fear you not: Claudio married Juliet, but, as they have not completed all the strict legal technicalities, they were still considered to be unmarried when Juliet became pregnant.
Angelo, as the interim ruler of the city, decides to enforce a law that fornication is punishable by death, so Claudio is sentenced to be executed.
Claudio's friend, Lucio, visits Claudio's sister, Isabella, a novice nun, and asks her to intercede with Angelo on Claudio's behalf. Isabella obtains an audience with Angelo, and pleads for mercy for Claudio.
Over the course of two scenes between Angelo and Isabella, it becomes clear that he lusts after her, and he eventually offers her a deal: Angelo will spare Claudio's life if Isabella yields him her virginity.
Isabella refuses, but when she threatens to publicly expose his lechery, he tells her that no one will believe her because his reputation is too austere. She then visits her brother in prison and counsels him to prepare himself for death. Claudio desperately begs Isabella to save his life, but Isabella refuses.
She believes that it would be wrong for her to sacrifice her own immortal soul and that of Claudio, if his entreaties were to convince her to lose her virtue to save Claudio's transient earthly life. The Duke has not in fact left the city, but remains there disguised as a friar Lodowick in order to secretly view the city's affairs, especially the effects of Angelo's strict enforcement of the law.
In his guise as a friar, he befriends Isabella and arranges two tricks to thwart Angelo's evil intentions: Mariana by Valentine Cameron Prinsep First, a " bed trick " is arranged. Angelo has previously refused to fulfill the betrothal binding him to Mariana, because her dowry had been lost at sea.
Isabella sends word to Angelo that she has decided to submit to him, but making it a condition of their meeting that it occur in perfect darkness and in silence. Mariana agrees to take Isabella's place, and she has sex with Angelo, although he continues to believe he has enjoyed Isabella. In some interpretations of the law, this constitutes consummation of their betrothal, and therefore their marriage.
This same interpretation would also make Claudio's and Juliet's marriage legal. After having sex with Mariana whom he believes is IsabellaAngelo goes back on his word, sending a message to the prison that he wishes to see Claudio's head, necessitating the "head trick.
However, the villain Barnardine refuses to be executed in his drunken state. As luck would have it, a pirate named Ragozine, of similar appearance to Claudio, has recently died of a fever, so his head is sent to Angelo instead.
This main plot concludes with the 'return' to Vienna of the Duke as himself. Isabella and Mariana publicly petition him, and he hears their claims against Angelo, which Angelo smoothly denies. As the scene develops, it appears that Friar Lodowick will be blamed for the 'false' accusations leveled against Angelo.
The Duke leaves Angelo to judge the cause against Lodowick, but returns in disguise moments later when Lodowick is summoned. Eventually, the friar is revealed to be the Duke, thereby exposing Angelo as a liar and Isabella and Mariana as truthful.
He proposes that Angelo be executed but first compels him to marry Mariana — with his estate going to Mariana as her new dowry, "to buy you a better husband.
The Duke pretends not to heed the women's petition, and — only after revealing that Claudio has not, in fact, been executed — relents.
The Duke then proposes marriage to Isabella. Isabella does not reply, and her reaction is interpreted differently in different productions: This is one of the "open silences" of the play. A sub-plot concerns Claudio's friend Lucio, who frequently slanders the duke to the friar, and in the last act slanders the friar to the duke, providing opportunities for comic consternation on Vincentio's part and landing Lucio in trouble when it is revealed that the duke and the friar are one and the same.
Lucio's punishment is to be forced into marrying Kate Keepdown, a prostitute whom he had impregnated and abandoned. Sources[ edit ] A painting by William Hamilton of Isabella appealing to Angelo The play draws on two distinct sources.
The original is "The Story of Epitia", a story from Cinthio's Hecatommithifirst published in This lesson provides a plot summary of Shakespeare's ''Measure for Measure'', a lesson on its use of the deus ex machina plot device, and an explanation of two of its major themes.
Measure for Measure In Plain and Simple English (A Modern Translation and the Original Version) (Classics Retold Book 17) Jan 13, by William Shakespeare and BookCaps.
Measure for Measure, a “dark” comedy in five acts by William Shakespeare, written about –04 and published in the First Folio of from a transcript of an authorial draft. The play examines the complex interplay of mercy and justice.
Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in or Originally published in the First Folio of , where it was listed as a comedy, the play's first recorded performance occurred in Author: William Shakespeare.
This acclaimed collaboration between London’s Cheek by Jowl and Moscow’s Pushkin Theatre propels one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” into a timely juggernaut of political critique, thanks to director Declan Donnellan’s brisk modernist staging, design by Nick Ormerod, and a stellar ensemble cast.
In conjunction with Measure for. Overall Summary. Shakespeare's Measure for Measure centers around the fate of Claudio, who is arrested by Lord Angelo, the temporary leader of Vienna. Angelo is left in charge by the Duke, who pretends to leave town but instead dresses as a friar to observe the goings-on in his absence.