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Early in Measure for Measure, Claudio judges that Duke Vincentio's deputy Angelo, for whatever reason, lets "the body public... straight feel the spur" (1.2.147-150). (1) The phrase "body public" is a bit unusual, since an auditor might think he or she had heard the familiar phrase "body politic." The phrase "body public" implies that a "body private" exists. This duality could refer to the Medieval/Renaissance concept of the royal ruler's two bodies, one eternal and the other mortal. But Measure for Measure never evokes or alludes to this idea. The public and private bodies are actually one body, that of Duke Vincentio. More precisely, they are his public and private selves, often at odds with each other. Yet in the later twentieth century, quite a few literary critics argued that Early Modern characters, both onstage and on the page, either lacked a sense of their interiority or had a vague or undeveloped idea of an inner self, a private self. They usually claimed that this self was a product of a later century. (2) In 1995, however, Katharine Eisaman Maus in Inwardness and Theater in the English Renaissance demonstrated otherwise. (3) She noted that Sir Philip Sidney in An Apology for Poetry asked his reader to consider the behavior of Virgil's Aeneas, "how in his inward self, and how in his outward government" he always conducts himself virtuously (1995, 3). (4) Menenius in Coriolanus sarcastically tells the Roman tribunes, unaware of their pride, "Oh, that you could turn your eyes toward the napes of your necks and make but an interior survey of your good selves" (2.1.35-37). (5) John Calvin asked, "If the inward man know the truth, why doth the outward man confess a falsehood?" (quoted in Maus 1995, 18).

Recently, Ronald Huebert in Privacy in the Age of Shakespeare has defined privacy as a space to which the owner controls admittance (2016, 3-27). According to this definition, a private self would be one to which its owner controls access. If he or she loses personal control of others' access to this self, it could possibly become a public self: one whose bearer voluntarily or involuntarily admits its scanning by any number of individuals, ranging from not many to tens of thousands. Vincentio, Duke of Vienna, encapsulates both kinds of selves, notably the private alternative. Enigmatic, dissimulating, seemingly at cross-purposes with himself, Vincentio in Measure for Measure is probably the most complex figure in Shakespearean comedy. My argument proceeds from Vincentio's naming three selves corresponding to a trio of familiar Renaissance personas, for which little or no evidence exists in the play. These selves give place to three private selves, which can be termed Machiavellian, holy, and sexual. (6) Viennese citizens, with one silent exception (Friar Thomas), remain unaware of their existence as discrete entities. (And the friar never seems to appreciate the depth of Vincentio's holiness.) Taken singly and sometimes together, they inform what the Viennese public perceive as Duke Vincentio's self. During the course of Measure for Measure, the Duke strives to coordinate his private selves, to bring them into sync, only to lose control of them so that they drift apart, even fade, leaving him finally with not only a simpler public self--but also a reduced being.

It is Lucio who provokes Vincentio into defining his several selves. Called a "fantastic" (an impulsive eccentric) in the "The names of all the Actors" appended to the 1623 Folio play-text, Lucio insults Vincentio when he speaks to the disguised Duke, thinking that he is a friar visiting Vienna. Angry at Vincentio for having mysteriously disappeared and deputized in his stead priggish Angelo, Lucio claims that the Duke is a secret sexual degenerate, concluding that he is a "very superficial, ignorant, unweighing fellow" (3.1.340-81, esp. 381). Stung, Vincentio protests, "Let him be but testimonied in his own bringings forth," in his own actions, in other words, "and he shall appear to the envious a scholar, a statesman, and a soldier" (3.1.385-87). Articulated here is the Duke's formulation of an identity which consists of three selves. This identity encapsulates the Italian Renaissance ideal of a nobleman, who, like Sir Philip Sidney in his countrymen's posthumous estimate, realized the complementarity of the vita activa and the vita contemplativa.

Some Jacobean playgoers and readers may have recognized Vincentio's triad of soldier-statesman-scholar as a variant of the formulaic portrait of a Renaissance Man, essentially a commonplace for ideality. Ophelia's Hamlet, overthrown by madness, once possessed "[t]he courtier's, soldier's, scholar's eye, tongue, sword" (Hamlet, Combined Text 3.1.148). But we never see or imagine this Hamlet. Likewise, we never see or imagine two of Vincentio's triad of selves, which may be a likely shorthand for ideality. Vincentio never explicitly appears as a soldier. Nor does any character ever refer to his martial accomplishments. But what of his being a scholar and a statesman? The disguised Duke asks Escalus, "I pray you, sir, of what disposition was the Duke?" (3.1.461-62). "One that above all other strifes contended especially to know himself" (3.1.463-64), his friend replies. "Nosce teipsum"--"Know thyself--was a goal of ancient learning, revived by Sidney in An Apology for Poetry as the mistress-knowledge called architectonike, "which stands... in the knowledge of a man's own self, in the ethic and politic consideration, with the end of well-doing and not of well-knowing only" (1965, 104). It is to this end that all other disciplines serve, Sidney claimed. For Shakespeare's age, the knowledge of a man's own self generally came from frequent or permanent withdrawal from public life to a scholar's world of classical texts and reading. Despite his praise of himself as a scholar, no books or reading other than the Bible are ever directly in evidence in Vincentio's speeches. The Duke's periodic withdrawals from governing never resemble Prospero's retreat into his study, surrounded by volumes of the liberal arts and magic (The Tempest, 1.2.73-77).

An Aristotelian virtue attributed to Vincentio opens up the more complicated question of whether he is a statesman. When the Duke as friar asks Escalus, "What pleasure was [Vincentio] given to?" (3.1.465), playgoers might wonder for whom the answer is intended: the Provost, the only character onstage, or the audience? Lucio's insult involving a squalid private self has so troubled Vincentio that he seems to want to clear himself with the theater audience. "Rather rejoicing to see another merry, than merry at anything which professed to make him rejoice," Escalus replies; he was "[a] gentleman of all temperance" (3.1.466-68). Vincentio neither disagrees with nor adds to Escalus's claim. But the Duke failed to achieve temperance in his supposed statecraft when he was excessively lax in enforcing the law against sexual license.

Significantly, Vincentio has admitted that Escalus's "science"--his knowledge--of government exceeds his own (1.1.3-13). But even this conclusion may be erroneous, for Escalus judges from merely looking at Froth's face that he must be innocent of any demeaning treatment of Elbow's wife when he came upon her alone in a tavern's public room. Several critics have faulted Escalus's judgment. (7) In Macbeth, Duncan says, "There's no art / To find the mind's construction in the face" (1.4.11-12). (8) Vincentio's usage of "statesman" is one of only three in the Shakespeare canon. Brabanzio in Othello judges that "if such actions las Othello's eloping with Desdemona] may have passage free, / Bondslaves and pagans shall our statesmen be" (1.2.98-99), while Polixenes in The Winters Tale says that his son Florizel is "[n]ow my sworn friend and then mine enemy; / My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all" (1.2.166-67). The word "statesman" in Shakespeare's time had an elastic meaning: "One who takes a leading part in the affairs of state or body politic; esp. one who is skilled in the management of public affairs" (O.E.D.1.a.). Usually, the word's meaning is positively weighted. "Your words are dangerous, good honest subiect, Old reuerent states-man, faithful seruitor" (O.E.D. A.3.b), a character says in the anonymous play Nobody and Somebody (1592). (9) When, in the Chorus of act two of Ben Jonson's Every Man Out of His Humour (1599), the citizen Mitis worries that playgoers will think that Jonson satirizes him in the foolish behavior of a character of his own rank and occupation, Cordatus, whom Jonson describes as "the author's friend," replies that no "grave, wise citizen or modest matron [will] take the object of this folly in Deliro and his wife: but rather apply it as the foil to their own virtues. For that were to affirm that a man, writing of Nero, should mean all emperors: or speaking of Machiavel, comprehend all statesmen" (1981, 1:275-411, esp. 335).

The latter part of this utterance appears as the second illustration in the O.E.D. of "statesman" (A.3.b). I have included the word's appearance in its larger context in Jonson's comedy to clarify a distinction: that even as a learned man would never confuse all emperors with wicked Nero and all statesmen with cunning Machiavelli, so judicious citizen playgoers will not confuse ridiculous Deliro with themselves. The positive-negative polarity of statesman/ Machiavelli that Jonson stresses is relevant to the analysis of Vincentio's selves in Measure for Measure. For he clearly is a Machiavel rather than a statesman.

To term either a person or dramatic character a Machiavel in the later English sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries was generally to demonize or vilify them. Niccole Machiavelli's The Prince (1531) concerns numerous strategies, often ingeniously plotted, for the getting and keeping of power generally in a non-hereditary monarchy or principality, usually without overriding regard to the dictates of conventional morality and religion. The English popularly knew Machiavelli's The Prince through Innocent Gentillet's French commentary titled Contra-Machiavel (1576), which crudely stereotyped Machiavelli and his revolutionary policies--another name for "strategies"--as devilish. A "politician," a practicer of "policy," had immediately acquired a negative connotation upon its sixteenth-century coining. When Fabian in Twelfth Night tells Sir Andrew Aguecheek that he can gain Olivia's favor only "by some laudable attempt either of valor or policy," he replies "An't be anyway, it must be with valor for policy I hate. I had as lief be a Brownist as a politician" (3.2.24-27). And King Lear tells blind Gloucester to "[g]et thee glass eyes, / And, like the scurvy politician, / Seem to see the things thou dost not" (King Lear, Combined Text, 4.6.164-66). Shakespeare's contemporaries saw Gentillet's demonic stereotype in the eponymous character of Marlowe's The Jew of Malta (1589-1590), Barabas, a villain introduced in the play's Chorus by Machiavel himself. And indeed the early Shakespeare has his villain Richard of Gloucester say in The Third Part of Henry the Sixth, "I can add colors to the chameleon, / Change shapes with Proteus for advantages, / And set the murderous machiavel to school" (3.2.191-93). But there are two Machiavels in The Jew of Malta: the grotesquely comic, cartoon-like Barabas, boastful of being capable of performing any evil enormity, and the coldly intellectual, equally cunning practicer of policy Don Ferneze, the Governor of Malta, who out-policys Barabas, destroying him and ending the Turkish threat to the island. This Machiavel finally practices policy more for the benefit of the state than for pure self-aggrandizement.

John Roe has remarked that, although no English-language edition of The Prince existed in Shakespeare's lifetime, several manuscript translations were circulating in London as early as 1584 and that some can be found in the British Library (2002, 4). Companies such as the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the Admiral's Men may have made copies available to playwrights, who could have gathered from them a non-stereotypic, more constructive Machiavellianism. Machiavelli clearly implied in The Prince that a ruler who did not weigh his subjects' desire for a governor intent upon fashioning a relatively strife-free society whenever possible against his amoral impulses always to use any means, no matter how cruel, to thicken the walls about himself and his reign--that such a man was courting disaster. While Machiavelli's writing--his Discourses, his Florentine Histories, his letters--makes his Christian belief uncertain, his life-long recommendation of a humane, everyday morality and charity for one's neighbor, derived partly from Livy and other ancient Roman writers, is clear throughout these documents. Machiavelli always believed, especially after the Medici in 1512 had seized power, tortured him, and then banished him from office, that this morality was best achieved in a free republic, rather than a monarchy or principality (Benner 2017, 73-77, 239). (10)

If he did not read The Prince in its entirety, Shakespeare almost certainly interacted with playwrights who had, and with one or two who probably had read the Discourses; and so he had a context for constructing a Machiavel such as Vincentio who, despite some cold and questionable policies, has the welfare of Vienna uppermost in his mind. Hugh Grady has identified the four plays of the Second Tetralogy as "a Shakespearian 'Machiavellian Moment,'" wherein the playwright, influenced by the Earl of Essex and his allies, developed what could be called, for want of a better phrase, a positive Machiavellianism (2002, 26-57)."

Nevertheless, saying that someone was a practicer of policy was almost always never an unqualified compliment, especially onstage. Thus Vincentio would not have publicly claimed to be a scholar, politician, and a soldier, if for no other reason than that policy was usually unannounced, a secret. So, if controlling access to a self serves to define a private self, a practicer of policy, a Machiavel, would be one of Vincentio's private selves. (12) Machiavellian policy is what Vincentio practices in his cunning use of an agent, Angelo, to take the blame for his failure to enforce several biting Viennese laws, especially that against fornication. By this admission, permissive Vincentio reveals that he has not been much of a statesman. "I have on Angelo imposed the office" of deputy, Vincentio tells Friar Thomas,
Who may in th'ambush of my name strike home,
And yet my nature never in the fight
To do in slander. (1.3.40-43)

Harriet Hawkins (1987, 1-3), Stacy Magedanz (2004, 328-29), Zdravko Planinc (2010, 149, 150), Norman Holland (1959), and others have found the precedent for Vincentio's clever use of Angelo in Machiavelli's account in chapter seven of The Prince of Cesare Borgia's policy of protecting himself from criticism by appointing a cruel and energetic man, Remirro de Oreo, as his deputy governor to crack down on Romagna, a region grown riotous, thieving, and debauched. (13) But this was only part of Borgia's policy. To protect himself from the people's hatred for appointing such a vicious governor, he won their satisfaction by secretly having de Oreo killed and his body cut into two pieces and placed in the city square. Shakespeare's Vincentio, however, would never do such a thing, and so this so-called prototype for his Machiavellian self, while establishing it, serves to distinguish his policy from that of an absolutely ruthless tyrant--as a ruler who, while at times emotionally cold, wants to work within the framework of established law. (14)

Closely bound up with Vincentio's Machiavellian use of Angelo to protect himself from censure for his lax enforcement of Viennese law is his testing of him to see whether power will corrupt this puritanical man. Its deeply enigmatic purpose makes this latter behavior appear Machiavellian. "There is a kind of character"--handwriting, or engraved pattern--"in thy life," Vincentio tells Angelo, "[t]hat to th'observer doth thy history / Fully unfold" (1.1.27-29). But if Vincentio believed that Angelo's life had "fully unfold[ed]" him to an observer, he would not need to "assay" it (3.1.162)--subject his "mettle" to a trial--to experimentation. (15) Angelo's callousness and possible greed in breaking his betrothal to Mariana after she lost her dowry in the shipwreck costing her brother his life revealed themselves to everybody some time ago. Is Vincentio testing his judgment of human nature as part of the larger end of nosce teipsum? Certainly he could never have imagined Angelo as a sexual predator. Why would Vincentio want to know whether political power might corrupt a temporary deputy? Will either the Holy Roman Emperor--in 1604 Rudolf II (also Archduke of Austria)--or Viennese electors one day possibly make Angelo Duke of Vienna? Vincentio thrice refers to Angelo as his cousin (5.1.1, 170, 260). Even though the word "cousin" in Shakespeare's age could indicate a friend, it could also connote a blood relationship, as it does today. In some weird way, could Angelo stand to inherit the dukedom? Machiavellian policy usually entailed a deep mystery concerning its purpose; yet, when staged, it also entailed dispelling the mystery to reveal policy's aim to a play's characters and thus to the theater audience. The fact that this never occurs regarding Vincentio's test makes it a more rather than less Machiavellian mystery.

The mystery that Vincentio cultivates about the operation of Vienna's government, not surprisingly perhaps, makes life more difficult for him. Friar Lodowick--Vincentio--tells the Provost, showing him a letter, that the Duke will arrive in Vienna within two days. "This is a thing," he says, "that Angelo knows not, for he this very day receives letters to strange tenor, perchance of the Duke's death, perchance entering into some monastery, but by chance nothing of what is writ. Look, th'unfolding star calls up the shepherd. Put not yourself into amazement how these things should be; all difficulties are but easy when they are known" (4.2.187-93). By such obfuscation, the Duke can keep everyone, especially Angelo, on edge, such that he retains the advantage in dealing with him. More important, by mystifying his behavior Vincentio may hope the Viennese especially admire or appreciate his machinations, once they come to light. But such Machiavellian-like motives for mystification--if they are the Duke's--backfire when they prompt Lucio's slander of Vincentio. "Some say he is with the Emperor of Russia; other some, he is in Rome; but where is he, think you?" (3.1.337-38), Lucio asks the disguised Duke. "I know not where, but wheresoever, I wish him well" (3.1.339), Vincentio replies. The cloud surrounding the Duke prevents Lucio from directly appealing to him to save his friend Claudio's life, and so he erupts over Vincentio's leaving Angelo in charge of the state: "It was a mad fantastical trick of him to steal from the state and usurp the beggary he was never born to." "Lord Angelo dukes it well in his absence," he says sarcastically; "he puts transgression to't" (3.1.340-42). The vilifying of Vincentio's character for sexual enormities is not accidental, but Lucio's attempt to punish him for his unavailability in an emergency.

This unlooked-for, painful consequence of Vincentio's policy suggests that he sometimes does not think through its consequences. Interestingly, Shakespeare through dramatic analogy qualifies Vincentio's craftiness, and thus also the private self from which it emerges. The playwright in Measure for Measure parodies making a craft mysterious when Abhorson says that Pompey's appointment as executioner's assistant will "discredit our mystery" (4.2.23-24). "Painting, sir," Pompey replies, "I have heard say, is a mystery; and your whores, sir, being members of my occupation [pimping], using painting, do prove my occupation a mystery. But what mystery there should be in hanging, if I should be hanged I cannot imagine" (4.2.31-34). Coming after Lucio's complaints about Vincentio's mystification of his whereabouts, Pompey's comic satire involving making the practice of a craft unnecessarily mysterious extends by analogy to the operation of government. The Duke has told Escalus, "Of government the properties to unfold / Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse" (1.1.3-4). Vincentio's relative ignorance extends to the apparently gratuitous mystery in which he sometimes frustratingly enfolds rule.

A second private self of Vincentio emerges in his dialogue with Friar Thomas. Why does the Duke want to assume a friar's disguise, when any number of secular disguises could serve his purpose of stealing back into Vienna to see how Angelo will administer the unenforced law against fornication, as well as to judge whether political power will cause Angelo to reveal some kind of personal corruption? Vincentio reminds Friar Thomas that he has privately spent some time in his company, for he says, "none better knows than you / How I have ever loved the life removed" from "witless bravery" (1.3.7-8, 10). Apparently a preoccupation with holiness has led the Duke an indeterminate number of times to Friar Thomas. Mariana recognizes Friar Lodowick--Vincentio--when she says, "Here comes a man of comfort whose advice / Hath often stilled my brawling discontent" (4.1.8-9). Her word "often" indicates Vincentio's long-standing attraction to assuming priestly duties. Considered in retrospect, Vincentio's asking Friar Thomas in act one to "[s]upply me with the habit [of a friar], and instruct me / How I may formally in person bear / Like a true friar" (1.3.46-48) strikes a reader, given Mariana's remark, as odd, as does Thomas's supposing the Duke begs the frock to woo a woman secretly (1.3.1-3). Neither Mariana nor Vincentio ever gives any hint that his comforting her spiritually furthered erotic desire. Vincentio always considers Mariana legally betrothed to Angelo. Moreover, the Duke's sudden, unprepared proposal of marriage at the play's end to the novitiate Isabella may reveal a rather dispassionate love of her holiness, not different in kind from Angelo's initial love of her holiness (before it morphs into lust). Preliminary analysis thus suggests that the Duke has a genuine private holy self, which has been publicly expressed by a friar's disguise well before Measure for Measure's events occur. (16)

Shakespeare has introduced this self in the play's opening scene. Vincentio tells Angelo that, as his deputy, he should spend rather than hoard his endowments, and that, "if our virtues / Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike / As if we had them not" (1.1.33-35). This judgment derives from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:15-16): "Nether do men light a candel, and put it vnder a bushel, but on a candelsticke, & it giueth light vnto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may se your good workes, & glorifie your Father which is in heauen." (17) What could this mean for the situation in Vienna? The Duke wants Angelo to enforce some harsh laws. Would it be virtuous to do so? Would executing Claudio for fornication be a "good worke" in the Sermon's sense, one that would "glorifie [the] Father?" "Hold, therefore, Angelo," Vincentio continues:
In our remove be thou at full ourself.
Mortality and mercy in Vienna
Live in thy tongue and heart. (1.1.42-45)

Mercy--not the power to kill ("Mortality")--seems to be an illustration of virtue's expense. But what does Vincentio mean by saying "Hold... Angelo?" Is he saying "Hold up, Angelo," "Hold office," "Don't give in?" "Holding" here appears to be the opposite of expense, of spending one's virtue. The phrase seems to mean "restrain yourself." In this last reading of his two-word utterance, the political Duke paradoxically seems to be qualifying, even perhaps negating, the advice of his holy self.

Vincentio's criterion voiced later for the application of mercy only adds to this ambiguity:
He who the sword of heaven will bear
Should be as holy as severe;
Pattern in himself to know,
Grace to stand, and virtue, go;
More nor less to others paying
Than by self-offenses weighing. (3.1.488-93) (18)

Self-offenses justify mercy. If a judge's self-examination reveals personal fornication, even though committed long ago, he ought, judged by Vincentio's standards, to be merciful. But Vincentio has apparently never fornicated, or even had the desire to fornicate, and so he himself could have severely applied the long-standing law against this act. The Duke sincerely wishes to clean up the sexual sewer of Vienna. Christian mercy however for every offender--Vincentio must believe--would cause the Viennese social chaos to grow. Clearly, a different criterion, independent of self-offense, for the application of mercy in Measure for Measure begs to be identified, if for no other reason than that resolution between two of Vincentio's conflicting private selves might be achieved.

Vincentio has wanted Angelo to administer vigorously the laws whose enforcement he has neglected. His advising Angelo to spend his virtues suggests that he most likely does not want his deputy without exception to severely enforce the anti-fornication law. Quite a few commentators on Measure for Measure imply that mercy in the play consists of applying the Early Modern English legal principle of equity, whereby a judge considers special circumstances to excuse an offender from the prosecution of a law. (19) Such legal leniency would also conform to the Duke's biblical admonitions. Julietta's pregnancy excuses her from the immediate but not the eventual post-partum application of capital punishment. Yet she is not a hardened prostitute but a sensitive, redeemable young woman who believes she has made a mistake. Likewise, Claudio is neither a desperate reprobate nor a habitual offender. If he had enforced the law against fornication, Vincentio would have had grounds for exempting this young couple from the law while applying it to the radical agents of the Viennese sexual chaos. (20) Playgoers might easily imagine he could have done so, even though the Duke never learns of the couple's handfast. Vincentio passes up an opportunity to have satisfied his political and religious selves.

Instead, he apparently takes a different route toward this end. The Duke, becoming the friar he has often been, may imagine that he is being virtuous, holy, by confessing and absolving fornicators about to lose their heads. He may want to save spiritually those whom a law he personally has not enforced has condemned. In his own mind, he could thus be, not hiding his light, but practicing the virtue he recommended to Angelo. When Vincentio attempts to prepare Claudio for death, no reason exists for a playgoer's thinking he will spare him. As was noted, Vincentio never hears Claudio's claim that "upon a true contract / [He] got possession of Julietta's bed" (1.2.133-34). According to the murky permissiveness of Early Modern English betrothal contracts that bind without a church service, Claudio and Julietta may not be fornicators but husband and wife. On the other hand, especially if judged by Roman Catholic or Puritan pronouncements, they may not be married (Wentersdorf 1979, 143, 144). (21) Margaret Scott has suggested that the explicit, historically accurate Roman Catholicism of Measure for Measure preempts the permissiveness of Early Modern premarital contracts (1982). Moreover, Maus shrewdly remarks, "Neither Claudio nor Julietta attempts to argue that the existence of a contract, however 'true' or 'fast,' means that they are innocent of fornication after all" (1995, 162). Not surprisingly, Friar Lodowick--Vincentio--assumes the non-confessing prisoner before him, Claudio, has fornicated (3.1.1-43).

Vincentio has no assurance that Angelo will make an exception for Claudio and Julietta. Consequently, he designs his eloquent "Be absolute for death" speech (3.1.5-41), wherein life has little value, to make Claudio ready for execution. He would have to reveal himself to save Claudio's life, and apparently the mending of his reputation, his testing of Angelo, and his wish to quell a tide of sexual license have preempted his own public application of equity. Vincentio has already gotten Julietta to repent her fornication "as... an evil, / And [to] take [her] shame with joy" (2.3.35-36). Knowing whether Vincentio thinks he has Eucharistic authority proves impossible. Still, one might easily believe that, without Friar Thomas's intervention, Claudio will die without the possibility of genuine priestly salvation. In this respect, Vincentio's private holy self remains enigmatic, cold. Or, more likely, one could say that Machiavellian policy is eclipsing religious intentions. Knowing how much of the Duke's portrayal of this life as deathly is a rhetorical tour-de-force and how much a dark personal view proves difficult. Still, a later utterance of the Duke supports the latter possibility. "But peace be with him," Vincentio tells Isabella, who thinks the Duke could not save her brother Claudio. "That life is better life past fearing death, / Than that which lives to fear," he says; "Make it your comfort, / So happy is your brother" (5.1.399-402). "I do, my lord" (5.1.402), she replies. Hers is hardly the despair Vincentio predicted when he told the audience that he would not immediately tell Isabella that he had preserved her brother from death: "But I will keep her ignorant of her good, / To make her heavenly comforts of despair / When it is least expected." (4.3.102-4). Similarly, the friar's grim portrayal of frail, uncertain life, rather than comforting Claudio, drives the prisoner to the spiritual sin of despair (3.1.118-32).

Vincentio's holy self dictates his request that the Provost conceal him where he can overhear Isabella talking with her brother. The Duke wants to gauge from their conversation if he has been successful in spiritually preparing Claudio for death. He soon learns however that Claudio desperately clings to life at any cost. Later, concerning the reprobate Barnardine's execution, he tells the Provost that he is "[a] creature unprepared, unmeet for death. / And to transport him in the mind he is / Were damnable" (4.3.60-62), "Damnable" not just for the criminal, but also perhaps for both the Provost and for Claudio's spiritual advisor. If this respite applies to Barnardine, it especially applies to the better man, Claudio. Vincentio also overhears Isabella reveal that Angelo has offered to save Claudio only if she--a novitiate--has secret sex with him. Vincentio immediately realizes that Angelo has conclusively shown a vicious nature, and thus that his testing of him need proceed no further. He almost simultaneously hits upon the bed trick involving Mariana. This appears to be the moment when Vincentio resolves to preserve Claudio (Bawcutt 1984, 89-97, esp. 95-96). This determination likely derives, either in whole or in part, from his knowledge that Claudio is not religiously prepared for execution. Vincentio's additional reason for doing so may be more long-range, involving the comfort of a novitiate in learning her brother's life has been saved by a man who is beginning to find her attractive.

Vincentio's virtue most obviously shines when he counters measure with measure, when he quick-wittedly, with Machiavellian cunning, proposes substituting Barnardine's and then Ragozine's head for Claudio's to thwart Angelo's despicable capital order. The bed-trick can be considered another virtuous deed, in that the Duke provides the means for satisfying Mariana's love for Angelo. Playing a role here is a third, more amorphous, less pronounced private self of the Duke, a sexual one. Claiming Vincentio to be lecherous, Lucio has previously said, "Ere he would have hanged a man for the getting a hundred bastards, he would have paid for the nursing a thousand. He had some feeling of the sport, he knew the service [of prostitution], and that instructed him to mercy" (3.1.360-64). "I never heard the absent Duke much detected for women," Vincentio replies; "he was not inclined that way" (3.1.365-66). Lucio, however, persists in emphasizing the sleaziness of the Duke's imputed private self; his "use" was a "beggar of fifty," who received his "ducat in her clack-dish" (3.1.369-70). Sexual innuendo saturates such an assertion. Auditors tend to believe Vincentio, for they have heard him say, in response to Friar Thomas's speculation that the Duke wants to adopt the guise of a friar out of love so as to court a woman perhaps inappropriate for his rank and office,
No, holy father, throw away that thought.
Believe not that the dribbling dart of love
Can pierce a complete bosom. Why I desire thee
To give me secret harbor hath a purpose
More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends
Of burning youth. (1.3.1-6) (22)

Lucio's charges almost certainly amount to slander; yet, despite Vincentio's earlier disclaimer, Lucio may be touching upon some unknown sexual dimension of the Duke's character. The libertine's pronouncement, "Sir, I know him, and I love him" (3.1.389), possesses an authoritative ring. That is, it briefly does until Vincentio replies wisely, "Love talks with better knowledge, and knowledge with dearer love" (3.1.390-91). The wonderful power of this antimetabole appears to have clinched the argument for slander. But then Lucio reintroduces a shred of doubt with the strange strength of his claim "Come, sir, I know what I know" (3.1.393).

Does Vincentio feel sexual desire? And, if so, what is its degree and its kind? After all, Vincentio's earlier assertion that he has "a complete bosom" seems suspect, reflective perhaps of hubris. A cursory analysis of the subject suggests a lukewarm, intellectual attraction to Isabella. The Duke, left alone with her, asserts that "[t]he hand that hath made you fair hath made you good. The goodness that is cheap in beauty makes beauty brief in goodness, but grace, being the soul of your complexion"--your constitution--"shall keep the body of it ever fair" (3.1.178-81). By saying that Isabella is "fair," he says she is beautiful; and he goes on to say that since grace is the soul of her constitution, the body beneath the robe of a novitiate shall always be beautiful. (23) By the Platonic coincidence of Goodness and Beauty, the Duke implies that she has the complete bosom he highly values. His exemplary portrayal of her conflicts with the Isabella who has just angrily told Claudio,
Take my defiance;
Die, perish! Might but my bending down
Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed.
I'll pray a thousand prayers for thy death,
No word to save thee. (3.1.143-47)

How could such gracious goodness issue in Isabella's nasty, excessive promise to pray for Claudio's death? Considered in the context of this and other utterances, Vincentio's appraisal of Isabella seems not just a bit antiseptic but also overly idealistic.

If Vincentio shows evidence of a sexual self, it would not be the outrageous, law-breaking, even grotesque self formulated by slanderous Lucio, but a less egregious one (albeit one which has been inflamed by being severely repressed into fantasies). Sexual innuendos soon course through Vincentio's and Isabella's dialogue on a variety of subjects, including the bed trick. The obscenity of their wordplay, of which they appear unconscious, suggests repressed private selves dilated with built-up libidinal urges. Their holiness likely has been the oppressor. The chief chronicler of this dimension of these characters is Carolyn E. Brown. Brown argues that the Duke and the novitiate possess a "subterranean sexuality" that subconsciously attracts them to each other, such that they woo "each other by deriving vicarious pleasure from arranging and voyeuristically describing to each other the details of the proposed tryst between their doubles Angelo and Mariana," as though they were taking their place (1994, 191-92). "The Duke speaks of Isabella," Brown asserts, "showing a receptivity, an attraction to [a sexual] attack, agreeing with Angelo 'to the point' [3.1.235] or to an erection.... [He] also alludes to Angelo 'entreat[ing] you' that is to say, Isabella, not Mariana, 'to his bed.' Vincentio describes Isabella in a prone position, giving Angelo 'satisfaction' or sexual pleasure [3.1.251-52]" (202-3). Invited to fantasize Mariana having secret sexual intercourse with Angelo, Isabella has said, "The image of it gives me content already, and I trust it will grow to a most prosperous perfection" (3.1.248-49). Given the novitiate's mental image of copulation, Isabella's word "it" refers not simply to the intercourse but also to Angelo's penis "grow[ing]" to an erection toward the "perfection" of a sexual climax--a graphic image, Brown claims, that excites the Duke (1994, 203-4). "In making the Duke ask Isabella to speak Mariana's part and present herself as a victim of rape, Shakespeare suggests that the Duke is creating a sexually provocative situation that embodies his fantasies" (210).

Constructed from innuendos, a subterranean sexual self of which Vincentio and Isabella are barely--if at all--conscious presumably plays a role in the Duke's marriage proposal, an offer that Isabella, in Brown's opinion, almost certainly does not accept because Vincentio has completely humiliated her in his scripted part for her to play in his ducal triumph. In other words, his complicating Machiavellian use of Isabella in the play's last scene undercuts his own sexual desire and potential wish for marriage. In this case, one private self works against another's success. The prospective bride of Christ's silence after the Duke's proposal promises about as much happiness for him as Angelo's silence does for Mariana after Vincentio orders, "Love her, Angelo; / I have confessed her, and I know her virtue" (5.1.529-30). This testimony, Angelo might think at this point, is that of a bogus friar. (24)

The Duke's Machiavellian and holy selves struggle to maintain their roles as accelerating or obdurate events in acts four and five threaten to overwhelm Vincentio, such that eventually he cannot practice the temperance Escalus has said that the Duke admires or deepen his self-knowledge. His elaborate stage-managing of the dizzying events of the play's last scene appears designed to give repeated opportunities for Angelo to confess his trespasses and beg for Vincentio's mercy. "The very mercy of the law cries out," the Duke has exclaimed; '"An Angelo for Claudio, death for death.' /.... 'Like doth quit like and measure still for measure'" (5.1.410, 412, 414). The Duke's holy policy involves satisfying two selves simultaneously: everyone present will believe that Angelo deserves a death sentence, at the dramatic last minute mollified by the governing Duke's Christian mercy. Juggling characters, scripting Diana and Isabella to utter riddle-like paradoxes, Vincentio prepares his forgiveness of Angelo by enlisting Isabella to kneel and beg for it.
For Angelo, his act did not o'ertake his bad intent
And must be buried but as an intent
That perished by the way. Thoughts are no subjects,
Intents but merely thoughts. (5.1.453-56)

Unscripted, Isabella's forgiveness of Angelo is strained, in the sense that it has a legalistic rationale. A government judge would agree with Isabella: only illegal deeds can be prosecuted. Illegal thoughts

never taking shape as actions are often legally censured, but the thinker remains free from arrest and prison, so long as he or she has not publicly spoken to foment civil discord. An ecclesiastical court, however, could fine or punish a bearer of sinful intentions. Vincentio has declared that Angelo is "criminal in double violation /Of sacred chastity and of promise-breach" (5.1.408). The Duke could have cited Matthew 5:27-28 to the effect that a man who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (25) Holiness could have understood the violation of "sacred chastity" in this sense. But Vincentio does not do so. A duke, not really a friar--Vincentio oversees a secular legal process and a secular court, not separate ecclesiastical counterparts.

So when Vincentio tells Isabella her "suit's unprofitable" (5.1.457), the issue is not so much that he is a secular ruler and not really a priest, as that his political and religious selves conjoined, as they theoretically did in the English monarch, can in reality hardly ever coexist. Vincentio later seems to rationalize Mariana's intercourse with Angelo--her loss of "sacred chastity"--as sinless, evidently because he believes their betrothal contract became a marriage contract at the moment of coitus. Still, the Catholic Duke directs Friar Peter to marry Angelo and Mariana (5.1.380-82). That leaves Angelo's "promise-breach" as his only explicitly pronounced crime. This is Angelo's failure to preserve Claudio from death once Isabella carnally submitted herself to him. But she never did so. And Claudio has not died. (26) Thus playgoers are left with a treacherous deputy who had despicable intentions that were not fulfilled. Brown has asserted that Angelo has neither committed a wrong nor broken a law (1996, 55, 57). One might object that Vincentio could prosecute Angelo for abuse of his office. But he never does that, and so that possibility never exists in the rapid, bizarre developments of the last act. Vincentio's forgiveness thus appears much easier and less exemplary than it would if Angelo had indeed violated Isabella and broken his promise to her by actually executing Claudio (Kwan 2017, 223-24). (27) In this sense, how holy is this pardon? And how successful in this instance is Vincentio's policy in controlling Angelo, or getting him to do what he wants so that Vincentio's forgiveness is not easy but in fact truly praiseworthy?

Finally, Angelo realizes the Duke somehow knows all. "I crave death more willingly than mercy," he pronounces, '"Tis my deserving, and I do entreat it" (5.1.480-81). This incredible exclamation has to delight Vincentio, for now his mercy will appear admirable. But the Duke can only legislate love, marriage, and civil order in Vienna by speaking imperative verbs to his subjects, so as presumably to compel their emotions and behavior to realize the various harmonies he imagines. In this respect, he harkens back to Shakespeare's Richard II and his questionable belief in the performative power of his royal word. Such imperative speech acts rarely promise well in Shakespeare's plays. And what of the sexual license and vice that make a sewer of Vienna? Playgoers doubt that imperatively uttered verbs will reform his subjects. Will the Duke enforce the fatal law against fornication? The answer remains unclear; Vincentio's pardoning the unregenerate, self-confessed murderer Barnardine suggests otherwise.

Measure for Measure is not the first play in which Shakespeare staged a ruler wrestling with a holy and a Machiavellian self. He had done so in 1599 in The Life of Henry the Fifth, wherein this monarch, explicitly called an exemplary Christian king by not only himself but by the play's Chorus (1.2.242-44; 2.0.6), practices Machiavellian policies, often in tension with Christian principles. Is King Henry primarily a Christian king or a cold Machiavel out to promote himself and his fame amorally? (28) The evidence for primacy is inconclusive. Having shed contrite tears over reburied Richard II, he has five hundred poor pray for his soul, as he, penitent, begs God's pardon (4.1.269-82). He puts himself in "God's hand" before the Battle of Agincourt (3.7.155), and he humbly gives God all the credit after the English victory (4.8.109-18). The English loss of less than thirty men prompts him to say, "O God, thy arm was here; /And not to us but to thy arm alone / Ascribe we all" (4.8.100-2). Yet Henry orders death for any man who does not give God the credit (4.8.108-9). His policy of not abusing the conquered French and paying for what the English take from them could be mistaken for a precept of Machiavelli's: "For when lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom," the king concludes, "the gentler gamester is the winner" (3.7.100-1). Henry's policies include "busy[ing] giddy minds with foreign wars" (2 Henry IV, 4.3.341-44) so as to divert rebellious subjects; getting the traitors Scrope, Cambridge, and Gray to pronounce their own fatal sentences under the guise of recommending such a one as advice to Henry concerning a man who railed against the king (2.2.12-180); disguising himself as a common soldier, Harry le Roy, so as to mingle with his troops in order to gauge their morale on the eve of Agincourt (4.1.83-206); (29) and ordering--cruelly--every soldier to cut his captive's throat so as to prevent the attacking French from reinforcements (4.6.35-38). (30)

A breach, a fissure, opens between King Henry the Fifth's Christian and Machiavellian selves that is never sealed (Hunt 2014). Nor is that which opens between Vincentio's holy and Machiavellian selves in act five and widens beyond repair. He may continue to urge Christian precepts upon others, but he can never embody them as he once did. So complicated are Vincentio's endeavors at the play's end to produce the results he wants that at one point, when he has returned in the robe and hood of friar Lodowick, he asks,
Is the Duke gone?
Then is your cause gone too. The Duke's unjust
Thus to retort your manifest appeal
And put your trial in the villain's mouth
Which here you come to accuse. (5.1.303-7)

Since this is true, and since his own criticism of himself causes Lucio and Escalus to consider the friar slanderous, it is not long before angry Lucio pulls back the hood to reveal prematurely Vincentio's face, potentially ruining his complicated scheme that involves spiritually "physicing" Isabella (4.6.5-8). Vincentio, to his dismay, finds his Machiavellian maneuvering overly cunning, forcing himself to speak against himself, that is to say, causing his holy self to deny a virtue--justice--of his political self. Publicly defrocked, his holy self can never again reliably use a friar's disguise to find an outlet in confessing and absolving his subjects. And his wiser subjects, once informed of his sensational bizarre scheming, will in the future likely suspect him of Machiavellian policy when his governing speech and behavior may be simply straightforward, as the best means of beneficial rule. Vincentio ends up unwed, and is likely to remain so, with only an untrustworthy cousin as a relative. And even that is insignificant in an apparently electoral or appointive duchy. At the play's end, Vincentio is essentially alone with Escalus who, despite being his only friend, has never really known the Duke's inner life.

Thomas Healy, in an essay titled "Selves, States, and Sectarianism in Early Modern England," also argues that Vincentio ends up with a reduced being in Measure for Measure (1995, 205-11). (31) For this critic, Vincentio has to lose his holy self, his friar self--not because it is at cross-purposes with a political self--but because it is a Catholic self, and so a reprobate self. (At least, it is from the perspective of a Calvinist Protestantism defining itself against a demonic alterity, Catholicism--a viewpoint Healy assumes Shakespeare adopts in this dark comedy.) Friars, Healy quite rightly notes, are almost always conniving, lascivious, or even devilish in Early Modern English drama (e.g., Marlowe's Dr. Faustus 1.3.24-27; Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well 2.2.24-25). This would especially be the case if the following statement is true: "In 1604," Healy asserts, "when Measure was first performed, Vienna was primarily perceived by the English as the administrative hub of a vast and shifting Catholic alliance hostile to England; an alliance, in which, so it had been widely rumoured in 1603, the Spanish Infanta known for her desire to enter the Poor Clares, had been proclaimed co-sovereign of England on her marriage to the Hapsburg Archduke Albert" (1995, 203). Healy derives this claim from Leah Marcus, who argues that Isabella and especially Vincentio share affinities with the Infanta Isabella and Archduke Albert (1988, 189-201).

Be that as it may, Shakespeare's dramaturgy in Measure for Measure is not nearly so reductionist as Healy's reading of both Vincentio and Vienna as reprobate would indicate. The Duke's character is much more complex because of the interaction of his various selves in their attempt to represent and harmonize his being, finally unsuccessfully however. Precedent existed, both in art and life, for churchmen who meddled in politics. Witness Shakespeare's Cardinal Wolsey intervening in Henry VIII's rule so as to amass wealth and power, only to lose them (The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth). Likewise, the playwright's Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely meddling in matters of taxation and international affairs in the first two scenes of The Life of Henry the Fifth. Machiavelli describes both wise and wrong-headed acts of devious policy by Pope Julius II, known as the Warrior Pope, and as "Il Papa Terribile," who liked to ride in armor and who waged war against Venice and former Borgia territories (1988, 41, 48, 56, 79, 86, 97, 127). Unprecedented, however, is Shakespeare's politician, Duke Vincentio, who becomes a friar who actually conducts priestly rituals with life-and-death bearing on Christian souls--that is, who does so intermittently while remaining a secular ruler. Shakespeare never condenses Vincentio's Friar Lodowick into the cartoon friar of popular drama.

Stephen Orgel has argued in Spectacular Performances: Essays on Theater, Imagery, Books, and Selves that gender and inwardness had become so fluid during Elizabeth's reign that fixed disguise could persuasively represent character such that it became radical identity--in the case of gender, even its opposite--for other characters onstage (2011, 36-59). Viola has so radically become Sebastian in Twelfth Night that Orsino, ultimately aware that she is undoubtedly a young woman, strangely tells her that he has to see her in the very dress she was wearing when rescued by the Captain before he can think of her as a woman and love her. Another woman's dress or a purchased wedding dress will not do. And Olivia has no problem marrying the stranger appearing precisely in the clothing of the young gentleman with whom she fell in love, even after she knows that he is a woman.

When Vincentio disguises himself as a friar, his robe and hood may so powerfully express his holy self that at moments he, in his own mind, is a friar, whose ministry possesses a sacred value. Orgel's intensely detailed examples of this phenomenon taken from the social and theater history of the period are sufficiently numerous to suggest that inward selves are at different times more or less fixed or more or less ascendant; and that the creative interaction between private and public forms of a person's or character's selves is more complex than the majority of late twentieth-century literary analyses of inwardness indicates. The publication date--2011--of Orgel's book Spectacular Performances, notably the section titled "Constructing the Self (7-79), appears significant. The chapter, "Seeing Through Disguise," first appeared then. Late twentieth-century publications on interiority laid the foundation for Orgel's fascinating exploration of private and public selves. Hopefully, this analysis of Vincentio's selves in Measure for Measure also builds upon and extends earlier treatments of Early Modern literary depictions of interiority.


(1) All references to and quotation of Measure for Measure and other Shakespeare plays are taken from the texts in The Norton Shakespeare (2016). Citation of Dr. Faustus refers to Marlowe (2014).

(2) For the claim, see Belsey (1985, 48); Howard (1986, 15); and De Grazia (1989). Also see Barker (1984) and Pechter (1986, 62-64, 66).

(3) Anticipating Maus's proof is Ferry (1983). Also See Slights (2005, 172-73).

(4) Maus (1995, 3). See Sidney (1965, 120).

(5) Menenius's recommendation of an interior survey of the self implies an inward self. When taken in conjunction with Sidney's declaration of an inward self, it tends to undercut Bruce Smith's claim that Early Modern English men and women would not have thought of their "self" in such phraseology but instead would have substituted for it "[p]hysical body, agent, [or] personage as a way of getting at their... identity" (2000, 9).

(6) For an excellent account of Isabella's and Mariana's private selves, see Colleran and Moroney (1993, 52-62).

(7) Questioners include Ide (1988, 112) and Gurnis (2014, 151).

(8) Also questioning the reliability of Escalus's judgement based on the appearance of Froth's face are editor J. W. Lever (1965, lxvi-lxvii) and Gless (1979, 218-21). "By the final scene of Measure for Measure," Debora Shuger concludes that "even a good and experienced magistrate like Escalus has been drawn into a vertiginous spiral of lies, betrayal, and calumny, and ends up howling for innocent blood [5.1.308-17, 327, 347-51]"--Lodowick's, the Provost's, and Mariana's and Isabella's (2001, 69).

(9) This play is dated 1603-1606 by Hunter (1997, 564).

(10) Reading The Prince in 1538, Cardinal Reginald Pole, living in Italy, thought Machiavelli's intention in writing this treatise was secretly to get rulers such as the hated Medici to follow his stupid, savage advice and so self-destruct in their persecuted subjects' equally vicious backlash (Benner 2017, xiii-xvii). Benner argues that a depressed, exiled Machiavelli adopted an ironic voice in The Prince, that of an ass or a compromising low-life equal of his countrymen who were toadying up to the Medici princes who had effectively abolished the Republic (231-51). Within this persona, the moral, republic-championing Florentine still lived, she believes. Whiffs of parody exist within Machiavelli's later dedication of The Prince to Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici, the de facto strongman of Florence; there is no evidence that the book was ever presented to a Medici or read by one of them (249-50, 251).

(11) Grady's conclusion was simultaneously reached by Falocco (2002). Grady's analysis ends with Hamlet, in which he sees the emergence of an anti-Machiavellianism that extends to a lesser extent into the tyrannical worlds of the Jacobean tragedies (2002, 45-47).

(12) For a preliminary listing of Vincentio's Machiavellian traits, see Cocoual (2012).

(13) See Niccolo Machiavelli (1988, 26). Noting that Gentillet's Contra-Machiavel had been published in 1602 in Simon Patericke's English translation, and that he mentions the story of Remirro de Orco several times, Holland (1959) believes that Shakespeare read about Machiavelli in this translation. But he more likely had read the entire Prince sometime in the 1590s in one of the manuscript translations circulating then. Raab notes that Patericke had translated Contre-Machiavel in 1577, a year after it was written, but then says that no evidence "exists that the French edition was being more widely read than Machiavelli in Italian, Latin, French, and English before 1602 or, for that matter, afterwards" (1964, 56).

(14) For a Machiavellian reading of Vincentio's character, one that makes him completely cynical and irreligious--far closer to Borgia than my more positive Machiavel Vincentio--see Planinc (2010).

(15) In 1605, Sir Francis Bacon published his revolutionary The Advancement of Learning, which prepared the way for the widespread recovery of the modern scientific method, where an experiment determined the probability of a hypothesis through conducting a number of tests on the make-up of a subject. Shakespeare would later provide an implicit comment on such scientific testing in Cymbeline (1609-1610), a late romance reflecting a Baconian dramaturgy. See Hill (1969, 27-30) and Hunt (1980). For the general importance of Bacon for understanding the late Shakespeare, see Cowan (2016).

(16) Cocoual mistakenly, I believe, states that Vincentio's friar's habit never expresses a friar's feelings, but always amounts to a theatrical costume to suit his Machiavellian scheming (2012, 142). Planinc notes that Machiavelli advises the Prince to "above all, master the appearance of being religious" (quoted in Planinc 2010, 149).

(17) Scripture quotations are taken from The Geneva Bible (1969).

(18) Sometimes the soliloquy of which these verses are part is claimed to be either "un-Shakespearean" or "a needless interpolation," but their relevance for the dramatic situation at the end of act three has been shown by Muir (1966, 135-36).

(19) For an excellent definition of the concept of Early Modern equity, see Shuger (2001, 28). For finding equity an interpretive key to Measure for Measure, see, among others Dunkel (1962); Pope (1949, 75-76); Dickinson (1962); Hapgood (1964); Skulsky (1964); Levin (1996); and Magedanz (2004, 327-28). Also see Fortier (1998, 1262).

(20) "Claudio's secret sexual union fosters new life and hope, whereas the prostitution in which Pompey and Lucio partake breeds disease" (Lewis 1983, 283).

(21) For the ambiguity of Early Modern English betrothal and marriage contracts, some of which bind without a church service, see Schanzer (1960); Birje-Patil (1969); Cook (1991, 151-233); and Barton (1994).

(22) Brian Gibbons, in the Introduction to his New Cambridge edition of the play, suggests that Vincentio's view of romantic love is so unhealthy that some truth may reside in Lucio's slanders of him as having a disgusting sexual taste (Shakespeare 2006, 40-41).

(23) Claiming that Isabella has become neither a novitiate nor a nun of the Order of the Poor Clares, and so throughout the play wears a gentlewoman's dress, ideally a black one matching her puritanical streak, is Gurr (1977). But this claim ignores Claudio's speech wherein he says that "[t]his day my sister should the cloister enter / And there receive her appropriation" (1.2.165-66), as well as Angelo's remark that, to catch his saintly self, the devil is baiting his hook with a "saint" (2.2.182). Vincentio's belief that the grace informing Isabella's being will keep her body always fair begs comparison with Angelo's belief that, even as the sun which causes the flower to flourish makes the carrion rot, so Isabella operates on him, not to bring out his virtue but to corrupt his inner self (2.3.167-70).

(24) Brown complicates Vincentio's postulated private sexual self by asserting that he has a strong homoerotic desire for Angelo (1997). For this critic, the burden of sexual overtones carried by Vincentio's discourse on all kinds of matters unrelated to sex provide evidence for Vincentio as latent sodomite. It is possible, but I think unlikely, that the Duke is sexually polymorphous.

(25) Vincentio could also have cited Matthew 15:19: "For out of ye heart come euil thoghts, murders, adulteries, fornicacions, thefts, false testimonies, sclanders."

(26) Thus James A. Knapp argues that Angelo is not guilty of breaching a promise (2011, 270).

(27) Kwan describes "the questionable nature of the Duke's own distribution of mercy" in act five (2017, 240-41). Knapp asserts that "in Measure for Measure Shakespeare risks a representation of Christian mercy that is strained beyond the breaking point" (2011, 271). If forgiving Angelo is easy, forgiving Barnardine should be next to impossible; for if this self-confessed criminal goes free, what kind of felon should never be pardoned? Richard Ide concludes that "[f]or Barnardine to be forgiven along with Claudio seems an abuse of justice on the part of the lenient Duke. This is Barnardine, after all, a murderer, whose guilt has recently been confirmed, who is not in the least penitent, and for whom even the compassionate Provost feels not a "jot" of pity [4.2.54-55, 136-46]" (1988, 119).

(28) An excellent exploration of this question is given by Young (2000).

(29) Citing a passage in The Prince about dissimulation as a precedent for Henry's disguising himself is Montini (1999, 217-18).

(30) Roe describes at length the Machiavellian expediency of this cruel command (2002, 63-67). For an alternative account of Henry the Fifth's Machiavellianism, see Grady (2002, 204-42) and Sullivan (1996). Sullivan argues that "[i]n attempting to employ Machiavelli's endless and self-destructive strategy in the manner he does, Henry V can be deemed a Machiavellian prince," playing "out a tragedy on French soil [cf. 1.2.103-10]" (145).

(31) Healy asserts that "[t]he major characters [of Measure for Measure]-The Duke, Angelo, Isabella--are all, in varying ways, portrayed as desirous of harmonizing their private and public lives in an orderly pursuit of virtue" (1995, 205). This critic does not, however, identify fully the selves informing these lives or describe their attempts, futile or successful, at harmonizing them.


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MAURICE HUNT, Research Professor of English at Baylor University, teaches upper-division and graduate courses in Shakespeare, English Renaissance Drama, and the works of Spenser, Sidney, and other Elizabethan and Jacobean writers. Recent books are Shakespeare's Speculative Art and The Divine Face in Four Writers: Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Hesse, and C. S, Lewis. He recently published these articles: "Brothers and 'Gentles' in The Life of King Henry the Fifth" in Comparative Drama; "Friendship in Marlowe's Dr. Faustus and The Jew of Malta" in Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England; and "Jonson vs. Shakespeare: The Roman Plays" in a special issue of The Ben Jonson Journal devoted to Jonson and Shakespeare.
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Author:Hunt, Maurice
Publication:College Literature
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Date:Jun 22, 2019

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