Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 793. Sunday, 14 November 1993.
Date: Saturday, 13 Nov 1993 15:33:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0786 Q: Isabella
Comment: Re: SHK 4.0786 Q: Isabella
I'm not aware of *any* evidence that Isabella consciously uses her
sexuality to tempt Angelo. Claudio notes that his sister has a "prone and
speechless dialect" that moves men, but this quality seems to be something
that she does not knowingly employ. However, there is nothing in the text
of her scenes with Angelo that absolutely prevents her from using her
sexual attractiveness to influence him. Personally, I'm more interested in
the consequences of such a choice: if Isabella consciously arouses Angelo's
lust, the audience may more likely sympathize with his desire rather than
condemn it as a perverse longing to befoul virtue. This sympathy then might
make it easier to forgive Angelo at the end of the play, but it will also
lessen the force of Isabella's anguished decision to plead for his life.
University of Scranton