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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: March ::
Re: *MM* Ending
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0224.  Sunday, 19 March 1995.
 
(1)     From:   John Boni <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Mar 1995 10:31:54 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0220 Re: *MM* Ending
 
(2)     From:   Piers Lewis <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Mar 1995 11:23:57 -0600
        Subj:   MM ending
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Boni <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Mar 1995 10:31:54 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 6.0220 Re: *MM* Ending
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0220 Re: *MM* Ending
 
I commented earlier on the "MM ending" thread.  The conversation has evolved
(?) somewhat to the `will Isabella return to the convent' issue.  A friend of
long-standing, a director and tech designer, convinced me long ago that she
would/could never return the sheltered life of St. Clare. Indeed, we should
recall the Duke's speech on active virtue early in the play, "if our virtues go
not forth from us, it is as if we had them not" (I may be slightly off--don't
have a text in front of me)  Then think of Isabella's pleas for Angelo's
life--against all reason, isn't that what mercy is in Shakespeare, see Portia,
MV, as well as MM--in the face of all that has occurred, so much of which has
been directed at her.  Is it likely that she will return to the cloistered
life?  I don't think so.
 
It is, then, certainly equivocal that she will accept the Duke's proposition.
But perhaps I am treating her as a character.
 
John M. Boni
Northeastern Illinois University
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Piers Lewis <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Mar 1995 11:23:57 -0600
Subject:        MM ending
 
Johnson's remarks about the conclusion of this play are worth repeating:
"Angelo's crimes were such, as must sufficiently justify punishment . . . and I
believe every reader feels some indignation when he finds him spared. From what
extenuation of his crime can Isabel, who yet supposes her brother dead, form
any plea in his favor.  'Since he was good 'till he looked on me, let him not
die.'  I am afraid our Varlet Poet intended to inculcate, that women think ill
of nothing that raises the credit of their beauty, and are ready, however
virtuous, to pardon any act which they think incited by their own charms."
 
But he also said: "It may be observed, that in many of his plays the latter
part is evidently neglected.  When he found himself near the end of his work,
and, in view of the reward, he shortened the labour to snatch the profit."
That certainly seems to apply to this one.  I don't think Shakespeare was much
interested in Isabel as a person anyway;  the real interest of the play is
elsewhere.  This is shakespeare's most intellectual play.  When Isabel's role
in the play's dialectic of guilt, sin, passion and justice is finished and the
ironic conclusion of the Duke's attempt to play god is at hand, he dismisses
them both without a backward--or forward--glance.
 
Piers Lewis
Metropolitan State University
 

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