Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: November ::
Re: Isabella
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1076  Monday, 2 November 1998.

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 31 Oct 1998 16:52:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1071 Re: Isabella and Sex

[2]     From:   John Velz <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Sunday, 01 Nov 1998 02:08:06 -0600
        Subj:   cloistered virtue

[3]     From:   Ed Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Sunday, 01 Nov 1998 14:38:02 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Isabella and the Active Life


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 31 Oct 1998 16:52:22 -0500
Subject: 9.1071 Re: Isabella and Sex
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1071 Re: Isabella and Sex

Dave Evett writes "that a Protestant audience or reader [of Measure for
Measure] gets educated in the alternative view of the active life by the
play itself."

I wonder what kind of education a religious skeptic or atheist might get
from this play. Let's assume, for a moment, that an ironist like Marlowe
were watching the play in 1603 (or there abouts). Would he greet this
alternative view of the active life with raucous laughter? Would he get
a different kind of education?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sunday, 01 Nov 1998 02:08:06 -0600
Subject:        cloistered virtue

Dave Evett asks about the relevance  to Isabella of Christian doctrine
about cloistered virtue and virtue in the vita activa.. *MM* actually
begins with an insistent admonition on this subject:  see "Heaven doth
with us as we with torches do, not light them for themselves."  etc
etc.  The Duke works variations on this thought (from a locus classicus
in I forget which Gospel, about not hiding your light under a bushel).
Those who think Sh. ignores this doctrine, or criticizes it, have to
contend with the first speech of the play and with the relevance of that
speech to several other characters besides Angelo-from Isabella to
Barnadine by way of Mariana-who emerge from a walled-in life to active
engagement with the world.  Hence the walled spaces of the play:  the
convent; the prison; Mariana's moated grange in St. Luke's Parish, and
maybe Angelo's private study.

Cheers!

JohnVelz

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sunday, 01 Nov 1998 14:38:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Isabella and the Active Life

Carol Barton agrees with my point, citing Milton to good effect, while
Dave Evett prefers to reconstruct the understanding of the audience.
Both views seem valid to me. But I wonder if the structure of the play
reinforces Dave's view that "a Protestant audience or reader gets
educated in the alternative view of the active life by [*MM*] itself."
On the contrary, it seems to me that the business of the play is to
force characters out of retirement (Catholic or any other kind) and face
the world's problems. In this sense, doesn't it seem that the play is a)
endorsing the Protestant view of the "active" life and b) thrusting its
characters into it, even with all its attendant problems? Isn't this
what Shakespeare does to both Isabella and the Duke? And isn't this one
reason why, having presumably learned that the contemplative life is not
for them (because it does not fit their gifts?), they are "well matched"
at the end of the play?

Presumably, being "Mrs. Duke" will be an active role indeed, and will
form the basis of an active partnership between Vincentio and Isabella.
Moreover, I think that the parallels between Angelo's lusting after
Isabella and the Duke's "surprise" offer of marriage establish that,
like Angelo, the Duke finds Isabella immensely attractive, both
physically and intellectually. [Maybe?]

Tentatively,
--Ed Taft
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.