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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: November ::
Re: Isabella
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1100  Sunday, 8 November 1998.

[1]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Friday, 6 Nov 1992 09:48:41 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1096  Re: Isabella

[2]     From:   John Cox <
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        Date:   Friday, 06 Nov 1998 09:12:13 -0500
        Subj:   Isabella and Augustine

[3]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Friday, 06 Nov 1998 14:54:29 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Isabella and Chastity


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Friday, 6 Nov 1992 09:48:41 -0800
Subject: 9.1096  Re: Isabella
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1096  Re: Isabella

Isn't the sense of the play that Isabella may, even should, sleep with
Angelo to save her brother's life, but the brother may not, should not,
ask her to do so?

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Cox <
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Date:           Friday, 06 Nov 1998 09:12:13 -0500
Subject:        Isabella and Augustine

I haven't read all the posts about Isabella, but I infer from what I
have read that the following reference has not been cited.  In
*Narrative and Dramatic Sources*, Geoffrey Bullough includes a portion
of Augustine's "On the Sermon on the Mount" as an analogue to MforM (vol
2, pp. 418-19).  The passage in question involves a woman whose husband
urged her to sleep with an unjust judge in order to free the husband
from a sentence of death.  The woman complied with her husband's order,
and the judge executed the husband anyway.  Augustine throws up his
hands about this one:  "Out of this story I make no argument of any
sort.  Let each pass judgement as he wishes."

John Cox

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Friday, 06 Nov 1998 14:54:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Isabella and Chastity

Barbara Hume sympathizes with Isabella in *MM* 3.1 while Bill Godshalk
sympathizes with the condemned Claudio. But aren't we supposed to
sympathize with both characters? Isabella is put in an intolerable
position, and so is Claudio, as I can attest to, having seen prisoners
of war who expect to be dead in the morning. The real culprit, of
course, is Angelo. But I must say that I agree, finally, with Bill.
Isabella's "high regard for her virginity" does show a flaw because,
after all, Claudio's argument is right:

                                Sweet sister, let me live.
                        What sin you do to save a brother's life,
                        Nature dispenses with the deed so far,
                        That it becomes a virtue. (130-33).

Isabella's response does *not* accord with our great sympathy for
Claudio's plight: "O you beast!" Isabella cannot put herself in
Claudio's place and feel what he feels. This is a *flaw* in her
character that the rest of the play erases. But she is still a
fundamentally good character whose experience in the play helps her to
know herself better and to become a more truly charitable person. the
same is true, of course, for the Duke, and maybe for some of the other
characters as well.

With charity for all,
--Ed Taft
 

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