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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: May ::
Isabella's Chastity Once More
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1031  Friday, 12 May 2000.

From:           Dennis Taylor <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 May 2000 16:39:44 -0700
Subject:        Isabella's Chastity Once More

I taught Measure for Measure forty years ago, and recently re-taught it,
and am astonished at the difference in student reaction.  All students
now agree that Isabella should have sacrificed her chastity to save her
brother, that the brother's life is much more important.  Forty years
ago, students believed that she was right to refuse to make that
sacrifice, since chastity is worth much more than life.  Are there any
reflections on this difference?

P.S.  I used to believe the difference was Protestant versus Catholic
(i.e. the monastic values done in by the Reformation), and readers broke
down along those lines.  But no longer, apparently.  Still I remain
puzzled that as with many Shakespeare cruxes, the reader's own
allegiances seem absolutely to determine the interpretation.  Is no
negotiation possible?

Dennis Taylor

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Boston College
 

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