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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: March ::
Measure for Measure and a Puzzle
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0181  Wednesday, 15 March 2006

[1] 	From: 	Kenneth Chan <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 15 Mar 2006 08:39:01 +0800
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0173 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle

[2] 	From: 	Carol Morley <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 15 Mar 2006 10:31:17 +0000
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0173 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle

[3] 	From: 	Abigail Quart <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 15 Mar 2006 06:50:53 -0500
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0173 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Kenneth Chan <
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 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 15 Mar 2006 08:39:01 +0800
Subject: 17.0173 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0173 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle

Todd Pettigrew writes: "... Claudio demands that his sister be raped to 
save his hide."

Is there any consensus here? Does Claudio not have a case for making 
such a request? i.e. Should Isabella sacrifice her chastity to save her 
brother's life, or should she preserve her chastity and let her brother 
die? This question does not appear to be clearly resolved in the play... 
Or is it?

Kenneth Chan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Carol Morley <
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 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 15 Mar 2006 10:31:17 +0000
Subject: 17.0173 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0173 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle

 >Carol Morley suggests to her class that "Claudio was a character guilty
 >of nothing that the author hadn't done himself in real life."
 >
 >That may be so when the play begins, but it is not long before Claudio
 >demands that his sister be raped to save his hide. My students thought
 >that was pretty interesting.

It's worse than that, Todd- one of the nastier subtleties is surely that 
both Angelo and Claudio in turn ask Isabella for her consent to unwanted 
sex- it could not then have stood up in court as a prosecutable rape 
after the event. Messy, confusing and squalid... that's Shakespeare's 
Vienna!

Carol

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Abigail Quart <
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 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 15 Mar 2006 06:50:53 -0500
Subject: 17.0173 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0173 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle

Todd Pettigrew wrote:

 >"That may be so when the play begins, but it is not long before Claudio
 >demands that his sister be raped to save his hide. My students thought
 >that was pretty interesting."

I know this is how Measure is being taught. I hate it. It's so 
politically correct, so aware of delicate sensibilities and it is such a 
pile of pasture pastry.

Claudio was not "demanding" that his sister be raped. He was asking that 
she prostitute herself. He was asking that she trade the use of her body 
for a brief time for his entire life.

Oh, horrors, horrors. Am I saying prostitution is better than rape? 
(Knickers twisting everywhere.) No, I'm trying to say that we have 
become ridiculously detached from the reality of women's lives for the 
past zillion years. In Elizabethan England, and elsewhere from the dawn 
of time to the present day, women without family or money gave it up for 
food. For a skirt.  For an eighth of a bed. When the choice was between 
life or death, women chose to do what Claudio was asking of Isabella. 
They chose to live.  Isabella is pretending she wouldn't. Yeah, she'd 
give her life forever but not her body for an hour. Were there ANY women 
in that audience? Because I can imagine lips pursing and much mental booing.

The PROBLEM with Measure is that too many people do not get that 
Isabella is WRONG. The Duke is WRONG. Angelo is WRONG. These three 
sanctimonious asses are dealing with life by refusing to live it. When 
in Shakespeare is that ever a good thing???? This play was written at 
roughly the same time as Hamlet. When Hamlet asks, "To be or not to be," 
is the answer supposed to be NOT?

Claudio is the GOOD guy. He should NOT be in jail. He should be with 
Juliet preparing a home for their child. He has made a small human error 
in anticipating his wedding. Any law that would have him die for that is 
WRONG.  It's not a moral dilemma. It's not a "problem." It's WRONG.

The plain unvarnished LOOK AT IT truth is that women have lifted their 
skirts for baser reasons. And will continue to do so. Not because it's 
fun.  Not because they're full of sin. But because they have few or no 
other options. Any god or religion that would condemn a woman for 
surviving is WRONG.

Measure doesn't examine piety. It examines FALSE piety.

If you have a brother and he is condemned to death, but you can save him 
by screwing the jailer, do YOU refuse? One way the brother you love is 
alive, the other he is dead. Yeah, you'll have to live with the memory. 
But you'll both be alive. What's your choice?

Somewhere, in this cruel world, a real woman (and sometimes a real man) 
is sadly making that decision. Think she'll let her brother (father, 
mother, son, daughter, sister, uncle, best friend) die?

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