Measure for Measure demonstrates that the natural urges and instincts of humanity cannot be contained or regulated by an imposed system of rules and laws. Discuss.
Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare is a 'tragicomical' play based in Vienna, a city riddled with decay and corruption under the rule of Duke Vincentio. While, to an extent, Shakespeare's Measure for Measure demonstrates that rules and regulations cannot always accommodate humanity's natural instincts and urges, there are some instances in which this statement is proved wrong. The very concept of law enforcement is first introduced By Angelo. Before Angelo takes over rule of Vienna, laws have been allowed to lapse and as a result, they are no longer respected or obeyed. The ideology of enforcing strict laws is introduced by Angelo in order to restrain the unprincipled sexuality and immorality that is highly rampant throughout the streets of Vienna. In addition, these laws supported abstemiousness and reinforced justice. However, in stark contrast to these expectations, Duke Vincentio's enforcement of law allowed for leniency rather than severe repercussions. The themes of sexuality, morality and gender stereotyping intertwine to highlight the idea that rules are both able and unable to contain and regulate certain aspects of human urges and natural instincts.
While Duke Vincentio provides the first instance of laws constricting the natural human urges and instincts, he also shows that there are some aspects of humanity that cannot be contained. Although very conscious of the rules and regulations in Vienna regarding the existence of brothels and adultery, the Duke chooses to turn a blind eye. This thought is introduced through the thriving nature of Mistress Overdone's brothel business. Residents of Vienna closely associate the Duke with a laxness toward laws. Because he had permitted for laws to exist whish were not seriously enforced, they were no longer respected or obeyed and were taken lightly. On the other hand, Angelo took his own ‘measures’ to enforce the ‘ban on brothels’. In spite of his imposition of these rules and regulations, Angelo himself is unable to restrain his natural urges and is seen to have broken the boundaries. The Duke specifically states that “we shall see if, power change purpose, what our seemers be”. This statement reveals that the Duke is planning on making Angelo the vice Duke in order to complete his work. In doing so, The Duke is a law breaker which breeds even more corruption. In contrast, Angelo’s use of power was different to the Duke’s, as Angelo believed that rules must always be followed in order for one to live a good life. By deputizing Angelo, the Duke creates a structure for him to be tested. Both Angelo and Vienna were being tested by the departure of the Duke.
Sexuality and temptation as well as greed is held in low regard, from Angelo’s perspective. Treated as a sexual object due to Angelo’s increasing lust, Isabella was blackmailed...