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Measure For Measure

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Summary of the plot or story of Measure For Measure
The plot centres on Angelo, the righteous deputy empowered by the Duke of Vienna, to rule whilst he wanders about disguised as a friar to investigate the moral decay of his dukedom. Resorting to an archaic law against fornication to enforce his strict standards of morality, Angelo proceeds to condemn fornicators to death.

One of these fornicators is Claudio , a young man who has had pre-marital sex with his fiancee. When Claudio's virginal sister Isabella comes to plead for her brother's life, Angelo's lust is aroused and he uses his power to blackmail Isabella into his bed. It's her virtue or Claudio's life.

She threatens to expose him but is told "who will believe you?" Fortunately the Duke overhears. Angelo ends up in the bed of Mariana , a woman from his undisclosed past, Claudio is allowed to live happily ever after with his fiancee, and the virtuous Isabella ends up the Duke's bride.

Information provided about the play
William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of his plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers (there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era). A collection of his works did not appear until 1623 (a full seven years after Shakespeare's death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of Williamís plays in the First Folio. Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print.

Date first performed
It is believed that it was first performed December on 26th 1604. In the Elizabethan era there was a huge demand for new entertainment and Measure For Measure would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play.

Date first printed
It is believed that the script was first printed in 1623 as part of the First Folio. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.

The setting for the play
The setting for is Vienna.

Theme of the drama
The play is categorised as a Comedy

Number of words in the script
The number of words in the script, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 23,200.

Most important characters in Measure For Measure
The most important characters in the drama are:
Vincentio, Duke of Vienna, Angelo, Lord deputy in the duke's absence, Claudio, young gentleman of Vienna, Juliet, Beloved of Claudio and Isabella, Claudio's sister.

Famous Quotes / Quotations
The quotes from the play are amongst Shakespeare's most famous including 'Our doubts are traitors' and 'The miserable have no other medicine but only hope'. Details of these famous quotes follow, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that these quotations can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

"The miserable have no other medicine but only hope". (Act III, Scene I).

"Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt".
(Act I, Scene IV).

"Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall".
(Act II, Scene I).

History of the work
The drama is a work of fiction and bears no relevance to any historical facts.

William Shakespeare's Main Source
Shakespeare probably found the story in Promos and Cassandra, by George Whetstone (1550-1587)

The Cast and Characters
Click the link to access a list of all the cast and characters.

Text - script of Measure For Measure play by William Shakespeare
Cast and characters in Measure for Measure a play by William Shakespeare
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