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Thought and Discussion Questions
Daniel Colvin

The title of the play evokes many biblical references, most obviously Matthew 7:1-5.In this passage hypocrisy is criticized, and the method is to apply to the hypocrite his or her own standard as the measure for the hypocrite's own actions. How does this passage apply to the play? Who is/are the hypocrite(s)? How are they judged? Note, too, that the Matthew 7 passage is part of a larger discourse by Jesus (often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount). Earlier, in Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus had offered another standard for judgment: love. How does this passage fit the play, if at all? Can you reconcile the two biblical passages?

In what way(s) is this play a Problem Play? What social ills are being criticized? What techniques does Shakespeare employ to make sure his audience is made aware of these social evils?

Both Angelo and Isabella come off poorly to most readers. What moral or character defects do they have? How are their problems representative? universal? problematic? Does either learn through the course of the play? If so, what is learned and by what means; if not, why does no learning occur?

The play has much to say about the law, obviously. What does it say about those who enforce the law? What does it say about the difference between the letter and the spirit of the law (e.g., what difference is there between the situation between Claudio and Julietta and that between Angelo and Mariana?)? Is justice served at the end of the play? Explain your response.

Does the play present the Duke as a good ruler? If he is not a good ruler at the beginning, has he improved by the end? Why or why not?

Think about the staging of the final scene, especially the very end of the play. Is the ending "happy"? Is it dramatically and thematically satisfying? How would you stage/block it? Why?

Compare and contrast Measure for Measure with other comedies--Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean- classical and modern.

What is Lucio's role in the play? Does he deserve the punishment he receives? Why or why not?

What is the function of the comic subplot (the Pompey plot)? In what way(s) does it comment on or interpret the main action of the play?
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