Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

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“I am always directed by you” – Mariana “I am directed by you” – Isabella. Both these lines are addressed to the Duke. What do they suggest about women status in this play? What other evidence can you find to support your view? Measure for Measure is a play written by William Shakespeare in the seventeenth century which crucially presents the role of women. Women were viewed as pure and were not expected to be promiscuous, but dependent on men with few options or choices. Shakespeare’s interpretation of women in Measure for Measure very much reflects society’s opinion of women at the time, where men had more freedom and should be given more respect than women. The society at that time was a patriarchal one, where a male was a considered a God like figure and ultimately the leader, and below him was the king and then the nobles. However, although the society gave men more rights than women, Measure for Measure demonstrates that men also had more responsibilities. This is shown through the situation with Claudio and Juliet, as although they are both equally to blame for Juliet's pregnancy, it is Claudio facing the death penalty. The women of Measure for Measure are generally quite low in the ranks of importance and respect; they are not spoken of with any importance. Juliet is the object of Claudio's sexual release and Mariana is the long lost forgotten fiancée of Angelo, who was abandoned by him when she lost her dowry in a shipwreck. The only woman who kind of breaks the trend of the lowly women is Isabella, who has the courage to stand up to Angelo for her chastity. In the first half she is pushed between Angelo and Claudio while she decides what to do and refuses to respond Angelo’s advances, then in the second half, she takes her orders from the Duke which shows that on the other hand she is still obedient toward the Duke, following all of his instructions. In Act V, Scene 1, the Duke shows his opinion of women when talking to Mariana, he says: “Why, you...
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