October 27, 2015

Measure For Measure and the Nature of Justice

Mark Lawson discusses the enduring importance of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure here for the Guardian. He notes,

Not all observers, it’s true, see the play as universal. At the matinee I attended of the Globe production, a large school party was visibly and audibly bemused by the tenacity of Isabella’s defence of her virginity, which includes rebuking her brother, when he wonders if she couldn’t just do this one thing to save his life, with the startling argument: “Is’t not a kind of incest to take life / From thine own sister’s shame?”

But the character’s willingness to be martyr for chastity – and Angelo’s moral crackdown, backed by capital punishment – would seem less quaint to the Tea Party wing of the Republicans, at the Vatican, or in countries and cultures subject to Islamic sharia law. And so the conflict in the Vienna of the play between sexual licentiousness and censoriousness has an obvious contemporary topicality, while the play’s broader exploration of the nature of justice is perennially relevant: at the Globe, the production is part of a season under the umbrella theme of “Justice & Mercy.”

No comments: