prash_s90
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#1
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hey im making notes on context for this play, but i dont know any

can anyone help please!!! all ive got is King james 1 came onto throne (theme of leadership-comparison to duke)



thanks !
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hobnob
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They told you to read the play historically? Christ!
Anyway, the only thing I know about the "context" of the play is that it is supposed to have been written around the same time as Othello. You could probably find similar themes if you looked really hard, but that's about it.:dontknow:
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Flubi
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Theres loads about syphilis in the beginning of the play- thats relevant contextually because there was apparently a widespread outbreak of it at the time of writing.
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Nats a7x
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Hey
I'm new to all this so bare with me....
Context of Measure for Measure
King james came to the throne 1603 (he was a foreign king as he was Scottish)
the British people were weary of social anarchy (look to the character of Lucio - as he represents anarchy as well as entertainment)
mostly he was a popular king however extremely paranoid (he had a disastrous childhood as he saw his father and mother being killed)
he believed strongly in witchcraft and conspiracy (the gunpowder plot of 1605)

Critics have said that the Duke has links to both Christ and James - he reprimands Lucio for talking bad about him - James was a big believer in the punishment for "slanderers of princes".
James also secretly attempted to observe his subjects (often donning a disguise)
he made last minute reprieves of judgement
believed in Divine right of kings (the duke is said to be the divine arbiter of justice)
There really was the demolition of the brothels - it was said to stop the plague
fornication was seen as a great sin.

Hope this helps!!!!
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lottie123
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If writing about Isabella, historical context is VERY important in understanding her decision to sacrifice her brother's life in order to save her honour..'Before our brother is our chastity'. To modern audiences this is a bewildering concept, but for women in Jacobean times a 'shamed life' was hateful in two ways; firstly a woman who lost her virginity before she married would be branded for life, no other man would be willing to marry her and secondly it was believed that this was sinful and God would punish her in the afterlife. This argument can also be used to understand why Isabella and the Duke used Mariana in the bed trick. Without Angelo, Mariana would be seen as a tainted woman having been abandoned by a man already so through marrying her off to Angelo, the Duke is ensuring she does not have to live a shamed and lonely life without ant support.
However, some critics have argued that Isabella is wrong in not sleeping with Angelo as another common belief in Jacobean times was that a woman who tempted a man must accept her wrongdoing and silently suffer the punishment. Isabella does recognise her 'sin' (as it would have been in those times) in tempting Angelo at the end of the play when she says that before he laid eyes on her he was a good man, but she does not physically accept punishment which may also have been shocking to the audience. She does not play upto her stereotypical role of the silent woman.
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lottie123
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Also, to expand on Nats' post, James 1 would most likely to have been at the first performance of Measure of Measure so Shakespeare undoubtedly wanted to flatter the newly appointed King in the play by basing the Duke on his character.
King James had published 'Basilikon Doron' before the play was written, which outlined the characteristics essential to be a successful ruler. He advised a monarch to not only enforce God's law but also to follow this law himself. Paralells can clearly be drawn with this advice and Measure for Measure as in the very last scene the Duke shows his obedience to the New Testament approach to morality by tempering justice with mercy.
And also, religious context is important...throughout the play there are frequent references to Scripture and some critics even believe the play is an allegory of Christianity with the Duke acting as God, Isabella as Christ and Angelo as the fallen angel.
Hope this helps
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Ebircs
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Just some points to consider when thinking of lottie123's ideas:

Though Mairianna was used for the bed trick, the Duke threatened to kill Angelo after their marriage so that Mairianna could replace the dowry that her brother lost at sea. We're not perfectly sure that he didn't mean it since it took Isabella and Mairianna's begging before he agreed to let Angelo go. It was probably just a stunt, but if Mairianna did lose Angelo, then she wouldn't be able to marry anyway.

For anyone like me who has to compare M4M versus Chaucer's Wife of Bath, you can compare the way women in M4M are shown as reliant on their husbands while the Wife of Bath was a total maneater Totally different from what one would expect in a time even before Shakespeare.


Also, when it comes to the idea of the woman tempting the man, Angelo himself questions who is the greater sinner "the temper or the tempted" and then blames himself, not Isabella because Isabella only offers prayers and nothing else. Though Shakespeare being Shakespeare, the play can be read in so many ways.


I'm not sure if it goes into context or not, but remember to look at the Authors themselves. Shakespeare isn't know for his feminist views and so one can generally take his female empowerment with a pinch of salt. There's a lot of sarcasm to be read between the lines.
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Sploder321
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#8
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(Original post by lottie123)
Also, to expand on Nats' post, James 1 would most likely to have been at the first performance of Measure of Measure so Shakespeare undoubtedly wanted to flatter the newly appointed King in the play by basing the Duke on his character.
King James had published 'Basilikon Doron' before the play was written, which outlined the characteristics essential to be a successful ruler. He advised a monarch to not only enforce God's law but also to follow this law himself. Paralells can clearly be drawn with this advice and Measure for Measure as in the very last scene the Duke shows his obedience to the New Testament approach to morality by tempering justice with mercy.
And also, religious context is important...throughout the play there are frequent references to Scripture and some critics even believe the play is an allegory of Christianity with the Duke acting as God, Isabella as Christ and Angelo as the fallen angel.
Hope this helps
10 years later!! Thank you so much alevel English lit exam today
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