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MonkeyNotes-Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare
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THE LITERARY FORM

It is extremely difficult to clearly classify Measure for Measure as a single form of drama. Through history, it has been called a tragedy, a comedy, a tragi-comedy, and even a satire. Some critics have even regarded Measure for Measure as an allegory, with the Duke as the Lord, Angelo as the fallen angel, and Isabella as the Virgin Mary. There is also romantic intrigue in Measure for Measure, for the play is filled with impersonation, misunderstanding, love gone wrong, and love gone right. Judged as a Christian parable, the play is a plea for justice and mercy.


Most critics have argued that the play is a comedy because of its happy ending. However, it is not called a romantic comedy since there is no spirit of adventure or joyous abandon, which are the hallmarks of the romantic comedies. Here, intellect rather than imagination drive the action of the play. And in the end, it is rather a dark comedy, where there are glimpses into the oppressive gloom of the prison and the oppressive deceit of the human heart. Measure for Measure is a drama of ideas, and it is the ideas that are the problems. At the spiritual level, excessive zeal is corrupted to pride, and cloistered virtue subordinates charity to chastity.

It is definitely difficult to categorize Measure for Measure. At best, it is probably called a tragicomedy, since the play offers a tragic theme but with a happy closure

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