Duke Vincentio in “Measure for Measure” Character Analysis

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The character of the Duke is portrayed by Shakespeare as a really complex hypocritical and contradictory character. To many critics. he is conveyed as a Machiavellian Prince utilizing others for his ain political terminals. and to some critics. a God-like figure proving the pathology of power in Vienna. Despite these two polar opposites the character is nethertheless a character of ambivalency. Contradiction is one of the chief subjects of the drama as is appearance versus world. jurisprudence versus grace and justness versus clemency.

The Duke ne’er lets travel of the marionette strings. drawing events and pull stringsing other characters in the drama. Vincentio’s motivations for act uponing the events are controversial ; it has been argued that the Duke enjoys watching others autumn. and besides uses others to make his ‘dirty work’ for him. He has besides been called a moral coward. and this essay will analyze his different characters in order to happen out how Shakespeare conveys the complexness of the Duke through his linguistic communication picks.

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First the character of the Duke can be divided into three different characters ; the public duke. the politician ; the Friar Lodowick. and the private Duke. The private Duke appears to the audience in Act one. scene one. when he seems probationary. in his convoluted linguistic communication. renouncing his power to Angelo. This faultfinding vocabulary pertaining to the legal discourse is used to asseverate the Duke’s place of authorization and office when he asks Escalus of Angelo ‘what figure of us think you he will bear? ’ The usage of the word ‘bear’ shows the audience that he recognises the duties of being the swayer. and Angelo will hold to digest these duties for Vincentio. The usage of the word ‘figure’ shows us that the Duke may besides be disconcerted by the possibility that Angelo will discredit the bench. The noun ‘figure’ intending a person’s public image shows his concern.

As the Friar Lodowick. the Duke’s linguistic communication alterations from legal discourse to spiritual discourse. In Act 2. 3. the Friar tells the Provost ‘bound by my charity and my blest order/ I come to see the stricken spirits’ . This line is rich with spiritual vocabulary. The abstract noun ‘charity’ is used to intend that the mendicant comes merely to assist others. non for his ain addition. The audience can see that the mendicant is really the Duke come to descry on Angelo. made obvious by the Duke’s earlier statement ‘if power alterations purpose/ what our seemers be’ . which creates dramatic sarcasm.

The Duke’s clever switch in discourse becomes more obvious through Act 2. 3 when he uses linguistic communication such as ‘ ? girl. but lest you do repent/ As that the wickedness hath brought you to this shame-/which sorrow is ever toward ourselves non heaven? ’ Such religion-orientated words such as ‘daughter’ . ‘repent’ . ‘sin’ . and ‘heaven’ are all associated with discourse refering to spiritual figures. However. it is non merely in the figure of the mendicant that the Duke uses spiritual statements.

In Act 5. 1. the Duke uses the Old Testament learning ‘An oculus for an oculus. a tooth for a tooth’ when judging Angelo ; ‘An Angelo for a Claudio’ and ‘measure still for measure’ . However. he is non so rough when judging the provost. Escalus. Isabella and Mariana. The Duke says ‘the doubleness of the benefit defends the fraudulence from reproof’ in judging those who have sinned in order to salvage others ( the provost ) . or to maintain their rules intact ( in Isabella’s case- her celibacy ) .

Another scriptural instruction ‘judge non. lest ye be judged’ or ‘let he that is without wickedness cast the first stone’ is used when the Duke tells Isabella that ‘he [ Angelo ] would hold weighed thy brother by himself’ . The subject of ‘weighing’ is brought up many times in the drama. for illustration. when Lucio calls the Duke ‘a really superficial. ignorant. unweighing fellow’ . and in the Duke’s address ‘and step still for measure’ .

St Matthew 7: 1-2 says ‘do non judge. or you excessively will be judged. For in the same manner you judge others. ’ These lines seem to be echoed in the Duke’s statement for Angelo against Isabella. However. Angelo is shortly seen by all as a adulterer and a liquidator. and the Duke uses the matrimony to penalize both him and Lucio. Angelo doesn’t want to be married and neither does Lucio. Therefore the Duke uses matrimony as a penalty alternatively of decease. He commands Angelo with the imperative ‘look that you love your wife’ and tells the provost to ‘proclaim it? around the city’- that any adult female disvalued by Lucio should come forward.

In get marrieding both Lucio and Angelo. he is perpetrating them to a life of wretchedness. far worse than being executed. and besides mortifying and dishonoring them. Neither of the matrimonies are likely to last long. and justness is merely done for Mariana in footings of jurisprudence. non in footings of love. Mariana is given what she wants. but the matrimony will necessarily neglect. Kate Keepdown is besides done justness in footings of jurisprudence. but may non desire to be married. as she will no longer be able to go on being a cocotte.

Besides. this is non truly just for Lucio. no 1 else had been charged for fornication with a cocotte. and the lone ground Lucio is being judged so badly is because he slandered the Duke.

Lucio called the Duke ‘a really superficial. ignorant. unweighing fellow’ and besides told the Friar that ‘his [ the Duke ] usage was. to set a ducat in her clack-dish… he would be intoxicated too’ . This creates dramatic sarcasm as the Duke is really the Friar in camouflage. ‘A ducat in her clack-dish’ is a euphemism for being with cocottes. The Duke’s response to this is shown in his soliloquy in Act 3. 2.

‘No might nor greatness in mortality. Can reprimand ‘scape: back-wounding defamation. The whitest virtuousness work stoppages. What king so strong. Can bind the saddle sore up in the calumniatory lingua? ’ The Duke is evidently disconcerted by Lucio’s slander. and Lucio is his first concern in Act 5. 1. when he says ‘sneak non off. sir. for the Friar and you must hold a word anon- ballad clasp on him’ The Duke’s public image is of import to him. and he treats Lucio harshly because he had marred the Duke’s character. How the Duke seems is of import to him ; but the individual he really is. is ever concealed from the populace.

The Duke conceals himself. non merely through his actions and linguistic communication. but besides through his apparels. ‘Cucullus non facit monachum’ says Lucio ; the goon make’st non the monastic. This is true of the Duke. as he is non a Friar. The Duke could be described as the biggest seemer. or greatest cheat in the drama. and one of his biggest lies is feigning to be the Duke.

After the expose of the Duke. the Duke transforms into the politician. with the ability to carry and direct others through rhetoric. He is clearly directing everyone after the expose as is apparent in the undermentioned lines [ To Escalus ] ‘sit you down… come hither Mariana? Go. take her there and get married her instantly’ . Vincentio uses the rhetoric manner of poignancy to appeal for Isabella’s manus in matrimony. Trusting on her reaction to the Duke’s salvation of Claudio. he informs her ‘your mendicant is now your prince’ and ‘give me your manus. and say you will be mine/ he is my brother too’ .

The Duke’s character is wholly different at the terminal. from the manner it is at the start of the drama. He said to Angelo ‘I love the people. but do non like to present me to their eyes’ and ‘I of all time loved the life removed’ . However. in Act 5. 1. the character of the Duke is delighting in his control over justness and clemency. while at the same clip seeking to look righteous to Isabella.

In decision. the character of the Duke is a contradictory profession to be a pious Friar and so lying to and lead oning others. He uses the Old Testament instructions of ‘an oculus for an eye’- ‘an Angelo for a Claudio’ and so forgives each character- even Barnardine who has committed slaying. However. despite how much the audience is compelled to dislike the character of the Duke. there is no challenging over his existent map. He is the beginning of most of the comedy in the drama. supplying amusing alleviation in one of Shakespeare’s darkest dramas. It is besides possible to find that none of the actions of the drama would be possible without the Duke’s cunning which he willfully admits ; ‘I will use trade against vice’ .

The Duke leads the audience through confusion before eventually stoping the drama by renewing the society where Friar Lodowick saw ‘corruption furuncle and bubble/ boulder clay it o’errun the stew’. The Duke provides one of the most of import parts in that his character shows the difference between. and necessity of. justness tempered by clemency. Shakespeare manages to make the many pretenses of the Duke by altering his registries discourse and vocabulary picks skillfully. so that each of the character is absolutely plausible.

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Duke Vincentio in “Measure for Measure” Character Analysis. (2017, Sep 28). Retrieved from


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