Lucio’s character is a mixture of many different traits. He is a go-between, a good friend, a heartless lecher, a comic, a liar, and a rebel to the end.He is a bridge between the world of the bawds and the world of the main characters like the duke, Angelo and Claudio.
He is a true and loyal friend to Claudio and a loose friend to the bawds. He has a strong sexual interest in women. He is a comedian, and many of his jokes have sexual undertones. He lies and slanders the duke to his hidden disguise as a Friar; and then slandered the ‘Friar’ to the duke.
Claudio, sentenced to death for fornication, is late to meet Lucio. Lucio jokes with two gentlemen about soldiers, prostitutes and venereal diseases: “Behold, behold, where Madam Mitigation comes. I have purchased as many diseases under her roof as come to/judge.” Once he hears Claudio had been arrested and condemned to death, Lucio stops joking and rushes off to “learn the truth of it”.
He isn’t as devoted to his friend Pompey, who asks him for bail. Lucio refuses: “Well then, imprison him: if imprisonment be the due of a bawd”. Lucio shows his loyalty to Claudio by getting Isabella to plead for mercy to Angelo: “Go to Lord Angelo and let him learn to know, when maidens sue men give like Gods”. Lucio respectfully sees Isabella as a higher being: “I hold you as a thing enskied and sainted”.
Lucio encourages us to like Isabella with gentle taunts-“Hail, Virgin”, “Kneel down before him, hang upon his gown”, “You are too cold”.Lucio, unaware that the duke is dressed as a Friar, slanders the duke and accuses him of sleeping with prostitutes, among other things he hadn’t done. He says the duke was “a very superficial, ignorant, unweighing fellow.” He ingratiates himself with the ‘Friar’:LUCIO: Sir, I know him, and I love him.
DUKE: Love talks of better knowledge and knowledge with dearer love.There is a lot of dramatic irony in the conversations between the duke, seen as the ‘Friar’, and Lucio. The duke brings this situation upon himself and other audiences have said that maybe Lucio knew the ‘Friar’s’ true identity. The duke stands up for himself but stays in the ecclesiastical role: “Either this is envy in you, folly, or mistaking.
The very stream of his life and the business he hath helmed must, upon a warranted need, give him better proclamation”. Lucio gets very close to the truth about beggary: “It was a mad fantastical trick of him to steal from the state and usurp the beggary he was never born to”. Lucio accuses the duke of being a woman chaser: “he’s a better woodman than thou tak’st him for”. Lucio contradicts himself when he says the duke shouldn’t have gone to Hungary as he felt that he had neglected his duty: “Thou conclud’st like a sanctimonious pirate”.
Lucio is hypercritical when he says Pompey should be imprisoned, and so refuses to stand bail because Lucio believes that Pompey has done wrong for being a bawd, although Lucio has been a customer in Brothels many times.By reaching a close point to the truth with the ‘Friar’ the audience perceives Lucio as sharp, intelligent and witty. He uses humour a lot, which is why he is seen as a ‘clown’, alike to Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Lucio goes between the two worlds. Some of Lucio’s jokes have sexual implications: “Carnally, she says”, which is also seen as sarcastic.
He feels that marrying Kate Keepdown, the mother of his child and a prostitute, is “worse than hanging”. While he is a ‘clown’ he can also be serious, and the audience listens to him more when he is. His wit implies he is a clever man with something to say.He dislikes Angelo and the law that he has decided to enforce.
He thinks that Angelo is cold: “a man whose blood is very snow-broth”.Lucio could easily be given the role of a narrator in this play as he is an observer in Vienna. He openly gives his opinion and uses choric function whilst he watches and comments on everything he sees, even when his comments are unwanted.Although he had slandered the duke he loosely uses the word “fantastical”: “If the fantastical duke of dark corners had been home, he had lived”.
He is referring to the death of Claudio, although the death didn’t take place. His use of “fantastical” is sarcastic as well as ironic.He disagrees with the new law and plainly says that sex is as natural as eating and drinking.Lucio is extremely cheeky with the duke:DUKE: You were not bid to speak.
LUCIO: Nor Wish’d to hold my peace.He also tells one-lined jokes: “He was drunk then. My lord, it can be no better!” He doesn’t take offence when he is told to be quiet:DUKE: Sirrah, no more!LUCIO: Enough, My Lord.Lucio is punished by the end of the play.
He is made to marry Kate Keepdown, much to his disgust. Called a Fantastic, Lucio, one who is full of imagination, a trait especially dangerous when linked with the meaning of Lucio-Light-which may refer to both his morals as well as his wit is the opportunities of privileged society in Vienna. He shows an outer glitter that covers inner corruption. Lucio acts as a foil for several of the characters in the play while at the same time functioning as a social barometer for the disease in Vienna.
While Claudio has violated the laws of the city and some audiences would say Gods Law and is being punished for it he shows repentance bespeaking an inner moral integrity:LUCIO: Why, how now, Claudio! Whence comes this restraint?CLAUDIO: From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty/A thirsty evil, and when we drink we die.Angelo and Lucio are judged and found guilty, but both are forgiven. Lucio is forced to marry a “punk” and he feels it is “pressing to death, whipping, and hanging”.Other audiences have seen Lucio as a character who has decency, shrewdness and clear mindedness and perceptive.
I agree with this statement and strongly disagree that Lucio is just a comic. I believe Lucio is a character of many different traits, including that of a comic.