The Last Act of Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare Essay

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The Last Act of Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare
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Measure for Measure is one of Shakespeare's unclassifiable plays. It
was written in 1603 and is one of his most enigmatic and unfathomable
works. It is normally referred to as a problem play and, up until the
20th century it was seen as one of Shakespeare's worst works, due to
the fact that many were uncertain as to the character's motives.
However within the last century, it has undergone a revival and many
believe it to be one of his greatest works. The play contains a
wonderful mix of serious and intense drama interspersed perfectly with
moments of flippancy. To give an example, in one of the most serious
scenes in which Isabella is pleading for her brother's life, Lucio is
standing in the background, throwing her encouraging remarks.

II.2 line 130 "thou'rt i'th'right girl, more o'that"

It is this mix that so marks the play out from pure comedies such as
Midsummer Night's Dream in which there is hardly a sombre word, and
Hamlet, in which humour scarcely plays.

The climax of the play is in the last act in which the balance of
levity and gravity is carefully maintained. The last act solves many
of the dilemmas brought up in the course of the play, however it does
also create some quandaries to which the solutions are left to our
imaginations. There is much exuberant drama in the last act of Measure
for Measure. Notably, there are three moments of revelation in which
all the characters are amazed. These are; when Marianna is unveiled,

... middle of paper ...

their climax and are resolved. Although it does leave a couple of
major, and one minor problem unresolved, they do not detract from its
sufficiency. Far from detracting from its adequacy, I feel that these
unresolved difficulties increase its merits as an ending to the play.
They leave something for the audience to think about and ensures that
the ending is not too simplistic. Shakespeare does not treat us like
children and spell out every last detail. To my mind, leaving some
aspects of the conclusion to the audience's own judgement makes this
play more sophisticated and far less shallow than some of his
comedies. This play ends on a positive note with two couples more or
less successfully matched and order restored to Vienna, whilst it
leaves the theatre goer to mull over the final fate of Isabella and

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