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Measure for Measure

(Writers and their Work)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  21,374 ratings  ·  943 reviews
Measure for Measure is among the most passionately discussed of Shakespeare’s plays. In it, a duke temporarily removes himself from governing his city-state, deputizing a member of his administration, Angelo, to enforce the laws more rigorously. Angelo chooses as his first victim Claudio, condemning him to death because he impregnated Juliet before their marriage.

Paperback, Folger Shakespeare Library, 278 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Simon Schuster (first published 1623)
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Ed Two sets of twins, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, are shipwrecked on the shore of an unknown land where they kill the princes in the Tower, r…moreTwo sets of twins, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, are shipwrecked on the shore of an unknown land where they kill the princes in the Tower, rally the troops to go once more unto the breach, are chased by a bear, murder the king, assassinate the emperor and are ill met by moonlight. They then catch the conscience of the king, get shipwrecked again, strangle a loving wife, go on a crusade and pretend to be highwaymen in the company of a royal prince while demanding a pound of flesh (and chomping on one's children in a yummy pie) and selling out Rome to the barbarians.

Everyone lives happily ever after except those who don't. (less)

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Average rating 3.68  · 
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Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shakespeare was pushing the boundaries with Measure for Measure.
A royal proclamation under Elizabeth 1st in 1559 strictly prohibited stage plays from dealing with matters of religion or current public issues of governance.
In the early years of the 1600's London was in a dilemma. The translation of the King James Version Bible had just begun yet lawlessness run rampant in London. Within sight of Shakespeare's own Globe Theater were houses of prostitution.
Mr.Shakespeare had an idea for a play bu
Bill Kerwin
May 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 16th-17th-c-brit

Why is it that I love the universe of this "dark" comedy so much, and why does it strike me as not really being so "dark" after all? Could it be because it is presided over by a "god"--the young Duke--who is priggish, diffident and comically vain (when his reputation is attacked by Lucio), and yet is unfailingly just and honorably susceptible to the attractions of female goodness and beauty? Is it because the "villain"--Angelo--is so pathetic and small that one never seriously expects he will wi
Book Review
3 out of 5 stars to Measure for Measure, written in 1603 by William Shakespeare. When I think of reasons why people find Shakespeare difficult to read or understand, this is the play that most comes to mind. It's a good play. But you won't get much from it on a single read. And if you're not a fan of classic literature, or easily able to understand language differences from 400 years ago, it will be even harder to digest this one. Part of me believes this isn't all that di
Ahmad Sharabiani
Measure for Measure, William Shakespeare
Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604. Originally published in the First Folio of 1623, where it was listed as a comedy, the play's first recorded performance occurred in 1604. The play's main themes include justice, "morality and mercy in Vienna," and the dichotomy between corruption and purity: "some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall." Mercy and virtue prevail, as the play does not end trag
Sean Barrs
I struggled with this, big time. But, when I read it for a second time I began to see how it all fit together. Then I went for a third attempt, and saw something else entirely. There are always different layers of meaning in Shakespeare’s work, and it’s always quite hard to make a solid interpretation. Someone out there will argue against what you are saying, and rightly so because who is to say where the true meaning of a piece of literature is? Not me, that’s for sure, all I can do is try to f ...more
Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
Read for school
Not my favourite, but still enjoyable!
Olivia-Savannah  Roach
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved Isabella’s character and how she handled everything thrown her way. You could tell she desperately wanted to save her brother but didn’t want to stoop to the corrupt official’s agreement. The themes of law, justice, mercy, forgiveness, hypocrisy and corruption were very well handled here and are still so relevant in this day and age. I didn’t really care about the side characters and whatever they were wittering on about in their scenes, but it was tolerable. The duke did prattle on for ...more
✨    jamieson   ✨
shakespeare writing about sin and vice and hypocrisy but setting it in Vienna so Queen Lizzie doesn't come down too hard on him, iconic.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shakespeare, 2017, drama
“Alack, when once our grace we have forgot,
Nothing goes right; we would and we would not.”

― William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure


Let me start this review with a personal bias -- I PREFER it when politicos pretend to be priests, rather than when priests pretend to be politicos. Apparently, Shakespeare is on MY side. "Measure for Measure" is one of Shakespeare's "dark comedies" or "problem plays" like Troilus and Cressida and All's Well That Ends Well. It is certainly dark. It could easily be
❀ Rose ❀
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

🔹 Rating explanation
〰 Holy crap, I loved this so much. Up until now i’ve only given two of Shakespeare’s plays five stars (Macbeth and Othello). When I first started Measure for Measure however, I thought this play was for sure going to be a new favorite. But as much as I adored it, I did not like the ending (but we’ll get to that later) which is why, although this is a fantastic play, I couldn’t, in good conscience, give it the full 5 stars.

🔹 Reading experience
〰 I went into this k
Jun 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
This is a much more troubling play than a comedy really has a right to be. To be honest, it is very hard to call this play a ‘comedy’ – unlike Much Ado or Twelfth Night, the laughs don’t exactly come thick and fast. In general outline this could easily enough be considered a romantic comedy – girl in trouble, boy cleverly rescues girl, girl marries boy; a perfect description of the genre? But the central story to this one is a very strange idea for a comedy.

Here’s the main story-line with the in
Rosemary Atwell
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How to describe Measure for Measure? It's certainly one of Shakespeare's more ambiguous outings but I love its strangeness and twisted moral message, where the majority of the characters marry at the play's end as a form of punishment for their beliefs and actions. Happiness is a strange bedfellow in this so-called comedy.
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might be my new favorite Shakespeare play. It's nowhere near perfect but in all of Shakespeare's canon, I feel like this play (for its elaboration of misogyny and the abuse of power) is the most relevant out of the bunch. It is absolutely chilling to read some of the scenes in here, look at the reception history (especially what reviewers throughout the centuries have thought of the female characters in this play) and just shake your head at the cruelty of the human race.

Measure for Measu
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading "Of Spousals" in the Treasure Room of the Harvard Law Library, I wrote two Shakespeare Association of America papers on the handshake spousals-marriages in this play, approved by Judge Henry Swinburne of York Minster, whose courtroom still exists.*** Probably more than any other Shakespeare play, Measure for Measure gains immensely from the context in which it appeared. This Ivo Kamps brings to his edition* of MFM with myriad documents from 1604 or thereabouts, such as the Canons o ...more
Roy Lotz
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the third of Shakespeare’s “problem plays”—along with Troilus and Cressida and All’s Well that Ends Well—and I think certainly the greatest. These three plays are given a special category because their genres have proven difficult to pin down. Measure for Measure, like All’s Well that Ends Well, is superficially a comedy; yet it takes place within a world with loose and uncertain values, and often causes us to scratch our heads rather than to laugh or smile.

The plot is flagrantly absurd.
David Sarkies
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy
A Tale of Forgiveness
30 October 2016

When I was recently in London I picked up a box set at The Globe containing a collection of plays that they had filmed and kindly decided to release. As such when I sat down on the train and began reading this play I half expected to be able to then go and watch it at a later date. As it turned out one of the plays that wasn’t included in the box set was this one, which was a real shame because when I was at the Globe I did see a number of plays that weren’t
The last of Shakespeare’s comedies and I get the distinct impression that he was already done with that genre and somehow got convinced to do “just one more.” As part of my goal to see all of Shakespeare’s plays performed, I attended a screening of Measure for Measure, filmed in Stratford, England. If you struggle with Shakespeare, I can’t recommend highly enough that you see performances of his works, rather than try to read them. In this production, I appreciated how well they used the stage, ...more
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shakespeare
Wow. Only Shakespeare could take such an unlikeable bunch of characters and implausible plot and create such an enjoyable play, though a fair lot of the fascination is of the “train wreck” variety – desire to see Angelo get his “just” desserts, amazement at the Duke's stupidity, and disappointment at Isabella's priorities. The scene I really missed was the one where the oh-so-holy Isabella asks Mariana to “fill in” for her with Angelo in order to save Isabella's brother. That was a request that ...more
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Measure For Measure is one of those Shakespearean plays that doesn't fall into a state of quietness after the first reading. It is so intricate and quotable and meaningful that even reading a line twice gives something new. It is too troublesome to be called a comedy and yet, comedy it is. I have read a few of the Shakespearean comedies, but an underlying dark theme that is a part of this play couldn't be found anywhere. Its ambiguous ending also gave an unsettling time.

Angelo is given the power
Jeannette Nikolova
May 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
2015 Reading Challenge: A Book You Were Supposed to Read in High School But Didn't

I honestly don't have an explaination for this one. The characters didn't sit well with me. The dilemma about the brother's life(who was after all guilty), and the sistet's virtue annoyed me greatly, as I think that crimes deserve punishment.
Also, whatever comic element there was in this, it was lost on me. I didn't find anything in "Measure for Measure" funny. All of the character were too flawed to be fun or in
Luís C.
Lisbon Book-Fair 2017.
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
Probably my favourite Shakespeare I have read so far!!

Really quite originally explores the very traditional issues of justice and equality, showing how no one's completely free from 'sinful' desires and temptations. Lord Angelo's terrible! Isabella's admirable! The innuendos laughable! A comedy without romance carrying the storyline... though I thought there finally won't be any unrealistic crazy romances that drastically end the play in a marriage, in the end there were still more than one of s
Hossein Sharifi
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
William Shakespeare

'An Angelo for Claudio, death for death'!
Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure;
Like doth quit like, and Measure still for Measure.

Mariana by John Everett Millais (1851).

1. Plot type  Comedy
1) Shadow of darkness
2) Pressure of darkness
3) Everything comes to light

2. Claudio is sentenced to death for fornicating (having sexual intercourse) with his girlfriend and getting her pregnant. He is headed for the chopping block if someone doesn't intervene on his behalf.  Conflict

3. Is
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Fast to read and very entertaining. Really excited to discuss this one in class!

I have conflicting feelings about the Duke, honestly I think he is as bad as Angelo, even though he thinks himself above anyone else. The Duke simply didn't want to dirty his hands by tainting his otherwise "clean" reputation. So Angelo was put in charge.
Angelo is a young, inexperienced man, who is very cold, detached from emotions and "virtuous" -or so did Shakespeare wants us to believe... I don't think he is blam
Cindy Rollins
Shakespeare answers the question: what is self-righteousness and how do we deal with it? He answers the question with grace and humor.

The plot revolves around this good and "just" man who signs up for Ashley Madison never realizing his employer is monitoring his computer. In the end he is punished by having to marry his betrothed. Fair dealing for the betrothed in that culture. It always seems to me that Shakespeare has a fair amount of respect for women and even goodness and a fair assessment
Measure for Measure, as the title suggests, is all about weighing out appropriate portions – of love, of mercy, of justice. The plot is simple enough. The Duke of Vienna, concerned that his people have thrown off restraint and have sunk too far into liberty, leaves the city in the hands of Angelo, a man notorious for his strictness and inhuman discipline. As Lucio observes in two instances (once to Isabella and again to the Duke):

“…Upon his place,
Governs Lord Angelo; a man whose blood
Is very sno
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
Not one of his best, I think. There's so much scope for moral debate here: the death vs dishonour theme is pretty dominant, namely in Isabella's refusal to give up her virginity to save Claudio, but her decision is never questioned and it should be. Instead Measure for Measure focuses on justice, slander and (of course) marriage. In the end, though, pretty much everyone gets what they deserve, at least in the eyes of the domineering Duke Vincentio, so if I compare it to the other problem play I' ...more
Me: Is this the most important Shakespeare play in our now?

I: That's a bit of a leap, doesn't it? His histories are such powerful studies of leadership and war -- which seem pretty damn timely -- and what about his tragedies? Caesar? Hamlet? Titus? The Scottish Play (sorry, I'm performing Shakespeare at the moment)? Coriolanus? And the rest? They all seem pretty fucking timely.

Me: Okay. Fair ...

I: But?

Me: But ... the problem plays. Are they less timely? Isn't the very nature of the problem play
Sarah AlObaid
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Not my favorite play by shakespeare but it does open the door for a lot discussion and the sharing of opinions since it revolves around a moral dilemma and deals a lot with the social issues of its time.
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I made it 51 years on this earth without encountering Measure for Measure. Perhaps it's for the best: the mature theme of how to discern and judge justly is weighty with the cycles of human development .. it helps to have a few grey hairs to have lived through the many perspectives that Shakespeare offers through his characters.

Perhaps we shouldn't mark the beginning of modern psychology with Freud. Shakespeare has the best character analysis of any modern thinker I know.
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr ...more

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