marriage, measure for measure, shakespeare
During the Renaissance, violence and immorality had grown unchecked in England, and as a new Puritan government came into power, leaders determined to rein it in through drastic social and legal reform. But when certain behaviors that are morally acceptable in public opinion and practice come in conflict with the regulations and ideologies of new leadership, could justice actually be more effective when tempered with forgiveness and opportunities for restitution, rather than strict enforcement? These challenges were especially involved in perceptions of what was acceptable and legal in shifting marriage practices during Shakespeare's time. In addition, more widespread access to Bible texts, and differing perspectives between Puritan leadership and popular Catholic traditions led to a variety of interpretations regarding the appropriate course of action in enforcing new marriage policies. Responding to these conflicts in his play Measure for Measure, Shakespeare contrasts elements of unforgiving Mosaic Law with merciful "Sermon on the Mount" doctrine to question the enforcement of newly imposed Puritan marriage regulations over traditionally accepted marriage practices. An understanding of these changing practices, therefore, is essential to a proper interpretation of the play, which may otherwise be misconstrued as irreverent, sexist, or at least confusing from a modern perspective.
Intensive reading, discussion, and (in some sections) viewing of plays from the comedy, tragedy, romance, and history genres.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Bullough, Brinn, "Marriage Politics in Measure for Measure" (2012). Student Works. 98.
Class Project or Paper
© 2012 Brinn Bullough
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