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Home » , » Critically analyse the character of Angelo in Measure for Measure
Measure for Measure is a Dark Comedy of William Shakespeare. It is enriched with different characters. Angelo is one of the most important characters in the play. We form a most favourable view about Angelo from the opening scene. Firstly,the Duke chooses him as his deputy. Secondly, Escalus expresses a high opinion about Angelo. In fact, the Duke selects Angelo as his deputy to govern the country during his absence. At fist, Angelo is a strict ruller. He starts governing the country very strictly. He does not show any laxity in enforcing the laws. At last, he proves to be lecherous and villainous.

Escalus believes that Angelo is eminently fitted to govern the country during the absence of Vincentio. Angelo possesses virtues as the Duke thinks. His personality and behaviour indicate what kind of man he is and what might be his past record. The Duke says in this regard--

"Angelo: There is a kind of character in thy life That to th' observer doth thy historyFully unfold."
In fact, Angelo has revived even those laws which were intended to maintain decent standards of conduct and behavior in the country. He has raised some of them that had been in disuse for many years. He has issued a proclamation that all the brothels in the city must be dismantled. Disgraceful practices as prostitution and pimping must be totally stopped.

Angelo has received a certain law which had become almost a dead letter. He has condemned Claudio to death in accordance with that law. Claudio says that Angelo is behaving like a tyrant and a dictator. In sentencing Claudio to death for a sexual offence, Angelo does seem to have gone to an extreme. He has really a reputation for being a cold-hearted man having no weakness for women. He was not made by a man and a woman in the ordinary way in which human beings are begotten. He was spawned or conceived by a sea-maid. He was begotten by the mating of two different kinds of fish whose progeny is devoid of all sexual desire.

Isabella comes to Angelo to appeal to save the life of her brother, Caudio. At first, Angelo shows his strictness and seriousness in implementing laws. Then he starts deviating from his stand for the extreme beauty of Isabella. He forgets what he has already done with Mariana. He proposes to have sex with Isabella. He says if she surrends her body, he will spare her brother from death sentence. So has to face the serious charges brought against him by Isabella. Mariana has also brought a similar charge against him. During Isabella's recital of her accusations against him, Angelo remains calm and unperturbed. There is no need for him to defend himself against her charges because the Duke himself here plays the role of his defence counsel.

At last, we see that the Duke now has to punish Angelo.Angelo is first directed to get married to Mariana whom he had betrayed by having broken off his engagement with her several years ago. Immediately after, he had got married to Mariana. Then the Duke announces a sentence of death against Angelo. The charge against Angelo is that he had ordered the execution of Claudio who was guilty of the same crime which Angelo himself had soon afterwards committed. If Claudio deserves death, so does Angelo. This is measure for measure. Thus it is proved that Angelo is a smiling villain in Measure for Measure. Shakespeare has portrayed Angelo very vividly for playing his vital role.


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