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The play which deals with a particular social or moral problem is called a problem play.Measure for measure as a problem play one of them. In other words, a problem play is a kind of play in which some questions are raised but no specific solution is given. Measure for Measure is regarded as a problem play. Many confusing questions are raised here but no satisfactory answers are given to them. So the play is called a problem play. Now let us try to evaluate it as a problem play.

Measure for Measure has rightly been described as a problem play. This play raises several questions to which Shakespeare has supplied no answers. In fact, it has to be kept in mind that the author of a problem play does not set out to provide any solutions to the problems which he raises in his play. Shakespeare provides no answers to the several questions with which we find ourselves faced while going through the play. There is the problem of law versus mercy. Then there are other questions which trouble us. How important is physical purity? Should, or should not the sister surrender her chastity to save the life of her brother? What should be our attitude towards forced marriages?

As the Duke's deputy, Angelo revives certain laws which had been neglected by the Duke himself and which had therefore remained in disuse for several years. Of course, there can be no objection at all to the revival of laws, because laws are essential to regulate social life. in accordance with one such law. Angelo sentences Claudio to death on a charge of fornication. Now, the  question that arises is how far Angelo is justified in passing this sentence of death. Claudio admits that he is guilty of having made his beloved Juliet pregnant without having been able to many her. He explains to Lucio that he wanted to marry her but he did not do that only by circumstances.

During her first interview with Angelo, Isabella pleads for mercy to be shown to her brother. Isabella says that mercy becomes a man in authority more than any symbol of the office which he holds. Now the problem here is whether Angelo is right or Isabella is right, whether the demands of the law are stronger or the claims of mercy have more weight. Different readers will give different answers to this question. During the second meeting between Angelo and Isabella, Angelo frankly tells Isabella that if she surrenders her body to him then he can pardon her brother. Now there is a conflict between sensuality and the demands of official duty in the case of Angelo. Thus the problem before us now is whether Isabella is justified to save her brother's life in exchanging her chastity or not.

However, Angelo is ordered by the Duke to marry Mariana. The marriage is immediately solemnized under the Duke's instructions. Now, the question that arises is whether it is possible to defend this kind of marriage. will Angelo be happy as Mariana's husband, and will he try to keep Mariana happy? This is a crucial question. Another victim of a forced marriage is Lucio. Lucio is also ordered by the Duketo marry the whore whom he had made pregnant and who had even given birth to a child by him. In this way, almost all the elements of a problem play are present in the play. So Measure for Measure can be considered as a problem play.


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