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Home » , » Comment on the character and role of Isabella in Measure for Measure?
Measure for Measure is a dark comedy of William Shakespeare which is enriched with its characters and Isabella is one of the three most important characters in the play. She is indispensable to the main action of the play. She plays a vital role in the development of the plot of the novel. Her character is very important. Her position of 'absolute chastity' is untenable. She is the Heroine and the Main Spring of Action in the Play. She possesses some remarkable characteristics like chastity, practical conduct, saintly grace, intelligence and so on. Now we will comment on the character and role of Isabella. Isabella is the sister of Claudio who is charged with adultery. He has lived with a girl by the name of Juliet without having married her and made her pregnant. That is why; Angelo sentences him to death. So to save her brother, she comes to Angelo. Angelo has already felt a sensual attraction towards Isabella. However, he asks her what she will do for him for her brother's life. He asks if she will surrender her body to him or not. Isabella answers that even she is ready to receive her own death sentence; she will not yield her chastity. Saintliness is the main characteristic of Isabella's character. Saintliness means moral perfection or perfect chastity besides such qualities as kind-heartedness, compassion, mercy, and a spirit of service. The saintliness of Isabella's character is clearly seen in her decision to renounce a secular life and to enter a convent as a nun. She is an embodiment of conscience. Her saintliness is not of the passive, timid, or merely meditative kind, but an active pursuit of holiness through exercise and discipline. Her severity is only a part of the vital energy of her heart. Living actively she must live purely. She has enough strength to endure physical suffering, but she would not endure dishonor. Isabella is severing in youth beauty and with her saintly grace and moral grandeur. She inspires a reverence even in a degenerated person like Lucio. Isabella is on the point of taking the veil of earthly renouncement, when we meet her first at the convent. She is one of a consecrated sisterhood of St. Clare. However, Isabella is wise, gracious, virtuous fair and young. She has exalted principal and firmness of character. She possesses a depth of reflection and persuasive eloquence, self-denying generosity and capability of strong affections. In this respect, Mrs. Jameson says, "Of all the characters, Isabella alone has our sympathy." Isabella is an incarnation of goodness. Her participation in the bed-trick is an important ingredient in the main plot of the play. Her role is really remarkable in this play. She becomes a real saint.


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