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Home » , » Is the ending of Measure for Measure morally, psychologically and dramatically satisfactory?
Measure for Measure ends with a kind of justice which is meted out to the various offenders in the play. There is a wide diversity of critical opinion with regard to this kind of justice. Some critics feel that the end is not justified. Others support the ending of the play for not exhibiting legal justice. Rather at the end justice is tempered with mercy. At the very beginning of the play, we find that the Duke delivers his authority to Angelo. Angelo is reputed to a man of strong moral character and a stern enforcer of laws . As soon as the Duke left, Angelo begins his work with an iron hand in administrating the country.

Angelo revives certain laws which had long remained unused. He is determined to put an end to all criminal activities. Claudio's offence is formication. So Angelo arrests him and sentences him to be beheaded. On his part, it is a political necessity to put into practice the law regarding general adultery. Isabella is the sister of Claudio. She pleads with Angelo for her brother's life. Being moved to lust Angelo tries to seduce her. But Isabella is a religious-minded woman. She does not want to surrender her body for saving her brother's life.

Claudio begs Isabella to save him even at the cost of her honour. At this critical moment, the Duke intervenes the matter and comes forward to help her. It is Mariana who acts a substitute for Isabella. It is the Duke who controls and manipulates all the characters. None of the characters acts accordingly to their volition, especially at the end of the play. The Duke exposes Angelo's sins and compels him to marry Mariana because he has seduced her. He withdraws the sentence of death against Angelo on the ground that Claudio has not been executed in spite of Angelo's order for his execution. Besides this, the Duke thinks that Angelo has been already punished by having been forced to marry Mariana.

Lucio is also guilty of formication and slenderness. He deserves death according to the law. But the king punishes him by ordering him to marry whom he has seduced. Mistress Overdone and Pompey are put to imprisonment. Bernardine, the reckless drunkard is handed over to Friar Thomas for spiritual care. In Act V, the entire tangle is undone and we go through its universal forgiveness of the odious weakness, and we feel as if justice were of no matter in comparison with ease and peace. It is really in the matter of Angelo, more like a light scot at justice than a display of mercy. It is a postulate of our story that Claudio has committed a capital offence. Angelo has not committed a crime in his union with Mariana, to whom he has been public betrothed. Besides, Isabella is conscious that she herself has been the cause of Angelou's fall.

In estimation, we can say that the play is considered with the difficult of doing justice. The final word of this play is mercy. Isabella urges forgiveness because a Christian must forgive. But justice becomes a wrong when it is carried to an extreme. Because after the close of Measure for Measure, the social state will worsen. Its guilt will be more concealed, but it will not be less, but more. The Duke's punishment and again withdrawal of it does not solve the problem. Thus the problems in the play are of such kind that no natural solution is possible for them. The conclusion of the play does not adequately resolve the complex moral issues. Rather the play presents due to unsatisfactory ending.


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