The Duke of Vienna decides to go away, and leaves Angelo in charge while he is gone. However, the Duke really disguises himself and sticks around. Claudio is imprisoned for adultery, and is sentenced to death. His sister Isabella, who wants to become a nun, pleads to Angelo for his life. Angelo says he will only agree if Isabella will yield her body to him. Isabella refuses. The Duke steps in, still disguised as a friar, and suggests that Isabella agree to the terms, but switch places with Marianna, the woman to whom Angelo is bond to by a "pre-contract." In the end, the Duke comes back, everything is put to right, and the good people live happily ever after, while the bad people suffer some consequences.
This report prepared by Megan E. Davis
Isabella is about to enter a convent to lead the chaste life of a nun when she hears that her brother is imprisoned and sentenced to death for impregnating a prostitute. She must convince the deputy duke to pardon her brother, but the official has a strong physical attraction to young Isabella. He offers to pardon the brother if she married him. Isabella is then torn between her chastity and her love for her brother. There are also comic subplots with the other prisoners and the disguised Duke obvserving the goings-on.
This report prepared by Jessica Marler
Vincentio, Duke of Vienna, announces he's going on a long trip and leaves his deputy Angelo in charge. The Duke actually disguises himself and sticks around to see what happens. Angelo, a hard-liner, cracks down on the city; one of his first acts is to condemn to death a young man named Claudio for having premarital sex with his fiancee. Claudio's sister, Isabella, who is about to enter a convent, comes before Angelo to plead for her brother's life, and the acting duke says maybe he'll show some leniency if Isabella will sleep with HIM. Appalled, Isabella tells her brother to prepare for the execution. Claudio has a speech that prefigures Hamlet's much more famous meditation on non-existence. There is the usual comic subplot with unsavory characters that could have come right out of Brecht-Weill. Because of the grimy setting and sequence of events, and an unbelievably pat ending, this last of Shakespeare's comedies has often been called a "problem play," but its ambiguities and message (something along the lines of St. Matthew's "Judge not, lest ye be judged") can make it very appealing to a modern reader. As always, it helps to see it performed on stage.
This report prepared by David Loftus