Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure is considered a problem play by many scholars across the globe. It is suggested to take outside help, either in form of journals or blogs, just to name a few, to understanding the play and the historical context along with it. The following sources may help provide different perspectives of the play, grasp difficult concepts and understand Shakespeare’s agenda.
Kreider, P. V. “The Mechanics of Disguise in Shakespeare's Plays.” The Shakespeare Association Bulletin, vol. 9.4. (1934). 167–180. JSTOR. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/23675558?ref=search-gateway:09dcbf2ddb90c5ee8f079300afaf9a17.
Kreider’s article offers an analysis of Shakespeare’s disguises. He focuses on why and how the disguises take place. He mentions three points that are relevant in understanding the nature of character’s disguises: intent of disguise and why the masks are as flimsy, identification of disguised characters in relation to the audience and lastly relevance of disguised characters to other characters within the play. The article is easy to follow as Kreider takes the reader step by step through the process of disguising a character. Most of his textual evidence are from Shakespeare’s plays. This article is not only helpful in terms of understanding the nature of disguise in Measure for Measure, but it encourages a general appreciation for all of Shakespeare’s plays that involve some kind of masquerade.
Mabillard, Amanda. "Horatio." Shakespeare Online. 2000. http://www.shakespeare-online.com/playanalysis/horatiochar.html.
Shakespeare Online is a website dedicated to Shakespeareans. The site delivers a great variety of features and it is very easy to maneuver through links such as directories or upcoming events. The directory further provides in-depth information about plays, Shakespeare’s life, where to find theaters and other interesting facts about Shakespeare. Mabillard originally created Shakespeare Online to help students understand Shakespeare and his plays better. The site is listed with kids.gov and was rated as one of the top 10 sites to help students learn about Shakespeare. A directory with most of Shakespeare terminology and a quiz will help students study and understand not only the plays but the context and history of the plays as well. In addition, the front page offers a new fun trivia question every day. Textual evidence and a link to several well-known Shakespeare scholars are also provided. While many websites give great information about Shakespeare, this site is more student oriented. Shakespeare Online stays updated which means that study questions and annotations are constantly added to help understand difficult text. Bringing this site to the class room can therefore enhance the experience of students.
Potter, A.m. “THE PROBLEM OF FORM AND THE ROLE OF THE DUKE IN ‘MEASURE FOR MEASURE.’” Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory, No. 69, 1 May 1987, pp. 41–52. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/41801764?ref=search-gateway:64c4fba147d5755e92c89e6923e1a478.
Potter’s article examines why Measure for Measure is a problem play and what the specific role of the Duke is. The writer takes a simple approach to analye the duke’s behavior and agenda before and after his disguise and how his appearance interacts with other characters of the play. Potter also compares Shakespeare directly with the duke’s role and finds some similarities which leads to believing that Shakespeare wrote himself into the play for the purpose of disclosing life experience. Potter uses other writer’s materials such as journals and books to back up points and arguments made. In addition, the writer uses textual evidence from the play. Because Measure for Measure is a confusing, problematic play, Potter’s article is a great addition to reading the play for any student trying to get a better understanding of it. It delivers an explanation for the behavior of many characters, it defines Shakespeare’s rules of comedy and tragedy, and it shows Shakespeare’s awareness of problems within the society of his time.
Banham, Russell John, Comic Potential of “Measure for Measure” (1994). Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, New York 1828
In the article Banham tries to save the play Measure for Measure as being a comedy instead of a tragedy. It is deemed by many to be a “problem play” as the morals are presented in a manner that the play’s intent becomes uncertain. In a way the play can be seen as a “dark comedy.” It even ends in a comic resolution, in which the Duke marries Isabella, Angelo is marrying Mariana, Lucio is marrying Kate Keepdown, and Claudio marries Juliet. In this case the play views marriage as a mean of “restoring social order” (pg 11). Banham states as well that mass marriage is an appropriate comedic conclusion. This is compelling to the reader as a way to get a different perspective on the reading of Measure for Measure. Since this play has elements of a tragedy and a comedy it can be confusing to dictate which one it actually is. The article gives us a enough evidence and background to allow us to come to a concise genre of the play. As for students this is useful to get a richer understanding of the play and also a point of view that might be different from our own.
Magedanz, Stacy, “Public Justice and Private Mercy in Measure for Measure” (2004). Liberty Faculty Publications. Paper 11
This helps the reader get a compelling understanding on the play as the reader gets the religious undertext of the story. There are a lot of situations that can be viewed religiously that even I didn’t think about until I read this article. It is interesting and does widely the thought process of the actual meaning of the play. If one was to think about it deep enough it's more about the characters hidden characteristics then it is about anything, and we get to decide if we wish to portray them in the way the article states or for ourselves after close-reading.
Digital resource: rediscover theatre. “Drunk Shakespeare Measure for Measure.” Online Video Clip. Youtube.com, Jan 27, 2014. Web. Oct 10, 2016
In the digital resource it's a reenactment of Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure. It has a cast that each represents a character in the play. I think within the 4mins of the video they talk about the main points of the play. The story is portrayed by self-made acting that is voice over by two girls. It seems to follow the sequence of the play accurately and makes it more understandable to the viewer.
The digital resource has a connection to the play and lets students get a more compelling view of the play. Firstly, the contents are relatively mirrored as it was in the original play and also because we are an age of technology, students probably retrain information better through video and audio. As well as that the acting was done in a comedic way to keep the viewer entertained. I think this is a good alternative to the tradition close-reading analysis because with close-reading you’re forced to signal in on key words and definitions to get a understanding of the action being played, but in digital version it's different. In digital version the reader/viewer can see actions and facial expressions that can amplify the play and make it more enjoyable.
Hastings, William T. "The New Critics of Shakespeare: An Analysis of the Technical Analysis."
Shakespeare Quarterly 1.3 (1950): 165-76. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
In William T. Hastings article, The New Critics of Shakespeare: An Analysis of the Technical Analysis of Shakespeare, Hastings does a thorough review of the critiques of Shakespeare. He lists the inconsistencies of several of the scholars. Many of the Scholars who wrote about Shakespeare concentrated on certain themes – both explicit and implied – that showed up in his various plays and poetry, or tried to reveal the truth behind the myths that surrounded Shakespeare and some of his plays.
Hastings believed that the strenuous, and sometimes contradictory analysis of Shakespeare, were all erroneous, because Shakespeare did not conform to fit any one role. Hastings believed that everyone should have their own take on Shakespeare, and spend less time trying to criticize and analize his works.
Although Hastings casts judgments on the authors of these analyses, this article does give insight to many of the popular critiques and analyses of Shakespeare’s works. In that way, this would be a good tool for anyone who might wish to understand some of the thematic debates that goes on in the scholarly world – in relation to Shakespeare.
Shakespeare for Students: Critical Interpretations of Shakespeare's Plays and Poetry. 2nd ed.
Detroit: Gale, 2007. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Oct. 2016.
Shakespeare for Students: Critical Interpretations of Shakespeare's Plays and Poetry, is an online reference that provides a broad scope of information on Shakespeare and his Works. It includes an overall summary of the works themselves, as well as detailed summaries of each poem and each scene in his plays. It also contains information on the themes associated with each work, descriptions of the characters, a critical analysis of each work, and a chronological list of the major events of Shakespeare’s life.
For the scholar, its main attraction comes in the form of historical references that help to shed light on what people of that time were going through. For example, the mention of the bubonic plague in Measure for Measure was due an epidemic of the black plague
that happened just before Shakespeare wrote it.
The detailed summaries and historical reverences will useful in providing relevant background information on any of Shakespeare’s works.
Shaitanov, Igor. "A Struggle of Genres, or a Dialogue: A Post-Bakhtinean View of Shakespeare's
Measure for Measure.(Critical Essay)." Style 49.4 (2015): 477. Print.
In, "A Struggle of Genres, or a Dialogue: A Post-Bakhtinean View of Shakespeare's
Measure for Measure," Shaitanov describes Bakhin’s theory that Shakespeare’s Measure
for Measure does not subscribe to a particular genre. Bakhin believed that it was a mix of genres – mainly tragedy and comedy. He describes the reactions of critics over the years who complained that it was either too much comedy or too much tragedy. He also offers brief descriptions of the problem areas in the play, and some of its inconsistencies. Bahktin believed that this was proof of Shakespeare’s plays being “carnivalesque” (a blend that defies genre and promotes chaos).
This article review’s why many of Shakespeare’s plays can be considered canivalesque.
It also exposes the reasons why people still flocked to see these chaotic plays. He believed they were a means of escapism for people of that time.
This article would be a great tool to help point out some of the reasoning behind the chaos that is often found in Shakespeare’s works.