Measure for Measure
a Comedy by William Shakespeare
Fun Fact: Measure for Measure is the only Shakespearean play to have a thematic title. Can you find the theme? Here goes!
The Duke “goes on vacation” but is really disguised as a friar so he can observe the goings on in his hood. He leaves wet blanket Angelo in charge, who isn’t getting any, so he decides no one else can get any either. He arrests Claudio for knocking up Juliet out of wedlock, even though they are totally in love and ready to tie the knot, to which Angelo says, “Too bad, they should have thought of that before they did the nasty. ” Isabella, Claudio’s virgin sister, pleads with Angelo to release her brother. Angelo agrees, but only if Isabella gives him a little something-something in return (hint: her virginity.) Isabella refuses and goes to her brother, thinking the request will appall him and that he would rather man up and take the death penalty than let his lil’ sis be tarnished. But Claudio is all like, “Well you could do me this solid… death is pretty scary when all you have to do is whore yourself… and it would be whoring yourself for good, which isn’t really a sin.”
Isabella isn’t prepared to take one for the team and Angelo threatens that if she tells anyone about his offer, he will ruin her reputation. So what’s a girl to do? Good thing The Duke is still in town and has heard all about her dilemma. So The Duke and Isabella, along with Angelo’s ex, Mariana (they were engaged but he dumped her right before the wedding) plot to entrap Angelo with his own anti-sex laws. They basically pull what, in sex terms, is called “The Houdini.” Angelo thinks he’s going to bone Isabella, but actually bones Mariana in disguise. Just before the big reveal scene, The Duke decides to tell Isabella her brother has already been executed, because he just can’t wait to see the look on her face when she finds out her brother is alive, oh burn! Angelo is called out for breaking his own pre-marital sex laws and it is revealed he secretly banged his ex, and is now forced to marry her. So I guess things work out for Mariana after all? But Isabella is still bummed about her brother being dead, until wait, it’s revealed he’s alive! Isabella is so happy she doesn’t even question the mix-up and accepts The Duke’s marriage proposal, because after a lot of serious personal and political meddling, who doesn’t love a happy ending?!