Analyzing the Duke Vincentio in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  2032 Words
Date:  2022-03-29
Duke Vincentio is the character of the ruler of Vienna in Shakespeare's play "Measure for Measure". The play Measure for Measure was written by William Shakespeare in the 15th century between 1603 to 1604. The play was published under the genre of comedy plays despite having very critical themes among the members of the society. The character of Vincentio the Duke is used by the author to portray some of the primary ideas in the play Measure for Measure. Some of the key themes in this play include religion, justice, political power and authority, corruption, impunity, virtue, and forgiveness.

The author used the character of Duke Vincentio to portray that the aspects of morality and being merciful often prevails. As a leader, the Duke's character is used to examine the comparison between the different types of leadership adopted by various rulers. The style and approach of moral justice in an administration is better than civil justice which is strict and harsh. There are different schools of thoughts that are associated with the character of Duke Vincentio. The Duke is a manipulative ruler. This paper analyzes the traits and intentions of Duke Vincentio as portrayed in the play Measure for Measure.Duke Vincentio is a manipulative ruler who makes decisions with different intentions as those expected by his people. In the first scene, the Duke emphasizes how great his nation is. He talks positively about his government and his people and wishes the goodwill of his country Vienna to continue even in his absence. The Duke is manipulative because he pretends to be happy with the well being and ethical conduct of his people.

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In reality, the Duke believes that his people have fallen short of their moral expectations. People seem to be sinning more than before and also ignoring the laws of religion and the rules of the land. The main motive for praising his nation is to seek audience from Escalus regarding the most appropriate person who can take over the leadership of the ground while the Duke is away. In his quest, the Duke lies about how he feels about his country and fakes a vacation to leave the justice department to Angelo who is a strict and civil ruler.The author introduces the theme of virtue and justice. The Duke feels that his people are sinning but does not know precisely how to go about the issue. There are two types of leadership approaches in the play. The Duke is contemplating whether to adopt a moral justice type of a civil justice type of leadership. Moral justice is the judge on an individual's character through examining the reason behind his behavior. Civil justice, on the other hand, pronounces justice to an individual based on the written codes of conduct in the law of the land (Sedley 97). People often commit mistakes because of some factors which compel them to sin. The use of moral justice analyzes the external factors affecting an individual to determine whether they are associated with their behavior.

The play begins with the Duke faking a vacation and leaves Angelo in charge of the nation and the justice department.The measure of virtue is portrayed by the comparison between the leadership approach of Angelo and that of Duke Vincentio. The Duke and the community of Vienna consider Angelo to be a man of Virtue. Virtue can be measured by how straightforward an individual is. People with the attribute can easily be trusted and thus entrusted with various leadership skills. There is the need, however, to determine the level of an individual's morality because people often pretend when they are in front of the authorities. Leadership should be entrusted to loyal people who act in the best interest of the community (Stevens 263-265).

Duke Vincentio however, was a manipulative leader who was not loyal to the people he represented. The Duke is still regarded as a great leader because all his manipulative decisions were made in the best interest of his people.The Duke is a compassionate and loving leader. The Duke portrays love for his nation by entrusting his power and authority to Angelo, a civil and strict ruler. The Duke wishes the glory of his nation to prevail even in his absence and thus looks for the most appropriate leader to take over his position. In his departure, the Duke portrays his love for the people by leaving secretly to avoid the public worship. Public adulation is a character that is associated with many leaders. The leaders often regard themselves as being more superior to their people. However, the Duke understands that as a leader his primary role is to serve the people of his land to live a fulfilling life and live in harmony. The Duke associates leaders who love public adoration as leaders who can not be trusted by the people. He confesses his love for the people before leaving secretly. The loyalty of the Duke is evident when he returns to Vienna. On his return, the Duke enters Vienna in a fanfare of events having accomplished his mission in revealing the disgrace of Angelo and his approach to leadership. The Duke sacrifices to fake a vacation and accepts being disguised as a Friar. He makes all these sacrifices because of the love he has for the country and the people whom he represents.

The Duke as a leader of the people is very sensitive to criticism. Before becoming the Duke of Vienna, Duke Vincentio reveals how he is educated through the research projects that he has achieved. He believes that he is a wise leader and considers criticism a weakness of a leader. Leaders, however, should always be open to criticism. Being a leader entails serving the entire community that one represents fairly and effectively. Every society members can never appreciate a leader. There are some decisions that leaders make that often entertain some people and disgust others. As a leader, therefore, one should be ready to listen to criticism because there is positive and negative criticism (Leatherbarrow 15-25). In the play, the Duke openly declares his feeling of hate towards public criticism. In the third scene of the first act, fear of criticism becomes one of the reasons why the Duke leaves his power and authority to Angelo. The Duke did not want to reinforce the laws of Vienna to the people because he did not want to be regarded as a harsh judge. Despite knowing the sins and immoral behavior in Vienna, the Duke never approached any individual but instead gave Angelo the justice responsibility so that Angelo could receive the blame for any harsh judicial measure taken against the immoral individuals in the land of Vienna.

The Duke is also portrayed as being sensitive to criticism by seeking the opinion from Escalus regarding Lucio's slanders. He does not take the criticism from Lucio positively and further requests the judgment of a third party. His wish is for Escalus to dismiss the claims suggested by Lucio.The manipulative nature of Duke Vincentio is portrayed by spying on his subjects. The Duke is manipulative and also wise. Many people compare Duke Vincentio to King James the first who ruled when William Shakespeare wrote the play Measure for Measure. A leader who spies on his subjects can be regarded as wise and also cunning. The wisdom associated with spying on people is associated with the knowledge that one gets after spying. Spying enables people to discover things that they could not have seen. As a leader, one might spy to know what his or her subjects do or say in their absentia. Subjects often pretend to be polite and obedient whenever they are in front of their leaders. In order to know the exact behavior and character of his subjects, Duke Vincentio decided to spy on his subjects. He achieved this by going to the monastery where he disguised as a monk.

The Duke is also manipulative because despite having a different appearance, he still participated in the issues of the people personally without the fear of being noticed and discovered. In his monk appearance, he showed concern to his subjects by visiting them in prison to listen to their different interests. During his visit to the prison, the Duke overhears the conversation between Isabella and his brother Claudio. The Duke manages to hear the proposition of Angelo and the terms under which Claudio could be released from prison and save him from prosecution by death. Through spying, the Duke finally understands the problem at hand and plots a plan that would help protect the righteous from undergoing ruthless punishment measures set by Angelo.Religion is a theme in the play Measure for Measure that further portrays the manipulative nature of Duke Vincentio. The author uses the character of the Duke to manipulate religion and the believers with the aim of cleansing the community. The religious laws in the land of Vienna stated that fornication was a sin that was punishable by death. Every believer who lived in this community was expected to obey the religious laws just as much as the constitutional laws.

However, under the rule of Duke Vincentio, people had sunk deep into sin. The immoral behavior of the people could be portrayed by the brothels that were operating during the era of Duke Vincentio. The Duke pretended not to be aware of the sinful nature of his people while he knew exactly what was happening. Religious and political views are often complementary. A nation that believes in a particular religion tends to incorporate the laws of the faith to the constitutional laws of the land (Assoudeh 13-33). In the Christian doctrine of the people of Vienna, fornication was a sin. The sin of adultery was incorporated into the laws of the land thus making fornication also a criminal act of the constitution of Vienna. The Duke ignored the sinful nature of his people for about four years until he decided to take action and reclaim the moral life of his people. The Duke is manipulative because he used a monastery to enable him to be disguised as a monk. His change of appearance then allowed him to spy on his acting leader Angelo and his subjects. According to the Christian religion, lying is a sin.

However, the Duke used a monastery which is a Christian constitution to be disguised. Waking out with a false appearance can be considered as deceit to the people of Vienna. The Duke appeared to many people in a different form, but his primary intention was to help the people of Vienna abandon their sinful nature. The Duke is also manipulative but with good intentions when he bends the laws of the religion that he was trying to save. According to their faith and the laws of the land, individuals who were caught guilty of fornication would face a death sentence. However, when Claudio is sentenced to death, the Duke bends the law of the land and saves his life. Instead of dying, Claudio is forced to marry the woman whom he had fornicated with and was with child. Through the laws of religion also, the Duke manages to cleanse his nation using Angelo. Religion has thus been portrayed as a very significant aspect of the lives of humans. Religion has been considered as part of the national governance. Religion also stipulates the accepted codes of conduct that is expected from every believer. Duke Vincentio however, managed to manipulate religion and use it to his advantage and also in the best interest of his people.

Governance is also a theme that further portrays the character of Duke Vincentio. There are different types of management used by leaders in our community. Leaders are elected by the people to represent the people by putting their best interest first in everything that they do. The manipulative character of the Duke enabled him to achieve good governance through the tricks he played on his people. The role of the Duke is revealed when he agreed to be aware of the sinful nature of the people but refrained from taking any action. The Duke was aware of the increased number of brothel...

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Analyzing the Duke Vincentio in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. (2022, Mar 29). Retrieved from

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