Measure for Measure

Isabella's Powers

Isabella is the strongest female character in "Measure for Measure." She debates with Angelo on an equal level and is not undermined by his authority. Her strength as a character derives from several sources; her chastity being one of the most significant. Isabella's chastity provides her with a tool which most of the other females in this play lack, since they have all been sexually dominated by men. Her status as a nun also helps Isabella convince others of the accuracy of her convictions since she can appropriate the Christian doctrine as her own. Despite these two powers, it is her ability to manipulate two sets of laws, human and divine, and apply these to her advantage which truly allow her to continue to participate in situations typically attributed to males. Finally, Isabella manages to achieve her goal without compromising her values, but eventually bows down under male authority, in her implicit acceptance of the Duke's marriage proposal. Regardless of the male dominated conclusion, Isabella's powers of chastity, speech and interpretation of law allow her the opportunity to advance as far in the plot as to free her brother and debate with male authority, two events in which a woman's...

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