Measure for Measure

Act 2

" Dost thou desire her fully for those things that make her good? Oh, let her brother live........"

This scene ends with a soliloquy. Explain

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Act 2 , scene 2

In this scene, Isabella is begging for her brother's life. Lucio joins her in her pleas by telling Angelo that if he wants Isabella he must embrace all of her, not simply what he himself perceives as good.

Isabella's strategy is a keen one, trying to persuade Angelo to have the same mercy for her brother that she has. Once again, the issue of mercy is urged upon Angelo, as is the theme of human weakness, which all, Isabella stresses, fall victim to. She is very canny, when she has to be; her argument is strong and persuasive, although it is not her argument that causes Angelo to relent, but his attraction to her.

Isabella also touches upon the theme of use of power; "it is excellent to have a giant's strength," she tells Angelo, "but it is tyrannous to use it as a giant." Isabella makes an allusion to "Jove" to demonstrate her point‹that even the gods, with tremendous power, know how best to use their awesome abilities. This is another lesson that Angelo must learn; for although he can use the law to its full extent if he wishes, he has to learn how to temper his power with mercy and heed moderation.

It is with great irony that Isabella's call to Angelo to mark the weaknesses in his own heart is answered by Angelo's acknowledgement that he is tempted by Isabella. It is this temptation that brings from Angelo his first statement of mercy toward Claudio: "O, let her brother live! Thieves for their robbery have authority when judges steal themselves!" Angelo realizes here that with experience of one's own weakness comes mercy for others' failings; however, he soon ignores this lesson, and falls into hypocrisy.