Measure for Measure Essay: The Virtuous Isabella

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The Virtuous Isabella in Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure is not a celebration of family values, the play points towards both the political virtuosity, which sustains the comic, and the humbler self-knowledge that preserves the integrity of the virtuoso. Human virtue can only be chosen in freedom, but we need not deny ourselves the opportunity of ensuring that this choice is not stifled by the subtly related powers of abstract intellectualism and carnal necessity

Isabella in Measure for Measure personifies innocent virtue. Isabella offers an example of the highest possible character; since she will not sacrifice her own honor or her brother's in order to save her brother's life. She holds strong convictions
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Speech and deed can never be allowed to occur together since this would only reveal the corruption inherent in our nature"

Claudio's sister Isabella is dragged out of the convent to plead for him, on the assumption that her superior virtue might move Angelo's heart to pardon her brother. Does it? No. Rather, it pierces right through Angelo's cold Puritanism and sets his heart and other bits on fire. We see through this carefully controlled man into the roaring pit that he has tried so hard to conceal. He falls a victim to the very passion he is prosecuting in Claudio; in doing so, he comes to represent the conflict between good and evil in Vienna as he struggles with the knowledge that he cannot control his own desires.

When Claudio describes his sister to Lucio in I.i.182-186, he says " . . . in her youth there is a prone and speechless dialect, Such as move men; beside, she hath prosperous art when she will play with reason and discourse, and well she can persuade."

On arriving at the convent where she is preparing to take vows, Lucio at first glance recognizes her for a virgin "as those cheek-roses proclaim no less!" As he unfolds the plight of her brother she is prepared to immediately leave to speak on Claudio's behalf. The Provost announces her to Angelo in II.ii.20-22. "Ay, my good lord, a very virtuous maid, and to be shortly of a sisterhood, If not already." Thus Isabella is introduced as a virtuous young woman with intelligence,

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