Essay about Redemption and Damnation in Measure for Measure and Othello
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Redemption and Damnation in Measure for Measure and Othello
Measure for Measure and Othello are closely related. There is a thesis-antithesis bond between these two plays. Much more than just sharing a trait or a source, the two constitute a paired study of the processes of redemption and damnation.
Measure for Measure counterbalances Othello. Looking at the text of each play, one finds parallel and contrasting circumstances and characteristics that would incline one to interpret each play in light of the other. First instance: the issue of being passed over. In the opening scene of Measure for Measure Escalus is passed over for the position of deputy in a most explicit fashion. The Duke praises Escalus as peerless…show more content…
The latter commences the destabilizing of Othello and the ensuing tragedy. Third instance: reading one's nature in one's face. Pompey, drawing transparently upon his street-wise bag of tricks to free his client, Froth, from the charge of fornication, bids Escalus to look into Froth's face (2.1.147-156) and condemn him if he sees any harm in it. While Pompey literally may be pointing out the lack of any signs of syphilis on Froth's face, this comic play upon the notion that one's guilt or innocence is written upon one's face is contrasted by the frightening scene in Othello where, desperate in his suspicions, Othello terrifies Desdemona by staring into her face to find some confirmation for his maddening doubts of her fidelity (4.2.25-26). Fourth instance: actual and supposed procuress. Where Isabella quite literally serves as a procuress in the assignation of Angelo with Mariana (the supposed Isabella), Emilia is wrongly accused by Othello of being the same for Desdemona with Cassio. Fifth instance: procuring called a mystery. When the executioner, Abhorson, complains that his mystery (that is, his profession) will be tainted by a bawd's being made his assistant, Pompey with disarming wit defends his former work as a legitimate profession by explaining how it too is a mystery (painting being part of the prostitute's trade). The word mystery in this sense of profession