This essay is about the Duke Vincentio in Measure for Measure. He is described as the old fantastical Duke of dark corners.
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The character of the Duke is portrayed by Shakespeare as a very complex, hypocritical and contradictory character. To many critics, he is conveyed as a Machiavellian Prince, using others for his own political ends, and to some critics, a God-like figure, testing the pathology of power in Vienna. Despite these two polar opposites the character is nethertheless a character of ambivalence. Contradiction is one of the main themes of the play, as is appearance versus reality, law versus grace and justice versus mercy. The Duke never lets go of the puppet strings, pulling events and manipulating other characters in the play. Vincentio's motives for influencing the events are controversial; it has been argued that the Duke enjoys watching others…show more content… Angelo doesn't want to be married and neither does Lucio. Therefore the Duke uses marriage as a punishment instead of death. He commands Angelo with the imperative 'look that you love your wife' and tells the provost to 'proclaim it? around the city'- that any woman disvalued by Lucio should come forward.
In marrying both Lucio and Angelo, he is committing them to a life of misery, far worse than being executed, and also humiliating and disgracing them. Neither of the marriages are likely to last long, and justice is only done for Mariana in terms of law, not in terms of love. Mariana is given what she wants, but the marriage will inevitably fail. Kate Keepdown is also done justice in terms of law, but may not want to be married, as she will no longer be able to continue being a prostitute.
Also, this is not really fair for Lucio, no one else had been charged for fornication with a prostitute, and the only reason Lucio is being judged so severely is because he slandered the Duke.
Lucio called the Duke 'a very superficial, ignorant, unweighing fellow' and also told the Friar that 'his [the Duke] use was, to put a ducat in her clack-dish... he would be drunk too'. This creates dramatic irony as the Duke is actually the Friar in disguise. 'A ducat in her clack-dish' is a euphemism for being with prostitutes. The Duke's response to this is shown in his monologue in Act 3.2.