Good Argumentative Essay On Legal Theme: Crime And Punishment In Measure For Measure And Titus Andronicus
Type of paper: Argumentative Essay
Topic: Measure, Crime, Shakespeare, Social Issues, Revenge, Criminal Justice, Law, Death
Titus Andronicus is full of revenge, violence, brutality and controversy, most of the scenes of the play displayed horror, terror, and bloodshed representing Rome civilization and rituals as compare as to Measure for Measure, all the characters seemed to be criminal and working for personal interest. Measure of Measure is better than Titus Andronicus is because this play throws light on the hypocrisy and corrupt leaders of the society demonstrating their unfair use of power against the public. Measure for Measure is one of the most mysterious and complex of Shakespeare's plays. Titus Andronicus is compared with Measure for Measure, where theme of crime is more apparent in the play and the theme is treated fairly straightforward; however, the Measure for Measure is integral and harmonious picture of the world, light and darkness, good and evil.
Sign of revenge is evident from the Tamora decision to kill Bassianus in Titus Andronicus, who was murdered by her sons named Chiron and Demetrius. After killing him, they were asked to rape his wife Lavinia (daughter of Titus) so this indicates crime because he wanted to take revenge from Titus. The way they killed Bassianus and raped Lavinia reflects savagery and barbarism of Goths. While at the same time, Quintus and Martius deliberately got involved in the Bassianus murder case after that emperor gave order to execute the two brothers. In the meanwhile, Lavinia hands and tongue was cut off so that she would not be able to tell the truth in front of her father and brothers. Measure for Measure depicts hypocrisy of political leadership involved in illegal activities, who basically are the guardians of a society. Indeed, the implementation of law differs from person to person. If a person commits a crime, he is punished at once but the actual criminals having dual faces search for mercy and alternative solutions as Angelo giving a death punishment to Claudio, but he desired to commit the same sin as committed by Claudio. Titus Andronicus starts with the dispute between two brothers, Saturninus, and Bassianus arguing upon the charge of thrown. The fight does not exist between the two brothers, but it is between two nations, Rome, and Goths. As the Titus, an army general who lost his twenty-one sons in a war against Goths, he in return captured Tamora (Queen of Goths) as a prisoner and sacrificed her son to fulfill the revenge of his own sons this sacrifice represents the Rome traditions and regional customs. From here a series of revenge and crimes had began, which remained continued throughout the play and were ended at the end of the play. Tamora began to ponder upon her evil schemes to take the revenge of her son. Saturninus became the new emperor and chose Tamora as his empress. Another most important character of the play was Aaron, who as a lover of Tamora played his role in each plan made by the queen.
Measure for Measure is based upon allegory and symbolism; when we go through it deeply with full concentration, we find its uniqueness and specialty that is being expressed by certain deliberate actions (Knight 5-8). As in the play, Mariana entered spontaneously in the place of Isabella and in the same way, Bernadine acquired the position of Claudio. Moreover, it dealt with the human psychological vision, which makes a sense or logic clear and lucid and one-time while, confuses at the other. Knight criticizes it by arguing that Shakespeare play variety and brief nature (Shakespeare 13-204).
Measure for Measure is the most confusing and puzzled plays. They argue that the whole structure, gist and even characters are displayed vaguely by the writer. Moreover, feminism approach took this play as a brutal to women. As the woman has been expressed as submissive, weak and passive object by Shakespeare or either, it is a reflection of Vienna women. Some scholars called it an ironic play as what is expected by the reader, in turn gives the opposite results (Shakespeare 13-204).
The Titus Andronicus is linguistic in nature as one has just not only focus on the words and actions being expressed during the play, indeed body gestures of some characters are also meant to be important and the reader has to focus such gestures in order to gain the main idea or theme (Anderson 301-321). Cruelty, brutality, promises are embodied in the play, which confuses the idea one get from the play; however, as either to view it as a sad ending or deem it as a start of happy and peaceful life of Romans. They were of the view that play was full of all kind of violence i.e. sexual violence, political violence, and domestic violence (Shakespeare 33-109). Shakespeare expresses violent crime because the whole play is full of obscene brutality that made an audience even faint. Two faces of woman have been demonstrated, one as vindictive, burning in the fire of constant revenge whiles the innocent, and the helpless picture was displayed there.
Measure for Measure revolves around the boy named Claudio, who was arrested by Lord Angelo, who held a temporary charge of a Duke of Vienna. Angelo was allowed to implement laws and could take an action against the criminals. In the start, Angelo's character is depicted as a rigid, strict and virtuous person who seemed to be fair regarding justice in the society. Angelo ordered a warrant for arresting the Claudio, who has committed a sin of impregnating her lover before marriage (Shakespeare 13-204). Therefore, Angelo wanted to put him to death for committing a sin and made his execution as an example for the whole Vienna.
During all this process, we see Duke disguised as a friar observing Angelo's authority and consulting views of the Viennese people about him. Further, when Isabella (sister of Claudio) came to know about her brother’s execution she came to Angelo and asked him for a mercy. At first Angelo firmly refused her plea and asked her to leave, here the actual nature of Angelo comes in front of the readers when he offered Isabella to have sexual intercourse with him and he will pardon his brother.
On the other hand, Isabella, who decided to become a nun in order to keep herself away from the worldly wickedness, shows herself as a pious and virtuous woman. When heard Angelo's demand she got shocked and refused him on the spot? This scenario gave a jolt to the reader as well that Lord Angelo who showed himself as a religious and an honest decision maker, how could he commit this sin indeed he was putting Claudio to death for committing the same crime (Shakespeare 33-109). During the whole play, Duke is acting as a friar who, on the one hand, is admiring Angelo’s rules and regulations but on the other side it is seen that he is trying to save Claudio from punishment.
Duke’s character was also become suspicious when one of the soldiers commented on his character. Moreover, duke's decision-making also became suspected when he suggested putting off the head of a pirate instead of Claudio. There arose a question, what kind of justice and law implementation has been mentioned? As the life of one person has become necessary while the other person was being put to death for the sin he had not committed. Now we move on to Isabella's innocent and naïve personality, at the start of the play she has been shown as a noble lady who tried to keep herself away from the worldly sins and was going to join nunnery, but instead of choosing her life she begged Lord Angelo to have mercy on her brother; although, she refused his proposal but in the end gave her independence and life to the duke, when he asked her to marry him. At the end of the play, decision making of Duke astonished who asked for amnesty for the Angelo and Claudio; indeed both of them committed a crime. Duke seemed to be tempting the people to be a part of such crimes in the future.
Injustice and inhumanity could be throughout the play as the Emperor, without listening to Titus appeal made for his son’s life, executed them. This thing shows that crimes also rise up when there is a lack of justice, and authoritative people do not deeply investigate the whole situation. Therefore, when wrong decisions are made by the tribunal bodies, people take the charge in their hands, which give rise to crimes and everlasting cruelty. As we move on further, we see that how Titus took revenge from Tamora when he came to know the reality. He killed her savage sons by making a paste of their bones with the blood and gave it to their mother to eat as food. The series of bloodshed did not end here as Titus strangulated Tamora, and Saturninus killed Titus and Lucius put an emperor to death (Shakespeare 33-109).
An ample of sympathy arose from Lavinia's death by her father hands; indeed, she paid a heavy cost of her revenge. Aaron's character displayed the racial differences created by the society. He never loved anyone but had natural fatherly feelings for his illegal child, whose skin was black just like him. Aaron seemed to be a part of many criminal activities and always seek for his personal interest, he never showed off his intentions throughout the play but for the sake of his child's life, he did so and made confession of all his crimes, he committed. His endless speech reflected that either he was an innate savage whose urge for brutality and persecution never ended or it was humiliation given to him by the society that forced him to become a criminal. It can be said that no one ever wants to be a criminal in his life because everyone desire for happiness and satisfaction. It must be a behavior, injustice and unlawful means that urge one to become a part of crimes and sometimes make an individual so harsh and rigid that he does not feel empathy for anyone.
Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure is based on reality, and the author uses paradox as compared to the other play (Titus Andronicus). Measure for Measure is a combination of satire and puns. Language has been used as a power weapon throughout the whole play. As Claudio was hopeful that Isabella's persuading words would save him from death as he said
“She hath prosperous art
When she play reason and discourse
In addition, well she can persuade. (Act 1, scene 2)
While Lucio used words as weapons to attack other's personality as when he pointed out duke's character in open words
You speak unskillfully: or if your knowledge were more,
It is much darkened by your malice
Love talks with better knowledge (Act 3, scene 2)
As compare as to Measure of Measure Titus Andronicus has remained focused on the legal theme of crime and punishment, which is apparently evident from the various crimes activities of characters in this play. Although some of the outrageous happenings were also present in the in the Measure for Measure, but it is more focused to described conspiracy in each segment of the society, but Measure for Measure is even better than the other play. Shakespeare has followed a linguistic approach in these dramas. By use of puns, he is able to describe the dual meaning of conversation. So the plays are not meant to read only , in order to understand they are in-depth theme and purpose one has to focus on the words being used in the plays and must also notice body gestures depicted in them.
Knight, G. Wilson. The Wheel of Fire. London: Methuen, 1949.
Anderson, Thomas. Nude Contracts and Lively Warrants in Titus Andronicus. 45(3): pp. 301-321.
Yoshino, Kenji. Revenge as Revenant: Titus Andronicus and the Rule of Law, 2009.
Shakespeare, William. Measure for Measure (Arden Shakespeare: Second Series). Ed. J. W. Lever., 1967. 13-204Web. 28 Mar. 2015.
Shakespeare, William. Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare Library Classic). 2007. 33-109 Web. 28 Mar. 2015.