It was cold, yes, but also a little steamy at times, the subject matter of the play being what it is. (Oh, the things we are learning about sex in Elizabethan times!) Bundled up in coats and hats and gloves (Why didn't I have my camera with me?), we read through the rest of Act 3. Here's a quick, no-nonsense recap from our rather dry friends at SparkNotes.com:
The Duke comes forward and says that he knows Angelo well and that Angelo was not actually propositioning Isabella, but only testing her virtue. Claudio leaves, and the Duke tells Isabella he has a plan which will save Claudio without tarnishing her honor. The Duke asks Isabella if she has heard of Mariana who was engaged to Angelo until Angelo broke off the engagement when Mariana's dowry was lost in a shipwreck. The Duke's plan is for Isabella to tell Angelo she will agree to his request, but to send Mariana in her place. Angelo will be forced to marry Mariana, having had sexual relations with her, and Claudio will be freed.
Leaving the prison, the Duke meets Elbow and Pompey. Elbow says Pompey broke the law, which Pompey protests, but the Duke tells him to go to jail. Lucio approaches and Elbow tells him Pompey is going to prison for being a bawd. Pompey asks Lucio to pay his bail, but Lucio refuses.
Lucio asks the Duke (still disguised as a friar), if he knows the whereabouts of the Duke. Lucio says Angelo is strictly upholding the law in the Duke's absence but that Angelo could afford to be more lenient with regard to lechery. The Duke says lechery is a strong vice which should be cured. Lucio jokes that there are rumors that Angelo was not conceived through sexual intercourse. He also says that the Duke would not be so strict, since he himself enjoyed the pleasures of sexual relations with women. The Duke contradicts Lucio, and the two argue. Lucio is told to visit the Duke upon the Duke's return. Lucio leaves.
Escalus enters with the provost and Mistress Overdone, telling the provost to send Mistress Overdone to prison for running a brothel. Mistress Overdone argues that the evidence comes from Lucio, who is himself guilty of fornication. Escalus then asks the Duke where he is from, and he replies that he is a foreigner. The Duke asks after Angelo, whom Escalus says is, as always, temperate and unyielding. The Duke says that Angelo will perhaps see the results of his strictness in his own life. The Duke is left alone, and he offers a soliloquy about how Angelo is to be fooled to pay for his sins.
Some critics say that when the Duke steps forward (having eavesdropped on Isabella as she's telling Claudio the deal Angelo wants to make), the play changes its nature. We noticed that it's also at this point that the Duke begins to orchestrate things, coming up with some solutions that, frankly, we thought were a little, maybe, difficult to believe?
The Duke's lines at the end of Act 3 are not exactly a soliloquy (although he is alone on stage), but serve more like the chorus in Greek tragedy, since he's stepping out of character to sort of lay out a lesson for the audience. Jerry commented that the fact that the lines are made up of 11 rhyming couplets of eight syllables each—breaking quite obviously from what has come before—indicates that what the Duke's saying is IMPORTANT. And the eight syllables (rather than the ten we're accustomed to) might imply incantation or magic.
Shame to him whose cruel striking
Kills for faults of his own liking.
Twice treble shame on Angelo,
To weed my vice and let his grow . . .
Takeaway quote of the day
"Sparrows must not build in his house-eaves, because they are lecherous."
—Lucio, referring to Angelo's zeal in the punishing of Claudio
Handy new word of the day!
Antanaclasis. The repetition of a word or phrase whose meaning changes in the second instance.
"I have spirit to do any thing that appears not foul in the truth of my spirit."
—Isabella to the Duke
• Pompey says (speaking of Mistress Over-Done): "Troth sir, she hath eaten up all her beef, and she is her self in the tub." Robin's notes told us that "tub" refers to the sweating tub where fumes of cinnabar (mercury sulfide) were used as a cure for venereal disease. But then we learned from someone else's helpful gloss, that these kinds of tubs were also used for making corned beef. Yum!
• We noticed how, in Act 3, the Duke is essentially serving as a bawd arranging for Mariana to have sex with Angelo, then says to Pompey
"Fie Sirrah, a Bawd, a wicket bawd.• Nobody is who they seem to be. As the Duke says:
The evil that thou causest to be done. . ."
"That we were all, as some would seem to be
From our faults, as faults from seeming free."
• The word "abroad" ("What news abroad Friar?") didn't necessarily mean in another country. "Abroad" could refer to anywhere beyond a person's property.
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Join us next week, when we pick up where we left off, with Act 4. Bring your own copy of the text, please.
See you then!
PS Kristin's going to bring an electric teapot, so don't forget to bring a cup and teabag. (Or, as the Elizabethans used to say: BYOCAT . . .)
Above: A scene from Shakespeare in the Park's production last summer of Measure for Measure. (The Duke, played by Lorenzo Pisoni, has a plan for Isabella, played by Danai Gurira.)