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Catalog of the Shakespeare Art Collection  --  Watercolors of Shakespearean Characters 
~ Bastards, Frauds & Tellers of the Truth  ~


shakespeare, shakespeare’s plays, william shakespeare, shakespearean, shakespeare in art, analysis of shakespeare’s writing, measure for measure, isabella, art on shakespeare, hannah tompkins, artist hannah tompkins, shakespeare art collection, profiles of shakespearean characters, shakespeare in paintings, angelo, marianna, shakespeare art museum
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ISABELLA in MEASURE FOR MEASURE
by Hannah Tompkins
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Isabella Watercolor by Hannah Tompkins

 

Isabella is another one whose pious purity comes under suspicion. So compelling is her chastity that she has newly entered a convent as a novice, from whence she is called to plead for her brother's life.
Seems he was living out of wedlock with his sweetheart, but the secret can no longer be concealed since she is conspicuously pregnant. He is arrested and charged with fornication, which has been declared illegal.

Isabella, though casting a righteous frown on her brother's actions, nevertheless comes to bat for him. After all, blood is thicker than water, and she offers to pay any price for his life, till she finds out what it is.

The ruling Duke, unable or unwilling to deal with the deteriorated municipal situation, turns the dukedom and its moral reform over to Angelo, an official known for his austere, puritanical reputation. Under this facade lurks a devious lecher. The terms he spells out for Isabella are obvious: her chastity for her brother's life.

She doesn't even ponder the question. She tells her brother it is better for him to die than she should be soiled, and when he pleads for his life, his wife and his child, she curses him and damns him to death, destruction and purgatory.

Chastity certainly has a value somewhere in the scale of assets, but when it assumes such compulsive proportions in girls like Isabella, one wonders if they have anything else to recommend them?

Angelo, of course, is thwarted in his designs by the Duke's intrigues. Disguised as a monk he acts the bawdy pander by substituting Marianna, Angelo's former girl-friend, for Isabella in the garden house seduction scene. And so by this maneuver, Isabella's virginity is saved, but how about Marianna's?

In the end all the 'immorality' is resolved when everyone gets married, including Isabella who forsakes her virgin vows to the sisterhood when the Duke pops the question, with an eagerness that makes her former religious zeal very questionable. I don't believe in deprivation, if it can be helped. Girls like Isabella should not be denied some earthly pleasure, for on a count-down, chastity like hers ain't worth a damn at the sacrifice of honesty, integrity and loyalty. What she would not do for a brother, she did not hesitate to do for herself.


Copyright © 1982 Hannah Tompkins. All rights reserved.

 

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