Measure for Measure

Jump to: navigation, search

This article is about Shakespeare's play. For other uses, see Measure for Measure (disambiguation).

Measure for Measure, one of William Shakespeare's plays, is among the most passionately discussed of his works. In it, a duke temporarily removes himself from governing his city-state, deuptizing a member of his administration, Angelo, to enforce the laws more rigorously. Angelo chooses as his first victim Claudio, condemning him to death because he impregnated Juliet before their marriage.

Claudio's sister Isabella, who is entering a convent, pleads for her brother's life. Angelo attempts to extort sex from her, but Isabella preserves her chastity. The duke, in disguise, eavesdrops as she tells her brother about Angelo's behavior, then offers to ally himself with her against Angelo.

Modern responses to the play show how it can be transformed by its reception in present culture to evoke continuing fascination. To some, the duke (the government) seems meddlesome; to others, he is properly imposing moral standards. Angelo and Isabella's encounter exemplifies sexual harassment. Others see a woman's right to control her body in Isabella's choice between her virginity and her brother's life.

Shakespeare is believed to have written Measure for Measure in 1604; it was performed at court that December. The play was first published in the First Folio in 1623. His principal source for Measure for Measure was another play, George Whetstone's two-part Promos and Cassandra.[1]

Productions at the Folger

Helen Hayes Awards
Wins: "Outstanding Resident Play," "Outstanding Director, Resident Play" for Aaron Posner
Nominations: "Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Play" for Mark Zeisler, "Outstanding Lighting Design, Resident Production" for John Hey, "Outstanding Set Design, Resident Production" for Daniel Conway, and "Outstanding Sound Design, Resident Production" for Neil McFadden.

Early editions

The title page of Measure for Measure printed in the 1623 First Folio. STC 22273 Fo.1 no.68.

First Folio

LUNA: First Folio: F1r - G6v
Hamnet: STC 22273 Fo.1 no.68

Modern editions

Measure for Measure Folger Edition.jpg

Measure for Measure can be read online with Folger Digital Texts and purchased from Simon and Schuster.

Hamnet link to Folger Edition: PR2753 .M6 copy 2 v.22

In popular culture


The Folger owns just under 10 stand-alone translations of Measure for Measure in various languages (not including collected works). Cataloging of these works is ongoing as of early 2015, and many have full-level catalog records, but some works still have only partial records. Translations can be found Hamnet in by searching for "Translations"in the Genre/Form Term field, or by searching the Call Number (Left-Anchored) field for call numbers starting with PR2796 (see the list of Sh.Col. translations call numbers for specific language call numbers). Since not all translations are fully cataloged, some items may only turn up in one of these searches.

Performance materials

Other media


  1. Adapted from the Folger Library Shakespeare edition, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. © 1997 Folger Shakespeare Library.