Abstract

There is no justice, only talk of justice, in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. Characters invoke the symbolic balance scales but live at the unbalanced legalistic and merciful extremes. Equity, often suggested as a central theme, matters mostly for its loud absence. Indeed, if we separate equity, which recommends judicial leniency as the means to a just squaring of accounts, from mercy, which exceeds justice, we see that the play frustrates the Duke’s aspiration to virtuous rule by insisting that we must have, and also that we cannot have, both justice and mercy.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 166-182
Launched on MUSE
2012-08-18
Open Access
No
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