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English Literature   >   Shakespeare: Measure for Measure

The Play and its Historical Context

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Shakespeare: Measure for Measure

In this course, Professor John Roe (University of York) explores Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, a play in which a Duke’s decision to put his power in the hands of the fascinating character of Angelo goes catastrophically wrong. It’s a miracle no-one is killed, though death is a continuous presence in the play. In the end, the Duke returns and everything is resolved in a magnificent quadruple marriage.

The course begins by looking at the historical context for the play, including the sources that Shakespeare may have drawn on when writing the play, before considering the themes of religion and sexuality. After that, we look four of the play’s major characters in turn: Juliet, Mariana, Isabella, and the Duke.

The Play and its Historical Context

In this module, we think about the play’s status a ‘tragicomedy’ or a ‘problem play’, before considering what we know about the original performance of the play on St Stephen’s Day, 1604.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Roe, J. (2018, August 15). Shakespeare: Measure for Measure - The Play and its Historical Context [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Roe, J. "Shakespeare: Measure for Measure – The Play and its Historical Context." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


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Prof. John Roe

York University