Measure For Measure

“William Shakespeare based a whole play on the second verse of Matthew 7. Measure for Measure is classified as a ‘comedy,’ and indeed everything works out very well in the end. But much of the play is dark and disturbing. Angelo, a noble but stern lord, is left in charge of Vienna while Vincentio, the Duke, goes away for a spell. At least, he pretends to go away, but actually he stays near at hand, in disguise. No sooner has Angelo taken power than, obeying the Duke’s instructions, he tightens up the ancient laws, condemning to death one Claudio, who has fathered a child out of wedlock. Isabella, the condemned man’s sister, pleads for his life, warning Angelo that judgment from God himself is impartial, and that he too may find himself in need of the mercy which God provided in Christ. … Angelo refuses: Claudio must die. But at the same time Angelo is smitten by a passionate lust for Isabella herself, and offers to spare her brother if only she will allow him to have his way with her. The plot twists and turns, but ends with Angelo, his own vice having been exposed, pleading for the death he richly deserves. But the Duke, weaving the threads of the story together, pardons one and all, while at the same time a deep and rich justice is done” (N. T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1–15 [London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004], 68–69).