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Measure for Measure | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero. "Measure for Measure Study Guide." February 13, 2018. Accessed June 7, 2023.


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Measure for Measure | Characters

Character Description
Duke The widely admired ruler of Vienna, the Duke acknowledges that his city's laws have been too laxly enforced and instructs his deputy Angelo to rule in his stead for a time. The Duke, disguised as "Friar Lodowick" then spends much of the play observing the result. Read More
Angelo The Duke's right-hand man, Angelo rules Vienna during the Duke's absence. Many citizens resent his strict and literal administration of justice. Read More
Isabella Isabella, articulate and persuasive, is Claudio's sister and a novice in a Viennese convent. She wishes to save her brother's life but is unwilling to sacrifice her chastity to do so. Read More
Claudio Claudio is a young Viennese gentleman sentenced to death for getting his fiancée pregnant before their marriage is formally solidified. Read More
Escalus Escalus is a senior magistrate and one of the Duke's most trusted advisors. His more lenient attitude toward justice serves to counterbalance Angelo's strictness. Read More
Mariana Mariana is Angelo's spurned fiancée who loves him despite his abandonment and cruel treatment. She agrees to help the Duke trick Angelo in the hopes of winning back her lost love. Read More
Abhorson The executioner in Vienna's prison, Abhorson is a gruff man who views his work as a noble calling.
Barnardine Barnardine is one of Claudio's fellow prisoners. His drunken and surly demeanor has made him notorious among the prison guards.
Boy Appearing in the scene introducing Mariana, the boy sings a sad love song to help set the mood.
Elbow Constable Elbow is a goofy policeman who constantly mixes up his words. He arrests Pompey Bum and Froth and brings them before the city's temporary rulers.
Francisca The nun Francisca appears in a single scene in which she instructs Isabella about the duties and rules of her order.
Froth A customer of the brothel run by Mistress Overdone and Pompey Bum, Froth is arrested for buying sex but let off with a warning.
First gentleman This gentleman is one of two whose witty dialogue helps establish Lucio as a fun-loving and somewhat scandalous character.
Second gentleman Like the first gentleman, the second gentleman exists mainly to exchange jokes with Lucio. He appears with his fellow gents in a single scene in Act 1.
Juliet Juliet is Claudio's fiancée. When her pregnancy starts to show, both she and Claudio are imprisoned for fornication.
Justice An unnamed justice of the Viennese court system is among those who comment on the harshness of Angelo's decrees.
Lucio A garrulous gentleman with some unflattering and evidently false stories about the Duke, Lucio inadvertently shares these stories with the Duke himself when he meets him in disguise.
Messenger The messenger delivers Angelo's orders to the prison in Act 4.
Mistress Overdone Mistress Overdone is the madam of a Viennese brothel. Angelo's crackdown on sexual indiscretions of all kinds threatens her business.
Friar Peter Friar Peter helps the Duke carry out his scheme to catch Angelo and bring him to justice.
Pompey Bum Pompey Bum is a smooth-talking pimp who, midway through the play, is arrested and becomes an assistant executioner to lighten his sentence. His glib, overly flattering style of speech is one of the play's main sources of comic relief.
Provost A senior constable in charge of administering Vienna's prisons, the Provost carries out his duties faithfully but not without sympathy for the prisoners.
Servant Angelo's servant announces the various citizens who come to bring their petitions before him.
Friar Thomas Friar Thomas is one of the monks who welcome the Duke to the monastery after he leaves Vienna.
Varrius Varrius, a friend and supporter of the Duke, is among the first to greet him when he returns to Vienna.
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