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Measure for Measure (Folger Shakespeare Library) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743484908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743484909
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Professor Bawcutt has produced an edition that should flourish in the classroom. The introduction is both thorough and user-friendly, while the notes consistently promote clear explication. Overall the edition is crisp, efficient, and illuminating."--Ronald J. Boling, Lyon College

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Like every other play in the Cambridge School Shakespeare series, Measure for Measure has been specially prepared to help all students in schools and colleges. This version of Measure for Measure aims to be different from other editions of the play. It invites you to bring the play to life in your classroom through enjoyable activities that will help increase your understanding. You are encourage to make up your own mind about the play, rather than have someone else's interpretation handed down to you. Whatever you do, remember that Shakespeare wrote his plays to be acted, watched and enjoyed. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

It makes the reading of the play later so much more enjoyable.
S. Schwartz
There are some arcane notes to the text relating to differences in folios, etc, but no notes explaining period phrases, etc.
Lawrence Kingsley
Although this play is a "comedy" in Shakespearean terms, the tension throughout is much more like a tragedy.
Donald Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 25, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Measure for Measure is seldom read, and not often performed in the United States. Why? Although many of Shakespeare's plays deal bluntly with sexual issues, Measure for Measure does so in an unusually ugly and disgusting way for Shakespeare. This play is probably best suited for adults, as a result.
I see Measure for Measure as closest to The Merchant of Venice in its themes. Of the two plays, I prefer Measure for Measure for its unremitting look at the arbitrariness of laws, public hypocrisy and private venality, support for virtue, and encouragement of tempering public justice with common sense and mercy.
The play opens with Duke Vincentio turning over his authority to his deputy, Angelo. But while the duke says he is leaving for Poland, he in fact remains in Vienna posing as a friar. Angelo begins meting out justice according to the letter of the law. His first act is to condemn Claudio to death for impregnating Juliet. The two are willing to marry, but Angelo is not interested in finding a solution. In despair, Claudio gets word to his sister, the beautiful Isabella, that he is to be executed and prays that she will beg for mercy. Despite knowing that Isabella is a virgin novice who is about to take her vows, Angelo cruelly offers to release Claudio of Isabella will make herself sexually available to Angelo. The Duke works his influence behind the scenes to help create justice.
Although this play is a "comedy" in Shakespearean terms, the tension throughout is much more like a tragedy. In fact, there are powerful scenes where Shakespeare draws on foolish servants of the law to make his points clear. These serve a similar role of lessening the darkness to that of the gravediggers in Hamlet.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bree A. on October 3, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was very satisfied with this version of William Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure." As far as Shakespeare goes, different editions of the plays can be drastically different, not generally in actual Shakespearian context, but in the quality and quantity of footnotes and helpful information. Throughout this book the footnotes are on the left-hand page while the actual play is on the right-hand page. There are also scene summaries in the footnotes at the beginning of each scene, which I found very helpful in understanding. There are also longer notes on some topics at the back of the book. As far as the footnotes go, I have been very satisfied with the amount of information and the layout of the book. My one complaint is that I purchased this book for a class and everyone else is using a different edition and for some reason the line numbers are different in my book from the ones that they are using. Mine are always higher, so I'm assuming I have some additional lines that were edited out in their version, but it causes some problems and I wonder which version is more widely accepted. Either way, I'm very satisfied with this edition and all the supplementary information it provides.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
While not one of Shakespeare's transcendent achievements, "Measure for Measure" is very much a masterwork. While easy to read and to follow, it actually has a vast number of moral complexities that challenge us to think about our own humanity, our sense of justice and charity, and the ways in which even the best among us are so easily compromised.

The title, of course, comes from the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7:2 says: For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. While the surface reading of this verse seems to be talking about judging righteousness or evil (and it is that), it goes much deeper. It is also choosing one thing over another and the necessity of harvesting what those choices unavoidably bring.

This play is inhabited by many strange characters that exhibit all sorts of self-contained contradictions. The Duke of a very decadent Vienna who decrees that extra-marital relations will be punished by death, who is uncomfortable with public adulation, who spends most of the play disguised as a Friar. He is not called the Duke of Dark Corners for nothing. Poor Claudio is arrested and sentenced to die because is beloved Juliet is about to give birth to their child. This while the bawd Pompey is arrested and let off without even being whipped. Angelo, who is certainly no angel, is put in temporary power by the Duke during his time away from court. It is Angelo who has Claudio arrested and sentenced.

Isabelle, Claudio's sister, is about to take her vows as a nun, but comes to plead for her brother. Angelo says he will spare Claudio if she will let Angelo take her chastity. She refuses, but consents to the Friar's plan to ensnare Angelo.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Marsella on December 1, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Measure for Measure was reportedly written just before King Lear and while typically identified as a comedy it has some elements in common with Lear, most notably the Duke's voluntary abdication of power that sets the play in motion. The theme of hypocrisy is explored through the character of Angelo who on assuming power begins to enforce long dormant laws that he himself cannot ultimately comply with. I once saw an RSC production of this in which the Duke was played to great effect as a tragi-comic figure who was incredibly longwinded and self-absorbed in the opening act. This completely changed the way I read this play, and reinforced for me the important difference that good direction and interpretation on stage can make when dealing with Shakespeare.

This play is the work of a mature and self-confident Shakespeare at the height of his powers and is well worth the effort. There are so many memorable lines that my copy is marked up and underlined on every other page.

As for the edition- The Folger Library paperbacks are wonderful. The facing pages have notes and interpretations of obscure phrasing that are very useful allowing for easy reference without interrupting the flow of the play.
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More About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King's New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later under James I, called the King's Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare's plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.

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Measure for Measure (Folger Shakespeare Library)
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