The first scene of act one in Measure for Measure is characterized by various themes that revolve around leadership, and the





Measure for measure

The first scene of act one in “Measure for Measure” is characterized by various themes that revolve around leadership, and the exercise of power. Power delegation, for example, is seen as the Duke goes away and leaves his authority with Angelo. The character of a leader and the events that happen in the palace characterize the issues that bring thematic concerns to the reader.

The first theme that comes out clear in act one scene one of ‘Measure for Measure’ is the theme of power and the exercise of authority. This theme is created through the duke, and his right hand people like Angelos and Escalus. The first happening that shows the theme of power is the verbalizations of the duke himself. The way he talks, and also the words he uses, shows a leader who has asserted power, and one who has confidence in the position he holds. For example, he refers to the royal class as “we”, showing a noble figure of authority that is stably established. This explains why his language appears formal and legalistic. When he wanted to talk about the citizens, he referred to them as “our people”, showing his inclusiveness in the exercise of authority. The manner, in which he speaks with confidence shows the stability, and the security the duke holds, further expounding on the theme of power and delegation. In addition, the king keeps on alluding to his right hand people and the duties he has given to them. For example, he talks of delegation of power to Angelos while he is away.

The other theme that comes out clearly in this scene is knowledge, wisdom and intelligence. The duke himself portrays wisdom and speaks with wisdom. He claims to know Anglos in and out. Escalus is portrayed as a very wise person, who knows everything about Vienna, its laws and its peoples. Also, the king expresses that Angelos is a man of ability, so he leaves the authority of the land with Angelos, while he is away. As Angelo is being delegated power by the duke, he allows the duke to test him, to ascertain that he is fit to act on behalf of the duke. This is a bold step that is only taken by people who have enough confidence in themselves.

The theme of morality is well portrayed in act one scene one. When the duke delegates authority to Angelos, he emphasizes that “morality and mercy” should be the first aspects in his heart, as he leads the citizens. Further, the concern brought out by Vincentio is about morality. He laments that morality and some defined common laws, which are not being followed in the land. Following this concern, Escalus is given a commission that concerns the morality of the citizens.

Deception, irresponsibility, and; actions versus words, are themes that can be grouped together, and are evident in act one scene one of “measure for Measure”. What the duke says is not what he does. This shows a sense of irresponsibility, and deception. For example, he claims that he will be going away from the land, yet in the real sense he does not do so. Instead, he remains hiding in the secret. By doing this; he has deceived the people, and his advisors, including Angelos, who is left to run the affairs of the territory. The duke shows intention to do a particular thing, but in the actions he does something different. Another aspect of irresponsibility in the scene is the act of delegating all authority. The duke emphasizes his commitment to ensuring that the law is followed. However, at his best moment to ensure this is done, he lives power with Angelo. As the duke delegates authority to Angelo, he tells him to “trust his instincts” concerning the exercise of the law. This shows a leader who is evading responsibility. This is because the law cannot be exercised from one’s instinct; rather it is the application of the written code. Similarly, the duke does not make it clear to Escalus as to what position he will serve. A good leader is expected to make everybody in the group understand their contribution.

The theme of loyalty and trust is brought out well in scene one act one. The servants of the duke are portrayed as being trustworthy and loyal. When the duke delegates duties to Angelo, he does not hesitate to carry out the duties. When Escalus is asked whether Angelo is fit to be left in charge, he does not hesitate to answer the duke. These two incidences portray these servants as being loyal to the authority. Loyalty is also seen on the side of the citizens. Even though the duke gives directions that all should abide by the law, and leaves Anglo with power, even to execute a death sentence, no citizen is reported in act one scene one having violated the law. Further, the praises that the king has for Escalus shows that he respects and trusts him. The action of leaving the authority with Angelos shows that he has regarded and trusted for him. Going by these, it is appreciable that this center of power was built around people who were loyal and trustworthy.