Eschatological insights in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure

Proceedings of The 9th International Conference on New Findings in Humanities and Social Sciences

Year: 2023



Eschatological insights in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure

Valentina-Monica Barba




The topic of the paper focuses on the import of applying the principle of justice by the authority, the elements conditioning the development of a process of forgiveness, and the ultimate role of mercy in upholding punishment in Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure. The paper purports to show that a close reading of the text in connection with certain biblical verses is able to evince insights into the role one’s deeds in life have in the fate of his or her soul in the afterlife. The stage of research regarding Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure shows that this play has at its core a plot which used to be rather widely encountered during the Renaissance and not just then. The plot is about unjust magistrates, about buying clemency with illicit sexual relations, and about the human fate thereof, and involves a contention between the concepts of justice and mercy in the relations between ordinary people and the authority. This paper analyses the text of Measure for Measure in relation to the concepts of justice, mercy, and forgiveness in order to ascertain the mark of the play proper on its literary and dramatic heritage. The novelty advanced by the paper consists in showing the potential of the play to elevate the perception of the text related to justice, mercy, and forgiveness to a level related to eschatology.

keywords: afterlife, chiasmus, forgiveness, justice, mercy