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Comparative Essay Murmuring Judges (David Hare) And Measure For Measure (Shakespeare) Good For A Level Eng Lit+Lang (Theme Of Power)

2370 words - 10 pages

"My opinion is, that power should always be distrusted, in whatever hands it is placed. (Sir William Jones, 1835)

The theme of power is addressed in different ways in each of the two plays. The title of Shakespeare's play, 'Measure for measure' is an indication for the audience of the possible themes and makes an allusion to the old testament teaching 'an eye for an eye' (Leviticus, 24:20) and also conjures the mental image of a pair of scales, with each 'measure' or action done weighed up and then punished or given mercy.
Hare's play, 'Murmuring Judges' gets its name from the law that condemns the condemnation of the judiciary, an offence punishable in law in Scotland today. It is obvious ...view middle of the document...

Isabella is especially deferential to the Friar as she is 'in probation of a sisterhood'. In Act 4.1 the Duke visits the 'brawling' Mariana to try to comfort her. She is truly in awe of his religious persona and this is shown by her deferential speech in line 22. She tells him 'I am always bound to you' which shows that she is his subject. The adjective 'bound' means that she is obliged to do as he wishes and also compelled to do so. She uses the adverb 'always' to him which shows that she will always follow his example and will do his will in any situation. Her absolute trust is manifested when she agrees to entrust her chastity as the Friar asks. In the Jacobean society Shakespeare lived in women would have always done as they were bid by order of men, but especially if the order was given by a man of religion. These words show the absolute compliance that the Duke is able to gain through becoming a pseudo-friar. The Duke abuses this religious power to gain insight into people's souls for his own ends. He knows that Angelo wishes Isabella to 'give up the treasures' of her body and uses the two women to gain more power over Angelo.

The power over the mind in Hare's play, 'Murmuring Judges' is addressed in a different way. In 1980's Britain people weren't as religious as they were in Jacobean Society. The new 'religion' in Thatcher's Britain was the obsession with political correctness, equal opportunities and public relations. Bureaucracy and political correctness bind the police force in the time of Hare's play. According to the 'Sapir-Whorf hypothesis', people are bound in thought by their language and this is shown clearly through the police men and women through scenes where they interact. The police force is bored by the fact that they have to fill in to many forms, and that they have little time to do the actual practice of catching criminals. Short phrases such as 'Crimes of opportunity. Not being able to resist it…Possession.' convey Sandra's annoyance, in Act 1.5, at the routine of arresting people for petty crime. These truncated lines show the audience Hare's message that the police should be less interested in the paperwork of the police and more in the actual act of crime fighting. Sandra exaggerates the amount of bureaucracy in the line 'Each officer carries thirty-six bits of paper about their person at any one time' and this hyperbole displays clearly to the audience the disillusion of the police force. Sandra shows that she views the paperwork as unimportant and frustrating when she refers to it as 'bits of paper'. She uses this phrase instead of the actual names of the forms to illustrate her point. Sandra feels powerless to stop crime when she spends most of her time 'getting through biros'. Sandra is imprisoned by the bureaucracy of the police force.
Sandra is not the only officer that feels this frustration- Lester also seems bored by the endless paperwork and displays his disinterest in the monotony of everyday police...

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