Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Angelo (AN-jeh-loh), a Viennese nobleman, the duke’s deputy, a man who is cold, arrogant, and unbending in the knowledge of his own virtuous life. He refuses to look with sympathy on the offense of Claudio and stands firm for justice untempered with mercy. He is shocked to find himself tempted by Isabella, but he dismisses all moral scruples and attempts to seduce her, promising to free her brother if she will yield to him. Once he thinks he has had his will, he orders Claudio’s execution to take place. Faced with the duke’s knowledge of his behavior, he, still in character, asks death as the fitting recompense for his sins; mercy is still no part of his character, although it is that quality, meted out by the duke in accord with the pleas of Isabella and Mariana, that ultimately saves him.
Vincentio (veen-CHEHN-see-oh), the duke of Vienna, a rather ambiguous figure who acts at times as a force of divine destiny in the lives of his subjects. He has wavered in the enforcement of his state’s unjust laws. Pretending to go on a trip to Poland, he leaves the government in Angelo’s hands to try to remedy this laxity as well as to test Angelo’s “pale and cloistered virtue.” He moves quietly to counteract the effects of Angelo’s strict law enforcement on Isabella, Claudio, and Mariana.
Isabella (eez-eh-BEHL-ah), a young noblewoman who emerges from the nunnery where she is a postulant to try to save the life of her condemned brother. Her moral standards, like Angelo’s, are...
(The entire section is 687 words.)
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Vincentio the Duke (Duke Vincentio)
Ruler of Vienna. As the play opens, Duke Vincentio is preparing to leave the city for a...
(The entire section is 1115 words.)
Angelo (Character Analysis)
He is one of Duke Vincentio's assistants (the other, more senior, assistant is Escalus). On the pretext that he must leave Vienna for a...
(The entire section is 1050 words.)
Claudio (Character Analysis)
He is Isabella's brother and Juliet's fiancé. On orders from the newly deputized Angelo, Claudio is arrested and sentenced to death for...
(The entire section is 421 words.)
Escalus (Character Analysis)
He is Duke Vincentio's subordinate, and while the duke is away, he acts as Angelo's "secondary," or assistant (I.i.46). Although "Old...
(The entire section is 416 words.)
Isabella (Character Analysis)
She is Claudio's sister. She becomes a novice of the order of Saint Clare on the same day that her brother is arrested and condemned to death...
(The entire section is 915 words.)
Lucio (Character Analysis)
He is a fashionable, dissipated gentleman and a friend of Claudio. During his first appearance in the play, he jokes with two other gentleman...
(The entire section is 416 words.)
Mariana (Character Analysis)
She is Angelo's jilted fiancée. According to the duke (see III.i.209-223), Mariana and Angelo were engaged to be married until Mariana's...
(The entire section is 301 words.)
Vincentio (Character Analysis)
He is the ruler of Vienna. As the play opens, Duke Vincentio is preparing to leave the city for a while, and when he appoints the puritanical...
(The entire section is 918 words.)
Other Characters (Descriptions)
He is the executioner at the prison where Claudio is being held. His role in the play is a minor one. In...
(The entire section is 2459 words.)
Measure for Measure Characters: Homework Help