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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Characterization: The Duke: Critical commentary (act l, scene l)


The Duke speaks to Escalus about his choice of the man who is to function as his deputy during his absence from the state. He tells Escalus that he would entrust Angelo with his full authority and would vest him with all his terror and all his love. The Duke has formed a high opinion about Angelo to whom he says that there is “a kind of character in thy life that to the observer doth thy history fully unfold”. The Duke reveals his talent for making generalizations when he says that heaven does not expect human beings to keep their talents hidden. Nature wants that human beings should make the fullest use of the abilities and the gifts with which they have been endowed. The Duke then tells Angelo would have the authority to sentence people to death or to pardon them them, according to his own judgment. Of course, what the Duke implies is that Angelo should strike a balance between of the Duke Mortality and mercy, or between punishment and pardon. Another trait of the Duke’s character is revealed to us by himself when he tells Angelo and Escalus that, although he loves his people, he does not want any self-advertisement and publicity. He says that he does not relish the loud applause of the people and their vehement salutations. It is believed that, in portraying the character of the Duke, Shakespeare had in mind King James I who had at that time recently ascended to the English throne. King James I was known as a man who wanted to be left to himself and who disliked crowds.

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