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While the connection between Machiavelli and Marlowe is distinctly articulated in the preface to the latters Jew of Malta the parallels between Machiavellis Prince and Shakespeares Measure for Measure are less explicitly expressed but certainly no less significant One must of course be cautious in suggesting that Shakespeare was familiar with Machiavellis Prince in its original form - it is most likely that he read one of the numerous English or French paraphrases that were circulating at the time There is no doubt however that the great majority of characters in Measure for Measure - the Duke Angelo Claudio Pompey and even Isabella - display Machiavellian qualities An comparison of key passages both of The Prince and Measure for Measure will establish this very fact A study of kingship arguably the entire premise for Measure for Measure is immediately introduced in the first scene with the Dukes declaration Of government the properties to unfold Would seem in me taffect speech and discourse It is not until the third scene of act one however that this political discussion becomes specific and ultimately linked to the Machiavellian notion of statecraft In this scene which details the exchange between Vincentio and the Friar we learn the reasons for the formers deputising of Angelo Both of the Dukes significant dialogues - Iiii20-33 and Iiii36-55 - reveal that for the last fourteeen years the strict statutes and most biting laws Iiii20 punishing pre-marital intercourse have slipped into disuse Although this scene is by no means extensive it furnishes the reader with much food for thought Vincentios Machiavellianism as manifest in the above scene is centred upon three main elements - his previous laxity his present need to deflect responsibility and his use of Angelo as an instrument in effecting the enforcement of this most biting law Upon closer inspection both of Measure for Measure and The Prince we discern that the neglect apparent in the Dukes initial non-enforcement of the
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