Comparative essay- Murmuring Judges (David Hare) and Measure for Measure (Shakespeare) Good for A-Level Eng Lit+Lang (theme of power).

Essay by dylannaCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2003

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"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 to the audience through the title that a possible theme will be the problems with the judiciary and the effectiveness of criminal law. The two types of power addressed by the titles of the plays give just a taster of the issues of power to be risen.

Power denotes the ability to do or act, strength, or a position of authority. The hierarchy of power is discussed in both plays, as is the abuse of power. The main issues that will be targeted for analysis will be the abuse of power, the power of language and lastly, the power exerted over the body and the mind. The issue of power in these plays is a subject tackled with a number of techniques of language, and it is precisely these literary and linguistic techniques which are the most interesting when examining the plays.

The power over the mind and the soul is one of the most interesting themes that arises in both plays. Shakespeare's Friar Lodowick (the Duke Vincentio in disguise) is accepted by all the characters in the play...