When a young woman is offered the choice of saving a man's life at the price of her own chastity, what should she do? The political and moral corruption of Vienna has driven Duke Vincentio into hiding while his deputy governor, Angelo, is left to revive the old discipline of civic authority.
Angelo's first act is to imprison Claudio, a young nobleman who has gotten his betrothed, Juliet, with child. Under the old laws, this is punishable by death. Angelo next offers Isabella, sister to Claudio and a beautiful young novice about to take her vows, the chance to save her brother's life at the price of her own chastity.
Disguised as a friar, the duke returns to manipulate the players and deliver justice in one of Shakespeare's darkest plays, an examination of the nature of justice and morality.
(P)1979 HarperCollins Publishers
Excellent audio recording of the tragi-comedy by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Taped/recorded 1961. Don't worry about the age, though--this is timeless material.
Gielgud's Angelo is terrific, especially during II. iv.'s proposition scene.
The audio quality is fine, but not lavish. Sound effects are limited to cathedral bells to announce scene transitions, some pacing steps, the fumbling of locks, and not much more. Yet that is as it should be.
The best aspect of the recording is the exceedingly crisp enunciation by the actors. These were consummate professionals who knew how to wring the meaning of Shakespeare's complex lines. I have gained many insights into the play through this recording that would not have been possible from the printed page.
The best "measure" of this product's quality is that I can't seem to get away from it. Lately, it has been my constant commuting companion.
I enjoyed this book, however the ending has me perplexed. I am not sure why Shakespeare decided to end it the way he did. It almost feels unfinished.
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