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English Language and Literature

Shakespeare

History Honors Papers

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Strict Restraints: Abstinence's Gender Problems In Measure For Measure, Joseph Makuc Apr 2019

Strict Restraints: Abstinence's Gender Problems In Measure For Measure, Joseph Makuc

History Honors Papers

Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure poses questions about sexual coercion and governmental corruption that resonate today. Recent scholarship has examined sexual abstinence in Measure for Measure in terms of its historical economic and religious context regarding Isabella. However, Angelo and the Duke, the play's other central characters, also make claims about the value of abstinence. I put these characters’ claims into dialogue with Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity and extensive scholarship on Shakespearean England. I argue that abstinence is the axis around which Measure’s main characters revolve, and that Measure locates these characters’ abstinences as competing ...