Abridged Measure for Measure/#1/Transfer/Act 1, Scene 1

The play opens in Vienna. But some believe that Vienna might have been a substitute for London; London, perhaps, needing to tighten things up. Shakespeare, again some suggest, believed England’s new (new in 1603) King James I, a native of Scotland, could use the play as a guide. As the play opens, the Duke of Vienna lets Escalus, a judge, know that he has appointed Angelo as his deputy, “giving him all the tools of our own power.” Escalus replies “If any in Vienna be of worth to undergo such honor, it is Lord Angelo.” Angelo enters. He says to the Duke “I come to know your pleasure.” The Duke publicly praises Angelo, saying “Angelo, your character in thy life doth fully unfold itself to th’ observer. Therefore, Angelo, in our absence be fully myself. The power to sentence death and mercy in Vienna live in thy tongue and heart.” The Duke goes on to say “Old Escalus is your subordinate. Take thy commission.” He hands Angelo a paper. The Duke says “We shall write to you. We’ll let you know how it goes with us, and do look to know what doth befall you here. So fare you well.” The Duke tells the assembled that he plans to temporarily leave Vienna and is turning the reins of the city over to Angelo. Angelo says “Give me permission, my lord, to go some distance with you.” The Duke replies “My haste may not admit it. Give me your hand. I’ll privily away. Once more, fare you well.” He exits. Escalus turns to Angelo and says “I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave to have free speech with you. It concerns me to know the official position and power I have.” Angelo says “’Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together.”

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