Angelo as a villain in Measure for Measure


William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is an extraordinary genius in the field of English literature especially composing drama. In his tragicomedy “Measure for Measure” he has established Angelo as a villain for Angelo’s performance throughout the entire drama. 

More Notes: Measure for Measure

First appearance as a virtuous man: 

In the drama, Act I, scene I, we noticed that the Duke of Vienna, Vicentio handed over the administrative power of his kingdom and wished that would go on a trip to Poland.  All over the kingdom of Vienna knew that Angelo was a virtuous and strict ruler. So, Angelo’s first appearance proved his fair-minded attitude. 

Insidious people:  

Shakespeare has established the character of Angelo as an insidious person. In the drama, Act II, scene II, when Isabella went to Angelo and wanted to release Claudio at that moment, we saw the insidious attitude of Angelo. He agreed with Isabella’s proposal to exchange her virginity. This type of attitude proves that Angelo is an insidious person. 

Difference between interior and external behavior:  

The Duke of Vienna left his government and handed over it to Angelo because of his Integrity and high character. Even in Act II scene I Escalus’ s prayer to Angelo for Claudio proved that he is a strict judge and ruler. In this sense, we can call him a good person but the climax happened in his behavior when Isabella came and wanted mercy for Claudio.  Here we find the difference between his Internal and external character. The encounter between Isabella and Angelo happened two times the first time he showed his fair-minded attitude but the second time, he showed his villainy. So, in a real sense, he is a great villain in the drama. 

More Notes: Suggestions

The selfish attitude of Angelo:  

The appearance of Angelo in this drama is not only insidious but also full of selfishness. Two events proved his extreme selfishness first one is refusing to marry Mariana for dowry. Here Mariana’s brother sent him a dowry but because of the unfortunate shipwreck is happened and the entire dowry sunk into water to hear this Angelo refused the marriage to Mariana. Such a type of attitude is not expectable from Angelo. Another important reason behind his selfishness is the fulfillment of the sentence to the death of Claudio. According to his proposal, Isabella agreed to surrender to Angelo yet he did not keep his promise. So, these two events proved that Angelo is a perfect villain 

Hypocrite person:  

Angelo is out and out a hypocrite person. When Angelo is accused by Isabella and Mariana in front of the gate of Duke Palace. He denied all the charges strongly and, in the meantime, Duke pulls off his disguise hood of a Friar and resumes the authority.  

Virginity violator:   

In the drama, Shakespeare has represented the evil side of human beings. Though Angelo is a strict and trusted person to all he had a carnal desire to his mind to fulfill his sexual hunger. So, he offered Isabella to surrender her virginity in exchange for her brother’s life. So, it is fair to call him a virginity violator. Another incident is appropriate to call him a virginity violator that is when he is doing sexual intercourse, he is seemed it was Isabella but actually it’s Mariana.  

A murderer:  

Lastly, Angelo is called a murderer of Claudio. Angelo himself knew that Claudio’s sentence to death is finished but the readers and only the duke knew that Claudio was alive. Duke has saved his life so he is a Christ-like figure. 


To sum up, in light of the above discussion we can say that it is appropriate to call Angelo a villain because all the features of a villain are traceable to his behavior. 

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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