Questions from September 1:
Question: Why does the Duke abdicate his responsibility. What inner motivations might he have to leave ‘the dirty work’ to someone else?
Philippa: The Duke steps aside partly because Vienna is such a mess, and the brothels have gotten out of hand and made it disreputable, so that he wants to appoint someone to clean it up. I guess appointing a religious dogmatic is one way to do it! And I think he also wants to watch and learn more about his people (and perhaps about the role he should ideally be playing as Duke – learn from others’ mistakes.)
Question: Were there actual Puritans in Vienna? Or is Angelo someone with Puritan(ish) or Calvinist values?
Philippa: The use of Vienna (a Catholic city) was a great choice for Shakespeare, because he could critique the rise of Puritanism in England from a safe distance, as it were. (Also, Vienna afforded Isabella a convent to enter!)
Question: The duke may be self-serving, but is it possible he is truly in love with her?
Philippa: I guess it depends on what “in love” means – there are as many versions of love as there are people. I have to say, The Duke slips around in his roles all through the play, none moreso than at the end. He says, “Joy to you, Mariana! Love her, Angelo:/I have confess’d her and I know her virtue.” OMG! He has confessed her? This is an outrageous mockery of the sanctity of a Catholic Friar! So I wonder how we see his offer of his hand in marriage? He does offer his hand with an “if”: “if you’ll a willing ear incline…”