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TOPIC: Interpretation of Duke's passage?

Interpretation of Duke's passage? 10 years 4 months ago #33

  • William Shakespeare
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In Act IV, Scene 3, when the Duke (in disguise as a friar) sees Isabella coming and decides to keep her in the dark about faking Claudio's execution, he says:
The toungue of Isabel. She's come to know
If yet her brother's pardon be come hither.
But I will keep her ignorant of her good,
To make her heavenly comforts of despair,
When it is least expected.

The idea is that he's going to "surprise" her with the fact he pardoned her brother at a later time. But what is "her good" referring to? What is "heavenly comforts of despair" referring to?
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Re: Interpretation of Duke's passage? 4 years 4 months ago #6643

  • Michael King
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Not sure why this hasn't been addressed in 6 years, but, since I just finished playing the role at Genesius Guild in Rock Island, IL, here is my interp:

"her good" = the good news that Isabella's brother, Claudio yet lives. This is in reference to the fact that the Duke (disguised as Friar Lodowick) has convinced the Provost (moments before Isabella's entrance) to reject Angelo's decree that Claudio be put to death. Instead he will convince Isabella that Angelo has reneged on his agreement to pardon her brother, and put him to death, thus ensuring the despair that she will surely feel on hearing the news.

The Duke plans to reveal the truth at a later time when her despair is at its height, so the relief that she will experience will be an ecstatic catharsis for Isabella. Therefore, he will turn her "despair" into "heavenly comforts". "To make her heavenly comforts of despair" = To turn her despair into unbridled joy.
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