Escalus is an old lord at the Viennese court, a kind-hearted man who does not approve of over-severity.
When the Duke leaves Vienna and has Angelo replace him, Escalus is named Angelo’s second-in-command. He insists to Angelo that he must at all times be allowed to speak his mind, though he will obey him. He attempts to convince Angelo to be less severe, believing death to be too great a punishment for doing something all men are tempted by. He is moved by Claudio’s plight and tries all he can to convince Angelo not to have him executed, especially as Claudio is a nobleman. He also lets Pompey and Mistress Overdone off with warnings until they’re caught once too often. He is deeply loyal and is outraged when Angelo’s virtue is called into question, and even more so when he hears of the Duke being slandered. His tender-heartedness does not include slanderers.