Binding Language in Measure for Measure

John Kerrigan

in Shakespeare’s Binding Language

Published in print March 2016 | ISBN: 9780198757580
Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191817342 | DOI:
Binding Language in Measure for Measure

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  • Shakespeare Studies and Criticism
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Measure for Measure is a play which foregrounds solemn oaths and vows—in the giving of sworn, legal testimony, for example, and in committing to the life of a nun or friar. It is equally, and disruptively, concerned, however, with the sorts of casual swearing that laced and gave superficial credence to everyday slander and hearsay. Such abuses of language were of great concern to early modern moralists, and more actively to the authorities (including King James, himself), who regarded slander as socially damaging, and who sought to constrain it by law. This chapter pursues these matters with particular attention to the play’s religious infrastructure, both puritan and Catholic. Marriage and confession are among the oath-related, sacramental institutions opened to scrutiny by Shakespeare.

Keywords: Shakespeare; confession; marriage; sacraments; slander; prostitution

Chapter.  9954 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism ; Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

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