The court of justice

CourtAt the beginning of Act II, the scene seems to take place in some sort of formal courtroom, perhaps within the Duke's palace. This becomes clear, not from any words explicitly referring to the court, but by the activities which take place:

  • First of all, Angelo discusses the nature of justice with Escalus
  • Then the constable, Elbow, arrives with his prisoners, Pompey and Froth
  • Angelo and Escalus then begin to interrogate the prisoners, and when Angelo exits, he tells Escalus that he will ‘leave you to the hearing of the cause'
  • Escalus then continues to conduct the inquiry, and it is clear from references to whipping, beheading and hanging that this is a court with the power to impose severe penalties
  • The next scene seems to be set in a similar situation, since, when the Provost – the prison governor - arrives to see Angelo, he is told that ‘He's hearing of a cause.'

The whole scene suggests (with ironic implications about the corruption of justice in Vienna) that the laws and the administration of justice are central to the Viennese state.

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