Angelo's garden

Wallington walled garden, photo by Chris Gunns, available through Creative CommonsShakespeare took many of the ideas for Measure for Measure from earlier stories and plays, but the idea of a garden as the setting for Angelo's assignation with Isabella is his own invention:

  • The fact that he has shown her the way ‘twice o'er' (Act IV sc iv) suggests Angelo's intemperate desire for Isabella
  • The use of two different keys to enter it, stresses its seclusion and privacy.

The use of a garden as a setting for an evil act may perhaps have suggested to Shakespeare's audience a reflection of the Garden of Eden (see the Bible, Genesis 2:1-25 and Genesis 3:1-24) where Adam and Eve succumb to temptation, as a result of which human nature is eternally prone to sin. This idea might well have been strengthened for the seventeenth century audience by the mention that the garden leads off a vineyard: in the New Testament, Christ, who redeems the world from sin, is often depicted both as the ‘true vine' (see John 15:1) and as the keeper of a vineyard.

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