1 In Measure for Measure, three major female characters have speaking roles: a prostitute who's
arrested for running a brothel, a wannabe nun who's blackmailed by a corrupt deputy, and a woman
who's jilted for not having a large enough wedding dowry.
1.1 Shakespeare creates limited roles for these figures, prompting the audience to consider more
generally a woman's place in society.
1.1.1 Although these characters inhabit vastly different spaces in the social spectrum, they all have one
thing in common – each is a victim of patriarchal authority.
2 The roles of female characters are purposely limited in Measure for Measure, which suggests that
social roles for sixteenth-century women are limited as well.
2.1 Mistress Overdone is the quintessential unruly woman – as a prostitute who runs an illegal brothel,
she operates outside the realm of masculine authority – until she's arrested and thrown in jail that