Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Act III, Scene 2
This scene opens with the arrest of Pompey by Elbow. When the Duke sees the criminal, he lectures him for his bawdy ways and tells him he must be punished. Pompey appeals to Lucio to bail him out, but Lucio also wants him to be imprisoned for his immorality. Lucio then lies to the disguised Duke, saying that he knows the Duke very well and that he would not have punished Claudio so cruelly because the Duke himself has a weakness for women. The "friar" challenges Lucio to make such a charge to the Duke himself upon his return. Lucio leaves, and Escalus enters with Mistress Overdone. She has been arrested again for her immoral behavior, which has gone on for eleven years. She complains to Escalus about Lucio, her informer; she claims that Lucio had promised to marry one of "her girls" and refused to do so after she became pregnant by him. Escalus sends for Lucio and Mistress Overdone departs. The Duke, still in disguise as a friar and claiming to be visiting from out of town, questions Escalus about the Duke. Escalus heaps priases upon the leader. The Duke then learns that Escalus has pleaded in vain for the rescue of Claudio, and Escalus thanks the friar for visiting a condemned prisoner. After Escalus departs, the Duke delivers a soliloquy about false virtue.
In this scene, more is learned about the minor characters. Pompey has been arrested again for his immorality and is being sent to prison. Lucio refuses to bail him out, because he is ready to see the man endure some punishment for his behavior. Miss Overdone has also been arrested, ironically after eleven years of running the whorehouse. She is certain that Lucio is responsible for the arrest. She then tells that Lucio has impregnated one of "her girls" and refuses to marry her. Morality truly is at a low point in Vienna, but Angelo is making efforts to clean things up. Now two of the lower class characters are being imprisoned, much like Claudio, due to the enforcement of laws and Angelo's strict interpretation of them.
The Duke participates in the scene again, disguised as a friar. This disguise is truly helping him to see the real nature of things in his City. He sees the vice everywhere and Angelo's strict interpretation of the laws. He can also gauge the reactions of his subjects to him and to Angelo and assess their loyalties. He does not like what he sees, but as a balanced, analytical man, he does not act hastily. In fact, when Lucio questions his morality with women, he manages to hold back and merely challenges Lucio to criticize the Duke to his face.
Lucio also makes some derogatory comments about Angelo. "Some report, a sea maid spawned him, some that he was begot between two stockfishes". These statements evoke laughter and enjoyment in the audience and need not be taken seriously. Lucio, thus, is portrayed as a witty person who indulges in crude jokes and ribaldry, which always brings laughter.