Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Inspiring Measure for Measure

Is it possible that a rape trial inspired Shakespeare's Measure for Measure? The article tells the story of Christopher Beeston, fellow Elizabethan actor who was accused of rape in 1602. Both men were members of the Lord Chamberlain's men during the 1590's, though Beeston changed over to the Earl of Worcester's men in 1602.

The "evidence" seems to be little more than a similarity to Lucio (who admits to making a prostitute pregnant) and Angelo (who threatens to rape someone). To say it inspired the whole play might be a bit of a stretch, but it does appear to be a good example of the sort of thing that was going around in the daily news and gossip of Shakespeare's time and how easily he would have snuck it into his own work.

1 comment:

bardolph said...

I've always thought that The Rape of Lucrece may have inspired the play. I recall also that a girl in Stratford, with the last name Hamlet, may have drowned herself after being found with child, and possibly raped. The play has always seemed to me another chance for WS to rail at the puritan mindset.