Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
Not light them for themselves, for if our virtues
Did not go forth of us, ’twere all alike
As if we had them not.”
(Measure for Measure, act 1, sc.1)
Tips for Use. Answer to a compliment where your unique and particular skills are praised – unless you revel in false modesty. This is the air of times anyway. Crass hypocrisy is not only praiseworthy but it is (or maybe it always has been) the officially unacknowledged (or unofficially acknowledged) supreme political skill. Perhaps today it appears more glaring only because the evidence is instantaneous thanks to technology. Examples are so many that it would be impossible to decide from where to begin.
From the literary critical point of view, Prof. David Gontar provides a very insightful analysis of Measure for Measure. Link to http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/119297/sec_id/119297
As regards to the topic quote Prof. Gontar writes, “The Duke’s message to Angelo is that the nature and purpose of virtue is glory, and that to hold back, keeping one’s light under a bushel, is a crime against oneself and a loss to others. (Matthew 5:15) It may be pointed out that this view of the public or acclamatory nature of virtue is common to both the so-called “pagan” philosophy of Aristotle and to the religious principles of Jesus of Nazareth. These two streams of moral analysis are of course inherited by Shakespeare. Students of Aristotle are familiar with his moral prototype, the “great-souled man.” This individual, for whom philanthropy is the jewel of life’s crown, possesses virtue in a fuller sense than do others because in his public achievements and works he can see reflected his own self. (Aristotle, The Nichomachean Ethics).”
If any reader can find a politician endowed with the philanthropic spirit of the Duke, feel free to let us know and leave a comment.
The entries on this site are derived from the book “Your Daily Shakespeare”. It contains 1390 pages identifying over 10,000 daily situations. Each situation directs you to one or more Shakespearean repartees, comments, and answers. Repartees, comments, and answers that will get you on the stage or at least out of the water – besides making you a regular winner of verbal contests. “Your Daily Shakespeare” has been described as the most unusual, useful and unique book of Shakespearean quotations. Nothing similar exists or has ever existed.
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In the play. Angelo is reticent about taking the interim job of Governor of Vienna offered by the Duke. The Duke retorts with (what he thinks is) a good reason.
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