In the play Measure for Measure, the most powerful man in the book, the Duke, is seen as God on Earth. He is an honest man who looks after his people even if he has to go out of his way to do it. In our society however, it is rare to find someone with pure intentions, and it is extremely unlikely to find someone of pure intentions to be in a position of power. This is because, in order for a person to become socially or economically powerful, they often have to accomplish it through dishonest actions. Generally, once someone is in a position of power, they become too focused on becoming more powerful, that they care little about the needs of others. If a person decides to live an honest and humble life, they are often too focused on the needs of others that they don’t worry about becoming powerful. This creates a problem where the honest people remain small, and are seen as insignificant. This is especially prominent when we look at our countries. The countries viewed as being powerful have few social programs for its citizens and often have a large military for war. One of the best examples of this is the United States, the country with the world’s largest military and a high GDP. But, at the same time, about 1/3 of all Americans are unemployed, with a significant gap between the rich and the poor. If we look at the countries with the best social programs, and the happiest citizens such as Denmark and Canada, we will see that they have less power. In our classist society, we are taught to value power over humility, which often leads to corruption, just like our legal system.
At the end of the play Measure for Measure, the Duke persecutes everyone who has done wrong. He weighs out each of their crimes individually, and gives each of them a suitable punishment. A good example of this is when Claudio and Lucio both committed fornication. Claudio was almost married to Juliet and was allowed to go free, while Lucio was sentenced to death. While the Duke is honest, Angelo is more comparable to our modern legal system. Angelo sentenced Claudio to a punishment that didn’t fit his crime, and even went as far as committing the same crime. This is a common occurrence in our modern legal system. The United States’ legal system is good example of this. The United States has about 5% of the world’s population, but holds about 25% of the world’s prisoners. That’s about 1 in every 150 Americans in jail. It is estimated that there are about 100,000 completely innocent people in prison, and about 50,000 foreign prisoners in America. Some of these foreign prisoners have been sentenced to death without even notifying their home country that they were arrested. An example of one such case is Maher Arar, a Syrian man who moved to Canada when he was 17. In 2002, Maher was returning to Canada from Tunis where he was visiting his family. During a layover at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in the United States, he was detained for being a