Abhorson is a character in William Shakespeare's play Measure for Measure. He is the executioner in Vienna, responsible for carrying out the death sentences imposed by the Duke's deputy, Angelo. Abhorson's role in the play is minor but crucial to the plot's development.
In the play, Measure for Measure, Abhorson is portrayed as a rather grim and somber character. He is known for his expertise in the art of execution, and his name itself reflects his profession. Abhorson is unyielding in carrying out his duties, even when faced with challenging circumstances. He is seen as a symbol of the harsh and unforgiving nature of the law.
Abhorson's role in the play becomes significant when Claudio, a young nobleman, is sentenced to death for impregnating his fiancée before marriage—a crime considered a serious offense in Vienna. Claudio's sister, Isabella, a novice nun, pleads for mercy and seeks the help of Angelo, who has assumed power in the Duke's absence. Angelo agrees to spare Claudio's life on one condition: Isabella must sacrifice her virginity to him. Faced with this moral dilemma, Isabella turns to Abhorson for assistance.
Abhorson's involvement in the play intensifies during the climax, where he becomes a crucial player in a complex plan to deceive Angelo. With the help of the disguised Duke, Abhorson is tasked with executing another prisoner in Claudio's place. This plan ultimately leads to Angelo's exposure and the restoration of justice in Vienna.
Although Abhorson's character is not explored in great depth, his unwavering commitment to his profession and his involvement in the play's intricate web of deception make him an important figure in Measure for Measure. His loyalty to the law and his willingness to carry out its harshest punishments without question contribute to the themes of justice and morality that are central to the play.