Mariana is a captivating character in William Shakespeare's play, Measure for Measure. Although she may not be the central figure in the story, her presence is essential in highlighting the themes of morality, justice, and mercy.
Mariana is introduced as a former lover of Angelo, the strict and uncompromising deputy to the Duke of Vienna. Their relationship ended abruptly when Angelo abandoned her due to her dowry being lost in a shipwreck. Despite this heartbreak, Mariana remains loyal to Angelo and harbors feelings of love for him.
When Isabella, Mariana's friend and the sister of Claudio, pleads for Angelo to spare her brother's life, Mariana seizes the opportunity to seek redemption and reunite with Angelo. She agrees to impersonate Isabella in a bed-trick, where she replaces Isabella in Angelo's dark bedroom. This deceit allows Mariana to consummate the marriage with Angelo and expose his hypocrisy.
One of the most admirable qualities of Mariana is her strength and resilience. Despite being abandoned by Angelo, she remains loyal and forgiving. Her willingness to participate in the bed-trick showcases her determination to right the wrongs committed against her and others. Mariana's actions demonstrate her capability to navigate complex situations and take control of her own destiny.
In the resolution of the play, Mariana's character evolves further. She not only exposes Angelo's wrongdoing but also pleads for his life to be spared. This act of mercy and forgiveness distinguishes Mariana as a compassionate and empathetic individual.
Moreover, Mariana's characterization serves as a symbol of the power dynamics between men and women in the society of the time. Her ability to manipulate the situation and assert her agency challenges the traditional gender roles and expectations. Mariana defies societal norms and emerges as a strong, independent woman.
In conclusion, Mariana's character in Measure for Measure is a testament to Shakespeare's ability to create complex and multifaceted female characters. Her strength, resilience, and willingness to forgive make her a compelling and memorable figure in the play. Mariana's actions not only serve the plot but also highlight important themes of morality, justice, and mercy.