This play truly reads like an 18th century Gothic romance! A lover’s to be executed for impregnating his ladylove outside of the sanctity of wedlock. To save said lover from the chopping block, the evil and covetous deputy of justice blackmails the man’s sister to surrender her “virtue” to him. Quite risqué! This is especially true since the events turn in a direction that you’d least expect. Suffice it to say that I was quite shocked, since this wasn’t something that I expected, given the other plays of his that I’ve read. Those other plays were mostly suggestive, whereas here, sex essentially drives the plot.
This could easily have been a tragedy, yet Shakespeare crafts it just so to turn it into a comedy. It’s quite amazing, and as I said before quite unexpected.