Act II Scene two begins with the Provost and Angelo discussing Claudio’s punishment. The Provost begins by questioning Angelo, asking if he really wants Claudio murdered, ‘All sects, all ages smack of this vice, and he to die for’t?’(2.2.740), and Angelo states that he does. ‘Did not I tell yea? Hast thou no order? Why dost thou ask again?’(2.2.745). The quotations together paint a picture of the differences in each character’s view on what is just; where Provost is feeling compassion for Claudio, Angelo has not thought about changing his mind once – in fact, he seems somewhat offended that Provost has to ask him again of Claudio’s fate.
It could be argued that Angelo is simply unaware of what human compassion and sympathy is like and does not understand why the Provost is asking again. Some critics may suggest that Angelo could have had a rather ‘deprived’ upbringing, not necessarily in possession and wealth but perhaps his parents were very strict with him and taught him more about the importance of following rules as opposed to love. On the other hand his response to Provost can be interpreted as a sign of newfound power causing corruption in Angelo, as if he is saying ‘I should not have to tell you twice, I am in charge’, chiding his impertinence. This depends on how Shakespeare’s portrayal of the character is interpreted. Is he (Angelo) in essence moral, merely succumbing to temptation or is he truly evil?