"... but man, proud man, Drest in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he's most assured, His glassy essence, like an angry ape, Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens, Would all themselves laugh mortal." Here is a quote from Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. What does "glassy essence" mean here?

  • What does your research with dictionaries tell you? Have you found definitions of glassy and essence? Is there a combination of those definitions which would make sense in this context? – Andrew Leach May 17 '16 at 11:07
  • And which makes sense when compared to an "angry ape"? :) – TRomano May 17 '16 at 12:05

There's plenty of notes and analysis on pretty much any passage of Shakespeare you could think of online. A quick Google search came up with this:

His "glassy essence" — the fragility of his soul

Source: http://www.enotes.com/shakespeare-quotes/brief-authority

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