Measure for Measure


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Duke, as a friar, Claudio, and Provost


DUKE

So then you hope of pardon from Lord Angelo?


CLAUDIO

The miserable have no other medicine

But only hope:

I have hope to live, and am prepared to die.


DUKE

Be absolute for death: either death or life
absolute (adj.) 3 resolved, positive, settled in mind

Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life:

If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing

That none but fools would keep; a breath thou art,

Servile to all the skyey influences
servile (adj.) 1 subordinate, controlled [by]
skyey (adj.) coming from the sky, planetary

That dost this habitation where thou keep'st
keep (v.) 1 lodge, live, dwell

Hourly afflict. Merely, thou art death's fool,
merely (adv.) 1 completely, totally, entirely See Topics: Frequency count

For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun,

And yet runn'st toward him still. Thou art not noble,
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

For all th' accommodations that thou bear'st
accommodation (n.) amenity, convenience, comfort

Are nursed by baseness. Thou'rt by no means valiant,
baseness (n.) 1 socially inferior trait, plebeian quality

For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
fork (n.) 1 forked tongue

Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is sleep,
worm (n.) 1 serpent, snake

And that thou oft provok'st, yet grossly fear'st
grossly (adv.) 4 stupidly, senselessly, foolishly
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count
provoke (v.) 1 call forth, invite, invoke

Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself,

For thou exists on many a thousand grains

That issue out of dust. Happy thou art not,

For what thou hast not, still thou striv'st to get,
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

And what thou hast, forget'st. Thou art not certain,

For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
complexion (n.) 3 natural trait, disposition, temperament, nature
effect (n.) 3 sign, mark, token, manifestation
strange (adj.) 1 remarkable, startling, abnormal, unnatural

After the moon. If thou art rich, thou'rt poor,

For, like an ass, whose back with ingots bows,
ingot (n.) 1 bar of precious metal, gold bar

Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey,

And death unloads thee. Friend hast thou none,

For thine own bowels, which do call thee sire,
bowels (n.) 3 offspring, children

The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count
proper (adj.) 2 very, own

Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum
rheum (n.) 3 catarrh, headcold, coughing and spluttering
serpigo (n.) type of spreading skin disease

For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth nor age,

But as it were an after-dinner's sleep,
after-dinner (n.) period following dinner, afternoon

Dreaming on both, for all thy blessed youth

Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms

Of palsied eld: and when thou art old and rich,
eld (n.) 2 old age, advanced years

Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty
affection (n.) 3 desire, passion, lustful feeling
heat (n.) 3 desire, passion, libido
limb (n.) 2 functioning organ, strength of limb

To make thy riches pleasant. What's yet in this

That bears the name of life? Yet in this life

Lie hid more thousand deaths; yet death we fear,
mo, moe (adj.) more [in number]

That makes these odds all even.


CLAUDIO

                         I humbly thank you.

To sue to live, I find I seek to die,

And, seeking death, find life. Let it come on.

Enter Isabella


ISABELLA

What, ho! Peace here, grace and good

company.


PROVOST

Who's there? Come in. The wish deserves a

welcome.


DUKE

Dear sir, ere long I'll visit you again.


CLAUDIO

Most holy sir, I thank you.


ISABELLA

My business is a word or two with Claudio.


PROVOST

And very welcome. Look, signor, here's your

sister.


DUKE

Provost, a word with you.


PROVOST

As many as you please.


DUKE

Bring me to hear them speak, where I may be

concealed.

Duke and Provost retire


CLAUDIO

Now, sister, what's the comfort?


ISABELLA

Why,

As all comforts are: most good, most good indeed.

Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,

Intends you for his swift ambassador,

Where you shall be an everlasting leiger.
leiger, lieger (n.) resident ambassador, representative, envoy

Therefore your best appointment make with speed;
appointment (n.) 4 preparation, arrangement, coming to terms

Tomorrow you set on.
set on (v.) 2 go forward, advance, proceed


CLAUDIO

                         Is there no remedy?


ISABELLA

None, but such remedy as, to save a head,

To cleave a heart in twain.


CLAUDIO

                         But is there any?


ISABELLA

Yes, brother, you may live;

There is a devilish mercy in the judge,

If you'll implore it, that will free your life,

But fetter you till death.
durance (n.) 1 confinement, imprisonment, incarceration
fetter (v.) restrain, overcome, suppress


CLAUDIO

                         Perpetual durance?


ISABELLA

Ay, just. Perpetual durance, a restraint,

Though all the world's vastidity you had,
vastidity (n.) vastness, immensity, enormity

To a determined scope.
determined (adj.) 3 confined, limited, restricted
scope (n.) 2 range, reach, extent


CLAUDIO

                         But in what nature?


ISABELLA

In such a one as, you consenting to't,

Would bark your honour from that trunk you bear,
bark (v.) strip the bark from, tear away

And leave you naked.


CLAUDIO

                         Let me know the point.


ISABELLA

O, I do fear thee, Claudio, and I quake
fear (v.) 2 fear for, worry about, be anxious about

Lest thou a feverous life shouldst entertain,
entertain (v.) 4 cherish, harbour, welcome
feverous (adj.) feverish, restless

And six or seven winters more respect
respect (v.) 3 value, have regard for, prize

Than a perpetual honour. Dar'st thou die?

The sense of death is most in apprehension,
apprehension (n.) 2 conception, grasping by the mind, awareness

And the poor beetle that we tread upon

In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
corporal (adj.) 1 bodily, physical
sufferance (n.) 1 distress, suffering, hardship

As when a giant dies.


CLAUDIO

                         Why give you me this shame?

Think you I can a resolution fetch

From flowery tenderness? If I must die,

I will encounter darkness as a bride,

And hug it in mine arms.


ISABELLA

There spake my brother. There my father's grave

Did utter forth a voice. Yes, thou must die.

Thou art too noble to conserve a life

In base appliances. This outward-sainted deputy,
appliance (n.) 2 compliance, subservience; or: means, expedient
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy See Topics: Frequency count

Whose settled visage and deliberate word
settled (adj.) 1 calm, steadfast, composed
visage (n.) 1 face, countenance See Topics: Frequency count

Nips youth i'th' head, and follies doth enew
enew (v.) drive into the water

As falcon doth the fowl, is yet a devil.

His filth within being cast, he would appear
cast (v.) 1 calculate, reckon, estimate

A pond as deep as hell.
precise (adj.) 1 puritanical, strictly moral, scrupulously correct


CLAUDIO

                         The precise Angelo?


ISABELLA

O, 'tis the cunning livery of hell,
livery (n.) 1 uniform, costume, special clothing See Topics: Frequency count

The damned'st body to invest and cover

In precious guards. Dost thou think, Claudio,
guard (n.) 5 trimming, trapping, adornment

If I would yield him my virginity,

Thou might'st be freed?


CLAUDIO

                         O heavens, it cannot be.


ISABELLA

Yes, he would give't thee, from this rank offence,
rank (adj.) 4 gross, outlandish, coarse
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

So to offend him still. This night's the time

That I should do what I abhor to name,

Or else thou diest tomorrow.


CLAUDIO

                         Thou shalt not do't.


ISABELLA

O, were it but my life,

I'd throw it down for your deliverance

As frankly as a pin.
frankly (adv.) 2 freely, unconditionally, unreservedly
pin (n.) 1 trifle, triviality, insignificant amount


CLAUDIO

                         Thanks, dear Isabel.


ISABELLA

Be ready, Claudio, for your death tomorrow.


CLAUDIO

Yes. Has he affections in him
affection (n.) 3 desire, passion, lustful feeling

That thus can make him bite the law by th' nose,

When he would force it? Sure it is no sin,
force (v.) 4 urge, press, enforce

Or of the deadly seven it is the least.


ISABELLA

Which is the least?


CLAUDIO

If it were damnable, he being so wise,

Why would he for the momentary trick
trick (n.) 6 bauble, trifle, whim

Be perdurably fined? O Isabel!
fine (v.) 3 punish, impose a penalty [on]
perdurably (adv.) eternally, everlastingly, for ever


ISABELLA

What says my brother?


CLAUDIO

                         Death is a fearful thing.


ISABELLA

And shamed life a hateful.


CLAUDIO

Ay, but to die, and go we know not where,

To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
obstruction (n.) 2 deathly state, rigor mortis

This sensible warm motion to become
motion (n.) 3 power to act normally, reaction, faculties
sensible (adj.) 1 sensitive, responsive, capable of feeling

A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
clod (n.) lump, mass, piece of earth
delighted (adj.) 2 endowed with delight
kneaded (adj.) compressed, compacted, moulded

To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside

In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice,
thick-ribbed (adj.) densely surrounded, compacted
thrilling (adj.) piercing, penetrating, bitterly cold

To be imprisoned in the viewless winds
viewless (adj.) invisible, unseeable

And blown with restless violence round about

The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
pendent (adj.) 2 hanging in space, floating in the air

Of those that lawless and incertain thought
incertain (adj.) 1 uncertain, doubtful, dubious

Imagine howling, 'tis too horrible.

The weariest and most loathed worldly life

That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment

Can lay on nature is a paradise

To what we fear of death.


ISABELLA

Alas, alas.


CLAUDIO

                         Sweet sister, let me live.

What sin you do to save a brother's life,

Nature dispenses with the deed so far
dispense with (v.) 1 disregard, pardon, put up with

That it becomes a virtue.


ISABELLA

                         O you beast!

O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!

Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?

Is't not a kind of incest to take life

From thine own sister's shame? What should I think?

Heaven shield my mother played my father fair,
shield (v.) forbid [as exclamation]

For such a warped slip of wilderness
slip (n.) 1 seedling, sprig, shoot, cutting
warped (adj.) twisted, distorted
wilderness (n.) wildness of character, licentiousness

Ne'er issued from his blood. Take my defiance,
blood (n.) 6 blood relationship, kinship
defiance (n.) renunciantion, disowning, rejection; or: contempt

Die, perish. Might but my bending down

Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed.

I'll pray a thousand prayers for thy death,

No word to save thee.


CLAUDIO

                         Nay, hear me, Isabel.


ISABELLA

O, fie, fie, fie!

Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade.
accidental (adj.) happening by chance, fortuitous
trade (n.) 3 regular line of work, recognized business

Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd,
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between See Topics: Frequency count

'Tis best thou diest quickly.

Going


CLAUDIO

                         O hear me, Isabella.

Duke comes forward


DUKE

Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.


ISABELLA

What is your will?


DUKE

Might you dispense with your leisure, I would by
by and by (adv.) 2 shortly, soon, before long
dispense with (v.) 2 have done with, do away with, forgo

and by have some speech with you. The satisfaction I

would require is likewise your own benefit.


ISABELLA

I have no superfluous leisure. My stay must be

stolen out of other affairs, but I will attend you a while.
attend (v.) 7 listen [to], pay attention [to]


DUKE

(aside)

Son, I have overheard what hath passed

between you and your sister. Angelo had never the

purpose to corrupt her; only he hath made an assay of
assay (n.) 4 test, trial, measure
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

her virtue to practise his judgement with the disposition
disposition (n.) 6 control, direction, management

of natures. She, having the truth of honour in her, hath
nature (n.) 5 personality, innate disposition, character
truth (n.) 2 virtue, integrity, uprightness

made him that gracious denial which he is most glad to

receive. I am confessor to Angelo, and I know this to

be true. Therefore prepare yourself to death. Do not

satisfy your resolution with hopes that are fallible.

Tomorrow you must die. Go to your knees and make

ready.


CLAUDIO

Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of

love with life that I will sue to be rid of it.


DUKE

Hold you there. Farewell.

Exit Claudio

Enter Provost

Provost, a word with you.


PROVOST

What's your will, father?


DUKE

That now you are come, you will be gone. Leave

me a while with the maid. My mind promises with my
promise (v.) 1 assure, declare [to], tell plainly

habit no loss shall touch her by my company.
habit (n.) 1 dress, clothing, costume See Topics: Frequency count


PROVOST

In good time.
time, in good 3 very well

Exit


DUKE

The hand that hath made you fair hath made you

good. The goodness that is cheap in beauty makes

beauty brief in goodness, but grace, being the soul of

your complexion, shall keep the body of it ever fair.
complexion (n.) 3 natural trait, disposition, temperament, nature

The assault that Angelo hath made to you, fortune
assault (n.) attack, temptation, snare

hath conveyed to my understanding, and, but that

frailty hath examples for his falling, I should wonder at

Angelo. How will you do to content this substitute,
content (v.) 1 please, gratify, delight, satisfy
substitute (n.) subordinate, deputy, underling

and to save your brother?


ISABELLA

I am now going to resolve him. I had rather my
resolve (v.) 1 answer, respond to

brother die by the law than my son should be unlawfully

born. But O, how much is the good Duke deceived

in Angelo! If ever he return and I can speak to

him, I will open my lips in vain, or discover his
discover (v.) 1 reveal, show, make known See Topics: Frequency count
government (n.) 2 self-control, self-discipline, moral conduct

government.


DUKE

That shall not be much amiss. Yet, as the matter

now stands, he will avoid your accusation; he made trial
avoid (v.) 3 repudiate, deny, reject

of you only. Therefore fasten your ear on my advisings.

To the love I have in doing good a remedy presents

itself. I do make myself believe that you may most

uprighteously do a poor wronged lady a merited benefit,

redeem your brother from the angry law, do no stain
stain (n.) 1 disgrace, shame

to your own gracious person, and much please the

absent Duke, if peradventure he shall ever return to
peradventure (adv.) perhaps, maybe, very likely See Topics: Frequency count

have hearing of this business.


ISABELLA

Let me hear you speak farther. I have spirit to

do anything that appears not foul in the truth of my

spirit.


DUKE

Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Have
fearful (adj.) 1 timid, timorous, frightened, full of fear

you not heard speak of Mariana, the sister of Frederick,

the great soldier who miscarried at sea?


ISABELLA

I have heard of the lady, and good words went

with her name.


DUKE

She should this Angelo have married, was affianced
affiance (v.) betroth, engage, promise solemnly

to her by oath, and the nuptial appointed, between

which time of the contract and limit of the solemnity,
limit (n.) 1 prescribed time, fixed period
solemnity (n.) 1 celebration, jubilation, festivity

her brother Frederick was wrecked at sea, having in that
wrack (v.) 1 wreck, shipwreck, lose at sea

perished vessel the dowry of his sister. But mark how
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

heavily this befell to the poor gentlewoman. There she
befall (v.), past forms befallen, befell 1 happen, occur, take place, turn out See Topics: Frequency count
gentlewoman (n.) woman of good breeding, well-born lady See Topics: Address forms

lost a noble and renowned brother, in his love toward

her ever most kind and natural; with him the portion
natural (adj.) 1 feeling proper affection, having normal feelings

and sinew of her fortune, her marriage dowry; with
sinew (n.) 4 mainstay, support, main strength

both, her combinate husband, this well-seeming
combinate (adj.) betrothed, contracted, promised
well-seeming (adj.) attractively looking, presenting a plausible appearance

Angelo.


ISABELLA

Can this be so? Did Angelo so leave her?


DUKE

Left her in her tears, and dried not one of them

with his comfort, swallowed his vows whole, pretending
pretend (v.) 1 claim, avow, profess

in her discoveries of dishonour. In few, bestowed her
few, in (a) in few words, in short, in brief

on her own lamentation, which she yet wears for his sake,

and he, a marble to her tears, is washed with them, but

relents not.
relent (v.) yield, give way, give up


ISABELLA

What a merit were it in death to take this poor

maid from the world! What corruption in this life, that

it will let this man live! But how out of this can she avail?
avail (v.) 1 benefit, profit, prosper


DUKE

It is a rupture that you may easily heal, and the cure

of it not only saves your brother, but keeps you from

dishonour in doing it.


ISABELLA

Show me how, good father.


DUKE

This forenamed maid hath yet in her the continuance
continuance (n.) 2 maintaining, keeping up, carrying on

of her first affection. His unjust unkindness, that
unjust (adj.) 2 unfaithful, false [to honour]

in all reason should have quenched her love, hath, like

an impediment in the current, made it more violent and

unruly. Go you to Angelo, answer his requiring with a
requiring (n.) demanding, requesting as a right

plausible obedience, agree with his demands to the

point. Only refer yourself to this advantage: first, that
advantage (n.) 3 benefit, gain, advancement, profit
refer (v.) 1 entrust, commit, commend

your stay with him may not be long, that the time may

have all shadow and silence in it, and the place answer to

convenience. This being granted in course – and now
convenience (n.) 2 fitness, appropriateness, propriety
course, in as a matter of course

follows all – we shall advise this wronged maid

to stead up your appointment, go in your place. If the
stead up (v.) keep, maintain, fulfil, carry out [on behalf of someone]

encounter acknowledge itself hereafter, it may compel
encounter (n.) 4 liaison, intercourse, amorous affair

him to her recompense, and here, by this, is your brother

saved, your honour untainted, the poor Mariana

advantaged, and the corrupt deputy scaled. The maid
advantage (v.) 1 benefit, help, aid
scale (v.) 2 weigh up [as in a scales], evaluate, appraise

will I frame and make fit for his attempt. If you think
attempt (n.) 2 attack, assault
frame (v.) 4 prepare, make ready, prime

well to carry this, as you may, the doubleness of the
carry (v.) 5 carry out, manage, conduct

benefit defends the deceit from reproof. What think you

of it?


ISABELLA

The image of it gives me content already, and I
image (n.) 5 idea, conception, mental picture

trust it will grow to a most prosperous perfection.


DUKE

It lies much in your holding up. Haste you speedily
holding up (n.) ability to maintain, power of sustaining

to Angelo. If for this night he entreat you to his bed,

give him promise of satisfaction. I will presently to
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Saint Luke's. There, at the moated grange, resides this
grange (n.) country house, farmhouse

dejected Mariana. At that place call upon me, and dispatch
dispatch, despatch (v.) 1 deal with promptly, settle, get [something] done quickly

with Angelo, that it may be quickly.


ISABELLA

I thank you for this comfort. Fare you well,

good father.

Exit

 
  Previous scene     Next scene
--%>