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Measure for Measure Scenes

Scene 2

Another room in Angelo’s house.

(Provost; Servant; Angelo; Lucio; Isabella)

The Provost, who feels it is a shame that Claudio should die when so many others have committed the same crime, comes to double-check with Angelo that the execution is to go on. He also asks for instructions regarding Juliet, who is close to giving birth. Angelo gives orders that she be treated reasonably well, as he agrees to see Isabella. The novice makes a half-hearted plea for her brother, but Angelo’s logical answer defeats her, since she actually agrees with him, and she turns to go. Lucio tells her to plead better, pushing her to be more emotional, and she slowly begins to do so. Angelo is adamant, but Isabella’s arguments begin to make some headway, and he agrees to see her again the next morning. Left alone, Angelo realizes that he has been captivated by Isabella’s modesty, and that he lusts after her. (218 lines)

Enter Provost, Servant.


He’s hearing of a cause; he will come straight.

I’ll tell him of you.


Pray you do.

Exit Servant.

I’ll know

His pleasure, may be he will relent. Alas,

He hath but as offended in a dream!

All sects, all ages smack of this vice, and he

To die for’t!

Enter Angelo.


Now, what’s the matter, Provost?


Is it your will Claudio shall die tomorrow?


Did not I tell thee yea? Hadst thou not order?

Why dost thou ask again?


Lest I might be too rash.

Under your good correction, I have seen

When, after execution, judgment hath

Repented o’er his doom.


Go to; let that be mine.

Do you your office, or give up your place,

And you shall well be spar’d.


I crave your honor’s pardon.

What shall be done, sir, with the groaning Juliet?

She’s very near her hour.


Dispose of her

To some more fitter place; and that with speed.

Enter Servant.


Here is the sister of the man condemn’d

Desires access to you.


Hath he a sister?


Ay, my good lord, a very virtuous maid,

And to be shortly of a sisterhood,

If not already.


Well; let her be admitted.

Exit Servant.

See you the fornicatress be remov’d.

Let her have needful but not lavish means;

There shall be order for’t.

Enter Lucio and Isabella.


’Save your honor!


Stay a little while.

To Isabella.

Y’ are welcome; what’s your will?


I am a woeful suitor to your honor,

Please but your honor hear me.


Well; what’s your suit?


There is a vice that most I do abhor,

And most desire should meet the blow of justice;

For which I would not plead, but that I must;

For which I must not plead, but that I am

At war ’twixt will and will not.


Well; the matter?


I have a brother is condemn’d to die;

I do beseech you let it be his fault,

And not my brother.



Heaven give thee moving graces!


Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it?

Why, every fault’s condemn’d ere it be done.

Mine were the very cipher of a function,

To fine the faults whose fine stands in record,

And let go by the actor.


O just but severe law!

I had a brother then. Heaven keep your honor!


Aside to Isabella

Give’t not o’er so. To him again, entreat him,

Kneel down before him, hang upon his gown;

You are too cold. If you should need a pin,

You could not with more tame a tongue desire it;

To him, I say!


Must he needs die?


Maiden, no remedy.


Yes; I do think that you might pardon him,

And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.


I will not do’t.


But can you if you would?


Look what I will not, that I cannot do.


But might you do’t, and do the world no wrong,

If so your heart were touch’d with that remorse

As mine is to him?


He’s sentenc’d; ’tis too late.


Aside to Isabella

You are too cold.


Too late? Why, no; I that do speak a word

May call it again. Well, believe this,

No ceremony that to great ones ’longs,

Not the king’s crown, nor the deputed sword,

The marshal’s truncheon, nor the judge’s robe,

Become them with one half so good a grace

As mercy does.

If he had been as you, and you as he,

You would have slipp’d like him, but he, like you,

Would not have been so stern.


Pray you be gone.


I would to heaven I had your potency,

And you were Isabel! Should it then be thus?

No; I would tell what ’twere to be a judge,

And what a prisoner.


Aside to Isabella.

Ay, touch him; there’s the vein.


Your brother is a forfeit of the law,

And you but waste your words.


Alas, alas!

Why, all the souls that were were forfeit once,

And He that might the vantage best have took

Found out the remedy. How would you be

If He, which is the top of judgment, should

But judge you as you are? O, think on that,

And mercy then will breathe within your lips,

Like man new made.


Be you content, fair maid,

It is the law, not I, condemn your brother.

Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son,

It should be thus with him: he must die tomorrow.


Tomorrow? O, that’s sudden! Spare him, spare him!

He’s not prepar’d for death. Even for our kitchens

We kill the fowl of season. Shall we serve heaven

With less respect than we do minister

To our gross selves? Good, good my lord, bethink you:

Who is it that hath died for this offense?

There’s many have committed it.


Aside to Isabella

Ay, well said.


The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept.

Those many had not dar’d to do that evil

If the first that did th’ edict infringe

Had answer’d for his deed. Now ’tis awake,

Takes note of what is done, and like a prophet

Looks in a glass that shows what future evils,

Either now, or by remissness new conceiv’d,

And so in progress to be hatch’d and born,

Are now to have no successive degrees,

But here they live, to end.


Yet show some pity.


I show it most of all when I show justice;

For then I pity those I do not know,

Which a dismiss’d offense would after gall,

And do him right that, answering one foul wrong,

Lives not to act another. Be satisfied;

Your brother dies tomorrow; be content.


So you must be the first that gives this sentence,

And he, that suffers. O, it is excellent

To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous

To use it like a giant.


Aside to Isabella

That’s well said.


Could great men thunder

As Jove himself does, Jove would never be quiet,

For every pelting, petty officer

Would use his heaven for thunder,

Nothing but thunder! Merciful heaven,

Thou rather with thy sharp and sulfurous bolt

Splits the unwedgeable and gnarled oak

Than the soft myrtle; but man, proud man,

Dress’d in a little brief authority,

Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d

(His glassy essence), like an angry ape

Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven

As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,

Would all themselves laugh mortal.


Aside to Isabella

O, to him, to him, wench! He will relent.

He’s coming; I perceive’t.



Pray heaven she win him!


We cannot weigh our brother with ourself.

Great men may jest with saints; ’tis wit in them,

But in the less foul profanation.


Aside to Isabella

Thou’rt i’ th’ right, girl, more o’ that.


That in the captain’s but a choleric word,

Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.


Aside to Isabella

Art avis’d o’ that? More on’t.


Why do you put these sayings upon me?


Because authority, though it err like others,

Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself,

That skins the vice o’ th’ top. Go to your bosom,

Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know

That’s like my brother’s fault. If it confess

A natural guiltiness such as is his,

Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue

Against my brother’s life.



She speaks, and ’tis

Such sense that my sense breeds with it.—Fare you well.


Gentle my lord, turn back.


I will bethink me. Come again tomorrow.


Hark how I’ll bribe you. Good my lord, turn back.


How? Bribe me?


Ay, with such gifts that heaven shall share with you.


Aside to Isabella

You had marr’d all else.


Not with fond sicles of the tested gold,

Or stones, whose rate are either rich or poor

As fancy values them; but with true prayers,

That shall be up at heaven, and enter there

Ere sun-rise, prayers from preserved souls,

From fasting maids, whose minds are dedicate

To nothing temporal.


Well; come to me tomorrow.


Aside to Isabella

Go to; ’tis well. Away!


Heaven keep your honor safe!




For I am that way going to temptation,

Where prayers cross.


At what hour tomorrow

Shall I attend your lordship?


At any time ’fore noon.


’Save your honor!

Exeunt Isabella, Lucio, and Provost.


From thee: even from thy virtue.

What’s this? What’s this? Is this her fault, or mine?

The tempter, or the tempted, who sins most, ha?

Not she; nor doth she tempt; but it is I

That, lying by the violet in the sun,

Do as the carrion does, not as the flow’r,

Corrupt with virtuous season. Can it be

That modesty may more betray our sense

Than woman’s lightness? Having waste ground enough,

Shall we desire to raze the sanctuary

And pitch our evils there? O fie, fie, fie!

What dost thou? Or what art thou, Angelo?

Dost thou desire her foully for those things

That make her good? O, let her brother live!

Thieves for their robbery have authority

When judges steal themselves. What, do I love her,

That I desire to hear her speak again?

And feast upon her eyes? What is’t I dream on?

O cunning enemy, that to catch a saint,

With saints dost bait thy hook! Most dangerous

Is that temptation that doth goad us on

To sin in loving virtue. Never could the strumpet,

With all her double vigor, art and nature,

Once stir my temper; but this virtuous maid

Subdues me quite. Ever till now,

When men were fond, I smil’d and wond’red how.



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