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Scene 1

At the city gate.

(Duke; Varrius; Lords; Angelo; Escalus; Lucio; Provost; Officers; Citizens; Friar Peter; Isabella; Mariana; Attendant; Barnardine; Claudio; Julietta)

The duke returns, meeting Angelo and Escalus and praising them. As he does so, Isabella steps forward and calls for justice against Angelo. Angelo suggests that she has been driven mad by her brother’s death. As Isabella tells her tale, Lucio ceaselessly interrupts, despite being told to keep his mouth shut. The Duke pretends that he does not believe Isabella, and threatens to have her sent to prison; she names the Friar who advised her to make this protest, and the duke orders that he be found. Lucio says that he knows the Friar, and that the latter slandered the Duke, though Friar Peter denies this. Mariana is brought in veiled, promising to free Angelo from the charge of adultery by revealing that in fact, he slept with her, his promised bride. Angelo denies this as well. The Duke leaves Angelo and Escalus in charge of the trial as he slips off on some important business. Disguised as the Friar, he returns. Escalus takes over his interrogation and soon sentences him to jail for slandering the state. The Provost attempts to take the Friar away, but he struggles enough that Lucio must help, in the course of which Lucio pulls off the Friar’s hood, revealing that he is in fact the Duke. He immediately takes over the court, warns Lucio that they shall have a chat, forgives Escalus for what he has said, and asks Angelo if he has anything to say for himself. All Angelo can do is beg that he be executed. He is sent off to marry Mariana on admitting that he was contracted to her. In his absence, the Duke apologizes to Isabella for Claudio’s death, saying that things went faster than he’d anticipated. When the now-married Angelo and Mariana are brought back, the Duke orders that Angelo be taken away and beheaded at once. Mariana begs for his life, but the Duke is merciless until Mariana manages to convince Isabella to plead for Angelo. The Duke then has the Provost bring in Barnardine, Claudio with a cover around his head, and Juliet. The Duke pardons Barnardine, then has Claudio unmasked; restoring her brother to her, he asks Isabella to marry him. He then turns his attention to Lucio, and while sparing his life orders that he marry the prostitute he got pregnant. After thanking everybody, the Duke again asks Isabella to marry him. What answer she makes is unknown. (548 lines)

Flourish. Enter Duke, Varrius, Lords, Angelo, Escalus, Lucio, Provost, Officers, Citizens at several doors.


My very worthy cousin, fairly met!

Our old and faithful friend, we are glad to see you.


Happy return be to your royal Grace!


Many and hearty thankings to you both.

We have made inquiry of you, and we hear

Such goodness of your justice, that our soul

Cannot but yield you forth to public thanks,

Forerunning more requital.


You make my bonds still greater.


O, your desert speaks loud, and I should wrong it

To lock it in the wards of covert bosom,

When it deserves with characters of brass

A forted residence ’gainst the tooth of time

And razure of oblivion. Give me your hand,

And let the subject see, to make them know

That outward courtesies would fain proclaim

Favors that keep within. Come, Escalus,

You must walk by us on our other hand;

And good supporters are you.

Enter Friar Peter and Isabella.


Now is your time: speak loud, and kneel before him.


Justice, O royal Duke! Vail your regard

Upon a wrong’d—I would fain have said a maid!

O worthy Prince, dishonor not your eye

By throwing it on any other object,

Till you have heard me in my true complaint,

And given me justice, justice, justice, justice!


Relate your wrongs. In what? By whom? Be brief.

Here is Lord Angelo shall give you justice;

Reveal yourself to him.


O worthy Duke,

You bid me seek redemption of the devil.

Hear me yourself; for that which I must speak

Must either punish me, not being believ’d,

Or wring redress from you. Hear me, O hear me, here.


My lord, her wits, I fear me, are not firm.

She hath been a suitor to me for her brother,

Cut off by course of justice—


By course of justice!


And she will speak most bitterly and strange.


Most strange! But yet most truly will I speak:

That Angelo’s forsworn, is it not strange?

That Angelo’s a murderer, is’t not strange?

That Angelo is an adulterous thief,

An hypocrite, a virgin-violator,

Is it not strange? And strange?


Nay, it is ten times strange.


It is not truer he is Angelo

Than this is all as true as it is strange;

Nay, it is ten times true, for truth is truth

To th’ end of reck’ning.


Away with her! Poor soul,

She speaks this in th’ infirmity of sense.


O Prince, I conjure thee, as thou believ’st

There is another comfort than this world,

That thou neglect me not, with that opinion

That I am touch’d with madness. Make not impossible

That which but seems unlike; ’tis not impossible

But one the wicked’st caitiff on the ground,

May seem as shy, as grave, as just, as absolute

As Angelo. Even so may Angelo,

In all his dressings, caracts, titles, forms,

Be an arch-villain. Believe it, royal Prince,

If he be less, he’s nothing, but he’s more,

Had I more name for badness.


By mine honesty,

If she be mad, as I believe no other,

Her madness hath the oddest frame of sense,

Such a dependency of thing on thing,

As e’er I heard in madness.


O gracious Duke,

Harp not on that; nor do not banish reason

For inequality, but let your reason serve

To make the truth appear, where it seems hid,

And hide the false seems true.


Many that are not mad

Have sure more lack of reason. What would you say?


I am the sister of one Claudio,

Condemn’d upon the act of fornication

To lose his head, condemn’d by Angelo.

I (in probation of a sisterhood)

Was sent to by my brother; one Lucio

As then the messenger—


That’s I, and’t like your Grace.

I came to her from Claudio, and desir’d her

To try her gracious fortune with Lord Angelo,

For her poor brother’s pardon.


That’s he indeed.


To Lucio.

You were not bid to speak.


No, my good lord,

Nor wish’d to hold my peace.


I wish you now then.

Pray you take note of it; and when you have

A business for yourself, pray heaven you then

Be perfect.


I warrant your honor.


The warrant’s for yourself; take heed to’t.


This gentleman told somewhat of my tale—




It may be right, but you are i’ the wrong

To speak before your time. Proceed.


I went

To this pernicious caitiff deputy—


That’s somewhat madly spoken.


Pardon it,

The phrase is to the matter.


Mended again. The matter; proceed.


In brief, to set the needless process by—

How I persuaded, how I pray’d, and kneel’d,

How he refell’d me, and how I replied

(For this was of much length)—the vild conclusion

I now begin with grief and shame to utter.

He would not, but by gift of my chaste body

To his concupiscible intemperate lust,

Release my brother; and after much debatement,

My sisterly remorse confutes mine honor,

And I did yield to him; but the next morn betimes,

His purpose surfeiting, he sends a warrant

For my poor brother’s head.


This is most likely!


O that it were as like as it is true!


By heaven, fond wretch, thou know’st not what thou speak’st,

Or else thou art suborn’d against his honor

In hateful practice. First, his integrity

Stands without blemish; next, it imports no reason

That with such vehemency he should pursue

Faults proper to himself. If he had so offended,

He would have weigh’d thy brother by himself,

And not have cut him off. Some one hath set you on;

Confess the truth, and say by whose advice

Thou cam’st here to complain.


And is this all?

Then, O you blessed ministers above,

Keep me in patience, and with ripened time

Unfold the evil which is here wrapp’d up

In countenance! Heaven shield your Grace from woe,

As I, thus wrong’d, hence unbelieved go!


I know you’ld fain be gone. An officer!

To prison with her! Shall we thus permit

A blasting and a scandalous breath to fall

On him so near us? This needs must be a practice.

Who knew of your intent and coming hither?


One that I would were here, Friar Lodowick.


A ghostly father, belike. Who knows that Lodowick?


My lord, I know him, ’tis a meddling friar.

I do not like the man; had he been lay, my lord,

For certain words he spake against your Grace

In your retirement, I had swing’d him soundly.


Words against me? This’ a good friar, belike!

And to set on this wretched woman here

Against our substitute! Let this friar be found.


But yesternight, my lord, she and that friar,

I saw them at the prison. A saucy friar,

A very scurvy fellow.


Blessed be your royal Grace!

I have stood by, my lord, and I have heard

Your royal ear abus’d. First, hath this woman

Most wrongfully accus’d your substitute,

Who is as free from touch or soil with her

As she from one ungot.


We did believe no less.

Know you that Friar Lodowick that she speaks of?


I know him for a man divine and holy,

Not scurvy, nor a temporary meddler,

As he’s reported by this gentleman;

And on my trust, a man that never yet

Did (as he vouches) misreport your Grace.


My lord, most villainously, believe it.


Well; he in time may come to clear himself;

But at this instant he is sick, my lord,

Of a strange fever. Upon his mere request,

Being come to knowledge that there was complaint

Intended ’gainst Lord Angelo, came I hither,

To speak as from his mouth, what he doth know

Is true and false; and what he with his oath

And all probation will make up full clear,

Whensoever he’s convented. First, for this woman,

To justify this worthy nobleman,

So vulgarly and personally accus’d,

Her shall you hear disproved to her eyes,

Till she herself confess it.


Good friar, let’s hear it.

Isabella is carried off guarded.

Do you not smile at this, Lord Angelo?

O heaven, the vanity of wretched fools!

Give us some seats. Come, cousin Angelo,

In this I’ll be impartial. Be you judge

Of your own cause.

Enter Mariana veiled.

Is this the witness, friar?

First, let her show her face, and after speak.


Pardon, my lord, I will not show my face

Until my husband bid me.


What, are you married?


No, my lord.


Are you a maid?


No, my lord.


A widow then?


Neither, my lord.


Why, you are nothing then: neither maid, widow, nor wife?


My lord, she may be a punk; for many of them are neither maid, widow, nor wife.


Silence that fellow. I would he had some cause

To prattle for himself.


Well, my lord.


My lord, I do confess I ne’er was married,

And I confess besides I am no maid.

I have known my husband, yet my husband

Knows not that ever he knew me.


He was drunk then, my lord, it can be no better.


For the benefit of silence, would thou wert so too!


Well, my lord.


This is no witness for Lord Angelo.


Now I come to’t, my lord.

She that accuses him of fornication,

In self-same manner doth accuse my husband,

And charges him, my lord, with such a time

When I’ll depose I had him in mine arms

With all th’ effect of love.


Charges she more than me?


Not that I know.


No? You say your husband.


Why, just, my lord, and that is Angelo,

Who thinks he knows that he ne’er knew my body,

But knows he thinks that he knows Isabel’s.


This is a strange abuse. Let’s see thy face.


My husband bids me, now I will unmask.


This is that face, thou cruel Angelo,

Which once thou swor’st was worth the looking on;

This is the hand which, with a vow’d contract,

Was fast belock’d in thine; this is the body

That took away the match from Isabel,

And did supply thee at thy garden-house

In her imagin’d person.


Know you this woman?


Carnally, she says.


Sirrah, no more!


Enough, my lord.


My lord, I must confess I know this woman,

And five years since there was some speech of marriage

Betwixt myself and her; which was broke off,

Partly for that her promised proportions

Came short of composition, but in chief

For that her reputation was disvalued

In levity. Since which time of five years

I never spake with her, saw her, nor heard from her,

Upon my faith and honor.


Noble Prince,

As there comes light from heaven, and words from breath,

As there is sense in truth, and truth in virtue,

I am affianc’d this man’s wife as strongly

As words could make up vows; and, my good lord,

But Tuesday night last gone, in ’s garden-house,

He knew me as a wife. As this is true,

Let me in safety raise me from my knees,

Or else forever be confixed here,

A marble monument!


I did but smile till now.

Now, good my lord, give me the scope of justice,

My patience here is touch’d. I do perceive

These poor informal women are no more

But instruments of some more mightier member

That sets them on. Let me have way, my lord,

To find this practice out.


Ay, with my heart,

And punish them to your height of pleasure.

Thou foolish friar, and thou pernicious woman,

Compact with her that’s gone, think’st thou thy oaths,

Though they would swear down each particular saint,

Were testimonies against his worth and credit

That’s seal’d in approbation? You, Lord Escalus,

Sit with my cousin; lend him your kind pains

To find out this abuse, whence ’tis deriv’d.

There is another friar that set them on,

Let him be sent for.


Would he were here, my lord, for he indeed

Hath set the women on to this complaint.

Your Provost knows the place where he abides,

And he may fetch him.


Go, do it instantly.

Exit Provost.

And you, my noble and well-warranted cousin,

Whom it concerns to hear this matter forth,

Do with your injuries as seems you best,

In any chastisement. I for a while will leave you;

But stir not you till you have well determin’d

Upon these slanderers.


My lord, we’ll do it throughly.

Exit Duke.

Signior Lucio, did not you say you knew that Friar Lodowick to be a dishonest person?


Cucullus non facit monachum: honest in nothing but in his clothes, and one that hath spoke most villainous speeches of the Duke.


We shall entreat you to abide here till he come, and enforce them against him. We shall find this friar a notable fellow.


As any in Vienna, on my word.


Call that same Isabel here once again, I would speak with her.

Exit an Attendant.

Pray you, my lord, give me leave to question, you shall see how I’ll handle her.


Not better than he, by her own report.


Say you?


Marry, sir, I think if you handled her privately she would sooner confess; perchance publicly she’ll be asham’d.

Enter Duke in his friar’s habit, Provost, Officers with Isabella.


I will go darkly to work with her.


That’s the way; for women are light at midnight.


Come on, mistress. Here’s a gentlewoman denies all that you have said.


My lord, here comes the rascal I spoke of, here with the Provost.


In very good time. Speak not you to him till we call upon you.




Come, sir, did you set these women on to slander Lord Angelo? They have confess’d you did.


’Tis false.


How! Know you where you are?


Respect to your great place! And let the devil

Be sometime honor’d for his burning throne!

Where is the Duke? ’Tis he should hear me speak.


The Duke’s in us; and we will hear you speak:

Look you speak justly.


Boldly, at least. But O, poor souls,

Come you to seek the lamb here of the fox,

Good night to your redress! Is the Duke gone?

Then is your cause gone too. The Duke’s unjust

Thus to retort your manifest appeal,

And put your trial in the villain’s mouth

Which here you come to accuse.


This is the rascal; this is he I spoke of.


Why, thou unreverend and unhallowed friar,

Is’t not enough thou hast suborn’d these women

To accuse this worthy man, but in foul mouth,

And in the witness of his proper ear,

To call him villain, and then to glance from him

To th’ Duke himself, to tax him with injustice?

Take him hence; to th’ rack with him! We’ll touze you

Joint by joint, but we will know his purpose.

What? “unjust”?


Be not so hot. The Duke

Dare no more stretch this finger of mine than he

Dare rack his own. His subject am I not,

Nor here provincial. My business in this state

Made me a looker-on here in Vienna,

Where I have seen corruption boil and bubble,

Till it o’errun the stew; laws for all faults,

But faults so countenanc’d, that the strong statutes

Stand like the forfeits in a barber’s shop,

As much in mock as mark.


Slander to th’ state!

Away with him to prison.


What can you vouch

Against him, Signior Lucio? Is this the man

That you did tell us of?


’Tis he, my lord.

Come hither, goodman bald-pate, do you know me?


I remember you, sir, by the sound of your voice; I met you at the prison, in the absence of the Duke.


O, did you so? And do you remember what you said of the Duke?


Most notedly, sir.


Do you so, sir? And was the Duke a flesh-monger, a fool, and a coward, as you then reported him to be?


You must, sir, change persons with me, ere you make that my report. You indeed spoke so of him, and much more, much worse.


O thou damnable fellow! Did not I pluck thee by the nose for thy speeches?


I protest I love the Duke as I love myself.


Hark how the villain would close now, after his treasonable abuses!


Such a fellow is not to be talk’d withal. Away with him to prison! Where is the Provost? Away with him to prison! Lay bolts enough upon him. Let him speak no more. Away with those giglets too, and with the other confederate companion!

The Provost lays hands on the Duke.


Stay, sir, stay a while.


What, resists he? Help him, Lucio.


Come, sir, come, sir, come, sir; foh, sir, why, you bald-pated, lying rascal, you must be hooded, must you? Show your knave’s visage, with a pox to you! Show your sheep-biting face, and be hang’d an hour! Will’t not off?

Pulls off the friar’s hood.


Thou art the first knave that e’er mad’st a duke.

First, Provost, let me bail these gentle three.

To Lucio.

Sneak not away, sir, for the friar and you

Must have a word anon.—Lay hold on him.


This may prove worse than hanging.


To Escalus.

What you have spoke I pardon. Sit you down,

We’ll borrow place of him.—Sir, by your leave.

Takes Angelo’s seat.

Hast thou or word, or wit, or impudence,

That yet can do thee office? If thou hast,

Rely upon it till my tale be heard,

And hold no longer out.


O my dread lord,

I should be guiltier than my guiltiness,

To think I can be undiscernible,

When I perceive your Grace, like pow’r divine,

Hath look’d upon my passes. Then, good Prince,

No longer session hold upon my shame,

But let my trial be mine own confession.

Immediate sentence then, and sequent death,

Is all the grace I beg.


Come hither, Mariana.

Say: wast thou e’er contracted to this woman?


I was, my lord.


Go take her hence, and marry her instantly.

Do you the office, friar, which consummate,

Return him here again. Go with him, Provost.

Exeunt Angelo, Mariana, Friar Peter, Provost.


My lord, I am more amaz’d at his dishonor

Than at the strangeness of it.


Come hither, Isabel,

Your friar is now your prince. As I was then

Advertising and holy to your business,

Not changing heart with habit, I am still

Attorneyed at your service.


O, give me pardon,

That I, your vassal, have employ’d and pain’d

Your unknown sovereignty!


You are pardon’d, Isabel;

And now, dear maid, be you as free to us.

Your brother’s death I know sits at your heart;

And you may marvel why I obscur’d myself,

Laboring to save his life, and would not rather

Make rash remonstrance of my hidden pow’r

Than let him so be lost. O most kind maid,

It was the swift celerity of his death,

Which I did think with slower foot came on,

That brain’d my purpose. But peace be with him!

That life is better life, past fearing death,

Than that which lives to fear. Make it your comfort,

So happy is your brother.

Enter Angelo, Mariana, Friar Peter, Provost.


I do, my lord.


For this new-married man approaching here,

Whose salt imagination yet hath wrong’d

Your well-defended honor, you must pardon

For Mariana’s sake; but as he adjudg’d your brother—

Being criminal, in double violation

Of sacred chastity and of promise-breach,

Thereon dependent, for your brother’s life—

The very mercy of the law cries out

Most audible, even from his proper tongue,

“An Angelo for Claudio, death for death!”

Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure;

Like doth quit like, and Measure still for Measure.

Then, Angelo, thy fault’s thus manifested;

Which though thou wouldst deny, denies thee vantage.

We do condemn thee to the very block

Where Claudio stoop’d to death, and with like haste.

Away with him!


O my most gracious lord,

I hope you will not mock me with a husband!


It is your husband mock’d you with a husband.

Consenting to the safeguard of your honor,

I thought your marriage fit; else imputation,

For that he knew you, might reproach your life,

And choke your good to come. For his possessions,

Although by confiscation they are ours,

We do enstate and widow you with all,

To buy you a better husband.


O my dear lord,

I crave no other, nor no better man.


Never crave him, we are definitive.



Gentle my liege—


You do but lose your labor.

Away with him to death!

To Lucio.

Now, sir, to you.


O my good lord! Sweet Isabel, take my part!

Lend me your knees, and all my life to come

I’ll lend you all my life to do you service.


Against all sense you do importune her.

Should she kneel down in mercy of this fact,

Her brother’s ghost his paved bed would break,

And take her hence in horror.



Sweet Isabel, do yet but kneel by me.

Hold up your hands, say nothing; I’ll speak all.

They say best men are moulded out of faults,

And for the most, become much more the better

For being a little bad; so may my husband.

O Isabel! Will you not lend a knee?


He dies for Claudio’s death.



Most bounteous sir:

Look, if it please you, on this man condemn’d

As if my brother liv’d. I partly think

A due sincerity governed his deeds,

Till he did look on me. Since it is so,

Let him not die. My brother had but justice,

In that he did the thine for which he died;

For Angelo,

His act did not o’ertake his bad intent,

And must be buried but as an intent

That perish’d by the way. Thoughts are no subjects,

Intents but merely thoughts.


Merely, my lord.


Your suit’s unprofitable; stand up, I say.

I have bethought me of another fault.

Provost, how came it Claudio was beheaded

At an unusual hour?


It was commanded so.


Had you a special warrant for the deed?


No, my good lord; it was by private message.


For which I do discharge you of your office;

Give up your keys.


Pardon me, noble lord,

I thought it was a fault, but knew it not,

Yet did repent me, after more advice,

For testimony whereof, one in the prison,

That should by private order else have died,

I have reserv’d alive.


What’s he?


His name is Barnardine.


I would thou hadst done so by Claudio.

Go fetch him hither, let me look upon him.

Exit Provost.


I am sorry, one so learned and so wise

As you, Lord Angelo, have still appear’d,

Should slip so grossly, both in the heat of blood

And lack of temper’d judgment afterward.


I am sorry that such sorrow I procure,

And so deep sticks it in my penitent heart

That I crave death more willingly than mercy:

’Tis my deserving, and I do entreat it.

Enter Barnardine and Provost, Claudio muffled, Julietta.


Which is that Barnardine?


This, my lord.


There was a friar told me of this man.

Sirrah, thou art said to have a stubborn soul

That apprehends no further than this world,

And squar’st thy life according. Thou’rt condemn’d,

But for those earthly faults, I quit them all,

And pray thee take this mercy to provide

For better times to come. Friar, advise him,

I leave him to your hand. What muffled fellow’s that?


This is another prisoner that I sav’d,

Who should have died when Claudio lost his head,

As like almost to Claudio as himself.

Unmuffles Claudio.


To Isabella.

If he be like your brother, for his sake

Is he pardon’d, and for your lovely sake,

Give me your hand, and say you will be mine,

He is my brother too. But fitter time for that.

By this Lord Angelo perceives he’s safe;

Methinks I see a quick’ning in his eye.

Well, Angelo, your evil quits you well.

Look that you love your wife; her worth worth yours.

I find an apt remission in myself;

And yet here’s one in place I cannot pardon.

To Lucio.

You, sirrah, that knew me for a fool, a coward,

One all of luxury, an ass, a madman,

Wherein have I so deserv’d of you,

That you extol me thus?


Faith, my lord, I spoke it but according to the trick. If you will hang me for it, you may; but I had rather it would please you I might be whipt.


Whipt first, sir, and hang’d after.

Proclaim it, Provost, round about the city,

If any woman wrong’d by this lewd fellow

(As I have heard him swear himself there’s one

Whom he begot with child), let her appear,

And he shall marry her. The nuptial finish’d,

Let him be whipt and hang’d.


I beseech your Highness do not marry me to a whore. Your Highness said even now I made you a duke; good my lord, do not recompense me in making me a cuckold.


Upon mine honor, thou shalt marry her.

Thy slanders I forgive, and therewithal

Remit thy other forfeits. Take him to prison,

And see our pleasure herein executed.


Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing to death, whipping, and hanging.


Slandering a prince deserves it.

Exeunt Officers with Lucio.

She, Claudio, that you wrong’d, look you restore.

Joy to you, Mariana! Love her, Angelo!

I have confess’d her, and I know her virtue.

Thanks, good friend Escalus, for thy much goodness,

There’s more behind that is more gratulate.

Thanks, Provost, for thy care and secrecy,

We shall employ thee in a worthier place.

Forgive him, Angelo, that brought you home

The head of Ragozine for Claudio’s,

Th’ offense pardons itself. Dear Isabel,

I have a motion much imports your good,

Whereto if you’ll a willing ear incline,

What’s mine is yours, and what is yours is mine.

So bring us to our palace, where we’ll show

What’s yet behind, that’s meet you all should know.



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