List iconMeasure for Measure:
Act 1, scene 1
List icon

Measure for Measure
Act 1, scene 1



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Human nature and the law often collide in Measure for Measure. As the play begins, the Duke of Vienna announces he…

Act 1, scene 1

The Duke of Vienna announces that he has been called away from the city, and that he is leaving Lord…

Act 1, scene 2

Angelo enforces Vienna’s law against fornication, ordering the brothels torn down and having Claudio arrested because his fiancée’s pregnancy exposes…

Act 1, scene 3

The duke obtains the clothing of a friar in order to disguise himself and secretly observe the conduct of Angelo…

Act 1, scene 4

Lucio persuades Isabella to intercede with Angelo.

Act 2, scene 1

Escalus tries to persuade Angelo to be less harsh to Claudio. Angelo instead gives orders that Claudio be executed the…

Act 2, scene 2

Isabella pleads with Angelo for Claudio’s life. Angelo refuses to relent but, overcome by desire for Isabella, tells her that…

Act 2, scene 3

The duke (in the role of a friar) visits the prison and there meets Juliet, who expresses both her love…

Act 2, scene 4

Angelo tells Isabella that only if she sleeps with him will he set Claudio free; if she refuses, Claudio will…

Act 3, scene 1

The duke, in his guise of “Friar,” persuades Claudio that death is preferable to life. When Isabella tells Claudio that…

Act 3, scene 2

Pompey is carried off to prison. Lucio refuses to provide bail money for him, and slanders the absent duke to…

Act 4, scene 1

Isabella reports to the “Friar” about the arrangements made with Angelo for that night’s assignation; Mariana agrees to sleep with…

Act 4, scene 2

At the prison, Pompey agrees to serve as the assistant to Abhorson, the public executioner. The duke, in his role…

Act 4, scene 3

Barnardine declares himself not ready to die. The provost and the “Friar” agree to spare him temporarily and to send…

Act 4, scene 4

Angelo learns of the duke’s return. Alone, he expresses his anguish that he has raped Isabella and had Claudio killed.

Act 4, scene 5

The duke makes plans with Friar Peter, whom he sends away on errands, and then greets Varrius.

Act 4, scene 6

Isabella and Mariana discuss the roles they are to play when they meet the duke, who is about to enter…

Act 5, scene 1

The duke, on his entry, is met by Isabella, who accuses Angelo of violating her chastity. She is arrested for…

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Scene 1
Enter Duke, Escalus, Lords, and Attendants.

DUKE Escalus.
ESCALUS My lord.
 Of government the properties to unfold
 Would seem in me t’ affect speech and discourse,
5 Since I am put to know that your own science
 Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice
 My strength can give you. Then no more remains
 But that, to your sufficiency, as your worth is able,
 And let them work. The nature of our people,
10 Our city’s institutions, and the terms
 For common justice, you’re as pregnant in
 As art and practice hath enrichèd any
 That we remember. There is our commission,
He hands Escalus a paper.
 From which we would not have you warp.—Call
15 hither,
 I say, bid come before us Angelo.
An Attendant exits.
 What figure of us think you he will bear?
 For you must know, we have with special soul
 Elected him our absence to supply,
20 Lent him our terror, dressed him with our love,

Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 1

 And given his deputation all the organs
 Of our own power. What think you of it?
 If any in Vienna be of worth
 To undergo such ample grace and honor,
25 It is Lord Angelo.

Enter Angelo.

DUKE  Look where he comes.
 Always obedient to your Grace’s will,
 I come to know your pleasure.
DUKE  Angelo,
30 There is a kind of character in thy life
 That to th’ observer doth thy history
 Fully unfold. Thyself and thy belongings
 Are not thine own so proper as to waste
 Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee.
35 Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
 Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues
 Did not go forth of us, ’twere all alike
 As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touched
 But to fine issues, nor nature never lends
40 The smallest scruple of her excellence
 But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines
 Herself the glory of a creditor,
 Both thanks and use. But I do bend my speech
 To one that can my part in him advertise.
45 Hold, therefore, Angelo.
 In our remove be thou at full ourself.
 Mortality and mercy in Vienna
 Live in thy tongue and heart. Old Escalus,
 Though first in question, is thy secondary.
50 Take thy commission.He hands Angelo a paper.
ANGELO  Now, good my lord,
 Let there be some more test made of my mettle

Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Before so noble and so great a figure
 Be stamped upon it.
DUKE 55 No more evasion.
 We have with a leavened and preparèd choice
 Proceeded to you. Therefore, take your honors.
 Our haste from hence is of so quick condition
 That it prefers itself and leaves unquestioned
60 Matters of needful value. We shall write to you,
 As time and our concernings shall importune,
 How it goes with us, and do look to know
 What doth befall you here. So fare you well.
 To th’ hopeful execution do I leave you
65 Of your commissions.
ANGELO  Yet give leave, my lord,
 That we may bring you something on the way.
DUKE My haste may not admit it.
 Nor need you, on mine honor, have to do
70 With any scruple. Your scope is as mine own,
 So to enforce or qualify the laws
 As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand.
 I’ll privily away. I love the people,
 But do not like to stage me to their eyes.
75 Though it do well, I do not relish well
 Their loud applause and aves vehement,
 Nor do I think the man of safe discretion
 That does affect it. Once more, fare you well.
 The heavens give safety to your purposes.
80 Lead forth and bring you back in happiness.
DUKE I thank you. Fare you well.He exits.
ESCALUS, to Angelo 
 I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave
 To have free speech with you; and it concerns me
 To look into the bottom of my place.

Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 2

85 A power I have, but of what strength and nature
 I am not yet instructed.
 ’Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together,
 And we may soon our satisfaction have
 Touching that point.
ESCALUS 90 I’ll wait upon your Honor.
They exit.