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Measure for Measure
Act 1, scene 2

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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 2
Enter Lucio and two other Gentlemen.

LUCIO If the Duke, with the other dukes, come not to
 composition with the King of Hungary, why then all
 the dukes fall upon the King.
FIRST GENTLEMAN Heaven grant us its peace, but not
5 the King of Hungary’s!
SECOND GENTLEMAN Amen.
LUCIO Thou conclud’st like the sanctimonious pirate
 that went to sea with the ten commandments but
 scraped one out of the table.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 10“Thou shalt not steal”?
LUCIO Ay, that he razed.
FIRST GENTLEMAN Why, ’twas a commandment to command
 the Captain and all the rest from their functions!
 They put forth to steal. There’s not a soldier of
15 us all that in the thanksgiving before meat do relish
 the petition well that prays for peace.
SECOND GENTLEMAN I never heard any soldier dislike it.
LUCIO I believe thee, for I think thou never wast where
 grace was said.
SECOND GENTLEMAN 20No? A dozen times at least.
FIRST GENTLEMAN What? In meter?
LUCIO In any proportion or in any language.
FIRST GENTLEMAN I think, or in any religion.

15
Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 2

LUCIO Ay, why not? Grace is grace, despite of all
25 controversy; as, for example, thou thyself art a
 wicked villain, despite of all grace.
FIRST GENTLEMAN Well, there went but a pair of shears
 between us.
LUCIO I grant, as there may between the lists and the
30 velvet. Thou art the list.
FIRST GENTLEMAN And thou the velvet. Thou art good
 velvet; thou ’rt a three-piled piece, I warrant thee. I
 had as lief be a list of an English kersey as be piled,
 as thou art piled, for a French velvet. Do I speak
35 feelingly now?
LUCIO I think thou dost, and indeed with most painful
 feeling of thy speech. I will, out of thine own
 confession, learn to begin thy health, but, whilst I
 live, forget to drink after thee.
FIRST GENTLEMAN 40I think I have done myself wrong,
 have I not?
SECOND GENTLEMAN Yes, that thou hast, whether thou
 art tainted or free.

Enter Mistress Overdone, a Bawd.

LUCIO Behold, behold, where Madam Mitigation
45 comes! I have purchased as many diseases under
 her roof as come to—
SECOND GENTLEMAN To what, I pray?
LUCIO Judge.
SECOND GENTLEMAN To three thousand dolors a year.
FIRST GENTLEMAN 50Ay, and more.
LUCIO A French crown more.
FIRST GENTLEMAN Thou art always figuring diseases in
 me, but thou art full of error. I am sound.
LUCIO Nay, not, as one would say, healthy, but so sound
55 as things that are hollow. Thy bones are hollow.
 Impiety has made a feast of thee.

17
Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 2

FIRST GENTLEMAN, to Bawd How now, which of your
 hips has the most profound sciatica?
BAWD Well, well. There’s one yonder arrested and
60 carried to prison was worth five thousand of you all.
SECOND GENTLEMAN Who’s that, I pray thee?
BAWD Marry, sir, that’s Claudio, Signior Claudio.
FIRST GENTLEMAN Claudio to prison? ’Tis not so.
BAWD Nay, but I know ’tis so. I saw him arrested, saw
65 him carried away; and, which is more, within these
 three days his head to be chopped off.
LUCIO But, after all this fooling, I would not have it so!
 Art thou sure of this?
BAWD I am too sure of it. And it is for getting Madam
70 Julietta with child.
LUCIO Believe me, this may be. He promised to meet
 me two hours since, and he was ever precise in
 promise-keeping.
SECOND GENTLEMAN Besides, you know, it draws something
75 near to the speech we had to such a purpose.
FIRST GENTLEMAN But most of all agreeing with the
 proclamation.
LUCIO Away. Let’s go learn the truth of it.
Lucio and Gentlemen exit.
BAWD Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat,
80 what with the gallows, and what with poverty, I am
 custom-shrunk.

Enter Pompey.

 How now? What’s the news with you?
POMPEY Yonder man is carried to prison.
BAWD Well, what has he done?
POMPEY 85A woman.
BAWD But what’s his offense?
POMPEY Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.
BAWD What? Is there a maid with child by him?

19
Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 2

POMPEY No, but there’s a woman with maid by him.
90 You have not heard of the proclamation, have you?
BAWD What proclamation, man?
POMPEY All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be
 plucked down.
BAWD And what shall become of those in the city?
POMPEY 95They shall stand for seed. They had gone down
 too, but that a wise burgher put in for them.
BAWD But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs
 be pulled down?
POMPEY To the ground, mistress.
BAWD 100Why, here’s a change indeed in the commonwealth!
 What shall become of me?
POMPEY Come, fear not you. Good counselors lack no
 clients. Though you change your place, you need
 not change your trade. I’ll be your tapster still.
105 Courage. There will be pity taken on you. You that
 have worn your eyes almost out in the service, you
 will be considered.

Enter Provost, Claudio, Juliet, and Officers.

BAWD What’s to do here, Thomas Tapster? Let’s
 withdraw.
POMPEY 110Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the Provost
 to prison. And there’s Madam Juliet.
Bawd and Pompey exit.
CLAUDIO, to Provost 
 Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to th’ world?
 Bear me to prison, where I am committed.
PROVOST 
 I do it not in evil disposition,
115 But from Lord Angelo by special charge.
CLAUDIO 
 Thus can the demigod Authority
 Make us pay down for our offense, by weight,

21
Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 2

 The words of heaven: on whom it will, it will;
 On whom it will not, so; yet still ’tis just.

Enter Lucio and Second Gentleman.

LUCIO 
120 Why, how now, Claudio? Whence comes this
 restraint?
CLAUDIO 
 From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty.
 As surfeit is the father of much fast,
 So every scope by the immoderate use
125 Turns to restraint. Our natures do pursue,
 Like rats that raven down their proper bane,
 A thirsty evil, and when we drink, we die.
LUCIO If I could speak so wisely under an arrest, I
 would send for certain of my creditors. And yet, to
130 say the truth, I had as lief have the foppery of
 freedom as the mortality of imprisonment. What’s
 thy offense, Claudio?
CLAUDIO 
 What but to speak of would offend again.
LUCIO What, is ’t murder?
CLAUDIO 135No.
LUCIO Lechery?
CLAUDIO Call it so.
PROVOST Away, sir. You must go.
CLAUDIO 
 One word, good friend.—Lucio, a word with you.
LUCIO 140A hundred, if they’ll do you any good. Is lechery
 so looked after?
CLAUDIO 
 Thus stands it with me: upon a true contract
 I got possession of Julietta’s bed.
 You know the lady. She is fast my wife,
145 Save that we do the denunciation lack
 Of outward order. This we came not to

23
Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 2

 Only for propagation of a dower
 Remaining in the coffer of her friends,
 From whom we thought it meet to hide our love
150 Till time had made them for us. But it chances
 The stealth of our most mutual entertainment
 With character too gross is writ on Juliet.
LUCIO 
 With child, perhaps?
CLAUDIO  Unhappily, even so.
155 And the new deputy now for the Duke—
 Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness,
 Or whether that the body public be
 A horse whereon the governor doth ride,
 Who, newly in the seat, that it may know
160 He can command, lets it straight feel the spur;
 Whether the tyranny be in his place
 Or in his eminence that fills it up,
 I stagger in—but this new governor
 Awakes me all the enrollèd penalties
165 Which have, like unscoured armor, hung by th’ wall
 So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round,
 And none of them been worn; and for a name
 Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
 Freshly on me. ’Tis surely for a name.
LUCIO 170I warrant it is. And thy head stands so tickle on
 thy shoulders that a milkmaid, if she be in love, may
 sigh it off. Send after the Duke and appeal to him.
CLAUDIO 
 I have done so, but he’s not to be found.
 I prithee, Lucio, do me this kind service:
175 This day my sister should the cloister enter
 And there receive her approbation.
 Acquaint her with the danger of my state;
 Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends
 To the strict deputy; bid herself assay him.
180 I have great hope in that, for in her youth

25
Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 3

 There is a prone and speechless dialect
 Such as move men. Besides, she hath prosperous art
 When she will play with reason and discourse,
 And well she can persuade.
LUCIO 185I pray she may, as well for the encouragement of
 the like, which else would stand under grievous
 imposition, as for the enjoying of thy life, who I
 would be sorry should be thus foolishly lost at a
 game of tick-tack. I’ll to her.
CLAUDIO 190I thank you, good friend Lucio.
LUCIO Within two hours.
CLAUDIO Come, officer, away.
They exit.