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Measure for Measure
Act 1, scene 4



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 4
Enter Isabella and Francisca, a Nun.

 And have you nuns no farther privileges?
NUN Are not these large enough?
 Yes, truly. I speak not as desiring more,
 But rather wishing a more strict restraint
5 Upon the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare.
LUCIO, within 
 Ho, peace be in this place!
ISABELLA  Who’s that which calls?
 It is a man’s voice. Gentle Isabella,
 Turn you the key and know his business of him.
10 You may; I may not. You are yet unsworn.
 When you have vowed, you must not speak with men
 But in the presence of the Prioress.
 Then, if you speak, you must not show your face;
 Or if you show your face, you must not speak.
15 He calls again. I pray you answer him.
 Peace and prosperity! Who is ’t that calls?

Enter Lucio.

Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 4

 Hail, virgin, if you be, as those cheek-roses
 Proclaim you are no less. Can you so stead me
 As bring me to the sight of Isabella,
20 A novice of this place and the fair sister
 To her unhappy brother, Claudio?
 Why “her unhappy brother”? Let me ask,
 The rather for I now must make you know
 I am that Isabella, and his sister.
25 Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets you.
 Not to be weary with you, he’s in prison.
ISABELLA Woe me, for what?
 For that which, if myself might be his judge,
 He should receive his punishment in thanks:
30 He hath got his friend with child.
 Sir, make me not your story.
LUCIO  ’Tis true.
 I would not, though ’tis my familiar sin
 With maids to seem the lapwing and to jest,
35 Tongue far from heart, play with all virgins so.
 I hold you as a thing enskied and sainted,
 By your renouncement an immortal spirit,
 And to be talked with in sincerity
 As with a saint.
40 You do blaspheme the good in mocking me.
 Do not believe it. Fewness and truth, ’tis thus:
 Your brother and his lover have embraced;
 As those that feed grow full, as blossoming time
 That from the seedness the bare fallow brings

Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 4

45 To teeming foison, even so her plenteous womb
 Expresseth his full tilth and husbandry.
 Someone with child by him? My cousin Juliet?
LUCIO Is she your cousin?
 Adoptedly, as schoolmaids change their names
50 By vain though apt affection.
LUCIO  She it is.
 O, let him marry her!
LUCIO  This is the point.
 The Duke is very strangely gone from hence;
55 Bore many gentlemen, myself being one,
 In hand, and hope of action; but we do learn,
 By those that know the very nerves of state,
 His givings-out were of an infinite distance
 From his true-meant design. Upon his place,
60 And with full line of his authority,
 Governs Lord Angelo, a man whose blood
 Is very snow-broth; one who never feels
 The wanton stings and motions of the sense,
 But doth rebate and blunt his natural edge
65 With profits of the mind: study and fast.
 He—to give fear to use and liberty,
 Which have for long run by the hideous law
 As mice by lions—hath picked out an act
 Under whose heavy sense your brother’s life
70 Falls into forfeit. He arrests him on it,
 And follows close the rigor of the statute
 To make him an example. All hope is gone
 Unless you have the grace by your fair prayer
 To soften Angelo. And that’s my pith of business
75 ’Twixt you and your poor brother.
ISABELLA  Doth he so
 Seek his life?

Measure for Measure
ACT 1. SC. 4

LUCIO  Has censured him already,
 And, as I hear, the Provost hath a warrant
80 For ’s execution.
 Alas, what poor ability’s in me
 To do him good?
LUCIO  Assay the power you have.
 My power? Alas, I doubt—
LUCIO 85 Our doubts are traitors
 And makes us lose the good we oft might win
 By fearing to attempt. Go to Lord Angelo
 And let him learn to know, when maidens sue
 Men give like gods; but when they weep and kneel,
90 All their petitions are as freely theirs
 As they themselves would owe them.
ISABELLA I’ll see what I can do.
LUCIO But speedily!
ISABELLA I will about it straight,
95 No longer staying but to give the Mother
 Notice of my affair. I humbly thank you.
 Commend me to my brother. Soon at night
 I’ll send him certain word of my success.
 I take my leave of you.
ISABELLA 100 Good sir, adieu.
They exit.