List iconMeasure for MeasureList icon

Measure for Measure
Act 2, scene 1

Synopsis:

Contents

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…

Include links to:

Images
Glosses
Audio
Video
Essays
Quill icon
Scene 1
Enter Angelo, Escalus, Servants, and a Justice.

ANGELO 
 We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
 Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
 And let it keep one shape till custom make it
 Their perch and not their terror.
ESCALUS 5 Ay, but yet
 Let us be keen and rather cut a little
 Than fall and bruise to death. Alas, this gentleman
 Whom I would save had a most noble father.
 Let but your Honor know,
10 Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue,
 That, in the working of your own affections,
 Had time cohered with place, or place with wishing,
 Or that the resolute acting of your blood
 Could have attained th’ effect of your own purpose,
15 Whether you had not sometime in your life
 Erred in this point which now you censure him,
 And pulled the law upon you.
ANGELO 
 ’Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
 Another thing to fall. I not deny
20 The jury passing on the prisoner’s life
 May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two
 Guiltier than him they try. What’s open made to
 justice,
39

41
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 1

 That justice seizes. What knows the laws
25 That thieves do pass on thieves? ’Tis very pregnant,
 The jewel that we find, we stoop and take ’t
 Because we see it; but what we do not see,
 We tread upon and never think of it.
 You may not so extenuate his offense
30 For I have had such faults; but rather tell me,
 When I that censure him do so offend,
 Let mine own judgment pattern out my death,
 And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.

Enter Provost.

ESCALUS 
 Be it as your wisdom will.
ANGELO 35 Where is the Provost?
PROVOST 
 Here, if it like your Honor.
ANGELO  See that Claudio
 Be executed by nine tomorrow morning.
 Bring him his confessor, let him be prepared,
40 For that’s the utmost of his pilgrimage.
Provost exits.
ESCALUS 
 Well, heaven forgive him and forgive us all.
 Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall.
 Some run from brakes of ice and answer none,
 And some condemnèd for a fault alone.

Enter Elbow and Officers, with Froth
and Pompey.


ELBOW, to Officers 45Come, bring them away. If these
 be good people in a commonweal that do nothing
 but use their abuses in common houses, I know no
 law. Bring them away.
ANGELO How now, sir, what’s your name? And what’s
50 the matter?

43
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 1

ELBOW If it please your Honor, I am the poor duke’s
 constable, and my name is Elbow. I do lean upon
 justice, sir, and do bring in here before your good
 Honor two notorious benefactors.
ANGELO 55Benefactors? Well, what benefactors are they?
 Are they not malefactors?
ELBOW If it please your Honor, I know not well what
 they are, but precise villains they are, that I am sure
 of, and void of all profanation in the world that
60 good Christians ought to have.
ESCALUS, to Angelo This comes off well. Here’s a wise
 officer.
ANGELO, to Elbow Go to. What quality are they of?
 Elbow is your name? Why dost thou not speak,
65 Elbow?
POMPEY He cannot, sir. He’s out at elbow.
ANGELO What are you, sir?
ELBOW He, sir? A tapster, sir, parcel bawd; one that
 serves a bad woman, whose house, sir, was, as they
70 say, plucked down in the suburbs, and now she
 professes a hothouse, which I think is a very ill
 house too.
ESCALUS How know you that?
ELBOW My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and
75 your Honor—
ESCALUS How? Thy wife?
ELBOW Ay, sir, whom I thank heaven is an honest
 woman—
ESCALUS Dost thou detest her therefore?
ELBOW 80I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as she,
 that this house, if it be not a bawd’s house, it is pity
 of her life, for it is a naughty house.
ESCALUS How dost thou know that, constable?
ELBOW Marry, sir, by my wife, who, if she had been a
85 woman cardinally given, might have been accused

45
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 1

 in fornication, adultery, and all uncleanliness
 there.
ESCALUS By the woman’s means?
ELBOW Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone’s means; but as
90 she spit in his face, so she defied him.
POMPEY, to Escalus Sir, if it please your Honor, this is
 not so.
ELBOW Prove it before these varlets here, thou honorable
 man, prove it.
ESCALUS, to Angelo 95Do you hear how he misplaces?
POMPEY Sir, she came in great with child, and longing,
 saving your Honor’s reverence, for stewed prunes.
 Sir, we had but two in the house, which at that very
 distant time stood, as it were, in a fruit dish, a dish
100 of some threepence; your Honors have seen such
 dishes; they are not china dishes, but very good
 dishes—
ESCALUS Go to, go to. No matter for the dish, sir.
POMPEY No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in
105 the right. But to the point: as I say, this Mistress
 Elbow, being, as I say, with child, and being great-bellied,
 and longing, as I said, for prunes; and
 having but two in the dish, as I said, Master Froth
 here, this very man, having eaten the rest, as I said,
110 and, as I say, paying for them very honestly—for, as
 you know, Master Froth, I could not give you threepence
 again—
FROTH No, indeed.
POMPEY Very well. You being then, if you be remembered,
115 cracking the stones of the foresaid prunes—
FROTH Ay, so I did indeed.
POMPEY Why, very well. I telling you then, if you be
 remembered, that such a one and such a one were
 past cure of the thing you wot of, unless they kept
120 very good diet, as I told you—
FROTH All this is true.

47
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 1

POMPEY Why, very well then—
ESCALUS Come, you are a tedious fool. To the purpose:
 what was done to Elbow’s wife that he hath cause to
125 complain of? Come me to what was done to her.
POMPEY Sir, your Honor cannot come to that yet.
ESCALUS No, sir, nor I mean it not.
POMPEY Sir, but you shall come to it, by your Honor’s
 leave. And I beseech you, look into Master Froth
130 here, sir, a man of fourscore pound a year, whose
 father died at Hallowmas—was ’t not at Hallowmas,
 Master Froth?
FROTH All-hallond Eve.
POMPEY Why, very well. I hope here be truths.—He,
135 sir, sitting, as I say, in a lower chair, sir—To Froth.
 ’Twas in the Bunch of Grapes, where indeed you
 have a delight to sit, have you not?
FROTH I have so, because it is an open room, and good
 for winter.
POMPEY 140Why, very well then. I hope here be truths.
ANGELO, to Escalus 
 This will last out a night in Russia
 When nights are longest there. I’ll take my leave,
 And leave you to the hearing of the cause,
 Hoping you’ll find good cause to whip them all.
ESCALUS 
145 I think no less. Good morrow to your Lordship
Angelo exits.
 Now, sir, come on. What was done to Elbow’s wife,
 once more?
POMPEY Once, sir? There was nothing done to her
 once.
ELBOW, to Escalus 150I beseech you, sir, ask him what
 this man did to my wife.
POMPEY, to Escalus I beseech your Honor, ask me.
ESCALUS Well, sir, what did this gentleman to her?
POMPEY I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman’s

49
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 1

155 face.—Good Master Froth, look upon his Honor.
 ’Tis for a good purpose.—Doth your Honor mark
 his face?
ESCALUS Ay, sir, very well.
POMPEY Nay, I beseech you, mark it well.
ESCALUS 160Well, I do so.
POMPEY Doth your Honor see any harm in his face?
ESCALUS Why, no.
POMPEY I’ll be supposed upon a book, his face is the
 worst thing about him. Good, then, if his face be the
165 worst thing about him, how could Master Froth do
 the Constable’s wife any harm? I would know that
 of your Honor.
ESCALUS He’s in the right, constable. What say you to
 it?
ELBOW 170First, an it like you, the house is a respected
 house; next, this is a respected fellow, and his
 mistress is a respected woman.
POMPEY By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected
 person than any of us all.
ELBOW 175Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked varlet! The
 time is yet to come that she was ever respected with
 man, woman, or child.
POMPEY Sir, she was respected with him before he
 married with her.
ESCALUS 180Which is the wiser here, Justice or Iniquity?
 Is this true?
ELBOW, to Pompey O thou caitiff! O thou varlet! O
 thou wicked Hannibal! I respected with her before I
 was married to her?—If ever I was respected with
185 her, or she with me, let not your Worship think me
 the poor duke’s officer.—Prove this, thou wicked
 Hannibal, or I’ll have mine action of batt’ry on thee.
ESCALUS If he took you a box o’ th’ ear, you might have
 your action of slander too.
ELBOW 190Marry, I thank your good Worship for it. What

51
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 1

 is ’t your Worship’s pleasure I shall do with this
 wicked caitiff?
ESCALUS Truly, officer, because he hath some offenses
 in him that thou wouldst discover if thou couldst,
195 let him continue in his courses till thou know’st
 what they are.
ELBOW Marry, I thank your Worship for it. To Pompey.
 Thou seest, thou wicked varlet, now, what’s
 come upon thee. Thou art to continue now, thou
200 varlet, thou art to continue.
ESCALUS, to Froth Where were you born, friend?
FROTH Here in Vienna, sir.
ESCALUS Are you of fourscore pounds a year?
FROTH Yes, an ’t please you, sir.
ESCALUS 205So. To Pompey. What trade are you of, sir?
POMPEY A tapster, a poor widow’s tapster.
ESCALUS Your mistress’ name?
POMPEY Mistress Overdone.
ESCALUS Hath she had any more than one husband?
POMPEY 210Nine, sir. Overdone by the last.
ESCALUS Nine?—Come hither to me, Master Froth.
 Master Froth, I would not have you acquainted with
 tapsters; they will draw you, Master Froth, and you
 will hang them. Get you gone, and let me hear no
215 more of you.
FROTH I thank your Worship. For mine own part, I
 never come into any room in a taphouse but I am
 drawn in.
ESCALUS Well, no more of it, Master Froth. Farewell.
Froth exits.
220 Come you hither to me, Master Tapster. What’s your
 name, Master Tapster?
POMPEY Pompey.
ESCALUS What else?
POMPEY Bum, sir.

53
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 1

ESCALUS 225Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing
 about you, so that in the beastliest sense you are
 Pompey the Great. Pompey, you are partly a bawd,
 Pompey, howsoever you color it in being a tapster,
 are you not? Come, tell me true. It shall be the
230 better for you.
POMPEY Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.
ESCALUS How would you live, Pompey? By being a
 bawd? What do you think of the trade, Pompey? Is it
 a lawful trade?
POMPEY 235If the law would allow it, sir.
ESCALUS But the law will not allow it, Pompey, nor it
 shall not be allowed in Vienna.
POMPEY Does your Worship mean to geld and splay all
 the youth of the city?
ESCALUS 240No, Pompey.
POMPEY Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to ’t
 then. If your Worship will take order for the drabs
 and the knaves, you need not to fear the bawds.
ESCALUS There is pretty orders beginning, I can tell
245 you. It is but heading and hanging.
POMPEY If you head and hang all that offend that way
 but for ten year together, you’ll be glad to give out a
 commission for more heads. If this law hold in
 Vienna ten year, I’ll rent the fairest house in it after
250 threepence a bay. If you live to see this come to
 pass, say Pompey told you so.
ESCALUS Thank you, good Pompey. And in requital of
 your prophecy, hark you: I advise you let me not
 find you before me again upon any complaint
255 whatsoever; no, not for dwelling where you do. If I
 do, Pompey, I shall beat you to your tent and prove
 a shrewd Caesar to you. In plain dealing, Pompey, I
 shall have you whipped. So, for this time, Pompey,
 fare you well.
POMPEY 260I thank your Worship for your good counsel.

55
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Aside. But I shall follow it as the flesh and fortune
 shall better determine.
 Whip me? No, no, let carman whip his jade.
 The valiant heart’s not whipped out of his trade.
He exits.
ESCALUS 265Come hither to me, Master Elbow. Come
 hither, Master Constable. How long have you been
 in this place of constable?
ELBOW Seven year and a half, sir.
ESCALUS I thought, by the readiness in the office, you
270 had continued in it some time. You say seven years
 together?
ELBOW And a half, sir.
ESCALUS Alas, it hath been great pains to you. They do
 you wrong to put you so oft upon ’t. Are there not
275 men in your ward sufficient to serve it?
ELBOW Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters. As
 they are chosen, they are glad to choose me for
 them. I do it for some piece of money and go
 through with all.
ESCALUS 280Look you bring me in the names of some six
 or seven, the most sufficient of your parish.
ELBOW To your Worship’s house, sir?
ESCALUS To my house. Fare you well.
Elbow and Officers exit.
 To Justice. What’s o’clock, think you?
JUSTICE 285Eleven, sir.
ESCALUS I pray you home to dinner with me.
JUSTICE I humbly thank you.
ESCALUS 
 It grieves me for the death of Claudio,
 But there’s no remedy.
JUSTICE 
290 Lord Angelo is severe.
ESCALUS  It is but needful.
 Mercy is not itself that oft looks so.

57
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Pardon is still the nurse of second woe.
 But yet, poor Claudio. There is no remedy.
295 Come, sir.
They exit.