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Measure for Measure
Act 2, 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 Provost and a Servant.

SERVANT 
 He’s hearing of a cause. He will come straight.
 I’ll tell him of you.
PROVOST  Pray you do.
Servant exits.
 I’ll know
5 His pleasure. Maybe he will relent. Alas,
 He hath but as offended in a dream.
 All sects, all ages smack of this vice, and he
 To die for ’t?

Enter Angelo.

ANGELO  Now, what’s the matter, provost?
PROVOST 
10 Is it your will Claudio shall die tomorrow?
ANGELO 
 Did not I tell thee yea? Hadst thou not order?
 Why dost thou ask again?
PROVOST Lest I might be too rash.
 Under your good correction, I have seen
15 When, after execution, judgment hath
 Repented o’er his doom.
ANGELO Go to. Let that be mine.
 Do you your office, or give up your place
 And you shall well be spared.
PROVOST 20I crave your Honor’s pardon.

59
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 2

 What shall be done, sir, with the groaning Juliet?
 She’s very near her hour.
ANGELO  Dispose of her
 To some more fitter place, and that with speed.

Enter Servant.

SERVANT 
25 Here is the sister of the man condemned
 Desires access to you.
ANGELO  Hath he a sister?
PROVOST 
 Ay, my good lord, a very virtuous maid,
 And to be shortly of a sisterhood,
30 If not already.
ANGELO, to Servant  Well, let her be admitted.
Servant exits.
 See you the fornicatress be removed.
 Let her have needful but not lavish means.
 There shall be order for ’t.

Enter Lucio and Isabella.

PROVOST, beginning to exit 35Save your Honor.
ANGELO 
 Stay a little while. To Isabella. You’re welcome.
 What’s your will?
ISABELLA 
 I am a woeful suitor to your Honor,
 Please but your Honor hear me.
ANGELO 40 Well, what’s your
 suit?
ISABELLA 
 There is a vice that most I do abhor,
 And most desire should meet the blow of justice,
 For which I would not plead, but that I must;

61
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 2

45 For which I must not plead, but that I am
 At war ’twixt will and will not.
ANGELO  Well, the matter?
ISABELLA 
 I have a brother is condemned to die.
 I do beseech you let it be his fault
50 And not my brother.
PROVOST, aside  Heaven give thee moving
 graces.
ANGELO 
 Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it?
 Why, every fault’s condemned ere it be done.
55 Mine were the very cipher of a function
 To fine the faults whose fine stands in record
 And let go by the actor.
ISABELLA O just but severe law!
 I had a brother, then. Heaven keep your Honor.
LUCIO, aside to Isabella 
60 Give ’t not o’er so. To him again, entreat him,
 Kneel down before him, hang upon his gown.
 You are too cold. If you should need a pin,
 You could not with more tame a tongue desire it.
 To him, I say.
ISABELLA, to Angelo 
65 Must he needs die?
ANGELO  Maiden, no remedy.
ISABELLA 
 Yes, I do think that you might pardon him,
 And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.
ANGELO 
 I will not do ’t.
ISABELLA 70 But can you if you would?
ANGELO 
 Look what I will not, that I cannot do.
ISABELLA 
 But might you do ’t and do the world no wrong

63
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 2

 If so your heart were touched with that remorse
 As mine is to him?
ANGELO 75He’s sentenced. ’Tis too late.
LUCIO, aside to Isabella You are too cold.
ISABELLA 
 Too late? Why, no. I that do speak a word
 May call it back again. Well believe this:
 No ceremony that to great ones longs,
80 Not the king’s crown, nor the deputed sword,
 The marshal’s truncheon, nor the judge’s robe
 Become them with one half so good a grace
 As mercy does.
 If he had been as you, and you as he,
85 You would have slipped like him, but he like you
 Would not have been so stern.
ANGELO  Pray you begone.
ISABELLA 
 I would to heaven I had your potency,
 And you were Isabel. Should it then be thus?
90 No. I would tell what ’twere to be a judge
 And what a prisoner.
LUCIO, aside to Isabella  Ay, touch him; there’s the
 vein.
ANGELO 
 Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
95 And you but waste your words.
ISABELLA  Alas, alas!
 Why all the souls that were were forfeit once,
 And He that might the vantage best have took
 Found out the remedy. How would you be
100 If He which is the top of judgment should
 But judge you as you are? O, think on that,
 And mercy then will breathe within your lips
 Like man new-made.
ANGELO  Be you content, fair maid.
105 It is the law, not I, condemn your brother.

65
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son,
 It should be thus with him. He must die tomorrow.
ISABELLA 
 Tomorrow? O, that’s sudden! Spare him, spare him.
 He’s not prepared for death. Even for our kitchens
110 We kill the fowl of season. Shall we serve heaven
 With less respect than we do minister
 To our gross selves? Good, good my lord, bethink
 you.
 Who is it that hath died for this offense?
115 There’s many have committed it.
LUCIO, aside to Isabella  Ay, well said.
ANGELO 
 The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept.
 Those many had not dared to do that evil
 If the first that did th’ edict infringe
120 Had answered for his deed. Now ’tis awake,
 Takes note of what is done, and, like a prophet,
 Looks in a glass that shows what future evils—
 Either now, or by remissness new-conceived,
 And so in progress to be hatched and born—
125 Are now to have no successive degrees
 But, ere they live, to end.
ISABELLA  Yet show some pity.
ANGELO 
 I show it most of all when I show justice,
 For then I pity those I do not know,
130 Which a dismissed offense would after gall,
 And do him right that, answering one foul wrong,
 Lives not to act another. Be satisfied;
 Your brother dies tomorrow; be content.
ISABELLA 
 So you must be the first that gives this sentence,
135 And he that suffers. O, it is excellent
 To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous
 To use it like a giant.

67
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 2

LUCIO, aside to Isabella  That’s well said.
ISABELLA Could great men thunder
140 As Jove himself does, Jove would never be quiet,
 For every pelting, petty officer
 Would use his heaven for thunder,
 Nothing but thunder. Merciful heaven,
 Thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt
145 Splits the unwedgeable and gnarlèd oak,
 Than the soft myrtle. But man, proud man,
 Dressed in a little brief authority,
 Most ignorant of what he’s most assured,
 His glassy essence, like an angry ape
150 Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
 As makes the angels weep, who with our spleens
 Would all themselves laugh mortal.
LUCIO, aside to Isabella 
 O, to him, to him, wench. He will relent.
 He’s coming. I perceive ’t.
PROVOST, aside 155 Pray heaven she win him.
ISABELLA 
 We cannot weigh our brother with ourself.
 Great men may jest with saints; ’tis wit in them,
 But in the less, foul profanation.
LUCIO, aside to Isabella 
 Thou ’rt i’ th’ right, girl. More o’ that.
ISABELLA 
160 That in the captain’s but a choleric word
 Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.
LUCIO, aside to Isabella 
 Art avised o’ that? More on ’t.
ANGELO 
 Why do you put these sayings upon me?
ISABELLA 
 Because authority, though it err like others,
165 Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself

69
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 2

 That skins the vice o’ th’ top. Go to your bosom,
 Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know
 That’s like my brother’s fault. If it confess
 A natural guiltiness such as is his,
170 Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
 Against my brother’s life.
ANGELO, aside She speaks, and ’tis such sense
 That my sense breeds with it.He begins to exit.
 Fare you well.
ISABELLA 175Gentle my lord, turn back.
ANGELO 
 I will bethink me. Come again tomorrow.
ISABELLA 
 Hark how I’ll bribe you. Good my lord, turn back.
ANGELO How? Bribe me?
ISABELLA 
 Ay, with such gifts that heaven shall share with you.
LUCIO, aside to Isabella 180You had marred all else.
ISABELLA 
 Not with fond sicles of the tested gold,
 Or stones whose rate are either rich or poor
 As fancy values them, but with true prayers
 That shall be up at heaven and enter there
185 Ere sunrise, prayers from preservèd souls,
 From fasting maids whose minds are dedicate
 To nothing temporal.
ANGELO  Well, come to me tomorrow.
LUCIO, aside to Isabella Go to, ’tis well; away.
ISABELLA 
190 Heaven keep your Honor safe.
ANGELO, aside  Amen.
 For I am that way going to temptation
 Where prayers cross.
ISABELLA  At what hour tomorrow
195 Shall I attend your Lordship?
ANGELO At any time ’fore noon.

71
Measure for Measure
ACT 2. SC. 2

ISABELLA Save your Honor.
She exits, with Lucio and Provost.
ANGELO From thee, even from thy virtue.
 What’s this? What’s this? Is this her fault or mine?
200 The tempter or the tempted, who sins most, ha?
 Not she, nor doth she tempt; but it is I
 That, lying by the violet in the sun,
 Do as the carrion does, not as the flower,
 Corrupt with virtuous season. Can it be
205 That modesty may more betray our sense
 Than woman’s lightness? Having waste ground
 enough,
 Shall we desire to raze the sanctuary
 And pitch our evils there? O fie, fie, fie!
210 What dost thou, or what art thou, Angelo?
 Dost thou desire her foully for those things
 That make her good? O, let her brother live.
 Thieves for their robbery have authority
 When judges steal themselves. What, do I love her
215 That I desire to hear her speak again
 And feast upon her eyes? What is ’t I dream on?
 O cunning enemy that, to catch a saint,
 With saints dost bait thy hook. Most dangerous
 Is that temptation that doth goad us on
220 To sin in loving virtue. Never could the strumpet
 With all her double vigor, art and nature,
 Once stir my temper, but this virtuous maid
 Subdues me quite. Ever till now
 When men were fond, I smiled and wondered how.
He exits.