Measure for Measure simplified

Synopsis

The setting for the play is Vienna, yet it was widely believed at the time that Vienna was just a stand-in for London. It’s been said that the play was written to be a guide for England’s new king, James I.  James the First was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots. He became England’s king in 1603, succeeding Elizabeth I, he becoming the first man from Scotland to become England’s king.  It was said by some at the time the play was first performed that London needed tighter enforcement of its civil regulations; perhaps Shakespeare was one of those who felt that way.

The play opens when the Duke of Vienna publicly announces that he is transferring the “deputation all the organs of our own power” to a man named Angelo; Angelo to be his deputy; the duke having plans to immediately leave the city.  He tells Angelo “to enforce the laws as to your soul seems good.”  When asked by the duke “what think you of it,” Escalus, a judge, replies “If any in Vienna be worth to undergo such ample grace and honor, it is Lord Angelo.”

We soon learn that Angelo, acting quickly as the duke’s deputy, has had Claudio arrested for “getting Julietta with child” and that “within these three days his head is to be chopped off” and that “all houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down.”  Claudio is just a regular guy whose fiancée is pregnant. As well, Claudio just happens to have a good-looking sister, Isabella. Angelo’s plan is to present a tough law-and-order front.  Claudio has been arrested to serve as an example of Angelo’s toughness.  By his own admission, the duke has told us that he has enforced Vienna’s laws too leniently, saying to himself “’twas my fault to give the people scope;” he having now led all to believe that he “has traveled to Poland.” 

But in fact the duke hasn’t left town at all.  He meets secretly with Friar Thomas with plans to disguise himself as a “brother of your order” and then to “visit both Angelo and the people.”

The imprisoned Claudio, meanwhile, has asked his friend Lucio to convince his sister Isabella to visit Angelo and to encourage him to reconsider her brother’s arrest since “well she can persuade.”  Well-meaning Isabella is about to be accepted into the “sisterhood” as a nun.  Nonetheless she agrees to Lucio’s request, telling him “I’ll see what I can do.”

Escalus, the judge, suggests to Angelo that he be moderate when enforcing the laws and to reconsider Claudio’s arrest.  But Angelo holds firm, saying “Sir, he must die.” He calls for Claudio to “be executed by nine tomorrow morning.”  Later, Isabella, along with Lucio, begins her effort-to-save-her-brother conversation with Angelo.  Angelo doesn’t budge. Aside, Lucio advises Isabella to be more passionate and aggressive with her arguments, telling her “you are too cold.”  Isabel steps it up.  Her arguments are effective.  Finally, Angelo says “Why do you put these sayings on me?”  She and Lucio exit. Angelo lets us know that he has fallen for her, saying “my honor is at cross-purposes with my desire for her.” 

Now disguised as Friar Lodowick, the duke visits the pregnant Julietta in prison, the two having a nice conversation.  Isabella soon revisits Angelo and continues to make her case.  Angelo tries to tell her that there is a way for her brother to live, but he is too subtle and she is slow to pick up on his plan: he wants her for himself in exchange for her brother’s life. In time she recognizes his depraved motive and says “sign me a present pardon for my brother or with an outstretched throat I’ll tell the world aloud what man thou art.”  His response: “Who will believe you, Isabella?”  Isabella accepts his argument, but holds firm to her values, concluding her honor is dearer than her brother’s life.

Still disguised as a friar, the duke now visits Claudio in prison and deftly counsels him not to fear death; Claudio finally saying “I find I seek to die, and seeking death find life.”

Isabella soon reenters and asks the prison’s provost for “a word or two with Claudio.”  The disguised duke exits, but plans to find a way to overhear their conversation.  Isabella tells Claudio that he must die for the sake of her honor, and at first he agrees, but after thinking it over comes to have second thoughts.  Later he says “Sweet sister, let me live.”  Angrily she says “Is‘t not a kind of incest to take life from thine own sister’s shame?  I’ll pray for thy death.”  Upset as she is, she walks away from her brother.  The disguised duke comes up with a plan and tells her about it.        

We then learn that several years earlier Angelo had had a fiancée, Mariana, but he had abandoned her when her dowry was lost at sea.  The duke’s plan is to have Isabel agree to meet Angelo that night and that she is to tell him “that your stay with me may not be long, that the time may have all shadow and silence in it, and the place answer to convenience.”  The duke tells her that if it works as planned “Mariana will go in your place.”  Isabel likes the idea of Mariana standing in, so to speak, as her substitute that night with Angelo. 

Separately, Claudio’s friend Lucio gossips with the duke, thinking he is Friar Lodowick, telling him that the duke chases women, drinks too much, and that he is “a very superficial, ignorant, thoughtless fellow.”   The duke-as-a-friar calmly says to Lucio “If ever the duke return, let me desire you to make your answer before him.”  Lucio says “I fear you not. I know what I know. But no more of this.” He exits. The duke then further reveals to us his plan to deal with Angelo and how, through the plan’s execution, he will save Claudio.

Isabella, having been introduced to Mariana, lets the duke-as-Friar Lodowick know that she has made certain arrangements with Angelo, and that Mariana has readily accepted her role in the grand scheme.  Mariana has told Isabella “Fear me not.”  The plan works as planned. Meanwhile the duke-as-a-friar again visits the prison to see what he can do.  The duke-friar and the provost hear a knock while talking, the provost saying “I hope it some pardon or reprieve for the most gentle Claudio.”  It is not.  Claudio is now scheduled to be executed at four in the morning.  Shakespeare here creates the duke as being both sensitive and clever as he goes about a drawn out process to save Claudio’s life.  Having hidden Claudio “in a secret hold,” the duke-as-a-friar tells Isabella when she arrives that Claudio’s “head is off, and sent to Angelo.”  The head he sends to Angelo is of another prisoner; the other prisoner earlier identified as “a man that apprehends death no more dreadfully but as a drunken sleep; careless, reckless, and fearless of what’s past present or to come; insensitive of mortality and desperately mortal.”  The duke/friar diplomatically gives her some advice, suggesting what he believes to be the best way for her to deal with Angelo.  He tells her that he has heard that “the duke will be here tomorrow.”  Through letters, he has told Angelo to meet him “at the consecrated fount a league below the city” and that they are to enter Vienna together.  Friar Peter, a duke confidant, makes arrangements with various people, including Isabella and Mariana, to be near the duke when he enters the city.  The duke has put the pieces together. As Act four ends, Friar Peter alerts Isabella that “The duke is entering.”

The duke warmly greets Angelo and Escalus just south of town and the three of them enter Vienna together.  A kneeling Isabella cries out to the duke that Angelo is “an adulterous thief, a hypocrite, a virgin-violator.”  The duke says “away with her.”  She tells him she is Claudio’s sister; the duke listens; Angelo claims she’s “strange” and has been “a suitor to me for her brother.”  The duke says “fond wretch, thou know’st not what thou speak’st.”  She mentions the name “Friar Lodowick” as she’s led off.  The duke asks “Who knows that Lodowick?”  Lucio chimes in saying “He spake against your Grace while you were away.”  The duke says “Words against me?”  When the duke asks about Lodowick, Friar Peter, continuing the charade says “he’s sick, my lord, of a strange fever.”

At about this point, a veiled Mariana enters and tells her story.  She removes her veil.  Angelo acknowledges that “I know this woman.”  The duke continues to support Angelo, but soon exits.  Once again disguised as Friar Lodowick, the duke reenters, this time with Isabella.  The duke/friar supports both women, angering the men.  Escalus says “away with him to prison,” meaning Lodowick. Lucio pulls at the friar’s hood, revealing the duke, and unsuccessfully tries to slip away, saying “this may prove worse than hanging.”  The duke takes control of the moment and acts swiftly.  Referring to Mariana, he tells Angelo to “marry her instantly.”  He comforts Isabella, saying “your brother’s death, I know sits at your heart.”  Angelo and Mariana reenter. The duke says “an Angelo for Claudio, death for death, measure for measure.”  Mariana cries out in protest.  The duke says “My decision is final.”  Isabella supports Mariana’s cause, saying “For Angelo, intents are merely thoughts.”  The provost enters with a muffled Claudio, but soon “unmuffles” him.  The duke pardons Claudio, proposes to Isabella, pardons Angelo and demands Lucio be whipped and hanged after he marries Kate Keepdown, the duke saying “I have heard him swear himself there’s one whom he begot with child --- let her appear, and he shall marry her.” Lucio responds “Marrying Kate Keepdown is whipping and hanging.”  The duke says “Slandering a prince deserves it.”  The duke says “Joy to you, Mariana.”  He says “Love her, Angelo.”  The Duke of Vienna and Isabel marry.

Principal Characters

Angelo.   Angelo was appointed by the duke early in the play to be his deputy, the duke letting others know that he has been called away from the city, and that Angelo is to represent him while he’s gone.  In truth, the duke believed that he had been too lax when enforcing Vienna’s laws, and was appointing Angelo, a conservative man, to tighten things up and bring people into line.  Angelo lets bad judgment get the best of him.

Claudio.  Claudio is Isabella’s brother and finds himself in real trouble early in the play, his fiancée, Julietta, being pregnant.  He says “The stealth of our mutual entertainment is writ on Juliet.”  In a show of strength, as one of his first acts as the duke’s deputy, Angelo has Claudio imprisoned, condemning Claudio to death for his indiscretion. 

Duke of Vienna.  The duke of Vienna, masquerading for much of the play as Friar Lodowick, was presented by Shakespeare as a man who is as kind, quick and as thoughtful as any man in any of his plays.  It’s been said that Shakespeare through this production created the duke to give guidance in 1604 to James I, England’s new king. 

Isabella.   Early in the play we learn that Isabella, Claudio’s sister, is about to be admitted as a nun into “The sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare.”  An imprisoned Claudio asks Lucio to have Isabella intercede on his behalf since “She hath skill in the art of reason and discourse, and well she can persuade.”  She leads the effort to free her brother, the essence of the play. 

Lucio.   Lucio is a friend of Claudio’s, brought into the play to lighten things up, and he does.  Shakespeare gives him great lines and timing, Lucio being an important foil to the others, keeping the play from otherwise becoming perhaps too heavy. 

Mariana.  Mariana was Angelo’s fiancée; Angelo having dropped her when her dowry was lost at sea in a shipwreck.  The duke disguised as a friar enlists Mariana to work with Isabella to trick Angelo, which they do, a trick that becomes central to the play and its humor; a trick conceived by the disguised duke to free Claudio and expose Angelo for the scoundrel he is.

The Play


  • Act 1, Scene 1
  • The Duke of Vienna, Excalus and Lords are on stage.
  • DUKE
  • Escalus.
  • ESCALUS
  • My lord.
  • DUKE TO ESCALUS
  • The nature of our people, our city’s laws and customs, and the terms for common justice, you’re as resourceful as any member we have. There is our commission.
  • He hands Escalus a paper.
  • DUKE
  • Call hither, I say, bid come before us Angelo.
  • An Attendant exits.
  • DUKE TO ESCALUS
  • You must know, we with special soul have given his deputation all the organs of our own power. What think you of it?
  • ESCALUS
  • If any in Vienna be of worth to undergo such ample grace and honor, it is Lord Angelo.
  • Angelo enters.
  • ANGELO
  • I come to know your pleasure.
  •  
  • Duke to Angelo
  •  
  • Angelo, there is a behavior in
  • Thy life that hath overtime fully been
  • Observed. What thy hath to offer others
  • Cannot be wasted to make thyself more
  • Virtuous. As heaven through light confers
  • Our way, you must through thy virtues do for
  • Others, else ‘twere as if you had them not.
  • Good spirits are granted to those who ought
  • To do fine deeds, and nature never lends
  • The smallest amount of her excellence
  • Without demanding the glory she sends
  • Be for herself, the lender. In this sense,
  • Angelo, in my absence, as I part,
  • Hold the soul of Vienna in thy heart.
  • DUKE TO ANGELO
  • Old Escalus is thy secondary. Take thy commission.
  • He hands Angelo a paper
  • ANGELO
  • Let there be some more test made of my spirit before so noble and so great a figure be stamped upon it.
  • DUKE
  • No more evasion. We have with a mature and prepared choice proceeded to you. Therefore, take your honors. We shall write to you, and do look to know what doth befall you here. So fare you well.
  • ANGELO
  • Yet give permission, my lord, that we may go with you some part of the way.
  • DUKE
  • My haste may not permit it. Your scope is as mine own, so to enforce the laws as to your soul seems good. Give me your hand. Once more, fare you well.
  • ANGELO
  • The heavens give safety to your purposes.
  • ESCALUS
  • Lead forth and bring you back in happiness.
  • DUKE
  • I thank you.
  • 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 carefully to know the nature of my official position, but of what strength and nature I am not yet instructed.
  • ANGELO
  • ‘Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together.
  • ESCALUS
  • I’ll accompany your Honor.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 2
  • Lucio and two other Gentlemen are on stage.
  • LUCIO
  • If the Duke, with the other dukes, come not to terms with the King of Hungary, why then the dukes attack the King.
  • FIRST GENTLEMAN
  • Heaven grant us its peace. There’s not a soldier of us all that doth not well pray 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
  • No? A dozen times at least.
  • Mistress Overdone, a bawd, enters.
  • LUCIO
  • Behold, behold, where Madam Relief comes!
  • BAWD
  • Well, well. There’s one yonder arrested and carried to prison. Marry, sir, that’s Claudio, Signior Claudio.
  • FIRST GENTLEMAN
  • Claudio to prison? ‘Tis not so.
  • BAWD
  • Nay, but I know ‘tis so. And, which is more, within these three days his head to be chopped off.
  • LUCIO
  • Art thou sure of this?
  • BAWD
  • I am too sure of it. And it is for getting Madam Julietta with child.
  • LUCIO
  • Believe me, this may be. Let’s go learn the truth of it.
  • Lucio and the Gentlemen exit. Pompey enters.
  • BAWD
  • What’s the news with you.
  • POMPEY
  • Yonder man is carried to prison.
  • BAWD
  • Well, what has he done?
  • POMPEY
  • A woman. All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down.
  • BAWD
  • But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs be pulled down?
  • POMPEY
  • To the ground, mistress.
  • BAWD
  • 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.
  • Provost, Claudio, Juliet and Officers enter.
  • POMPEY
  • Here 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, but from Lord Angelo by special charge.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Thus can the demigod Authority make us pay immediately for our offense, exactly in full.
  • Lucio and the Second Gentleman enter.
  • LUCIO
  • Why, Claudio? Whence comes this restraint?
  • CLAUDIO
  • From too much licentiousness, my Lucio, licentiousness. Our natures do pursue like rats that devour down their poison, a thirsty evil, and when we drink, we die.
  • LUCIO
  • What’s the offense, Claudio?
  • CLAUDIO
  • What but to speak of would offend again.
  • LUCIO
  • Lechery?
  • CLAUDIO
  • Call it so.
  • PROVOST
  • Away, sir. You must go.
  • CLAUDIO
  • One word, good friend. Lucio, a word with you.
  • LUCIO
  • A hundred, if they’ll do you any good. Is lechery so looked after?
  • CLAUDIO
  • Thus stands it with me.
  •  
  • Claudio to Lucio
  •  
  • Upon a proper understanding, I
  • Possessed her in bed, she securely my
  • Fair wife, though we have not had the public
  • Ceremony, thinking for her friends we
  • Should hide our love, but results were too quick.
  • Now, what happened is here for all to see;
  • The stealth of our entertainment shows clear
  • On Juliet. The new deputy’s near
  • The duke, letting the public know he can
  • Command, newly in the seat. He awakes
  • Those written penalties the duke did ban;
  • And through me a name for himself he makes.
  • I’d appeal to the duke to be unbound
  • From this offense, but he’s not to be found.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Lucio, do me this kind service: this day my sister should the cloister enter and there begin her probationary period. Acquaint her with the danger of my state. Ask her to approach him. She hath prosperous art when she will play with reason and discourse, and well she can persuade.
  • LUCIO
  • I’ll to her.
  • CLAUDIO
  • I thank you, good friend Lucio.
  • LUCIO
  • Within two hours.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Come, officer, away.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 3
  • The Duke, disguised as a friar, enters along with Friar Thomas.
  • DUKE
  • Why I desire thee to give me secret harbor hath a purpose more grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends of burning youth.
  • FRIAR THOMAS
  • May your Grace speak of it?
  • DUKE
  • I have delivered to Lord Angelo, a man of strict behavior and firm abstinence, my absolute power and place herein Vienna, and he supposes me traveled to Poland, for so I have strewed it in the common ear. Now, pious sir, you will demand of me why I do this.
  • FRIAR THOMAS
  • Gladly, my lord.
  •  
  • Duke to Friar Thomas
  •  
  • We have biting statues and laws written
  • Which for these years we have let slip even
  • Like a lion in a cave that goes not
  • Out to prey, as fathers showing to fight,
  • Having bound up threat’ning twigs of birch taut,
  • Only to stick it in their children’s sight
  • For terror, unused, the rod in time more
  • Mocked than feared, so our decrees ne’er used for
  • Punishment, people plucking justice by
  • The nose, the baby beating the nurse; way
  • Too much scope I’ve given to people. I
  • Have on him imposed the office; he may
  • Under cover of my name enforce it;
  • Yet I plan to bring no-one discredit.
  • DUKE
  • To behold his sway I will, as ‘twere a brother of your order, visit both Angelo and the people. Therefore I prithee supply me with the habit, and instruct me how I may formally in person bear like a true friar. More reasons for this action at our more leisure shall I render you. Only this one: Lord Angelo is precise, stands on his defense against slander, and scarce confesses that his blood flows or that his appetite is more than bread.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 4
  • Isabella and Francisca, a nun, enter.
  • LUCIO WITHIN
  • Ho, peace be in this place!
  • ISABELLA
  • Who’s that which calls?
  • NUN
  • It is a man’s voice. Gentle Isabella, turn you the key and know his business of him. 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.
  • ISABELLA
  • Who is’t that calls?
  • Lucio enters.
  • LUCIO
  • Hail, virgin, if you be, can you so help me as bring me to the sight of Isabella, the fair sister to her unhappy brother, Claudio?
  • ISABELLA
  • Why “her unhappy brother?” I am that Isabella, and his sister.
  • LUCIO
  • He’s in prison.
  • ISABELLA
  • Woe me, for what?
  • LUCIO
  • He hath got his friend with child.
  • ISABELLA
  • Sir, do not make a mockery of me.
  • LUCIO
  • ‘Tis true. I would not deceive and so jest.
  • ISABELLA
  • You do blaspheme the good in mocking me.
  • LUCIO
  • Do not believe it. To tell the truth in a few words, ‘tis thus: your brother and his lover have embraced, and as blossoming time from being strewn with seeds the bare fallow brings to teeming abundance.
  • ISABELLA
  • Someone with child by him? Juliet?
  • LUCIO
  • She it is.
  • ISABELLA
  • O, let him marry her!
  • LUCIO
  • This is the point.
  •  
  • Lucio to Isabella
  •  
  • The Duke is strangely gone, deluding us,
  • But we learn from those who know and discuss
  • The state that his public comment did stun
  • Those who know his true design. In his place
  • Is Angelo, a man whose blood doth run
  • Cold; one who never feels the sting of base
  • Urges, blunting his natural desire
  • With profits of the mind. He doesn’t tire
  • And hath picked an act under whose heavy
  • Sense your brother’s life falls into forfeit.
  • He’s arrested him and follows closely
  • The rigor of the law to make each bit
  • Of him an example. Where this doth go
  • Depends on your softening Angelo.
  • LUCIO
  • That’s the essence of my business ‘twixt you and your poor brother.
  • ISABELLA
  • Doth he so seek his life?
  • LUCIO
  • As I hear, the Provost hath a warrant for ‘s execution.
  • ISABELLA
  • Alas, what poor ability’s in me to do him good?
  • LUCIO
  • Try the power you have.
  • ISABELLA
  • My power?
  • LUCIO
  • Go to Lord Angelo. Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.
  • ISABELLA
  • I’ll see what I can do.
  • LUCIO
  • But speedily!
  • ISABELLA
  • I will about it straight. I humbly thank you. Commend me to my brother. Soon at night I’ll send him certain word of my success.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 1
  • Angelo, Escalus and a Justice are on stage.
  • ANGELO
  • We must not make a scarecrow of the law and let it keep one shape till custom make it their perch and not their terror.
  • ESCALUS
  • Ay, but yet let us be keen and rather cut a little than fall and bruise to death. Alas, this gentleman 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. What’s revealed to justice, that justice seizes. Sir, he must die.
  • The Provost enters.
  • ESCALUS
  • Be it as your wisdom will.
  • ANGELO
  • Where is the Provost?
  • PROVOST
  • Here, if it like your Honor.
  • ANGELO
  • See that Claudio be executed by nine tomorrow morning.
  • Provost exits.
  • ESCALUS
  • Well, heaven forgive him and forgive us all. Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall.
  • Elbow, a constable, along with Froth, Pompey and certain officers enter.
  • ELBOW TO OFFICERS
  • If these be good people in a commonwealth that do nothing but use their abuses in common houses, I know no law.
  • ANGELO
  • How now, sir, what’s your name? And what’s the matter?
  • ELBOW
  • If it please your Honor, I am the poor duke’s constable, and my name is Elbow. I do bring in here two notorious benefactors.
  • ANGELO
  • Benefactors? 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.
  • ANGELO
  • What are you, sir?
  • ELBOW
  • He, sir? A tapster, sir; one that serves a bad woman, whose house, sir, was plucked down in the suburbs.
  • ANGELO
  • I’ll take my leave, and leave you to the hearing of the cause, hoping you’ll find good cause to whip them all.
  • Angelo exits.
  • ESCALUS
  • Come hither to me, Master Froth. Master Froth, I would not have you acquainted with tapsters; they will drain you. Get you gone, and let me hear no more of you.
  • FROTH
  • I thank your Worship. For mine own part, I never come into any room in a alehouse but I am enticed in.
  • ESCALUS
  • Well, no more of it, Master Froth. Farewell.
  • Froth exits.
  • ESCALUS
  • What’s your name, Master Tapster?
  • POMPEY
  • Pompey.
  • ESCALUS
  • What else?
  • POMPEY
  • Bum, sir.
  • ESCALUS
  • Pompey, you are partly a bawd.
  • POMPEY
  • Truly sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.
  • ESCALUS
  • How would you live, Pompey? By being a bawd? Is it a lawful trade?
  • POMPEY
  • If the law would allow it, sir.
  • ESCALUS
  • But the law will not allow it.
  • POMPEY
  • Does your Worship mean to geld and splay all the youth of the city?
  • ESCALUS
  • No, Pompey.
  • POMPEY
  • Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to ‘t then.
  • ESCALUS
  • Thank you, good Pompey. I advise you let me not find you before me again upon any complaint whatsoever. If I do, Pompey, in plain dealing, I shall have you whipped. So, for this time, Pompey, fare you well.
  • POMPEY
  • I thank your Worship for your good counsel.
  • He exits.
  • ESCALUS
  • Come hither to me, Master Elbow. How long have you been in this place of constable?
  • ELBOW
  • Seven year and a half, sir.
  • ESCALUS
  • They do you wrong to put you so oft upon ‘t. Are there not men in your ward sufficient to serve it?
  • ELBOW
  • Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters.
  • ESCALUS
  • Look 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.
  • ESCALUS
  • It grieves me for the death of Claudio, but there’s no remedy.
  • JUSTICE
  • Lord Angelo is severe.
  • ESCALUS
  • It is but needful. But yet, poor Claudio. There is no remedy. Come, sir.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 2
  • The Provost is on stage.
  • PROVOST
  • I’ll know his pleasure. Maybe he will relent. All ages smack of this vice, and he to die for ‘t?
  • Angelo enters.
  • ANGELO
  • Now, what’s the matter, provost?
  • PROVOST
  • Is it your will Claudio shall die tomorrow?
  • ANGELO
  • Did not I tell thee yea? Why dost thou ask again?
  • PROVOST
  • 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.
  • A Servant enters.
  • SERVANT
  • 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.
  • ANGELO
  • Well, let her be admitted.
  • Servant exits. Lucio and Isabella enter.
  • ANGELO TO ISABELLA
  • You’re welcome. What’s your will?
  • ISABELLA
  • I am a woeful suitor to your Honor.
  • ANGELO
  • Well, what’s your suit?
  • ISABELLA
  • There is a vice that most I do abhor, 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 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.
  • LUCIO ASIDE TO ISABELLA
  • To him again, entreat him, kneel down before him, hang upon his gown, you are too cold.
  • ISABELLA TO ANGELO
  • Must he needs die?
  • ANGELO
  • Maiden, no remedy.
  • ISABELLA
  • Yes, I do think that you might pardon him, and neither heaven nor man grieves at the mercy.
  • ANGELO
  • I will not do ‘t.
  • ISABELLA
  • But can you if you would?
  • ANGELO
  • He’s sentenced. ‘Tis too late.
  • LUCIO ASIDE TO ISABELLA
  • You are too cold.
  • ISABELLA
  • Too late? Why, no.
  •  
  • Isabella to Angelo
  •  
  • No tribute better applies to great ones,
  • Not crowns, nor batons, nor swords, nor kings’ sons;
  • None become them with half so good the grace
  • As mercy does. If he had been as you,
  • And you as he, you too would have to face
  • A judge, but he in your role would not do
  • The harm you intend. What if He had found
  • A way to save those souls taken and wound
  • Up profiting? How would you be if He,
  • The top of judgment, should judge you as you
  • Are? Think on that, and perhaps then mercy
  • May breathe through your lips like a new man. Who
  • Has died for this offense, there having been
  • So many who have committed this sin?
  • LUCIO
  • Ay, well said.
  • ANGELO
  • The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept. Now ‘tis awake, takes note of what is done, and looks in a glass that shows what future evils are now to have no successive degrees, but before they live, to end.
  • ISABELLA
  • Yet show some pity.
  • ANGELO
  • I show it most of all when I show justice. Be satisfied; your brother dies tomorrow; be content.
  • ISABELLA
  • O, it is excellent to have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.
  • LUCIO ASIDE TO ISABELLA
  • That’s well said.
  • ISABELLA
  • Jove himself would use his heaven for thunder, nothing but thunder. But man dressed in a little brief authority, most ignorant of what he’s most assured, plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven as makes the angels weep.
  • LUCIO ASIDE TO ISABELLA
  • O, to him. He will relent. He’s coming. I perceive ‘t.
  • PROVOST ASIDE
  • Pray heaven she win him.
  • ISABELLA
  • We cannot weigh our brother with ourself.
  • LUCIO ASIDE TO ISABELLA
  • Thou’rt th’ right, girl. More o’ that.
  • ANGELO
  • Why do you put these sayings upon me?
  • ISABELLA
  • Because authority, though it err like others, hath yet a kind of medicine in itself that covers over the vice without healing it. Ask your heart what it doth know that’s like my brother’s fault. If it confess a natural guiltiness such as is his, let it not sound a thought upon your tongue against my brother’s life.
  • ANGELO ASIDE
  • She speaks, and ‘tis such sense.
  • He begins to exit.
  • ANGELO
  • Fare you well.
  • ISABELLA
  • Gentle my lord, turn back.
  • ANGELO
  • I will bethink me. Come again tomorrow.
  • LUCIO ASIDE TO ISABELLA
  • ‘Tis well; away.
  • ISABELLA
  • Heaven keep your Honor safe.
  • ANGELO ASIDE
  • Amen. For I am that way going to temptation where your prayer for my honor is at cross-purposes with my desire for you.
  • ISABELLA
  • At what hour tomorrow shall I attend your Lordship?
  • ANGELO
  • At any time ‘fore noon.
  • She exits with Lucio and Provost.
  •  
  • Angelo to himself
  •  
  • What! Is this her fault or mine; the tempter
  • Or the tempted? She sins not; it’s not her
  • Who tempts, but I, corrupted as decayed
  • Flesh, lying next to a lovely violet
  • In the sun. Would good sense be so betrayed
  • To defile her when others are well met?
  • If thou thyself be not free of guilt then
  • Let him live; thieves have authority when
  • Judges are themselves thieves. What! To hear her
  • Again? Do I love her? A seductress,
  • With all her skill and natural allure,
  • Could not once stir my composure, but this
  • Virtuous maid subdues me quite. Till now
  • Seeing men dote, I’d smile and wonder how.
  • He exits.
  • Act 2, Scene 3
  • The Duke, disguised as a Friar, enters with the Provost
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Hail to you, provost, so I think you are.
  • PROVOST
  • I am the Provost. What’s your will, good friar?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Bound by my charity and my blest order, I come to visit the afflicted spirits here in the prison. Do me the common right to let me see them, and to make me know the nature of their crimes, that I may minister to them accordingly.
  • Juliet enters.
  • PROVOST
  • Look, here comes one. She is with child, and he that got it, sentenced --- a young man, more fit to do another such offense than die for this.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • When must he die?
  • PROVOST
  • As I do think, tomorrow.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR TO JULIET
  • Repent you, fair one, of the sin you carry?
  • JULIET
  • I do; and bear the shame most patiently.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • I’ll teach you how you shall arraign your conscience, and test your penitence.
  • JULIET
  • I’ll gladly learn.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Love you the man that wronged you?
  • JULIET
  • Yes, as I love the woman that wronged him.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • So when it seems your most offenseful act was mutually committed?
  • JULIET
  • Mutually. I do confess it and repent it, father.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • ‘Tis fitting that you should do so, daughter; but lest you do repent ---
  • JULIET
  • I do repent me as it is an evil, and take the shame with joy.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Your partner, as I hear, must die tomorrow, and I am going with instruction to him. Grace go with you.
  • He exits.
  • JULIET
  • Must die tomorrow?
  • PROVOST
  • ‘Tis pity of him.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 4
  • Angelo is on stage.
  • ANGELO
  • When I would pray and think, I think and pray to several subjects. Heaven hath my empty words, whilst my mind, hearing not my tongue, anchors on Isabel. Yea, O ceremony, how often dost thou with thy case, thy habit, wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls to thy false seeming!
  • A knock within.
  • ANGELO
  • How now, who’s there?
  • A Servant enters.
  • SERVANT
  • One Isabel, a sister, desires access to you.
  • ANGELO
  • Show her the way.
  • Servant exits. Isabella enters.
  • ISABELLA
  • I am come to know your pleasure.
  • ANGELO
  • Your brother cannot live. Yet may he live a while. And it may be as long as you or I. Yet he must die.
  • ISABELLA
  • Under your sentence?
  • ANGELO
  • Yea.
  • ISABELLA
  • When, I beseech you? That in his reprieve, longer or shorter, he may be so prepared that his soul sicken not.
  • ANGELO
  • Ha! Fie, these filthy vices!
  • ISABELLA
  • ‘Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.
  • ANGELO
  • Say you so? Then I shall pose you quickly: which had you rather, that the most just law now took your brother’s life, or to redeem him, give up your body to such sweet uncleanness as she that he hath stained?
  • ISABELLA
  • Sir, believe this: I had rather give my body than my soul.
  • ANGELO
  • I talk not of your soul.
  • ISABELLA
  • How say you?
  • ANGELO
  • I pronounce a sentence on your brother’s life. Might there not be a charity in sin to save this brother’s life.
  • ISABELLA
  • That I do beg his life, if it be sin Heaven let me bear it.
  • ANGELO
  • Nay, but hear me. Your sense pursues not mine. But mark me. To be received plain, I’ll speak more gross: your brother is to die.
  • ISABELLA
  • So.
  • ANGELO
  • And his offense is so, as it appears, accountable to the law upon that path.
  • ISABELLA
  • True.
  • ANGELO
  • Admit no other way to save his life, but you, his sister, finding yourself desired of such a person who could fetch your brother from the manacles of the all-binding law, must lay down the treasures of your body to this hypothetical person, or else to let him suffer. What would you do?
  • ISABELLA
  • As much for my poor brother as myself. I would subject myself to keen whips and tie myself to death, ere I’d yield my body up to shame.
  • ANGELO
  • Then must your brother die.
  • ISABELLA
  • Better it were a brother died at once than that a sister, by redeeming him, should die forever.
  • ANGELO
  • Were not you then as cruel as the sentence that you have slandered so?
  • ISABELLA
  • Lawful mercy is nothing kin to foul redemption.
  • ANGELO
  • You seemed of late to make the law a tyrant, and rather proved the fall of your brother more a merriment than a vice.
  • ISABELLA
  • It oft falls out, to have what we would have, we speak not what me mean.
  • ANGELO
  • We are all frail.
  • ISABELLA
  • Let my brother die only if he alone possesses the frailty you mention.
  • ANGELO
  • Nay, women are frail too.
  • ISABELLA
  • Ay, as the mirrors where they view themselves, which are as easily broken as they create images.
  • ANGELO
  • Let me be bold. Be that you are ---- that is, a woman. If you are stronger than the frail creature you have described woman as being, then you are no woman.
  • ISABELLA
  • Gentle my lord, let me entreat you speak the former language.
  • ANGELO
  • Plainly conceive I love you.
  • ISABELLA
  • My brother did love Juliet, and you tell me that he shall die for ‘t.
  • ANGELO
  • Believe me my words express my purpose.
  • ISABELLA
  • Ha! Sign me a present pardon for my brother or with an outstretched throat I’ll tell the world aloud what man thou art.
  • ANGELO
  • Who will believe thee, Isabel?
  •  
  • Angelo to Isabella
  •  
  • That I can attest against you and my
  • Austere life and place in the state is why
  • I will so o’erweigh your accusation
  • That your own report shall be stifled. Set
  • Aside coyness and any weak notion
  • Of what thy plead for; just agree to let
  • Your brother be redeemed through thy consent
  • To my will; letting thy body be lent
  • To my sharp appetite, or else he must
  • Not only die the death, but it shall be
  • Drawn out to ling’ring sufferance. My lust
  • Is anxious, so tomorrow answer me,
  • My desire now guiding me. If you can’t
  • Say I will, I’ll prove to him a tyrant.
  • He exits.
  • ISABELLA
  • To whom should I complain?
  •  
  • Isabella to herself
  •  
  • If I told this, who would believe me? O
  • Perilous mouths, bearing a tongue so low
  • That they can condemn or approve, making
  • The law curtsy to their will. I’ll to my
  • Brother, the passion of his blood having
  • This day trapped him, yet in his mind doth lie
  • Such honor, that had he twenty heads to
  • Tender on bloody blocks; that he would do
  • Before his sister’s body should accept
  • Such pollution. My brother’s life to me
  • Is dear, but dearer is my honor kept.
  • More than our brother is our chastity.
  • I’ll tell him soon of Angelo’s request,
  • So with death, he may put his soul to rest.
  • She exits.
  • Act 3, Scene 1
  • The Duke, as a Friar, visits with Claudio.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • So then you hope of pardon from Lord Angelo?
  • CLAUDIO
  • The miserable have no other medicine but only hope. I have hope to live and am prepared to die.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Think of death without relationship to anything else. Either death or life shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life:
  •  
  • Duke to Claudio, No. 1
  •  
  • Losing life is losing that which only
  • Fools would keep. Life afflicts us hourly,
  • Only a breath away from the effects
  • Of this habitation. Lives art death’s fools,
  • For life by its flight and labors rejects
  • Death, yet always runs towards it. Death rules
  • Life; life fearing the forked tongue of a snake.
  • Death draws fear from sleep that thou may not wake,
  • Yet death’s the best of rest and rest’s a must.
  • Thou art no more than what life doth allow;
  • The many grains that issue out of dust.
  • Thou changes as the moon and happy thou
  • Art not, for what thou hast not, thou striv’st
  • To get, and what thou hast, thou forget’st.
  •  
  • Duke to Claudio, No. 2
  •  
  • If thou art rich, thou art like a donkey
  • Whose back with ingots bows through its journey;
  • But with death its riches are unloaded.
  • Rich men have no friends in their children who
  • Curse the diseases that have not ended
  • Them sooner. It’s as a dream whether you
  • Have youth or age, for all thy blessed youth
  • Act as aged, begging for alms in sooth
  • Of palsied elders. And when thou art old
  • And rich, thou’ll have not passion’s youthful flame,
  • Nor good limbs or beauty to make thy gold
  • Pleasant. What’s left in this that bears the name
  • Of life? In this life a thousand death’s lie
  • Hid; yet death we fear, and here we ask why.
  • CLAUDIO
  • I humbly thank you. I find I seek to die, and seeking death find life. Let it come on.
  • ISABELLA WITHIN
  • What ho! Peace here.
  • PROVOST
  • Who’s there? The wish deserves a welcome.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR TO CLAUDIO
  • Dear sir, ere long I’ll visit you again.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Most holy sir, I thank you.
  • Isabella enters.
  • ISABELLA TO PROVOST
  • My business is a word or two with Claudio.
  • PROVOST
  • And very welcome.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR ASIDE TO PROVOST
  • Bring me to hear them speak, where I may be concealed.
  • Duke and Provost exit.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Now, sister, what’s the comfort?
  • ISABELLA
  • Why, as all comforts are, most good, most good indeed. Tomorrow you go forward.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Is there no remedy?
  • ISABELLA
  • Yes, brother, you may live. There is a devilish mercy in the judge that will free your life but fetter you till death.
  • CLAUDIO
  • In what nature? Let me know the point.
  • ISABELLA
  • The sense of death is most in anticipation.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Why give you me this shame? If I must die, I will encounter darkness as a bride, and hug it in mine arms.
  • ISABELLA
  • Yes, thou must die. This outward-sainted deputy is yet a devil.
  • CLAUDIO
  • The princely Angelo?
  • ISABELLA
  • Dost thou think, Claudio, if I would yield him my virginity thou mightst be freed?
  • CLAUDIO
  • O heavens, it cannot be!
  • ISABELLA
  • Yes, he would give ‘t thee; from this rank offense. This night’s the time that I should do what I abhor to name, or else thou diest tomorrow.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Thou shalt not do’t.
  • ISABELLA
  • O, were it but my life I’d throw it down for your deliverance as freely as a pin.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Thanks, dear Isabel.
  • ISABELLA
  • Be ready, Claudio, for your death tomorrow.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Yes. Has he affections in him that thus can make him bite the law by th’ nose, when he would force it? O Isabel, death is a fearful thing.
  • ISABELLA
  • And shamed life a hateful.
  •  
  • Claudio to Isabella
  •  
  • Ay, but to die, and go we know not where,
  • To rot as our lifeless body lies there,
  • Our warm senses-filled being becoming
  • A kneaded clod; and our filled-with-delight
  • Soul to reside in a terrifying
  • Region of thick-ribbed ice, to feel the bite
  • Of unseen winds and be blown with restless
  • Violence about what one can only guess;
  • Or, worse, to hear the unfortunate meet
  • In hell, howling; ‘tis a thought worse than one’s
  • Worst moments and what we fear of death. Sweet
  • Sister, let me live. Nature so pardons
  • Sin to save a brother’s life that for you
  • The offensive deed becomes a virtue.
  • ISABELLA
  • O, you beast! O faithless coward, wilt thou be made a man out of this vice? Is ‘t not a kind of incest to take life from thine own sister’s shame? I’ll pray a thousand prayers for thy death, no word to save thee.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Nay, hear me, Isabel ---
  • ISABELLA
  • Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade. ‘Tis best that thou diest quickly.
  • CLAUDIO
  • O, hear me, Isabella ---
  • Duke as a Friar enters.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR TO ISABELLA
  • Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.
  • ISABELLA
  • What is your will?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • I would by and by have some speech with you. The satisfaction I would require is likewise your own benefit.
  • ISABELLA
  • I will attend you awhile.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR TAKES CLAUDIO ASIDE
  • Son, I have overheard what hath passed between you and your sister. Therefore prepare yourself to death. Tomorrow you must die. Go to your knees and make ready.
  • CLAUDIO
  • Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love with life that I will sue to be rid of it.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Hold you there. Farewell. Provost, a word with you.
  • Enter Provost.
  • PROVOST
  • What’s your will, father?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Leave me awhile with the maid.
  • Provost exits with Claudio.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR TO ISABELLA
  • The hand that hath made you fair hath made you good. The assault that Angelo hath made to you, fortune hath conveyed to my understanding. How will you do to content this substitute and to save your brother?
  • ISABELLA
  • I had rather my brother die by the law than my son should be unlawfully born. But, O, how much is the good duke deceived in Angelo!
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Fasten your ear on my advisings. To the love I have in doing good, a remedy presents itself. I do make myself believe that you may most uprighteously do a poor wronged lady a merited benefit, redeem your brother from the angry law, do no stain to your own gracious person, and much please the absent duke, if peradventure he shall ever return to have hearing of this business.
  • ISABELLA
  • Let me hear you speak farther.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful. Have you not heard speak of Mariana, the sister of Frederick, the great soldier who miscarried at sea?
  • ISABELLA
  • I have heard of the lady, and good words went with her name.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • She should this Angelo have married, was affianced to her oath, and the nuptial appointed. Between which time of the contract and limit of the solemnity, her brother Frederick was wracked at sea, having in that perished vessel the dowry of his sister. But mark how heavily this befell to the poor gentlewoman. There she lost a noble and renowned brother and with him, the portion and sinew of her fortune, her marriage dowry; with both, her betrothed husband, this well-seeming Angelo.
  • ISABELLA
  • Can this be so? Did Angelo so leave her?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Left her in her tears and dried not one of them with his comfort.
  • ISABELLA
  • But how out of this can she prevail?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • It is a rupture that you may easily heal, and the cure of it not only saves your brother, but keeps you from dishonor in doing it.
  • ISABELLA
  • Show me how, good father.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Go you to Angelo, answer his requiring with a plausible obedience, agree with his demands to the point. Only refer yourself to this advantage: first, that your stay with him may not be long, that the time may have all shadow and silence in it, and the place be convenient for you. This being granted in course, and follows all: we shall advise this wronged maid to stead up your appointment, go in your place. If the encounter acknowledges itself hereafter, it may compel him to her recompense; and here, by this, is your brother saved, your honor untainted, the poor Mariana advantaged, and the corrupt deputy weighed. The maid will I prepare and make ready for his attempt. What think you of it?
  • ISABELLA
  • The image of it gives me content already, and I trust it will grow to a most prosperous perfection.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • It lies much in your holding up. Haste you speedily to Angelo. If for this night he entreats you to his bed, give him promise of satisfaction. I will presently to Saint Luke’s. There at the moated house resides this dejected Mariana. At that place call upon me, and make your arrangements speedily.
  • ISABELLA
  • I thank you for this comfort. Fare you well, good father.
  • She exits. He remains.
  • Act 3, Scene 2
  • lbow, Pompey and Officers are on stage.
  • ELBOW
  • Bless you, good father friar.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • And you, good brother father. What offense hath this man made you, sir?
  • ELBOW
  • Marry, sir, he hath offend the law; and, sir, we take him to be a thief too.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR TO POMPEY
  • The evil that thou causest to be done, that is thy means to live. Go mend, go mend.
  • POMPEY
  • But yet, sir, I would prove ---
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Take him to prison, officer.
  • Lucio enters.
  • POMPEY
  • I spy comfort, I cry bail. Here’s a gentleman and a friend of mine.
  • LUCIO
  • Art going to prison, Pompey?
  • POMPEY
  • Yes, faith, sir. I hope sir, your good Worship will be my bail.
  • LUCIO
  • No, indeed, will I not, Pompey. Bless you, friar.
  • POMPEY TO LUCIO
  • You will not bail me, then, sir?
  • LUCIO
  • Then, Pompey, nor now. What news abroad friar?
  • ELBOW TO POMPEY
  • Come your ways, sir, come.
  • Elbow, Pompey and Officers exit.
  • LUCIO
  • What news, friar, of the Duke?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • I know none. Can you tell me of any?
  • LUCIO
  • Some say he is with the Emperor of Russia; other some, he is in Rome.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • I know not where, but wheresoever, I wish him well.
  • LUCIO
  • Lord Angelo dukes it well in his absence. He drives it to extremities.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • He does well in ‘t.
  • LUCIO
  • A little more lenity to lechery would do no harm in him.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • It is too general a vice, and severity must cure it. I never heard the absent duke much accused of womanizing.
  • LUCIO
  • O, sir, you are deceived.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • ‘Tis not possible.
  • LUCIO
  • Who, not the Duke? He would be drunk too, that let me inform you.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • You do him wrong, surely.
  • LUCIO
  • A shy fellow was the Duke, and I believe I know the cause of his withdrawing.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • What, I prithee, might be the cause?
  • LUCIO
  • This I can let you understand: the majority of subjects held the Duke to be wise.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Wise? Why, no question but he was.
  • LUCIO
  • A very superficial, ignorant, thoughtless fellow.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Either this is envy in you, folly, or mistaking. You speak unskillfully. If your knowledge be more, it is much darkened in your malice.
  • LUCIO
  • Sir, I know him, and I love him.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Love talks with better knowledge, and knowledge with dearer love.
  • LUCIO
  • Come, sir, I know what I know.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • If ever the Duke return, let me desire you to make your answer before him. If it be honest you have spoke, you have courage to maintain it. I am bound to call upon you, and, I pray you, your name.
  • LUCIO
  • Sir, my name is Lucio, well known to the Duke.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • He shall know you better, sir, if I may live to report you.
  • LUCIO
  • I fear you not. But no more of this. Canst thou tell if Claudio die tomorrow or no?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Why should he die, sir?
  • LUCIO
  • Why? Marry, this Claudio is condemned for undressing. Farewell, good friar. I prithee pray for me.
  • He exits.
  • DUKE
  • No might nor greatness in human life can escape hostile criticism. What king so strong can tie the bitterness up in the slanderous tongue? But who comes here?
  • Escalus, Provost, Officers and Mistress Overdone, a bawd, enter.
  • ESCALUS TO OFFICERS
  • Go, away with her to prison.
  • BAWD
  • Good my lord, be good to me.
  • PROVOST
  • A bawd of eleven years’ continuance, may it please your Honor.
  • BAWD TO ESCALUS
  • My lord, this is one of Lucio’s accusations against me. Mistress Keepdown was with child by him in the Duke’s time; he promised her marriage. His child is a year a quarter old. I have kept it myself, and see how he goes bout to abuse me.
  • ESCALUS
  • That fellow is a fellow of much disregard of the law. Let him be called before us. Away with her to prison.
  • Officers exit with Bawd.
  • ESCALUS
  • Provost, my brother Angelo will not be altered. Claudio must die tomorrow.
  • PROVOST
  • This friar hath been with him, and advised him for th’ acceptance of death.
  • ESCALUS
  • Good even, good father.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Bliss and goodness on you.
  • ESCALUS
  • Of whence are you?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Not of this country. I am a brother of gracious order, late from the See in special business from his Holiness.
  • ESCALUS
  • What news abroad i’ th’ world?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • None but that goodness is so sick that only death can cure the disease. I pray you, sir, of what disposition was the Duke?
  • ESCALUS
  • One that above all other efforts, strove earnestly especially to know himself.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • What pleasure was he given to?
  • ESCALUS
  • A gentleman of all temperance. But leave we him to his events. Let me desire to know how you find Claudio prepared.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • He most willingly humbles himself to the determination of justice. Now is he resolved to die.
  • ESCALUS
  • You have paid the heavens your role and the prisoner the very debt of your calling. I am going to visit the prisoner. Fare you well.
  • ESCALUS
  • Peace be with you.
  • Escalus and Provost exit.
  •  
  • Duke to Himself
  •  
  • He who carries the sword of heaven should
  • Be as holy as he is severe; would
  • Conduct himself with grace and strength, and ought
  • Judge his citizens not as one above
  • Them, but rather through his own conscious; not
  • Drawing shame to himself for the faults of
  • His own liking. Twice shame on Angelo
  • For weeding my vice and letting his grow,
  • Hiding as an angel. By losing sight
  • Of law’s intent, this is the man I’ve made.
  • Craft against vice I must apply. Tonight
  • Angelo shall lie with his scorned engaged.
  • Through disguise, Mariana shall extract
  • Just extortion, fulfilling a contract.
  • He exits.
  • Act 4, Scene 1
  • Mariana and Boy singing enter.
  • MARIANA TO BOY
  • Break off thy song and haste thee quick away. Here comes a man of comfort, whose advice hath often stilled my brawling discontent.
  • Boy exits.
  • MARIANA
  • I cry you mercy sir.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • I pray you tell me, hath anybody inquired for me here today?
  • MARIANA
  • You have not been inquired after.
  • Isabella enters.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • The time is come even now. I shall crave your forbearance a little.
  • MARIANA
  • I am always bound to you.
  • She exits.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • What is the news from this good deputy?
  • ISABELLA
  • He hath a garden walled around with brick. There have I made my promise, upon the heavy middle of the night, to call upon him. He did show me the way twice o’er.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Are there no other tokens between you ‘greed concerning her observance?
  • ISABELLA
  • No, none, but only a visit i’ th’ dark, and that I have informed him my stay can be but brief.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • I have not yet made known to Mariana a word of this.
  • Mariana enters.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR TO MARIANA
  • I pray you be acquainted with this maid. She comes to do you good.
  • ISABELLA
  • I do desire the like.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR TO MARIANA
  • Do you persuade yourself that I have a high regard for you?
  • MARIANA
  • Good friar, I know you do.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Take then this your companion by the hand, who hath a story ready for your ear.
  • MARIANA TO ISABELLA
  • Will ‘t please you walk aside?
  • Isabella and Mariana exit. Mariana and Isabella enter.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Welcome. How agreed?
  • ISABELLA
  • She’ll take the enterprise upon her, father, if you advise it.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • It is not only my consent but my entreaty too.
  • ISABELLA TO MARIANA
  • Little have you to say when you depart from him, but, soft and low, “Remember now my brother.”
  • MARIANA
  • Fear me not.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Nor, gentle daughter, fear you not at all. He is your husband on a precontract. Come, let us go.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 2
  • Provost, Pompey and an Officer are on stage.
  • PROVOST
  • Come hither, sirrah. Can you cut off a man’s head?
  • POMPEY
  • If the man be a bachelor, sir, I can.
  • PROVOST
  • Come, sir, yield me a direct answer. Tomorrow morning are to die Claudio and Barnardine. Here is in our prison a common executioner, who in his office lacks a helper. If you will take it on you to assist him, it shall redeem you from your shackles.
  • POMPEY
  • I would be glad to receive some instruction from my fellow partner.
  • PROVOST
  • What ho, Abhorson!
  • Abhorson enters.
  • ABHORSON
  • Do you call, sir?
  • PROVOST
  • Sirrah, here’s a fellow will help you tomorrow in your execution. Are you agreed?
  • POMPEY
  • Sir, I will serve him.
  • PROVOST TO ABHORSON
  • You, sirrah, provide your block and your axe tomorrow, four o’clock.
  • ABHORSON TO POMPEY
  • Come on, I will instruct thee in my trade. Follow.
  • Pompey and Abhorson exit.
  • PROVOST TO OFFICER
  • Call hither Barnardine and Claudio.
  • Officer exits.
  • PROVOST
  • Th’ one has my pity; not a jot the other.
  • Officer enters with Claudio.
  • PROVOST
  • Look, here’s the warrant, Claudio, for thy death. ‘Tis now dead midnight, and by eight tomorrow thou must be made immortal. Where’s Barnardine?
  • CLAUDIO
  • As fast locked up in sleep. He will not wake.
  • PROVOST
  • Well, go, prepare yourself.
  • Claudio exits. Knock within.
  • PROVOST
  • I hope it is some pardon or reprieve for the most gentle Claudio.
  • Duke, as a friar, enters.
  • PROVOST
  • Welcome, father.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Who called here of late?
  • PROVOST
  • None since the curfew rung.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Not Isabel?
  • PROVOST
  • No.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • They will, then, ere ‘t be long.
  • PROVOST
  • What comfort is for Claudio?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • There’s some in hope.
  • PROVOST
  • It is a bitter deputy.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Not so, not so. His life is paralleled even with the stroke and line of his great justice.
  • Knock within.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Now are they come.
  • Provost enters. Knocking continues.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • How now, what noise? Have you no countermand for Claudio yet, but he must die tomorrow?
  • PROVOST
  • None, sir, none.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • As near the dawning, provost, as it is, you shall hear more ere morning.
  • PROVOST
  • Happily you something know, yet I believe there comes no countermand.
  • Messenger enters.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • And here comes Claudio’s pardon.
  • Messenger gives Provost a paper.
  • MESSENGER
  • My lord has sent you this note, and by me this further charge: that you swerve not from the smallest article of it.
  • PROVOST
  • I shall obey him.
  • Provost reads message. Messenger exits.
  • DUKE ASIDE
  • This is his pardon, purchased by such sin for which the pardoner himself is in.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Now, sir, what news? Pray you let’s hear.
  • PROVOST READS THE LETTER
  • “Whatsoever you may hear to the contrary, let Claudio be executed by four of the clock, and in the afternoon Barnardine. For my better satisfaction, let me have Claudio’s head sent me by five. Thus fail not to do your office, as you will answer it at your peril.”
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • What is that Barnardine who is to be executed in th’ afternoon?
  • PROVOST
  • A Bohemian born, but here nursed up and bred; one that has been a prisoner for nine years.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Hath he conducted himself penitently in prison? How seems he to be affected?
  • PROVOST
  • A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully but as a drunken sleep; careless, reckless, and fearless of what’s past, present, or to come.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • He wants advice.
  • PROVOST
  • He will hear none. He hath evermore had the liberty of the prison; give him leave to escape hence, he would not. Drunk many times a day, if not many days entirely drunk. We have very oft awaked him, as if to carry him to execution, and showed him a seeming warrant for it. It hath not moved him at all.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • There is written in your brow, provost, honesty and constancy. I will lay myself in hazard. Claudio, whom here you have warrant to execute, is no greater forfeit to the law than Angelo, who hath sentenced him. I crave but four days’ respite.
  • PROVOST
  • Pray, sir, in what?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • In the delaying death.
  • PROVOST
  • Alack, how may I do it, having the hour limited, and an express command, under penalty, to deliver his head in the view of Angelo?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Let this Barnardine be this morning executed and his head borne to Angelo.
  • PROVOST
  • Angelo hath seen them both and will discover the favor.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • O, death’s a great disguiser, and you may add to it. Shave the head and tie the beard, and say it was the desire of the penitent to be so bared before his death. You know this course is common.
  • PROVOST
  • Pardon me, good father, it is against my oath.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Were you sworn to the Duke or to the Deputy?
  • PROVOST
  • To him and to his substitutes.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • You will think you have made no offense if the Duke avouch the justice of your dealing?
  • PROVOST
  • But what likelihood is in that?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Not a likelihood, but a certainty. Look you, sir, here is the hand and seal of the Duke.
  • He shows the Provost a paper.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • You know the character, I doubt not, and the signet is not strange to you.
  • PROVOST
  • I know them both.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • The content of this is the return of the Duke; you shall soon o’erread it at your pleasure, where you shall find within these two days he will be here. This is a thing that Angelo knows not, for he this very day receives letters of strange tenor, perchance of the Duke’s death, perchance entering into some monastery, but by chance nothing of what is writ. All difficulties are but easy when they are known. Call your executioner, and off with Barnardine’s head. I will give you immediate confession and absolution, and advise him of heaven.
  • He gives the Provost the paper.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Come away; it is almost clear dawn.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 3
  • Pompey is on stage. Abhorson enters.
  • ABHORSON
  • Sirrah, bring Barnardine hither.
  • POMPEY CALLING
  • Master Barnardine, you must rise and be hanged.
  • ABHORSON CALLING
  • What ho, Barnardine!
  • BARNARDINE WITHIN
  • Who makes that noise there? What are you?
  • POMPEY
  • Your friends, sir, the hangman.
  • BARNARDINE WITHIN
  • Away, you rogue, away! I am sleepy.
  • ABHORSON TO POMPEY
  • Tell him he must awake.
  • POMPEY CALLING
  • Pray Master Barnardine, awake till you are executed, and sleep afterwards.
  • ABHORSON
  • Is the axe upon the block, sirrah?
  • POMPEY
  • Very ready, sir.
  • Barnardine enters.
  • BARNARDINE
  • How now, Abhorson?
  • ABHORSON
  • Truly, sir, I would desire you to clap into your prayers, for, look you, the warrant’s come.
  • BARNARDINE
  • You rogue, I have been drinking all night. I am not fitted for ‘t.
  • POMPEY
  • O, the better, sir, for he that drinks all night and is hanged betimes in the morning may sleep the sounder all the next day.
  • The Duke as a friar enters.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR TO BARNARDINE
  • Sir, I am come to advise you, comfort you, and pray with you.
  • BARNARDINE
  • Friar, not I. I will not consent to die this day, that’s certain.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • O, sir, you must. And therefore I beseech you look forward on the journey you shall go.
  • BARNARDINE
  • I swear I will not die today for any man’s persuasion. If you have anything to say to me, come to my ward, for thence will not I today.
  • He exits.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Unfit to live or die. After him, fellows, bring him to the block.
  • Abhorson and Pompey exit. Provost enters.
  • PROVOST
  • Now, sir, how do you find the prisoner?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • A creature unprepared, unfit for death.
  • PROVOST
  • Here in the prison, father, there died this morning of a cruel fever one Ragozine, a man of Claudio’s years, his beard and head just of his color. What if we satisfy the Deputy with the visage of Ragozine, more like to Claudio?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • O, ‘tis an accident that heaven provides! See this be done and sent according to command, whiles I persuade this rude wretch wiling to die.
  • PROVOST
  • This shall be done, good father, presently. But Barnardine must die this afternoon, and how shall we continue Claudio, to save me from the danger that might come if he were known alive?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Let this be done: put them in secret holds, both Barnardine and Claudio. Ere twice the sun hath made his journey greeting the outside world, you shall find your safety manifested.
  • PROVOST
  • I am your willing servant.
  • Provost exits.
  • DUKE
  • Now will I write letters to Angelo --- the Provost shall bear them --- whose contents shall witness to him I am near home and that I am bound to enter publicly. Him I’ll desire to meet me at the consecrated fount a league below the city.
  • Provost enters, carrying a head.
  • PROVOST
  • Here is the head! I’ll carry it myself.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Make a swift return.
  • Provost exits. Isabella calls within.
  • DUKE
  • I will keep her ignorant of her good to make her heavenly comforts of despair when it is least expected.
  • Isabella enters.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Good morning to you, fair and gracious daughter.
  • ISABELLA
  • Hath yet the Deputy sent my brother’s pardon?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • He hath released him, Isabel, from the world. His head is off, and sent to Angelo.
  • ISABELLA
  • Nay, but it is not so.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • It is no other.
  • ISABELLA
  • O, I will to him and pluck out his eyes!
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • You shall not be admitted to his sight.
  • ISABELLA
  • Unhappy Claudio, wretched Isabel, most damned Angelo!
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • This nor hurts him nor profits you a jot. Mark what I say: the Duke comes home tomorrow, and his confessor gives me this instance. Already he hath carried notice to Escalus and Angelo, who do prepare to meet him at the gates, there to give up their power.
  • ISABELLA
  • I am directed by you.
  • Duke as friar shows her a paper.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • This letter, then, to Friar Peter give. Say, by this token, I desire his company at Mariana’s house tonight. Her cause and yours I’ll inform him about completely, and he shall bring you before the Duke, and you may accuse Angelo to his face. For my poor self, I am bound by a sacred vow and shall be absent.
  • He hands her the paper.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Who’s here?
  • Lucio enters.
  • LUCIO
  • O, pretty Isabella, I am pale at mine heart to see thine eyes so red. But they say the Duke will be here tomorrow. By my troth, Isabel, I loved thy brother.
  • Isabella exits.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Sir, the Duke is indebted for your reports, but the best is, he lives not in them.
  • LUCIO
  • Friar, thou knowest not the Duke so well as I do. He’s a better womanizer than thou tak’st him for.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Well, you’ll answer this one day. Fare you well.
  • LUCIO
  • Nay, tarry, I’ll go along with thee. I can tell thee pretty tales of the Duke.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • You have told me too many of him already, sir, if they be true; if not true, none were enough. Rest you well.
  • LUCIO
  • By my troth, I’ll go with thee to the lane’s end.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 4
  • Angelo and Escalus enter.
  • ESCALUS
  • Every letter he hath writ hath contradicted the other.
  • ANGELO
  • In most uneven and distracted manner. His actions show much like to madness. And why meet him at the gates and deliver our authorities there?
  • ESCALUS
  • I guess not.
  • ANGELO
  • And why should we proclaim it in an hour before his entering.
  • ESCALUS
  • He shows his reason for that: to have a prompt settlement of complaints, and to save us from contrived complaints.
  • ANGELO
  • Well, I beseech you let it be proclaimed. I’ll call upon you early at your house.
  • ESCALUS
  • Fare you well.
  • ANGELO
  • Good night.
  • Escalus exits.
  •  
  • Angelo to Himself, No. 2
  •  
  • This deed quite destroys me; now disabled
  • From normal proceedings. A deflowered
  • Maid, and by an eminent person who
  • Enforced the law against it. What is more,
  • With shame of her maiden loss she may spew
  • Her just spite. Yet reason dares her no, for
  • My office bears such credibility
  • That no one scandal can but ruin thee
  • Breather. I should have let Claudio live,
  • Yet his youthful lack of restraint was bad
  • For the times, and his depth of shame would give
  • His life dishonor. Still I wish he had
  • Lived. When once we have forgot our virtue,
  • All goes wrong. What I should not do I do.
  • He exits.
  • Act 4, Scene 5
  • The Duke and Friar Peter are on stage. The Duke gives the Friar papers.
  • DUKE
  • These letters at fit time deliver for me. The Provost knows our purpose and our plot. Go call at Flavius’ house and tell him where I stay. Give the like notice to Valencius, Rowland, and to Crassus. But send Flavius to me first.
  • FRIAR PETER
  • It shall be speeded well.
  • He exits. Varrius, a friend of the Duke’s, enters.
  • DUKE
  • I thank thee, Varrius. Come, we will walk. There’s other of our friends will greet us here soon.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 6
  • Isabella and Mariana are on stage.
  • ISABELLA
  • To speak so dishonestly I am loath. I would speak the truth, but to speak charges against Angelo is your part; yet I am advised by Friar Peter to speak indirectly to it.
  • MARIANA
  • Be ruled by him.
  • ISABELLA
  • Besides, he tells me that, if perchance he speaks against me on the adverse side, I should not think it strange.
  • MARIANA
  • I would Friar Peter ---
  • Friar Peter enters.
  • ISABELLA
  • O peace, the Friar is come.
  • FRIAR PETER
  • Come, I have found a place to stand, where you may have such vantage on the Duke he shall not pass you. The Duke is entering. Therefore hence, away.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 1
  • The duke, Angelo, Escalus, Lucio and others are on stage.
  • DUKE TO ANGELO AND ESCALUS
  • Our old and faithful friends, we are glad to see you.
  • ANGELO AND ESCALUS
  • Happy return be to your royal Grace.
  • DUKE
  • Many and hearty thankings to you both. We hear such goodness of your justice that our soul cannot but yield you forth to public thanks.
  • ANGELO
  • You make my bonds still greater.
  • DUKE
  • Give me your hand and let my subjects see, to make them know that outward courtesies would happily proclaim favors that reside in the heart. Come, Escalus, you must walk by us on our other hand.
  • Friar Peter and Isabella enter.
  • ISABELLA KNEELING
  • O royal duke, look down upon a wronged maid.
  • DUKE
  • In what, by whom? Be brief. Here is Lord Angelo shall give you justice. Reveal yourself to him.
  • ISABELLA
  • O worthy duke, you bid me seek redemption of the devil. Hear me, O hear me, here.
  • ANGELO
  • She hath been a suitor to me for her brother executed by course of justice.
  • ISABELLA STANDING
  • By course of justice!
  • ANGELO
  • And she will speak most bitterly and strange.
  • ISABELLA
  • Most strange, but yet most truly will I speak. That Angelo has broken his oath, is it not strange? That Angelo’s a murderer, is ‘t not strange? That Angelo is an adulterous thief, a hypocrite, a virgin-violator, is it not strange, and strange?
  • DUKE
  • Nay, it is ten times strange.
  • ISABELLA
  • Nay, it is ten times true, for truth is truth to th’ end of reck’ning.
  • DUKE
  • Away with her. Poor soul, she speaks this in th’ infirmity of sense.
  • ISABELLA
  • O prince, I implore thee, that thou neglect me not with that opinion that I am touched with madness. ‘Tis not impossible but that one who is the wicked’st villain on the ground, may seem as shy, as grave, as just, as absolute as Angelo.
  • DUKE
  • By mine honesty, if she be mad her madness hath the oddest frame of sense.
  • ISABELLA
  • O gracious duke, let your reason serve to make the truth appear where it seems hid.
  • DUKE
  • Many that are not mad have, sure, more lack of reason. What would you say?
  • ISABELLA
  • I am the sister of one Claudio, condemned to lose his head, condemned by Angelo, I, on the day I should the cloister enter, was sent to by my brother; one Lucio ----
  • LUCIO
  • That’s I. I came to her from Claudio and requested her to try her gracious fortune with Lord Angelo for her poor brother’s pardon.
  • ISABELLA TO DUKE
  • That’s he indeed.
  • DUKE TO LUCIO
  • You were not bid to speak. Take heed to ‘t.
  • ISABELLA
  • This gentleman told somewhat of my tale.
  • LUCIO
  • Right.
  • DUKE
  • It may be right, but you are i’ the wrong to speak before your time. Proceed.
  • ISABELLA
  • I went to this pernicious villain deputy ---
  • DUKE
  • That’s somewhat madly spoken.
  • ISABELLA
  • Pardon it; the phrase is to the point.
  • DUKE
  • Proceed.
  • ISABELLA
  • In brief: how I persuaded, how I prayed and kneeled, how he rejected me. The vile conclusion I now begin with grief and shame to utter. He would not, but by gift of my chaste body to his desirous, intemperate lust, release my brother; and after much debate, my sisterly remorse overcomes mine honor, and I did yield to him. But the next morn early, he sends a warrant for my poor brother’s head.
  • DUKE
  • This is most likely!
  • ISABELLA
  • O, that it were as like as it is true!
  • DUKE
  • By heaven, fond wretch, thou know’st not what thou speak’st. His integrity stands without blemish. If he had so offended, he would have judged thy brother by himself and not have cut him off. Someone hath incited you. Confess the truth.
  • ISABELLA
  • And is this all? Heaven shield your Grace from woe.
  • DUKE
  • Officer!
  • An Officer comes forward.
  • DUKE
  • To prison with her. Shall we this permit a withering and a scandalous breath to fall on him so near us? Who knew of your intent and coming hither?
  • ISABELLA
  • Friar Lodowick.
  • An Officer exits with Isabella.
  • DUKE
  • Who knows that Lodowick?
  • LUCIO
  • My lord, I know him. ‘Tis a meddling friar. I do not like the man. Certain words he spake against your Grace while you were away.
  • DUKE
  • Words against me? And to set on this wretched woman here against our substitute! Let this friar be found.
  • LUCIO
  • But yesternight, my lord, she and that friar, I saw them at the prison. A saucy friar, a very scurvy fellow.
  • FRIAR PETER TO DUKE
  • I have stood by, my lord, and I have heard your royal ear abused. This woman hath most wrongfully accused your substitute.
  • DUKE
  • We did believe no less. Know you that Friar Lodowick that she speaks of?
  • FRIAR PETER
  • I know him for a man divine and holy, not scurvy, as he’s reported by this gentleman; and on my trust, a man that never yet did misreport your Grace.
  • LUCIO
  • My lord, most villainously, believe it.
  • FRIAR PETER
  • Well, at this instant he is sick, my lord, of a strange fever. Upon his request, that there was complaint intended ‘gainst Lord Angelo, came I hither to speak from the mouth of Friar Lodowick. First, for this woman, to vindicate this worthy nobleman, her shall you hear disapproved to her face till she herself confess it.
  • DUKE
  • Good friar, let’s hear it. Do you not smile at this, Lord Angelo? Come, Angelo, in this I’ll be impartial. Be you judge of your own cause.
  • Duke and Angelo are seated. A veiled Mariana enters.
  • DUKE
  • Let her show her face, and after speak.
  • MARIANA
  • Pardon, my lord, I will not show my face until my husband bid me.
  • DUKE
  • What, are you married?
  • MARIANA
  • No, my lord.
  • DUKE
  • Are you a maid?
  • MARIANA
  • No, my lord.
  • DUKE
  • A widow, then?
  • MARIANA
  • Neither, my lord.
  • DUKE
  • Why you are nothing, then, neither maid, widow nor wife?
  • LUCIO
  • My lord, she may be a prostitute.
  • DUKE
  • Silence that fellow.
  • MARIANA
  • My lord, I do confess I ne’er was married. I have known my husband, yet my husband knows not that ever he knew me.
  • LUCIO
  • He was drunk, then, my lord; it can be no better.
  • DUKE TO LUCIO
  • For the benefit of silence, would thou wert so too.
  • DUKE
  • This is no witness for Lord Angelo.
  • MARIANA
  • Now I come to ‘t, my lord. She that accuses him of fornication doth accuse my husband, and charges him with such a time when, I’ll depose, I had him in mine arms with all th’ effect of love.
  • DUKE
  • You say your husband.
  • MARIANA
  • Why, just, my lord, and that is Angelo, who thinks he knows that he ne’er knew my body, but knows, he thinks, that he knows Isabel’s.
  • ANGELO
  • This is a strange abuse. Let’s see thy face.
  • She removes her veil.
  • MARIANA
  • This is that face, thou cruel Angelo, which once thou swor’st was worth the looking on. This is the body that took away the appointment from Isabel and did supply thee at the garden house in her imagined person.
  • DUKE TO ANGELO
  • Know you this woman?
  • ANGELO
  • My lord, I must confess I know this woman, and five years since there was some speech of marriage betwixt myself and her, which was broke off, partly for that her promised marriage portion fell short of our agreement, but chiefly for that her reputation diminished in value. Since which time of five years I never spake with her, saw her, nor heard from her, upon my faith and honor.
  • Mariana kneels before the Duke.
  • MARIANA
  • Noble prince, I am affianced this man’s wife as strongly as words could make up vows. And, my good lord, but Tuesday night last gone in ‘s garden house he knew me as a wife.
  • ANGELO
  • I did but smile till now. Now, good my lord, give me the freedom to employ justice. Let me have way, my lord, to find this plot out.
  • DUKE
  • Ay, with my heart, and punish them to your height of pleasure. Thou foolish friar, and thou pernicious woman, think’st thou thy oaths were testimonies against his worth. You, Lord Escalus, sit with Angelo; lend him your kind pains to find out this abuse, whence ‘tis derived.
  • The Duke rises. Escalus is seated.
  • DUKE
  • There is another friar that set them on. Let him be sent for.
  • FRIAR PETER
  • Your provost knows the place where he abides, and he may fetch him.
  • DUKE TO PROVOST
  • Go, do it instantly.
  • Provost exits.
  • DUKE TO ANGELO
  • Do with your injuries as seems you best in any chastisement. I for a while will leave you; but stir not you till you have well determined upon these slanders.
  • Duke exits.
  • ESCALUS
  • Signior Lucio, did not you say you knew that Friar Lodowick to be a dishonest person.
  • LUCIO
  • Honest in nothing but in his clothes.
  • ESCALUS
  • We shall entreat you to abide here till he come, and enforce them against him. Call that same Isabel here once again. I would speak with her.
  • An Attendant exits.
  • ESCALUS TO ANGELO
  • Pray you, my lord, give me leave to question.
  • The duke as a Friar, Provost and Isabella with Officers enter.
  • ESCALUS TO ISABELLA
  • Come on, mistress. Here’s a gentlewoman denies all that you have said.
  • ESCALUS TO THE DISGUISED DUKE
  • Come, sir, did you set these women on to slander Lord Angelo? They have confessed you did.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • ‘Tis false.
  • ESCALUS
  • How? Know you where you are?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Where is the Duke? ‘Tis he should hear me speak.
  • ESCALUS
  • The duke’s in us, and we will hear you speak. Look you speak justly.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • O, poor souls, farewell to any hope of help for you. Is the Duke gone? Then is your cause gone too. The Duke’s unjust thus to turn back to Angelo your charge, and put your trial in the villain’s mouth which here you come to accuse.
  • LUCIO
  • This is the rascal I spoke of.
  • ESCALUS TO THE DISGUISED DUKE
  • Why, thou unreverend and impious friar, is ‘t not enough thou hast suborned these women to accuse this worthy man, but to call him villain? To the rack with him. We will know his purpose.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Be not so hot. The duke’s subject I am not, nor a member of this ecclesiastical province. My business in this state made me a looker-on here in Vienna, where I have seen corruption boil and bubble till it o’errun the stew.
  • ESCALUS
  • Slander to th’ state! Away with him to prison.
  • ANGELO
  • Signior Lucio, is this the man that you did tell us of?
  • LUCIO
  • ‘Tis he, my lord. Come hither, friar. Do you know me?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • I met you at the prison in the absence of the Duke.
  • LUCIO
  • O, did you so? And do you remember what you said of the Duke?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Most notedly, sir.
  • LUCIO
  • Do you so, sir? And was the Duke a womanizer, a fool, and a coward, as you then reported him to be?
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • You must, sir, change persons with me ere you make that my report. You indeed spoke so of him, and much more, much worse.
  • LUCIO
  • O, thou damnable fellow!
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • I protest I love the Duke as I love myself.
  • LUCIO
  • Hark how the villain would conclude now, after his treasonous abuses!
  • ESCALUS
  • Such a fellow is not to be talked withal. Away with him to prison. Where is the Provost?
  • Provost comes forward.
  • ESCALUS
  • Away with him to prison. Let him speak no more.
  • Provost seizes the disguised Duke.
  • DUKE AS FRIAR
  • Wait, sir, wait awhile.
  • ANGELO
  • What, resists he? Help him, Lucio.
  • LUCIO TO THE DISGUISED DUKE
  • Come, sir, come sir. You must be hooded, must you? Show your knave’s face, and be hanged in an hour. Will ‘t not off?
  • He pulls off the friar’s hood, and reveals the Duke. Angelo and Escalus stand.
  • DUKE
  • Thou art the first knave that e’er mad’st a duke. First, provost, let me bail gentle Isabella, Mariana, and Friar Peter.
  • DUKE TO LUCIO
  • Sneak not away, sir, for the friar and you must have a word soon. Lay hold on him.
  • LUCIO
  • This may prove worse than hanging.
  • DUKE TO ESCALUS
  • What you have spoke I pardon.
  • DUKE TO ANGELO
  • Sir, hast thou either word, or wit, or impudence that yet can do thee office?
  • ANGELO
  • O my dread lord, I should be guiltier than my guiltiness when your Grace, like power divine, hath looked upon what I have done. Let my trial be mine own confession. Immediate sentence then and death following as a consequence is all the grace I beg.
  • DUKE
  • Come hither, Mariana.
  • Mariana stands and comes forward.
  • DUKE TO ANGELO
  • Say, wast thou e’er contracted to this woman?
  • ANGELO
  • I was, my lord.
  • DUKE
  • Go take her hence and marry her instantly.
  • Angelo, Mariana, Friar Peter, and Provost exit.
  • ESCALUS
  • My lord, I am more amazed at his dishonor than at the strangeness of it.
  • DUKE
  • Come hither, Isabel. Your friar is now your prince. As I was advertising and holy to your business, not changing heart with habit, I am still serving as an agent in your service.
  • ISABELLA
  • O, give me pardon that I have pained your unknown sovereignty.
  • DUKE
  • You are pardoned, Isabel. And now, dear maid, be you as generous to us. Your brother’s death, I know sits at your heart. O most kind maid, it was the swiftness of his death, which I did think with slower foot came on, that destroyed my purpose. But peace be with him. That life is better life past fearing death than that which lives to fear. Make it your comfort, so happy is your brother.
  • ISABELLA
  • I do, my lord.
  • Angelo, Mariana, Friar Peter and Provost enter.
  • DUKE
  • For this new-married man approaching here, you must pardon for Mariana’s sake. But as he condemned your brother, the very mercy of the law cries out most audible “An Angelo for Claudio, death for death.” Haste always repays haste, and deliberation answers deliberation; like will to like, and measure still for measure. Then, Angelo, thy fault’s thus manifested, which, though thou wouldst deny, denies thee benefit. We do condemn thee to the very block where Claudio stooped to death, and with like haste. Away with him.
  • MARIANA
  • O my most gracious lord, I hope you will not mock me with a husband.
  • DUKE
  • It is your husband who mocked you with a husband. In accordance with protection of your honor, I thought your marriage fit. For his possessions, although by confiscation they are ours, we do instate and widow you with all to buy you a better husband.
  • MARIANA
  • O my dear lord, I crave no other nor no better man.
  • DUKE
  • Never crave him. My decision is final.
  • MARIANA KNEELING
  • My gracious sovereign ---
  • DUKE TO LUCIO
  • Now, sir, to you.
  • MARIANA
  • O, my good lord. Sweet Isabel, take my part. Lend me your knees.
  • DUKE
  • Against all sense you do importune her.
  • MARIANA
  • Isabel, sweet Isabel, do yet but kneel by me, hold up your hands, say nothing. I’ll speak all. O Isabel, will you not lend a knee?
  • DUKE
  • He dies for Claudio’s death.
  • ISABELLA KNEELING
  • Most bounteous sir, look on this man condemned as if my brother lived. My brother had but justice, in that he did the thing for which he died. For Angelo, his act did not o’er take his bad intent. Thoughts have no real independent existence; intents are merely thoughts.
  • MARIANA
  • Merely, my lord.
  • DUKE
  • Your suit’s unprofitable. Stand up, I say.
  • They stand.
  • DUKE
  • I have remembered another fault. Provost, how came it Claudio was beheaded at an unusual hour?
  • PROVOST
  • It was commanded so.
  • DUKE
  • Had you a special warrant for the deed?
  • PROVOST
  • No, my good lord, it was by private message.
  • DUKE
  • For which I do discharge you of your office. Give up your keys.
  • PROVOST
  • Pardon me, noble lord. One in the prison that should by private order else have died, I have reserved alive.
  • DUKE
  • Who’s he?
  • PROVOST
  • His name is Barnardine.
  • DUKE
  • I would thou hadst done so by Claudio. Go fetch him hither.
  • Provost exits.
  • ESCALUS TO ANGELO
  • I am sorry one so learned and so wise as you, Lord Angelo, should slip so grossly.
  • ANGELO
  • I am sorry that such sorrow I procure; and so deep sticks it in my heart that I crave death more willingly than mercy.
  • Barnardine, Provost, Claudio (muffled) and Juliet enter.
  • DUKE TO PROVOST
  • Which is that Barnardine?
  • PROVOST
  • This, my lord.
  • DUKE
  • Sirrah, thou’rt condemned. But, for those earthly faults, I quit them all, and pray thee take this mercy to provide for better times to come. What muffled fellow’s that?
  • PROVOST
  • This is another prisoner that I saved who should have died when Claudio lost his head, as like almost to Claudio as himself.
  • He unmuffles Claudio.
  • DUKE TO ISABELLA
  • If he be like your brother, for his sake is he pardoned; and for your lovely sake, give me your hand and say you will be mine, he is my brother too. Well, Angelo, your evil rewards you well. Look that you love your wife; she is worthy to be your wife.
  • DUKE TO LUCIO
  • You, sirrah, that knew me for a fool, a coward, one of lechery, a madman. Wherein have I so deserved of you that you extol me thus?
  • LUCIO
  • Faith, my lord, I spoke it but according to the trick. I rather it would please you I might be whipped.
  • DUKE
  • Whipped first, sir, and hanged after. If any woman he begot with child, let her appear, and he shall marry her. The nuptial finished, let him be whipped and hanged.
  • LUCIO
  • Marrying Kate Keepdown, my lord, is whipping, and hanging.
  • DUKE
  • Slandering a prince deserves it.
  • Officers take Lucio away.
  •  
  • Duke to the Others
  •  
  • See that you reinstate her dignity,
  • Claudio, she that you wronged. To her be
  • Good, Angelo; love her, she a woman
  • Of virtue. Thank you, good friend Escalus.
  • There’s more coming, that’s more pleasing, than can
  • Now be said. For the care of all of us,
  • Thanks, provost; we’ll provide a better sense
  • Of work. Angelo, forgive the offense
  • Of the false head. Isabel, if you would,
  • And if your willing ear doth so incline,
  • I have an offer that concerns your good:
  • What’s mine is yours and what is yours is mine.
  • Friends, join us at our palace, where we’ll show
  • You what’s to come; ‘tis what you all should know.
  • They exit.

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