Measure for Measure - Act 3, scene 1
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Act 3, scene 1
The duke, in his guise of “Friar,” persuades Claudio that death is preferable to life. When Isabella tells Claudio that he can be freed if she yields her virginity to Angelo, Claudio decides that he wants to live even on these terms. Isabella is horrified. The “Friar,” who has been eavesdropping, tells Isabella of a way to save both Claudio and her own honor: they will get Angelo’s abandoned fiancée to sleep with Angelo in Isabella’s place.Enter Duke ⌜as a Friar,⌝ Claudio, and Provost.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝
1209 So then you hope of pardon from Lord Angelo?
1210 The miserable have no other medicine
1211 But only hope.
1212 I have hope to live and am prepared to die.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝
1213 5 Be absolute for death. Either death or life
1214 Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life:
1215 If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
1216 That none but fools would keep. A breath thou art,
1217 Servile to all the skyey influences
1218 10 That ⌜doth⌝ this habitation where thou keep’st
1219 Hourly afflict. Merely, thou art death’s fool,
1220 For him thou labor’st by thy flight to shun,
1221 And yet runn’st toward him still. Thou art not noble,
1222 For all th’ accommodations that thou bear’st
1223 15 Are nursed by baseness. Thou ’rt by no means
1225 For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
1226 Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is sleep,
1227 And that thou oft provok’st, yet grossly fear’st
1228 20 Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself,
1229 For thou exists on many a thousand grains
1231 For what thou hast not, still thou striv’st to get,
1232 And what thou hast, forget’st. Thou art not certain,
1233 25 For thy complexion shifts to strange effects
1234 After the moon. If thou art rich, thou ’rt poor,
1235 For, like an ass whose back with ingots bows,
1236 Thou bear’st thy heavy riches but a journey,
1237 And death unloads thee. Friend hast thou none,
1238 30 For thine own bowels which do call thee ⌜sire,⌝
1239 The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
1240 Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum
1241 For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth nor
1243 35 But as it were an after-dinner’s sleep
1244 Dreaming on both, for all thy blessèd youth
1245 Becomes as agèd and doth beg the alms
1246 Of palsied eld; and when thou art old and rich,
1247 Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty
1248 40 To make thy riches pleasant. What’s yet in this
1249 That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
1250 Lie hid more thousand deaths; yet death we fear,
1251 That makes these odds all even.
CLAUDIO 1252 I humbly thank you.
1253 45 To sue to live, I find I seek to die,
1254 And seeking death, find life. Let it come on.
1255 What ho! Peace here, grace, and good company.
1256 Who’s there? Come in. The wish deserves a welcome.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar, to Claudio⌝
1257 Dear sir, ere long I’ll visit you again.
CLAUDIO 1258 50Most holy sir, I thank you.
ISABELLA, ⌜to Provost⌝
1259 My business is a word or two with Claudio.
1260 And very welcome.—Look, signior, here’s your
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1262 Provost, a word with you.
PROVOST 1263 55As many as you please.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar, aside to Provost⌝
1264 Bring ⌜me⌝ to hear ⌜them⌝ speak, where I may be
⌜Duke and Provost exit.⌝
CLAUDIO 1266 Now, sister, what’s the comfort?
ISABELLA 1267 Why,
1268 60 As all comforts are, most good, most good indeed.
1269 Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,
1270 Intends you for his swift ambassador,
1271 Where you shall be an everlasting leiger;
1272 Therefore your best appointment make with speed.
1273 65 Tomorrow you set on.
CLAUDIO 1274 Is there no remedy?
1275 None but such remedy as, to save a head,
1276 To cleave a heart in twain.
CLAUDIO 1277 But is there any?
ISABELLA 1278 70Yes, brother, you may live.
1279 There is a devilish mercy in the judge,
1280 If you’ll implore it, that will free your life
1281 But fetter you till death.
CLAUDIO 1282 Perpetual durance?
1283 75 Ay, just; perpetual durance, a restraint,
1284 ⌜Though⌝ all the world’s vastidity you had,
1285 To a determined scope.
CLAUDIO 1286 But in what nature?
1287 In such a one as, you consenting to ’t,
1288 80 Would bark your honor from that trunk you bear
1289 And leave you naked.
1291 O, I do fear thee, Claudio, and I quake
1292 Lest thou a feverous life shouldst entertain,
1293 85 And six or seven winters more respect
1294 Than a perpetual honor. Dar’st thou die?
1295 The sense of death is most in apprehension,
1296 And the poor beetle that we tread upon
1297 In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
1298 90 As when a giant dies.
CLAUDIO 1299 Why give you me this shame?
1300 Think you I can a resolution fetch
1301 From flowery tenderness? If I must die,
1302 I will encounter darkness as a bride,
1303 95 And hug it in mine arms.
1304 There spake my brother! There my father’s grave
1305 Did utter forth a voice. Yes, thou must die.
1306 Thou art too noble to conserve a life
1307 In base appliances. This outward-sainted deputy—
1308 100 Whose settled visage and deliberate word
1309 Nips youth i’ th’ head, and follies doth ⌜enew⌝
1310 As falcon doth the fowl—is yet a devil.
1311 His filth within being cast, he would appear
1312 A pond as deep as hell.
CLAUDIO 1313 105 The prenzie Angelo?
1314 O, ’tis the cunning livery of hell
1315 The damned’st body to invest and cover
1316 In prenzie guards. Dost thou think, Claudio,
1317 If I would yield him my virginity
1318 110 Thou mightst be freed?
CLAUDIO 1319 O heavens, it cannot be!
1320 Yes, he would give ’t thee; from this rank offense,
1321 So to offend him still. This night’s the time
1323 115 Or else thou diest tomorrow.
CLAUDIO 1324 Thou shalt not do ’t.
ISABELLA 1325 O, were it but my life,
1326 I’d throw it down for your deliverance
1327 As frankly as a pin.
CLAUDIO 1328 120 Thanks, dear Isabel.
1329 Be ready, Claudio, for your death tomorrow.
CLAUDIO 1330 Yes. Has he affections in him
1331 That thus can make him bite the law by th’ nose,
1332 When he would force it? Sure it is no sin,
1333 125 Or of the deadly seven it is the least.
ISABELLA 1334 Which is the least?
1335 If it were damnable, he being so wise,
1336 Why would he for the momentary trick
1337 Be perdurably fined? O, Isabel—
1338 130 What says my brother?
CLAUDIO 1339 Death is a fearful thing.
ISABELLA 1340 And shamèd life a hateful.
1341 Ay, but to die, and go we know not where,
1342 To lie in cold obstruction and to rot,
1343 135 This sensible warm motion to become
1344 A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
1345 To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
1346 In thrilling region of thick-ribbèd ice,
1347 To be imprisoned in the viewless winds
1348 140 And blown with restless violence round about
1349 The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
1350 Of those that lawless and incertain thought
1351 Imagine howling—’tis too horrible.
1352 The weariest and most loathèd worldly life
1353 145 That age, ache, ⌜penury,⌝ and imprisonment
1355 To what we fear of death.
ISABELLA 1356 Alas, alas!
CLAUDIO 1357 Sweet sister, let me live.
1358 150 What sin you do to save a brother’s life,
1359 Nature dispenses with the deed so far
1360 That it becomes a virtue.
ISABELLA 1361 O, you beast!
1362 O faithless coward, O dishonest wretch,
1363 155 Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
1364 Is ’t not a kind of incest to take life
1365 From thine own sister’s shame? What should I think?
1366 Heaven shield my mother played my father fair,
1367 For such a warpèd slip of wilderness
1368 160 Ne’er issued from his blood. Take my defiance;
1369 Die, perish. Might but my bending down
1370 Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed.
1371 I’ll pray a thousand prayers for thy death,
1372 No word to save thee.
CLAUDIO 1373 165 Nay, hear me, Isabel—
ISABELLA 1374 O, fie, fie, fie!
1375 Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade.
1376 Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd.
1377 ’Tis best that thou diest quickly.
CLAUDIO 1378 170O, hear me, Isabella—
⌜Enter Duke as a Friar.⌝
DUKE, ⌜as Friar, to Isabella⌝
1379 Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.
ISABELLA 1380 What is your will?
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1381 Might you dispense with your leisure, I
1382 would by and by have some speech with you. The
1383 175 satisfaction I would require is likewise your own
ISABELLA 1385 I have no superfluous leisure. My stay must
DUKE, ⌜as Friar, taking Claudio aside⌝ 1388 180Son, I have overheard
1389 what hath passed between you and your
1390 sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her;
1391 only he hath made an assay of her virtue, to practice
1392 his judgment with the disposition of natures. She,
1393 185 having the truth of honor in her, hath made him
1394 that gracious denial which he is most glad to
1395 receive. I am confessor to Angelo, and I know this
1396 to be true. Therefore prepare yourself to death. Do
1397 not satisfy your resolution with hopes that are
1398 190 fallible. Tomorrow you must die. Go to your knees
1399 and make ready.
CLAUDIO 1400 Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of
1401 love with life that I will sue to be rid of it.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1402 Hold you there. Farewell.—Provost, a
1403 195 word with you.
PROVOST 1404 What’s your will, father?
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1405 That now you are come, you will be
1406 gone. Leave me awhile with the maid. My mind
1407 promises with my habit no loss shall touch her by
1408 200 my company.
PROVOST 1409 In good time.He exits, ⌜with Claudio.⌝
DUKE, ⌜as Friar, to Isabella⌝ 1410 The hand that hath made
1411 you fair hath made you good. The goodness that is
1412 cheap in beauty makes beauty brief in goodness,
1413 205 but grace, being the soul of your complexion, shall
1414 keep the body of it ever fair. The assault that Angelo
1415 hath made to you, fortune hath conveyed to my
1416 understanding; and but that frailty hath examples
1417 for his falling, I should wonder at Angelo. How will
1418 210 you do to content this substitute and to save your
1421 my brother die by the law than my son should be
1422 unlawfully born. But, O, how much is the good
1423 215 duke deceived in Angelo! If ever he return, and I
1424 can speak to him, I will open my lips in vain, or
1425 discover his government.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1426 That shall not be much amiss. Yet, as
1427 the matter now stands, he will avoid your accusation:
1428 220 he made trial of you only. Therefore, fasten
1429 your ear on my advisings. To the love I have in doing
1430 good, a remedy presents itself. I do make myself
1431 believe that you may most uprighteously do a poor
1432 wronged lady a merited benefit, redeem your brother
1433 225 from the angry law, do no stain to your own
1434 gracious person, and much please the absent duke,
1435 if peradventure he shall ever return to have hearing
1436 of this business.
ISABELLA 1437 Let me hear you speak farther. I have spirit to
1438 230 do anything that appears not foul in the truth of my
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1440 Virtue is bold, and goodness never
1441 fearful. Have you not heard speak of Mariana, the
1442 sister of Frederick, the great soldier who miscarried
1443 235 at sea?
ISABELLA 1444 I have heard of the lady, and good words
1445 went with her name.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1446 She should this Angelo have married,
1447 was affianced to her oath, and the nuptial appointed.
1448 240 Between which time of the contract and
1449 limit of the solemnity, her brother Frederick was
1450 wracked at sea, having in that perished vessel the
1451 dowry of his sister. But mark how heavily this befell
1452 to the poor gentlewoman. There she lost a noble
1453 245 and renowned brother, in his love toward her ever
1454 most kind and natural; with him, the portion and
1455 sinew of her fortune, her marriage dowry; with
ISABELLA 1458 250Can this be so? Did Angelo so leave her?
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1459 Left her in her tears and dried not one
1460 of them with his comfort, swallowed his vows
1461 whole, pretending in her discoveries of dishonor; in
1462 few, bestowed her on her own lamentation, which
1463 255 she yet wears for his sake; and he, a marble to her
1464 tears, is washed with them but relents not.
ISABELLA 1465 What a merit were it in death to take this
1466 poor maid from the world! What corruption in this
1467 life, that it will let this man live! But how out of this
1468 260 can she avail?
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1469 It is a rupture that you may easily heal,
1470 and the cure of it not only saves your brother, but
1471 keeps you from dishonor in doing it.
ISABELLA 1472 Show me how, good father.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1473 265This forenamed maid hath yet in her
1474 the continuance of her first affection. His unjust
1475 unkindness, that in all reason should have
1476 quenched her love, hath, like an impediment in the
1477 current, made it more violent and unruly. Go you to
1478 270 Angelo, answer his requiring with a plausible obedience,
1479 agree with his demands to the point. Only
1480 refer yourself to this advantage: first, that your stay
1481 with him may not be long, that the time may have all
1482 shadow and silence in it, and the place answer to
1483 275 convenience. This being granted in course, and
1484 now follows all: we shall advise this wronged maid
1485 to stead up your appointment, go in your place. If
1486 the encounter acknowledge itself hereafter, it may
1487 compel him to her recompense; and here, by this, is
1488 280 your brother saved, your honor untainted, the poor
1489 Mariana advantaged, and the corrupt deputy
1490 scaled. The maid will I frame and make fit for his
1491 attempt. If you think well to carry this as you may,
1493 285 from reproof. What think you of it?
ISABELLA 1494 The image of it gives me content already, and
1495 I trust it will grow to a most prosperous perfection.
DUKE, ⌜as Friar⌝ 1496 It lies much in your holding up. Haste
1497 you speedily to Angelo. If for this night he entreat
1498 290 you to his bed, give him promise of satisfaction. I
1499 will presently to Saint Luke’s. There at the moated
1500 grange resides this dejected Mariana. At that place
1501 call upon me, and dispatch with Angelo that it may
1502 be quickly.
ISABELLA 1503 295I thank you for this comfort. Fare you well,
1504 good father.
She exits. ⌜The Duke remains.⌝