Measure for Measure


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Isabella and Francisca, a nun


ISABELLA

And have you nuns no farther privileges?


FRANCISCA

Are not these large enough?


ISABELLA

Yes, truly. I speak not as desiring more,

But rather wishing a more strict restraint

Upon the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare.
votarist (n.) vow-taker, religious, nun / monk

Lucio within


LUCIO

Ho! Peace be in this place.


ISABELLA

                         Who's that which calls?


FRANCISCA

It is a man's voice. Gentle Isabella,
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

Turn you the key, and know his business of him.

You may, I may not; you are yet unsworn.
unsworn (adj.) not subject to vows

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.

He calls again. I pray you, answer him.

Exit


ISABELLA

Peace and prosperity! Who is't that calls?

Enter Lucio
cheek-roses (n.) blushing cheeks


LUCIO

Hail, virgin, if you be, as those cheek-roses

Proclaim you are no less. Can you so stead me
stead (v.) help, assist, benefit

As bring me to the sight of Isabella,

A novice of this place, and the fair sister

To her unhappy brother, Claudio?


ISABELLA

Why ‘ her unhappy brother ’? Let me ask,

The rather for I now must make you know

I am that Isabella, and his sister.


LUCIO

Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets you.
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

Not to be weary with you, he's in prison.
weary (adj.) wearisome, tedious, long-drawn-out


ISABELLA

Woe me, for what?


LUCIO

For that which, if myself might be his judge,

He should receive his punishment in thanks.

He hath got his friend with child.


ISABELLA

Sir, make me not your story.
story (n.) 4 practical joke, theme for mockery


LUCIO

                         It is true.

I would not, though 'tis my familiar sin

With maids to seem the lapwing and to jest,
lapwing (n.) type of plover [bird with wily methods of escaping the notice of predators; associated with amorous intrigue]

Tongue far from heart, play with all virgins so.

I hold you as a thing enskied and sainted,
enskied (adj.) placed in heaven
sainted (adj.) 1 saintly, angelic, of holy character

By your renouncement an immortal spirit
renouncement (n.) renunciation, denial, abandonment [of the world]

And to be talked with in sincerity,

As with a saint.


ISABELLA

You do blaspheme the good in mocking me.


LUCIO

Do not believe it. Fewness and truth, 'tis thus:
fewness and truth in few words and in truth

Your brother and his lover have embraced.

As those that feed grow full, as blossoming time

That from the seedness the bare fallow brings
seedness (n.) action of sowing

To teeming foison, even so her plenteous womb
foison, foizon (n.) 2 harvest, crop
teeming (adj.) pregnant, prolific, overfull

Expresseth his full tilth and husbandry.
tilth (n.) 1 labour of cultivation, agricultural work, husbandry


ISABELLA

Someone with child by him? My cousin Juliet?


LUCIO

Is she your cousin?


ISABELLA

Adoptedly, as school-maids change their names
adoptedly (adv.) through adoption

By vain though apt affection.


LUCIO

                         She it is.


ISABELLA

O, let him marry her.


LUCIO

                         This is the point.

The Duke is very strangely gone from hence,

Bore many gentlemen, myself being one,

In hand and hope of action; but we do learn

By those that know the very nerves of state,

His givings-out were of an infinite distance
giving out (n.) suggestion, intimation, utterance

From his true-meant design. Upon his place,
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count

And with full line of his authority,
line (n.) 3 derived power, scope, warrant

Governs Lord Angelo, a man whose blood

Is very snow-broth, one who never feels
snow-broth (n.) melted snow

The wanton stings and motions of the sense,
sense (n.) 1 senses, sensation, organs of sense
sting (n.) urging of lust, inflaming of passion
wanton (adj.) 3 unrestrained, undisciplined, boisterous, uncontrolled

But doth rebate and blunt his natural edge
edge (n.) 1 ardour, keen desire
natural (adj.) 1 feeling proper affection, having normal feelings
rebate (v.) 2 subdue, moderate, make dull

With profits of the mind, study, and fast.

He, to give fear to use and liberty,
use (n.) 1 usual practice, habit, custom

Which have for long run by the hideous law,

As mice by lions, hath picked out an act,

Under whose heavy sense your brother's life
heavy (adj.) 2 grave, serious, weighty
sense (n.) 8 interpretation, construction, signification

Falls into forfeit; he arrests him on it,

And follows close the rigour of the statute
close (adv.) 1 closely, staying near

To make him an example. All hope is gone,

Unless you have the grace by your fair prayer

To soften Angelo. And that's my pith of business
pith (n.) 2 essence, central point, main purpose

'Twixt you and your poor brother.


ISABELLA

Doth he so seek his life?
censure (v.) 3 pass judgement on, condemn, pronounce sentence on


LUCIO

                         Has censured him

Already and, as I hear, the provost hath

A warrant for his execution.


ISABELLA

Alas, what poor ability's in me

To do him good?
assay (v.) 2 try, test the mettle of, put to the proof


LUCIO

                         Assay the power you have.


ISABELLA

My power? Alas, I doubt.


LUCIO

                         Our doubts are traitors

And make us lose the good we oft might win,
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

By fearing to attempt. Go to Lord Angelo,

And let him learn to know, when maidens sue,

Men give like gods; but when they weep and kneel,

All their petitions are as freely theirs

As they themselves would owe them.
owe (v.) 1 own, possess, have See Topics: Frequency count


ISABELLA

I'll see what I can do.


LUCIO

                         But speedily.


ISABELLA

I will about it straight,
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

No longer staying but to give the Mother
stay (v.) 2 linger, tarry, delay

Notice of my affair. I humbly thank you.

Commend me to my brother. Soon at night
commend (v.) 1 convey greetings, present kind regards See Topics: Frequency count

I'll send him certain word of my success.


LUCIO

I take my leave of you.


ISABELLA

                         Good sir, adieu.

Exeunt

 
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