Measure for Measure

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Angelo


When I would pray and think, I think and pray

To several subjects: heaven hath my empty words,
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count

Whilst my invention, hearing not my tongue,
invention (n.) 2 mind, thought, imagination

Anchors on Isabel: God in my mouth,
anchor (v.) 1 concentrate, fix attention, home in

As if I did but only chew His name,
chew (v.) 2 keep repeating, mumble over

And in my heart the strong and swelling evil

Of my conception. The state, whereon I studied,
conception (n.) 1 design, plan, notion
study (v.) 1 deliberate, meditate, reflect [on]

Is like a good thing, being often read,

Grown seared and tedious; yea, my gravity,
gravity (n.) 1 respectability, authority, dignified position
seared (adj.) 1 withered, wilting, declining

Wherein, let no man hear me, I take pride,

Could I, with boot, change for an idle plume
boot (n.) 1 good, advantage, profit

Which the air beats for vain. O place, O form,
form (n.) 7 position, rank, status
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count
vain, for in vain, to no purpose

How often dost thou with thy case, thy habit,
case (n.) 5 outer covering, surface appearance
habit (n.) 2 covering, guise, adorning

Wrench awe from fools, and tie the wiser souls

To thy false seeming! Blood, thou art blood;
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]
false (adj.) 3 sham, spurious, not genuine, artificial
seeming (n.) 2 deceptive appearance, two-faced behaviour, pretence

Let's write ‘ good Angel ’ on the devil's horn,

'Tis not the devil's crest – How now? Who's there?

Enter Servant


One Isabel, a sister, desires access to you.


Teach her the way.

Exit Servant
teach (v.) 2 show, point out to

                         O heavens,

Why does my blood thus muster to my heart,
muster (v.) 1 assemble, gather together [at], rush

Making both it unable for itself,

And dispossessing all my other parts

Of necessary fitness?

So play the foolish throngs with one that swoons,

Come all to help him, and so stop the air

By which he should revive; and even so

The general, subject to a well-wished king,
general (n.) 1 ordinary people, general public, populace
subject (n.) 1 subjects, people [of a state]
well-wished (adj.) accompanied by good wishes, much loved

Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
fondness (n.) foolish affection, naive devotion
obsequious (adj.) 2 devoted, compliant, ready to please
part (n.) 5 territory, region, province

Crowd to his presence, where their untaught love
untaught (adj.) 2 natural, spontaneous

Must needs appear offence.

Enter Isabella

                         How now, fair maid?


I am come to know your pleasure.


That you might know it, would much better please me

Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot live.


Even so. Heaven keep your honour.


Yet may he live a while; and it may be

As long as you or I, yet he must die.


Under your sentence?




When, I beseech you? That in his reprieve,

Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted

That his soul sicken not.


Ha! fie, these filthy vices! It were as good

To pardon him that hath from nature stol'n

A man already made as to remit

Their saucy sweetness that do coin God's image
coin (v.) 1 create, make [as in minting a coin]
saucy (adj.) 2 lecherous, lascivious, lustful
sweetness (n.) delight, pleasure, charm

In stamps that are forbid: 'tis all as easy
stamp (n.) 2 coin, impression [of the monarch's head] made on a coin

Falsely to take away a life true made

As to put metal in restrained means
mean (n.) 3 (plural) manner, mode, method
restrained (adj.) forbidden, prohibited, banned

To make a false one.
false (adj.) 3 sham, spurious, not genuine, artificial


'Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.


Say you so? Then I shall pose you quickly.
pose (v.) baffle, confuse, confound

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?


                         Sir, believe this,

I had rather give my body than my soul.


I talk not of your soul. Our compelled sins
compelled (adj.) 1 constrained, forced, of necessity

Stand more for number than accompt.
account, accompt (n.) 1 reckoning, judgement [especially by God]


                         How say you?


Nay, I'll not warrant that, for I can speak
warrant (v.) 2 authorize, sanction, license
warrant (v.) 4 justify, defend, stand up for

Against the thing I say. Answer to this:

I, now the voice of the recorded law,

Pronounce a sentence on your brother's life;

Might there not be a charity in sin

To save this brother's life?


                         Please you to do't,

I'll take it as a peril to my soul;

It is no sin at all, but charity.


Pleased you to do't, at peril of your soul,

Were equal poise of sin and charity.
poise (n.) 1 balance of weight, equipoise


That I do beg his life, if it be sin,

Heaven let me bear it; you granting of my suit,
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

If that be sin, I'll make it my morn prayer
morn (n.) morning, dawn See Topics: Frequency count

To have it added to the faults of mine

And nothing of your answer.
answer (n.) 6 accountability, responsibility, liability, penalty


                         Nay, but hear me;

Your sense pursues not mine. Either you are ignorant,

Or seem so craftily; and that's not good.


Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good

But graciously to know I am no better.
graciously (adv.) through divine grace, in all holiness


Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright

When it doth tax itself, as these black masks
tax (v.) 1 censure, blame, take to task, disparage

Proclaim an enshield beauty ten times louder
enshield (adj.) shielded, defended

Than beauty could, displayed. But mark me;
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

To be received plain, I'll speak more gross:
gross (adv.) plainly, obviously, explicitly
receive (v.) 2 understand, take in, comprehend

Your brother is to die.




And his offence is so, as it appears,

Accountant to the law upon that pain.
accountant (adj.) accountable, responsible, answerable




Admit no other way to save his life –

As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
subscribe (v.) 1 concur, consent, give assent

But in the loss of question – that you, his sister,
question (n.) 1 argument, contention, dispute

Finding yourself desired of such a person

Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count

Could fetch your brother from the manacles
fetch (v.) 5 rescue, save, deliver

Of the all-binding law; and that there were

No earthly mean to save him, but that either
mean (n.) 1 means, way, method

You must lay down the treasures of your body

To this supposed, or else to let him suffer,

What would you do?


As much for my poor brother as myself:

That is, were I under the terms of death,
term (n.) 3 state, condition, circumstance

Th' impression of keen whips I'd wear as rubies,

And strip myself to death as to a bed

That long I have been sick for, ere I'd yield
sick (adj.) 1 longing, pining, avid

My body up to shame.


                         Then must your brother die.


And 'twere the cheaper way.

Better it were a brother died at once

Than that a sister, by redeeming him,

Should die for ever.


Were not you then as cruel as the sentence

That you have slandered so?


Ignomy in ransom and free pardon
ignomy (n.) ignominy, dishonour, shame

Are of two houses: lawful mercy is
house (n.) 3 ancestry, lineage, family

Nothing kin to foul redemption.


You seemed of late to make the law a tyrant,
late, of recently, a little while ago

And rather proved the sliding of your brother
sliding (n.) sinfulness, lapse, moral fall

A merriment than a vice.


O pardon me, my lord; it oft falls out
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean.

I something do excuse the thing I hate
something (adv.) 1 somewhat, rather See Topics: Frequency count

For his advantage that I dearly love.


We are all frail.


                         Else let my brother die,

If not a fedary, but only he
fedary, federary, feodary (n.) confederate, accomplice, accessory

Owe and succeed thy weakness.
owe (v.) 1 own, possess, have See Topics: Frequency count
succeed (v.) 4 inherit, come into possession of, be heir to


Nay, women are frail too.


Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves,
glass (n.) 1 mirror, looking-glass See Topics: Frequency count

Which are as easy broke as they make forms.
form (n.) 1 image, likeness, shape

Women, help heaven! Men their creation mar

In profiting by them. Nay, call us ten times frail,

For we are soft as our complexions are,

And credulous to false prints.
credulous (adj.) 1 highly receptive, readily accepting [of]
false (adj.) 3 sham, spurious, not genuine, artificial
print (n.) imprint, image, stamped impression


                         I think it well.

And from this testimony of your own sex –

Since I suppose we are made to be no stronger

Than faults may shake our frames – let me be bold.

I do arrest your words. Be that you are,
arrest (v.) 2 seize, take hold of, lay hold upon

That is, a woman; if you be more, you're none.

If you be one, as you are well expressed
express (v.) show, reveal, display

By all external warrants, show it now,
warrant (n.) 3 token, sign, evidence, proof

By putting on the destined livery.
livery (n.) 1 uniform, costume, special clothing See Topics: Frequency count


I have no tongue but one. Gentle my lord,

Let me entreat you speak the former language.


Plainly conceive, I love you.
conceive (v.) 1 understand, comprehend, follow


My brother did love Juliet,

And you tell me that he shall die for't.


He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.


I know your virtue hath a licence in't,
licence (n.) 1 authority to act, freedom of action

Which seems a little fouler than it is,

To pluck on others.
pluck on (v.) 2 test, make a trial of


                         Believe me, on mine honour,

My words express my purpose.
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count


Ha! Little honour to be much believed,

And most pernicious purpose. Seeming, seeming!
seeming (n.) 2 deceptive appearance, two-faced behaviour, pretence

I will proclaim thee, Angelo, look for't!
proclaim (v.) 1 denounce, make one's wickedness known

Sign me a present pardon for my brother,

Or with an outstretched throat I'll tell the world
outstretched (adj.) 2 opened wide, fully distended

What man thou art.


                         Who will believe thee, Isabel?

My unsoiled name, th' austereness of my life,

My vouch against you, and my place i'th' state,
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count
vouch (n.) 1 formal statement, attestation, express declaration

Will so your accusation overweigh
overweigh (v.) outweigh, exceed, prevail over

That you shall stifle in your own report

And smell of calumny. I have begun,

And now I give my sensual race the rein.
race (n.) 1 inherited nature, natural disposition

Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite,
sharp (adj.) 5 ardent, keen, fervent

Lay by all nicety and prolixious blushes,
nicety (n.) coyness, shyness, reserve
prolixious (adj.) time-wasting, tedious, protracted

That banish what they sue for. Redeem thy brother

By yielding up thy body to my will,
will (n.) 2 lust, sexual desire, passion

Or else he must not only die the death,

But thy unkindness shall his death draw out
unkindness (n.) 3 unnatural behaviour, abnormal conduct

To lingering sufferance. Answer me tomorrow,
sufferance (n.) 1 distress, suffering, hardship

Or, by the affection that now guides me most,
affection (n.) 3 desire, passion, lustful feeling

I'll prove a tyrant to him. As for you,

Say what you can, my false o'erweighs your true.
overweigh (v.) outweigh, exceed, prevail over



To whom should I complain? Did I tell this,

Who would believe me? O perilous mouths,

That bear in them one and the selfsame tongue,

Either of condemnation or approof,
approof (n.) 2 approval, approbation, sanction

Bidding the law make curtsy to their will,

Hooking both right and wrong to th' appetite,

To follow as it draws. I'll to my brother.

Though he hath fall'n by prompture of the blood,
prompture (n.) prompting, instigation, urging

Yet hath he in him such a mind of honour

That, had he twenty heads to tender down
tender down (v.) offer, proffer, present

On twenty bloody blocks, he'd yield them up,

Before his sister should her body stoop
stoop (v.) 1 kneel, submit, bow down

To such abhorred pollution.

Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die.

More than our brother is our chastity.

I'll tell him yet of Angelo's request,

And fit his mind to death, for his soul's rest.


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