A scene for 3 characters from the play "Measure for Measure" by William Shakespeare

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About this Monologue

  • Characters: Angelo?Isabella?Lucio??
  • Scene type / Who are: Strangers
  • Type: Serio-comic
  • Period: Renaissance
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Description: Isabella tries to convince Angelo not to execute her brother Claudio
  • Location: ACT II, Scene 2

Summary

The play is set in Vienna. In the beginning of the play the Duke of Vienna pretends to leave town and leaves his authority temporarily to Lord Angelo, who starts governing very strictly, as a tyrant. One of his decisions is to arrest and sentence to death a young man, Claudio, for impregnating his girlfriend, Juliet, before marriage.

In this scene Claudio's sister, Isabella, a chaste and spiritual girl who wants to become a nun, meets Lord Angelo in his house in the presence of Lucio, a friend of Claudio and a comical character (Lucio provides the comic elements in this scene as he advices Isabella on how to persuade ...

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Excerpt

[A room in Angelo's house.]

ANGELO
[To ISABELLA]
You're welcome: what's your will?

ISABELLA
I am a woeful suitor to your honour,
Please but your honour hear me.

ANGELO
Well; what's your suit?

ISABELLA
There is a vice that most I do abhor,
And most desire should meet the blow of justice;
For which I would not plead, but that I must;
For which I must not plead, but that I am
At war 'twixt will and will not.

ANGELO
Well; the matter?

ISABELLA
I have a brother is condemn'd 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 condemn'd ere it be done:
Mine were the very cipher of a function,
To fine the faults whose fine stands in record,
And let go by the actor.

ISABELLA
O just but severe law!
I had a brother, then. Heaven keep your honour!

LUCIO
[Aside to ISABELLA] Give't not o'er so: to him
again, entreat him;
Kneel down before him, hang upon his gown:
You are too cold; if you should need a pin,
You could not with more tame a tongue desire it:
To him, I say!

ISABELLA
Must he needs die?

ANGELO
Maiden, no remedy.

ISABELLA
Yes; I do think that you might pardon him,
And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.

ANGELO
I will not do't.

ISABELLA
But can you, if you would?

ANGELO
Look, what I will not, that I cannot do.

ISABELLA
But might you do't, and do the world no wrong,
If so your heart were touch'd with that remorse
A s mine is to him?

ANGELO
He's sentenced; 'tis too late.

LUCIO
[Aside to ISABELLA] You are too cold.

ISABELLA
Too late? why, no; I, that do speak a word.
May call it back again. Well, believe this,
No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,
Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does.
If he had been as you and you as he,
You would have slipt like him; but he, like you,
Would not have been so stern.

ANGELO
Pray you, be gone.

ISABELLA
I would to heaven I had your potency,
And you were Isabel! should it then be thus?
No; I would tell what 'twere to be a judge,
And what a prisoner.

LUCIO
[Aside to ISABELLA]
Ay, touch him; there's the vein.

ANGELO
Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
And you but waste your words.

ISABELLA
Alas, alas!
Why, all the souls that were were forfeit once;
And He that might the vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be,
If He, which is the top of judgment, should
But judge you as you are? O, think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.

ANGELO
Be you content, fair maid;
It is the law, not I condemn your brother:
Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son,
It should be thus with him: he must die tomorrow.

ISABELLA
To-morrow! O, that's sudden! Spare him, spare him!
He's not prepared for death. Even for our kitchens
We kill the fowl of season: shall we serve heaven
With less respect than we do minister
To our gross selves? Good, good my lord, bethink you;
Who is it that hath died for this offence?
There's many have committed it.

LUCIO
[Aside to ISABELLA] Ay, well said.

ANGELO
The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept:
Those many had not dared to do that evil,
If the first that did the edict infringe
Had answer'd for his deed: now 'tis awake
Takes note of what is done; and, like a prophet,
Looks in a glass, that shows what future evils,
Either new, or by remissness new-conceived,
And so in progress to be hatch'd and born,
Are now to have no successive degrees,
But, ere they live, to end.

ISABELLA
Yet show some pity.

ANGELO
I show it most of all when I show justice;
For then I pity those I do not know,
Which a dismiss'd offence would after gall;
And do him right that, answering one foul wrong,
Lives not to act another. Be satisfied;
Your brother dies to-morrow; be content.

ISABELLA
So you must be the first that gives this sentence,
And he, that suffer's. 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
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet,
For every pelting, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder;
Nothing but thunder! Merciful Heaven,
Thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt
Split'st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle: but man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.

LUCIO
[Aside to ISABELLA] O, to him, to him, wench! he
will relent;
He's coming; I perceive 't.

[Provost
[Aside] Pray heaven she win him!]

ISABELLA
We cannot weigh our brother with ourself:
Great men may jest with saints; 'tis wit in them,
But in the less foul profanation.

LUCIO
Thou'rt i' the right, girl; more o, that.

ISABELLA
That in the captain's but a choleric word,
Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.

LUCIO
[Aside to ISABELLA] Art avised o' that? more on 't.

ANGELO
Why do you put these sayings upon me?

ISABELLA
Because authority, though it err like others,
Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself,
That skins the vice o' the top. Go to your bosom;
Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know
That's like my brother's fault: if it confess
A natural guiltiness such as is his,
Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
Against my brother's life.

ANGELO
[Aside] She speaks, and 'tis
Such sense, that my sense breeds with it. Fare you well.

ISABELLA
Gentle my lord, turn back.

ANGELO
I will bethink me: come again tomorrow.

ISABELLA
Hark how I'll bribe you: good my lord, turn back.

ANGELO
How! bribe me?

ISABELLA
Ay, with such gifts that heaven shall share with you.

LUCIO
[Aside to ISABELLA] You had marr'd all else.

ISABELLA
Not with fond shekels of the tested gold,
Or stones whose rates are either rich or poor
As fancy values them; but with true prayers
That shall be up at heaven and enter there
Ere sun-rise, prayers from preserved souls,
From fasting maids whose minds are dedicate
To nothing temporal.

ANGELO
Well; come to me to-morrow.

LUCIO
[Aside to ISABELLA] Go to; 'tis well; away!

ISABELLA
Heaven keep your honour safe!

ANGELO
[Aside] Amen:
For I am that way going to temptation,
Where prayers cross.

ISABELLA
At what hour to-morrow
Shall I attend your lordship?

ANGELO
At any time 'fore noon.

ISABELLA
'Save your honour!

[Exeunt ISABELLA, LUCIO]

Comments

Administrator

The scene had originally 4 characters, including the Provost, but he has minimal dialogue. The scene can also be performed with only 2 characters, Angelo and Isabella, but it would lose it's comical element. The scene has also a soliloquy by Angelo at the end that has been omitted.



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