Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

ISABELLA

Must he needs die?

ISABELLA

Does he have to die?

ANGELO

65Maiden, no remedy.

ANGELO

Miss, there’s no way out.

ISABELLA

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

ISABELLA

Yes, there is. I think that you could pardon him, and no one on heaven or earth would be sorry.

ANGELO

I will not do’t.

ANGELO

I won’t do it.

ISABELLA

But can you, if you would?

ISABELLA

But could you, if you wanted to?

ANGELO

70Look, what I will not, that I cannot do.

ANGELO

Look, what I won’t do, I can’t do.

ISABELLA

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

ISABELLA

But might you do it, without harming the world, if your heart felt as compassionate toward him as mine does?

ANGELO

He’s sentenced; ’tis too late.

ANGELO

He’s sentenced; it’s too late.

LUCIO

75[Aside to ISABELLA] You are too cold.

LUCIO

(aside to ISABELLA) You’re 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,
80The 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,
85Would not have been so stern.

ISABELLA

Too late? why, no—I can speak a word and then take it back. Believe this: no symbol of authority—not the king’s crown, or the deputy’s sword, or the military officer’s baton, or the judge’s robe—makes a person great as much as mercy does. If he’d been you and you’d been him, you would have slipped like he did; but he, in your place, wouldn’t have been so stern.

ANGELO

Pray you, be gone.

ANGELO

Please leave.