Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare that was first performed in 1604. Read Measure for Measure here, with side-by-side No Fear translations into modern English.
Duke Vincentio grants Angelo the temporary leadership of Vienna. Angelo refuses, asking the Duke to test his skill in some smaller way first, but the Duke tells him that his mind is already made up.
Claudio has been arrested for having premarital sex with his fiancée, Juliet. Claudio believes that the Duke would help appeal his case, but the Duke has gone missing, so Claudio enlists the help of his sister, Isabella, who has just joined a convent.
The Duke asks Friar Thomas to hide him at his monastery and let the Duke disguise himself as a visiting friar. The Duke wants to secretly observe Angelo.
Lucio finds Isabella and tells her that Angelo plans to execute her brother to make an example of him. Lucio says she should visit Angelo to convince him to have mercy on her brother, which Isabella agrees to do.
Angelo and Escalus discuss the merits of strictly enforcing the law, and Angelo claims that if he ever did wrong, he would want the law to treat him strictly. Elbow brings in two men, Froth and Pompey, who were found at a brothel.
Under Lucio’s guidance, Isabella makes her plea to Angelo to spare Claudio’s life, which Angelo agrees to consider. When he is alone, Angelo observes that he has a sexual desire for Isabella, which confuses him.
The Duke, still disguised as a friar, meets with Juliet, who repents of her sexual sin, but genuinely loves Claudio. The Duke tells her that he is going to visit Claudio, who must die tomorrow, and Juliet expresses her sorrow.
Angelo tells Isabella that he will pardon her brother if she agrees to have sex with him. Isabella is furious at the proposal and says that she will tell everyone what Angelo has asked of her, if he doesn’t pardon Claudio.
Isabella tells Claudio about Angelo’s proposal, and Claudio asks her to do it, sparking a horrified refusal from Isabella. The Duke, still disguised as a friar, takes Isabella aside and tells her to accept Angelo’s offer, but that they will replace her with Mariana, Angelo’s fiancée.
Pompey and Mistress Overdone are brought to prison. Lucio debates with the Duke, still disguised as a friar, about whether this new crackdown is for the good of the city or not.
The Duke meets with Isabella and Mariana to go over their plan for Mariana to have sex with Angelo while disguised as Isabella. The Duke tells Mariana that she is not committing a sin, since she and Angelo had a contract of marriage.
The Duke asks the Provost to delay Claudio’s execution for four days. Since the execution is supposed to take place tomorrow morning, the Duke says that they should execute another condemned man, Barnadine, in Claudio’s place, and then send the head to Angelo as proof.
Barnadine doesn’t want to be executed, so the Duke decides to use the head of a pirate instead. The Duke tells Isabella and Lucio that Claudio has been executed, but that they shouldn’t confront Angelo until the Duke comes back to town.
Angelo and Escalus have received a letter from the Duke stating that anyone with a complaint should present a petition in the street. Angelo hopes that Isabella will be too embarrassed that he raped her to tell what has happened.
The Duke arrives outside the town, in his own clothes, with Friar Peter. He tells the friar to deliver some letters, and also to bring Flavius to him.
Isabella and Mariana stand by the city gate. Isabella is nervous about accusing Angelo, but Mariana tells her to obey the Duke and the Friar.
The Duke arrives and hears Isabella’s story, though he pretends not to believe her and orders her sent to prison. Then the Duke's plan comes together, with Angelo marrying Mariana, himself marrying Isabella, and Claudio and Juliet pardoned.
Understanding the Bard is hard, but the No Fear Shakespeare guide for Measure for Measure makes it easy!