Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 4

page Act 2 Scene 4 Page 5

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ISABELLA

So.

ISABELLA

Yes.

ANGELO

And his offence is so, as it appears,
Accountant to the law upon that pain.

ANGELO

That’s the penalty for his crime, under the law.

ISABELLA

95True.

ISABELLA

True.

ANGELO

Admit no other way to save his life,—
As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
But in the loss of question,—that you, his sister,
Finding yourself desired of such a person,
100Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,
Could fetch your brother from the manacles
Of the all-building law; and that there were
No earthly mean to save him, but that either
You must lay down the treasures of your body
105To this supposed, or else to let him suffer;
What would you do?

ANGELO

Suppose that there was no other way to save his life—not that I’m admitting this, it’s just for the sake of argument—let’s say that you, his sister, were desired by someone whose influence with the judge, or whose own powerful position, could rescue your brother from the law’s binding chains. And there was no other earthly way to save him, unless you gave your virginity to this hypothetical man, or else your brother dies. What would you do?

ISABELLA

As much for my poor brother as myself:
That is, were I under the terms of death,
The impression of keen whips I’ld wear as rubies,
110And strip myself to death, as to a bed
That longing have been sick for, ere I’ld yield
My body up to shame.

ISABELLA

I would do this as much for my poor brother as myself—that is, if I were under a death sentence, I’d strip myself naked and display the whip’s bloody lashes like rubies. And I’d go to my death like going to my bed, before I’d surrender my body to sin.

ANGELO

Then must your brother die.

ANGELO

Then your brother must die.

ISABELLA

And ’twere the cheaper way:
115Better it were a brother died at once,
Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
Should die for ever.

ISABELLA

And that’s the better bargain. Better a brother die once than a sister suffer eternal damnation to save him.

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