Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 4

page Act 2 Scene 4 Page 6

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ANGELO

Were not you then as cruel as the sentence
That you have slander’d so?

ANGELO

Then aren’t you as cruel as the sentence you’ve so deplored?

ISABELLA

120Ignomy in ransom and free pardon
Are of two houses: lawful mercy
Is nothing kin to foul redemption.

ISABELLA

A shameful release and an unconditional pardon are two different things. Legal mercy is in no way related to an immoral rescue.

ANGELO

You seem’d of late to make the law a tyrant;
And rather proved the sliding of your brother
125A merriment than a vice.

ANGELO

You said a little while ago the law was tyrannical, arguing that your brother’s sinning was a lighthearted act, not
a vice.

ISABELLA

O, pardon me, my lord; it oft falls out,
To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean:
I something do excuse the thing I hate,
For his advantage that I dearly love.

ISABELLA

Oh, forgive me, my lord. To get what we want, we often say things we don’t mean. I’ve made excuses for something I hate in order to help the brother I love.

ANGELO

130We are all frail.

ANGELO

We’re all weak.

ISABELLA

Else let my brother die,
If not a feodary, but only he
Owe and succeed thy weakness.

ISABELLA

Yes. Otherwise, my brother would deserve to die, if he were the only person to have inherited this weakness.

ANGELO

Nay, women are frail too.

ANGELO

No, women are weak too.

ISABELLA

135Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves;
Which are as easy broke as they make forms.
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,
140And credulous to false prints.

ISABELLA

Yes, as weak their mirrors, which break as easily as they reflect images. Women—Heaven help us!—are ruined by men who take advantage of us. Call us frail ten times over, for we’re as soft as our skin, and gullible.

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