Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

The street before the prison.
The street outside the prison.
Enter, on one side, DUKE VINCENTIO disguised as before; on the other, ELBOW, and Officers with POMPEY
DUKE VINCENTIO, disguised as before, enters on one side. ELBOW and officers with POMPEY enter on the other.
Nay, if there be no remedy for it, but that you will
needs buy and sell men and women like beasts, we
No, but if you go on buying and selling men and women like beasts, everyone in the world will end up spawning bastards.
O heavens! what stuff is here
Oh, heavens! What nonsense is this?
5’Twas never merry world since, of two usuries, the
merriest was put down, and the worser allowed by
order of law a furred gown to keep him warm; and
furred with fox and lamb-skins too, to signify, that
craft, being richer than innocency, stands for the facing.
Life’s become a lot less fun since the law took two crimes—prostitution and moneylending—and suppressed the one that was the most fun, while condoning the worse of the two. The thriving moneylender wraps himself in a warm fur coat, made of skins from the innocent lamb and trimmed in fur from the crafty fox, proving that craftiness is worth more than innocence.
10Come your way, sir. ’Bless you, good father friar.
And you, good brother father. What offence hath
this man made you, sir?
And you, good brother father. How has this man offended you, sir?
Marry, sir, he hath offended the law: and, sir, we
take him to be a thief too, sir; for we have found
15upon him, sir, a strange picklock, which we have
sent to the deputy.
Actually, sir, he has offended the law. And, sir, we
take him to be a thief too, sir, because we found
on him, sir, a strange device for

picking locks

presumably for picking the locks on chastity belts

picking locks
, which we have sent to the deputy.
Fie, sirrah! a bawd, a wicked bawd!
The evil that thou causest to be done,
That is thy means to live. Do thou but think
20What ’tis to cram a maw or clothe a back
From such a filthy vice: say to thyself,
From their abominable and beastly touches
I drink, I eat, array myself, and live.
Canst thou believe thy living is a life,
25So stinkingly depending? Go mend, go mend.
(to POMPEY) Shame,


a title used to address a male inferior

! A pimp, a wicked pimp! You support yourself by doing evil. Do you ever stop to think what it is to stuff your mouth or clothe your back from such a filthy vice? Say to yourself, I eat, dress myself, and live off abominable, beastly sex. Can you believe your way of life is a life, when it’s dependent on such stinking acts? Change your ways, change your ways.