Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

A room in ANGELO’s house.
A room in ANGELO’s house.
Every letter he hath writ hath disvouched other.
Every letter he’s written has contradicted the others.
In most uneven and distracted manner. His actions
show much like to madne pray heaven his wisdom be
not tainted! And why meet him at the gates, and
5redeliver our authorities there[?]
In a very vague, inconsistent way. His behavior seems almost insane—pray God he’s not going mad! And why do we have to meet him at the gates, and surrender our authority there?
I guess not.
I can’t guess.
And why should we proclaim it in an hour before his
entering, that if any crave redress of injustice,
they should exhibit their petitions in the street?
And why, an hour before his arrival, should we announce that if anyone wants compensation for unjust treatment, they should come ready to present their petitions publicly?
10He shows his reason for that: to have a dispatch of
complaints, and to deliver us from devices
hereafter, which shall then have no power to stand
against us.
He gives a reason for that: to be able to deal promptly with the complaints, and to save us from future lawsuits.
Well, I beseech you, let it be proclaimed betimes
15i’ the morn; I’ll call you at your house: give
notice to such men of sort and suit as are to meet
Well, I urge you to announce it early in the morning. I’ll come pick you up at your house. Alert all the high-ranking officials who are supposed to meet him.
I shall, sir. Fare you well.
I will, sir. Goodbye.
Good night.
Good night.
ESCALUS exits.
20This deed unshapes me quite, makes me unpregnant
And dull to all proceedings. A deflower’d maid!
And by an eminent body that enforced
The law against it! But that her tender shame
Will not proclaim against her maiden loss,
25How might she tongue me! Yet reason dares her no;
For my authority bears of a credent bulk,
That no particular scandal once can touch
But it confounds the breather. He should have lived,
Save that riotous youth, with dangerous sense,
30Might in the times to come have ta’en revenge,
By so receiving a dishonour’d life
With ransom of such shame. Would yet he had lived!
A lack, when once our grace we have forgot,
This thing I’ve done has totally destroyed me. I’m stupid, can’t concentrate on anything. A girl robbed of her virginity, and by a respected public figure who enforced the law against sex! If she weren’t too ashamed to admit it, she could easily denounce me! But her head tells her not to, because my credibility is so strong that any scandal would ruin the person who spreads it, not me. I would’ve let Claudio live, except that a hotheaded youth like him might have come after me someday, feeling that his life is dishonored because he paid such a shameful price for it. Even so, I wish I’d let him live. Sadly, nothing goes right once we forget virtue. I don’t do the good thing, which I don’t want to do, but the evil I don’t want to commit, that I do.