Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 4

page Act 1 Scene 4 Page 2

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ISABELLA

Why ‘her unhappy brother’? let me ask,
The rather for I now must make you know
I am that Isabella and his sister.

ISABELLA

Why “her unlucky brother”? I ask, because I’m Isabella, his sister.

LUCIO

25Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets you:
Not to be weary with you, he’s in prison.

LUCIO

Your brother sends you his love, sweet, pretty one. To get right to the point, he’s in prison.

ISABELLA

Woe me! for what?

ISABELLA

How awful! For what?

LUCIO

For that which, if myself might be his judge,
He should receive his punishment in thanks:
30He hath got his friend with child.

LUCIO

For something which, if you ask me, he should be thanked rather than punished. He’s gotten his lover pregnant.

ISABELLA

Sir, make me not your story.

ISABELLA

Sir, don’t make things up.

LUCIO

It is true.
I would not—though ’tis my familiar sin
With maids to seem the lapwing and to jest,
35Tongue far from heart—play with all virgins so:
I hold you as a thing ensky’d and sainted.
By your renouncement an immortal spirit,
And to be talk’d with in sincerity,
As with a saint.

LUCIO

It’s true. I admit, I often play the deceiver and joker with young virgins and say things I don’t mean. But because of your religious vocation, I see you as a heavenly, spiritual being, and someone to speak to with sincerely, as I would a saint.

ISABELLA

40You do blaspheme the good in mocking me.

ISABELLA

You mock real saints by calling me one.

LUCIO

Do not believe it. Fewness and truth, ’tis thus:
Your brother and his lover have embraced:
As those that feed grow full, as blossoming time
That from the seedness the bare fallow brings
45To teeming foison, even so her plenteous womb
Expresseth his full tilth and husbandry.

LUCIO

Don’t think that. In brief: your brother and his girl have slept together. And the same way your stomach gets full when you eat—and as a bare field, when you plant it, yields a rich harvest—her body shows the results of his plowing.

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