Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 4

page Act 1 Scene 4 Page 3

Original Text

Modern Text

ISABELLA

Some one with child by him? My cousin Juliet?

ISABELLA

He’s made someone pregnant? My cousin Juliet?

LUCIO

Is she your cousin?

LUCIO

Is she your cousin?

ISABELLA

Adoptedly; as school-maids change their names
50By vain though apt affection.

ISABELLA

Unofficially, in the silly but sweet way schoolgirls swear to be sisters.

LUCIO

She it is.

LUCIO

She’s the one.

ISABELLA

O, let him marry her.

ISABELLA

Oh, let him marry her.

LUCIO

This is the point.
The duke is very strangely gone from hence;
55Bore many gentlemen, myself being one,
In hand and hope of action: but we do learn
By those that know the very nerves of state,
His givings-out were of an infinite distance
From his true-meant design. Upon his place,
60And with full line of his authority,
Governs Lord Angelo; a man whose blood
Is very snow-broth; one who never feels
The wanton stings and motions of the sense,
But doth rebate and blunt his natural edge
65With profits of the mind, study and fast.
He—to give fear to use and liberty,
Which have for long run by the hideous law,
As mice by lions—hath pick’d out an act,
Under whose heavy sense your brother’s life
70Falls into forfeit: he arrests him on it;
And follows close the rigour of the statute,
To make him an example. All hope is gone,
Unless you have the grace by your fair prayer
To soften Angelo: and that’s my pith of business
75’Twixt you and your poor brother.

LUCIO

Here’s the problem. The duke has mysteriously left town. He deluded many men—myself included—with the hope of some military action. But now we hear from government insiders that his publicly announced reasons for leaving were far from his real plans. In his place, and with his full authority, Lord Angelo rules. This is a man whose blood is like melted snow, never warmed by uncontrolled lust, but who represses and dulls his natural appetites with exercises for the mind—studying and fasting. To scare folks who are habitually promiscuous and have evaded the law like mice running past a lion, he’s found a severe act that, if taken literally, would cost your brother his life. He’s arrested him under it and plans to make an example of him by strictly applying this law. All hope is gone, unless you can soften Angelo with your pretty prayers. That’s the essence of this errand between you and your poor brother.

Measure for Measure: Popular pages