Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 2

page Act 2 Scene 2 Page 3

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ANGELO

40Well; what’s your suit?

ANGELO

Well, what’s your request?

ISABELLA

There is a vice that most I do abhor,
And most desire should meet the blow of justice;
For which I would not plead, but that I must;
For which I must not plead, but that I am
45At war ’twixt will and will not.

ISABELLA

There’s a certain vice that I hate, and would love to see struck down by law. I’d rather not plead for it, but I must. I shouldn’t plead for it, but I’m torn between wanting and not wanting to.

ANGELO

Well; the matter?

ANGELO

Well, what’s the matter?

ISABELLA

I have a brother is condemn’d to die:
I do beseech you, let it be his fault,
And not my brother.

ISABELLA

I have a brother who’s condemned to death. I beg you, condemn his crime but not him.

PROVOST

50[Aside] Heaven give thee moving graces!

PROVOST

(to himself) Heaven give you the power to persuade him!

ANGELO

Condemn the fault and not the actor of it?
Why, every fault’s condemn’d ere it be done:
Mine were the very cipher of a function,
To fine the faults whose fine stands in record,
55And let go by the actor.

ANGELO

Condemn the crime and not the person who commits it? Why, by definition every crime is condemned before it’s committed. I would have a meaningless role if I just punished the crimes whose penalties were in the law books and let the criminal go.

ISABELLA

O just but severe law!
I had a brother, then. Heaven keep your honour!

ISABELLA

Oh, fair but harsh law! Then I had a brother but don’t anymore. (departing) Heaven protect your honor!

LUCIO

[Aside to ISABELLA] Give’t not o’er so: to him
again, entreat him;
60Kneel down before him, hang upon his gown:
You are too cold; if you should need a pin,
You could not with more tame a tongue desire it:
To him, I say!

LUCIO

(aside to ISABELLA) Don’t give up so fast. Go to him again, beg him, kneel down before him, cling to his gown.
You’re too cold. You couldn’t be more casual if you were asking him for a pin. Go to him.

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