Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 2

page Act 2 Scene 2 Page 5

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ISABELLA

I would to heaven I had your potency,
And you were Isabel! should it then be thus?
No; I would tell what ’twere to be a judge,
90And what a prisoner.

ISABELLA

I wish to heaven I had your power, and you were Isabel! Would things be like this? No, I’d decide what it is to be a judge, and to be a prisoner.

LUCIO

[Aside to ISABELLA] Ay, touch him; there’s the vein.

LUCIO

(aside to ISABELLA) Yes, that’s the way to talk.

ANGELO

Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
And you but waste your words.

ANGELO

Your brother is doomed for breaking the law. You’re wasting your breath.

ISABELLA

Alas, alas!
95Why, all the souls that were forfeit once;
And He that might the vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be,
If He, which is the top of judgment, should
But judge you as you are? O, think on that;
100And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made.

ISABELLA

How sad! Why, all the souls on earth were

doomed once upon a time

because Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the tree of knowledge

doomed once upon a time
. And God, who might have seized the chance to condemn us, instead

found a way to redeem our sins

a reference to God letting Christ die to redeem mankind’s sins

found a way to redeem our sins
. What would happen to you, if he who is the highest judge of all should judge you as you are now? Oh, think about that, and then merciful speech will flow out your mouth, as if you had been reborn.

ANGELO

Be you content, fair maid;
It is the law, not I condemn your brother:
Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son,
105It should be thus with him: he must die tomorrow.

ANGELO

Accept it, lovely lady. It’s the law, not I, that condemns your brother. Were he my cousin, brother, or my son, it’d be the same. He must die tomorrow.

ISABELLA

To-morrow! O, that’s sudden! Spare him, spare him!
He’s not prepared for death. Even for our kitchens
We kill the fowl of season: shall we serve heaven
With less respect than we do minister
110To our gross selves? Good, good my lord, bethink you;
Who is it that hath died for this offence?
There’s many have committed it.

ISABELLA

Tomorrow! Oh, that’s so sudden! Spare him, spare him!
He’s not prepared for death. We only kill fowl in season, when they’re in the best shape for eating. Should we serve him up to heaven with less respect than we show toward our inferior mortal bodies? My good, good lord, consider: who else has died for this crime? Many people have committed it.

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