Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 4

page Act 2 Scene 4 Page 2

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Exit Servant
The Servant exits.
O heavens!
Why does my blood thus muster to my heart,
Making both it unable for itself,
And dispossessing all my other parts
25Of necessary fitness?
So play the foolish throngs with one that swoons;
Come all to help him, and so stop the air
By which he should revive: and even so
The general, subject to a well-wish’d king,
30Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
Crowd to his presence, where their untaught love
Must needs appear offence.
Oh, heavens! Why does my blood rush to my heart, both choking it and making the rest of my body weak? It’s like a stupid crowd surrounding somebody who faints—they’re all trying to help him and actually they’re cutting off the air he needs. Or, like the common people who drop what they’re doing and rush over to see their beloved king when he appears, fawning and crowding him so much that their ignorant adoration becomes offensive.
Enter ISABELLA
ISABELLA enters.
How now, fair maid?
How are you, pretty lady?

ISABELLA

I am come to know your pleasure.

ISABELLA

I’ve come to find out what you want to do.

ANGELO

35That you might know it, would much better please me
Than to demand what ’tis. Your brother cannot live.

ANGELO

If only you knew what I want to do and didn’t have to ask. Your brother cannot live.

ISABELLA

Even so. Heaven keep your honour!

ISABELLA

Very well, then. Heaven keep your honor!

ANGELO

Yet may he live awhile; and, it may be,
As long as you or I:
40yet he must die.

ANGELO

On the other hand, he may live awhile—maybe as long as you or me. Still, he must die.

ISABELLA

Under your sentence?

ISABELLA

By your command?

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