Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 4

page Act 2 Scene 4 Page 3

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ANGELO

Yea.

ANGELO

Yes.

ISABELLA

When, I beseech you? that in his reprieve,
Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted
45That his soul sicken not.

ISABELLA

I beg you, tell me when. So that, no matter how long or short his reprieve is, he’ll be spiritually prepared and can save his soul.

ANGELO

Ha! fie, these filthy vices! It were as good
To pardon him that hath from nature stolen
A man already made, as to remit
Their saucy sweetness that do coin heaven’s image
50In stamps that are forbid: ’tis all as easy
Falsely to take away a life true made
As to put metal in restrained means
To make a false one.

ANGELO

Ha! Damn these filthy vices! One might as well pardon a murderer as forgive a fornicator who begets an illegitimate child. It’s as easy to take a legitimate life as it is to create an illegitimate one.

ISABELLA

’Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.

ISABELLA

Heaven may regard the two sins as equal, but humans do not.

ANGELO

55Say you so? then I shall pose you quickly.
Which had you rather, that the most just law
Now took your brother’s life; or, to redeem him,
Give up your body to such sweet uncleanness
As she that he hath stain’d?

ANGELO

You think so? Then I’ll put this question to you: which would you prefer, that this very fair law took your brother’s life, or to save your brother, you give up your body to the same sort of sweet sin as did the girl he ruined?

ISABELLA

60Sir, believe this,
I had rather give my body than my soul.

ISABELLA

Sir, believe this, I’d rather give up my body than my soul.

ANGELO

I talk not of your soul: our compell’d sins
Stand more for number than for accompt.

ANGELO

I’m not talking about your soul: sins we’re compelled to commit get counted, but they don’t count against us.

ISABELLA

How say you?

ISABELLA

What are you saying?

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