Measure for Measure

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 4

page Act 2 Scene 4 Page 4

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ANGELO

65Nay, I’ll not warrant that; for I can speak
Against the thing I say. Answer to this:
I, now the voice of the recorded law,
Pronounce a sentence on your brother’s life:
Might there not be a charity in sin
70To save this brother’s life?

ANGELO

No, don’t hold me to that, for I can argue a point I don’t really believe. Answer this. As the voice of the written law, I pronounce a death sentence on your brother’s life. Might it not be charity to commit a sin to save this brother’s life?

ISABELLA

Please you to do’t,
I’ll take it as a peril to my soul,
It is no sin at all, but charity.

ISABELLA

If you want to do it, I’ll risk the punishment on my soul, and say it’d be no sin at all, but charity.

ANGELO

Pleased you to do’t at peril of your soul,
75Were equal poise of sin and charity.

ANGELO

If you felt like doing it, even at the risk of your soul, sin and charity would balance each other perfectly.

ISABELLA

That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
Heaven let me bear it! you granting of my suit,
If that be sin, I’ll make it my morn prayer
To have it added to the faults of mine,
80And nothing of your answer.

ISABELLA

If begging for his life is a sin, Heaven let me bear it! If your granting my request is a sin, I’ll pray each morning to have it added to my faults and not one you have to answer for.

ANGELO

Nay, but hear me.
Your sense pursues not mine: either you are ignorant,
Or seem so craftily; and that’s not good.

ANGELO

No, listen to me. You’re not following me. Either you’re dumb or you’re playing dumb, and that’s not good.

ISABELLA

Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good,
85But graciously to know I am no better.

ISABELLA

Call me dumb, then, and not very good. Let me accept by God’s grace that I’m not any better than that.

ANGELO

Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright
When it doth tax itself; as these black masks
Proclaim an enshield beauty ten times louder
Than beauty could, display’d. But mark me;
90To be received plain, I’ll speak more gro
Your brother is to die.

ANGELO

This is how smart people try to seem really bright: by knocking their own intelligence. It’s the same way hiding behind a black mask makes a woman seem ten times more beautiful than her naked face does. But pay attention. I’ll be more blunt, so that you get it. Your brother is to die.

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