Measure for Measure By William Shakespeare Act III

ISABELLA.
O, 'tis the cunning livery of hell
The damned'st body to invest and cover
In precise guards! Dost thou think, Claudio,
If I would yield him my virginity
Thou mightst be freed?

CLAUDIO.
O heavens! it cannot be.

ISABELLA.
Yes, he would give it thee, from this rank offence,
So to offend him still. This night's the time
That I should do what I abhor to name,
Or else thou diest to-morrow.

CLAUDIO.
Thou shalt not do't.

ISABELLA.
O, were it but my life,
I'd throw it down for your deliverance
As frankly as a pin.

CLAUDIO.
Thanks, dear Isabel.

ISABELLA.
Be ready, Claudio, for your death to-morrow.

CLAUDIO.
Yes. — Has he affections in him
That thus can make him bite the law by the nose
When he would force it? Sure it is no sin;
Or of the deadly seven it is the least.

ISABELLA.
Which is the least?

CLAUDIO.
If it were damnable, he, being so wise,
Why would he for the momentary trick
Be perdurably fined? — O Isabel!

ISABELLA.
What says my brother?

CLAUDIO.
Death is a fearful thing.

ISABELLA.
And shamed life a hateful.

CLAUDIO.
Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thought
Imagine howling! — 'tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.

ISABELLA.
Alas, alas!

CLAUDIO.
Sweet sister, let me live:
What sin you do to save a brother's life
Nature dispenses with the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue.

ISABELLA.
O you beast!
O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
Is't not a kind of incest to take life
From thine own sister's shame? What should I think?
Heaven shield my mother play'd my father fair!
For such a warped slip of wilderness
Ne'er issued from his blood. Take my defiance:
Die; perish! might but my bending down
Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed:
I'll pray a thousand prayers for thy death, —
No word to save thee.

CLAUDIO.
Nay, hear me, Isabel.

ISABELLA.
O fie, fie, fie!
Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade:
Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd:
'Tis best that thou diest quickly.

[Going.]

CLAUDIO.
O, hear me, Isabella.

[Re-enter DUKE.]

DUKE.
Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.

ISABELLA.
What is your will?

DUKE.
Might you dispense with your leisure, I would by and by have
some speech with you: the satisfaction I would require is
likewise your own benefit.

ISABELLA.
I have no superfluous leisure; my stay must be stolen out of
other affairs; but I will attend you awhile.

DUKE.
[To CLAUDIO aside.] Son, I have overheard what hath passed
between you and your sister. Angelo had never the purpose to
corrupt her; only he hath made an assay of her virtue to
practise his judgment with the disposition of natures; she,
having the truth of honour in her, hath made him that gracious
denial which he is most glad to receive: I am confessor to
Angelo, and I know this to be true; therefore prepare yourself
to death. Do not satisfy your resolution with hopes that are
fallible: to-morrow you must die; go to your knees and make ready.

CLAUDIO.
Let me ask my sister pardon. I am so out of love with life that I
will sue to be rid of it.

DUKE.
Hold you there. Farewell.

[Exit CLAUDIO.]

[Re-enter PROVOST.]

Provost, a word with you.

PROVOST.
What's your will, father?

DUKE.
That, now you are come, you will be gone. Leave me a while with
the maid; my mind promises with my habit no loss shall touch her
by my company.

PROVOST.
In good time.

[Exit PROVOST.]

DUKE.
The hand that hath made you fair hath made you good; the goodness
that is cheap in beauty makes beauty brief in goodness; but grace,
being the soul of your complexion, shall keep the body of it ever
fair. The assault that Angelo hath made to you, fortune hath
conveyed to my understanding; and, but that frailty hath examples
for his falling, I should wonder at Angelo. How will you do to
content this substitute, and to save your brother?

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