Measure for Measure By William Shakespeare Act III

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?

O heavens! it cannot be.

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.

Thou shalt not do't.

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

Thanks, dear Isabel.

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

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.

Which is the least?

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

What says my brother?

Death is a fearful thing.

And shamed life a hateful.

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.

Alas, alas!

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.

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.

Nay, hear me, Isabel.

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.


O, hear me, Isabella.

[Re-enter DUKE.]

Vouchsafe a word, young sister, but one word.

What is your will?

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.

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

[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.

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

Hold you there. Farewell.


[Re-enter PROVOST.]

Provost, a word with you.

What's your will, father?

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.

In good time.


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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Angelo reneges on his promise to Isabella that he would free her brother, because he