Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure is a play, written in 1603, by William Shakespeare. It is known as one of Shakespeare's three problem plays because it cannot be easily classified as a tragedy or comedy.

Act IEdit

  • Thyself and thy belongings
    Are not thine own so proper, as to waste
    Thyself upon thy virtues, them on thee.
    Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
    Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues
    Did not go forth of us, ’t were all alike
    As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touch’d,
    But to fine issues, nor Nature never lends
    The smallest scruple of her excellence,
    But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines
    Herself the glory of a creditor,
    Both thanks and use.
    • Duke Vincentio, scene i


  • He was ever precise in promise-keeping.
    • Lucio, scene ii


  • We have strict statutes and most biting laws,
    The needful bits and curbs to headstrong steeds, —
    Which for these fourteen years we have let sleep;
    Even like an o'ergrown lion in a cave,
    That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers,
    Having bound up the threat'ning twigs of birch,
    Only to stick it in their children's sight
    For terror, not to use, in time the rod
    Becomes more mock'd than fear'd; so our decrees,
    Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead,
    And liberty plucks justice by the nose;
    The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
    Goes all decorum.
    • Duke Vincentio, scene iii


  • I have on Angelo impos'd the office;
    Who may, in the ambush of my name, strike home.
    • Duke Vincentio, scene iii


  • I hold you as a thing ensky’d and sainted.
    • Lucio, scene iv


  • A man whose blood
    Is very snow-broth; one who never feels
    The wanton stings and motions of the sense.
    • Lucio, scene iv


  • He arrests him on it;
    And follows close the rigour of the statute,
    To make him an example.
    • Lucio, scene iv


  • Our doubts are traitors,
    And make us lose the good we oft might win,
    By fearing to attempt.
    • Lucio, scene iv


Act IIEdit

  • 'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
    Another thing to fall. I do not deny,
    The jury, passing on the prisoner’s life,
    May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two
    Guiltier than him they try.
    • Angelo, scene i


  • Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.
    • Escalus, scene i


  • This will last out a night in Russia,
    When nights are longest there.
    • Angelo, scene i


  • Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it?
    • Angelo, scene ii


  • No ceremony that to great ones ’longs,
    Not the king’s crown, nor the deputed sword,
    The marshal’s truncheon, nor the judge’s robe,
    Become them with one half so good a grace
    As mercy does.
    • Isabella, scene ii


  • Why, all the souls that were, were forfeit once;
    And He that might the vantage best have took
    Found out the remedy. How would you be,
    If He, which is the top of judgment, should
    But judge you as you are?
    • Isabella, scene ii


  • The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept.
    • Angelo, scene ii


  • O! it is excellent
    To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
    To use it like a giant.
    • Isabella, scene ii


  • But man, proud man,
    Drest in a little brief authority,
    Most ignorant of what he’s most assur'd;
    His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
    Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
    As make the angels weep.
    • Isabella, scene ii


  • That in the captain ’s but a choleric word,
    Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.
    • Isabella, scene ii


  • Our compell’d sins
    Stand more for number than for accompt.
    • Angelo, scene iv


  • Let me be ignorant and in nothing good,
    But graciously to know I am no better.
    • Isabella, scene iv


Act IIIEdit

  • The miserable have no other medicine,
    But only hope.
    • Claudio, scene i


  • Be absolute for death; either death or life
    Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life,
    If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
    That none but fools would keep: a breath thou art,
    Servile to all the skyey influences,
    That dost this habitation, where thou keep'st
    Hourly afflict; merely, thou art death's fool;
    For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun,
    And yet runn'st toward him still. Thou art not noble;
    For all the accommodations that thou bear'st
    Are nurs'd by baseness. Thou art by no means valiant;
    For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
    Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is sleep,
    And that thou oft provok'st; yet grossly fear'st
    Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself
    For thou exist'st on many a thousand grains
    That issue out of dust. Happy thou art not;
    For what thou hast not, still thou striv'st to get;
    And what thou hast, forgett'st. Thou art not certain;
    For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
    After the moon. If thou art rich, thou art poor;
    For, like an ass whose back with ingots bows,
    Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey,
    And death unloads thee. Friend hast thou none;
    For thine own bowels, which do call thee sire,
    The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
    Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum,
    For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth nor age,
    But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep,
    Dreaming on both: for all thy blessed youth
    Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
    Of palsied eld; and when thou art old and rich
    Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty,
    To make thy riches pleasant. What's yet in this
    That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
    Lie hid more thousand deaths: yet death we fear,
    That makes these odds all even.
    • Duke Vincentio, scene i


  • The sense of death is most in apprehension;
    And the poor beetle, that we tread upon,
    In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
    As when a giant dies.
    • Isabella, scene i


  • O, 'tis the cunning livery of hell,
    The damned'st body to invest and cover
    In rev'rend guards!
    • Isabella, scene i


  • 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 region of thick-ribbed ice;
    To be imprison’d in the viewless winds,
    And blown with restless violence round about
    The pendent world.
    • Claudio, scene i


  • 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.
    • Claudio, scene i


  • The hand that hath made you fair hath made you good.
    • Duke Vincentio, scene i


  • Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful.
    • Duke Vincentio, scene i


  • There, at the moated grange, resides this dejected Mariana.
    • Duke Vincentio, scene i


  • He who the sword of heaven will bear
    Should be as holy as severe;
    Pattern in himself to know,
    Grace to stand, and virtue go;
    More nor less by others paying
    Than by self-offences weighing.
    Shame on him whose cruel striking
    Kills for faults of his own liking!
    Twice treble shame on Angelo,
    To weed my vice and let his grow!
    O, what may man within him hide,
    Though angel on the outward side!
    Making practise on the times,
    To draw with idle spiders' strings
    Most ponderous and substantial things!
    Craft against vice I must apply:
    With Angelo to-night shall lie
    His old betrothed but despised;
    So disguise shall, by the disguised,
    Pay with falsehood false exacting,
    And perform an old contracting.
    • Duke Vincentio, scene ii

Act IVEdit

Take, oh take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn;
And those eyes: the break of day,
Lights that do mislead the Morn;
But my kisses bring again,

bring again,

Seals of love, but seal'd in vain,

seal'd in vain.
  • Boy, scene i


  • Every true man’s apparel fits your thief.
    • Abhorson, scene ii


  • Alack, when once our grace we have forgot,
    Nothing goes right! we would, and we would not.
    • Angelo, scene iv


Act VEdit

  • A forted residence ’gainst the tooth of time
    And razure of oblivion.
    • Duke Vincentio, scene i


  • Truth is truth
    To the end of reckoning.
    • Isabella, scene i


  • My business in this state
    Made me a looker-on here in Vienna,
    Where I have seen corruption boil and bubble,
    Till it o'er-run the stew.
    • Duke Vincentio, scene i


  • They say, best men are moulded out of faults:
    And, for the most, become much more the better,
    For being a little bad.
    • Mariana, scene i


  • What’s mine is yours, and what is yours is mine.
    • Duke Vincentio, scene i


External linksEdit

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Last modified on 13 April 2014, at 19:06