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Abridged Measure for Measure/#1/Transfer/Act 1, Scene 1

The play opens in Vienna. But some believe that Vienna might have been a substitute for London; London, perhaps, needing to tighten things up. Shakespeare, again some suggest, believed England’s new (new in 1603) King James I, a native of Scotland, could use the play as a guide. As the play opens, the Duke of Vienna lets Escalus, a judge, know that he has appointed Angelo as his deputy, “giving him all the tools of our own power.” Escalus replies “If any in Vienna be of worth to undergo such honor, it is Lord Angelo.” Angelo enters. He says to the Duke “I come to know your pleasure.” The Duke publicly praises Angelo, saying “Angelo, your character in thy life doth fully unfold itself to th’ observer. Therefore, Angelo, in our absence be fully myself. The power to sentence death and mercy in Vienna live in thy tongue and heart.” The Duke goes on to say “Old Escalus is your subordinate. Take thy commission.” He hands Angelo a paper. The Duke says “We shall write to you. We’ll let you know how it goes with us, and do look to know what doth befall you here. So fare you well.” The Duke tells the assembled that he plans to temporarily leave Vienna and is turning the reins of the city over to Angelo. Angelo says “Give me permission, my lord, to go some distance with you.” The Duke replies “My haste may not admit it. Give me your hand. I’ll privily away. Once more, fare you well.” He exits. Escalus turns to Angelo and says “I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave to have free speech with you. It concerns me to know the official position and power I have.” Angelo says “’Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together.”

Abridged Measure for Measure/#2/Threat/Act 1, Scene 2

Lucio and two Gentlemen are small-talking when Mistress Overdone (the Bawd) enters. Lucio is a good friend of Claudio’s, and we haven’t yet met Claudio. She says “There’s one yonder arrested and carried to prison.” The Second Gentleman asks “Who’s that?” The Bawd says “Marry, sir, that’s Signior Claudio. Within these three days his head to be chopped off.” Lucio asks “Are you sure?” Bawd says “I am too sure of it. And it is for getting Madam Julietta with child.” Lucio says ‘Believe me, this may be. Away. Let’s learn the truth of it.” The men exit. Pompey (the Bawd’s servant) enters. She asks him “Is there a maid with child by him?” Pompey replies “Have you not heard of the proclamation?” She says “What!” He says “All brothels in the outskirts of Vienna must be plucked down.” She asks ‘What shall become of me?” Pompey says “Though you change your place, you need not change your trade. Courage. There will pity taken on you.” The Provost, Claudio, Juliet and Officers enter. Bawd and Pompey exit. Claudio says to the Provost ‘Why dost thou show me thus to th’ world? Bear me to prison, where I am committed.” The Provost says “I do it by command from Lord Angelo.” Lucio and the Second Gentleman enter. Lucio asks Claudio “Whence comes this restraint?” Claudio tells him “I got possession of Julietta’s bed. She is securely my wife, save that we do lack an outward ceremony. But it happens the stealth of our most mutual entertainment is writ on Juliet. The new deputy for the Duke, who, newly in the seat, that it be known he can command, lets it straight feel the spur.” Lucio says “Send after the Duke and appeal to him.” Claudio says “I have done so, but he’s not to be found. Lucio, do me this kind service. This day my sister is going to enter the cloister. Acquaint her with the danger of my state. Ask her to approach him.” Lucio says “I’ll to her.”

Abridged Measure for Measure/#3/Disguise/Act 1, Scene 3

The Duke and Friar Thomas are on stage. The Duke says “Why I desire thee to give me secret harbor hath a purpose.” Friar Thomas asks ‘May your Grace speak of it?” The Duke replies “I have delivered to Lord Angelo, a man of firm abstinence, my absolute power and place in Vienna, and he supposes I have traveled to Poland. You may demand of me why I do this.” Friar Thomas says “Gladly.” The Duke says “We have strict statutes and most biting laws which for these fourteen years we have let slip. Our decrees, never used as punishment, allow undisciplined freedom to pluck justice by the nose.” Friar Thomas says “unloosing this tied-up justice in you would have seemed more dreadful than in Lord Angelo.” The Duke responds “I do fear, too dreadful. ‘Twas my fault to give the people scope. Angelo may in th’ ambush of my name strike home. To exert my influence I will, as ‘twere a brother of your order, visit both Angelo and people. Therefore I prithee supply me with the habit, and instruct me how I may in person bear like a true friar.” The Duke goes on to say “Lord Angelo is a strict observer of the rules. Hence shall we see if power changes the man.”

Abridged Measure for Measure/#4/Imprisonment/Act 1, Scene 4

Isabella and a nun are on stage. Isabella has asked the nun to tell her of the rules that apply to “the sisterhood, the votarists of Saint Clare.” They hear a voice. Isabella asks “Who’s that which calls?” The nun says “It is a man’s voice. Isabella, know his business of him. You may; I may not. You are yet unsworn. When you have vowed, you must not speak with men but in the presence of the Prioress.” Isabella asks ‘Who is’t that calls?” Lucio enters and asks “Can you direct me to Isabella, the fair sister to her unhappy brother, Claudio?” Isabella says “Why unhappy brother? I am that Isabella, and his sister.” Lucio says ‘He’s in prison.” Isabella asks ‘For what?” Lucio says “He hath got his friend with child.” Isabella asks “Someone with child by him? My cousin, Juliet?” Lucio says “Is she your cousin?” Isabella says “Adoptedly, by silly but apt affection.” Lucio says “She it is.” Isabella says “O, let him marry her!” Lucio says “This is the point.” Lucio goes on to tell her that the Duke has left Vienna and has transferred “full line of his authority to Lord Angelo, a man whose blood is nothing but melted snow; one with no sensual impulses; who profits his mind by study.” Lucio goes on the say “to give fear to undisciplined freedom he has picked out an act and your brother’s life falls into forfeit. He arrests him to make him an example. All hope is gone unless you have the fair power and grace to soften Angelo.” Isabella asks ‘Doth he so seek his life?” Lucio says “As I hear, the Provost hath a warrant for ‘s execution.” She asks “what ability’s in me to do him good?” Lucio says “Try the power you have.” Lucio talks her into visiting Angelo. She says “I will about it straight.” She tells Lucio “Soon at night I’ll send him (her brother) certain word of my success.”

Abridged Measure for Measure/#5/Execution/Act 2, Scene 1

Angelo and Escalus are on stage, Escalus arguing that Claudio’s indiscretion should not lead to his imprisonment and to his death. Escalus suggests Angelo should “rather cut him a little than let him fall and bruise to death.” Escalus loses the argument, Angelo prophetically saying “when I that censure him do so offend, let mine own judgment pattern out my death.” Angelo ends their discussion, saying “Sir, he must die.” The Provost enters. An over-heatedly angry Angelo tells the Provost to “see that Claudio be executed by nine tomorrow morning.” Angelo exits. A Justice enters. Escalus says “It grieves me for the death of Claudio, but there’s no remedy.” The Justice says “Lord Angelo is severe.” Escalus says “It is but needful. But yet, poor Claudio. There is no remedy.” They exit.

Abridged Measure for Measure/#6/Argument/Act 2, Scene 2.1

The Provost is on stage and, speaking of Angelo, says “Maybe he will relent. All ranks, all ages smack of this vice, and he to die for it?” Angelo enters and says “Now, what’s the matter, Provost?” The Provost asks ‘Is it your will Claudio shall die tomorrow?” Angelo snaps “Did not I tell thee yea? Why dost thou ask again?” The Provost says “I have seen when, after execution, judgment hath repented o’er his doom.” Angelo says “Let that be mine.” The Provost asks “What shall be done, sir, with the groaning Juliet? She’s very near her hour.” Angelo says “Dispose of her to some fitter place and that with speed.” A Servant enters and says “The sister of the man condemned desires access to you.” Angelo asks “Hath he a sister?” The Servant says “Ay, my good lord, a very virtuous maid, and to be shortly of a sisterhood.” Angelo says “Well, let her be admitted.” Lucio and Isabella enter. Angelo asks “What’s your will?” Isabella says “I have a brother is condemned to die. I do beseech you to condemn the sin rather than condemning him.” Angelo replies “Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it?” Aside, Lucio says to Isabella “Kneel down before him, hang upon his gown. You are too cold.” Isabella says to Angelo “Must he needs die?” Angelo says “Maiden, no remedy.” She says “Yes, I do think that you might pardon him, and neither heaven nor man grieves at the mercy.” Angelo replies “I will not do ‘t.” She asks “But can you if you would?” Angelo says “He’s sentenced. ‘Tis too late.” Aside, Lucio says “You are too cold.” Isabella says “Too late? Why, no.” Angelo says “Pray, begone.”

Abridged Measure for Measure/#7/Persuasion/Act 2, Scene 2.2

Angelo has told Isabella to “begone.” Isabella steps it up, saying “I would to heaven I had your potency, and you were Isabel. Should it then be thus? No.” Aside, Lucio says “Ay, touch him; that’s the way to speak.” Angelo says “Your brother has breached the law, and you but waste your words. Be you content, fair maid. It is the law, not I. He must die tomorrow.” She says “Tomorrow? O, that’s sudden! Spare him. He’s not prepared for death. Good my lord, bethink you. Who is it that hath died for this offense? There’s many have committed it.” Aside, Lucio says “Ay, well said.” Angelo says “The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept. Now ‘tis awake.” Isabella says “Yet show some pity.” Angelo says “I show it most of all when I show justice. Be content.” She goes on to say in general that ignorant man, with brief authority, making such foolish decisions would cause “angels, if mortal, to laugh themselves to death.” Aside, Lucio says “He will relent. I perceive it.” Aside, Provost says “Pray heaven she win him.” Angelo says ‘Why do you put these sayings upon me?” She says “Ask your heart what it doth know that’s like my brother’s fault. If it confess a natural guiltiness such as is his, let it not sound a thought upon your tongue against my brother’s life.” Aside, Angelo says “She speaks, and ‘tis such sense.” He begins to exit. She says “Gentle my lord, turn back.” He says “Come again tomorrow.” She asks “At what hour tomorrow shall I attend your Lordship?” He says “At any time ‘fore noon.” She exits with Lucio and Provost. Alone on the stage, now believing that he is in love, Angelo says to himself “What art thou, Angelo? Dost thou desire her foully for those things that make her good? O, let her brother live. Thieves for their robbery have authority when judges themselves are thieves. Never could the strumpet with all her seductive skills and allure shake my composure, but this virtuous maid subdues me quite. Ever till now when men were foolishly infatuated, I smiled and wondered how.”

Abridged Measure for Measure/#8/Disguise/Act 2, Scene 3

Disguised as Friar Lodowick, the Duke visits the prison. The Provost asks him “What’s your will, good friar?” The disguised Duke says “Do me the common right to visit the afflicted spirits here in the prison that I may minister to them.” He’s given permission. Juliet enters. The Provost says “She is with child, and he that begot it to die for this.” The Duke-Friar says “When must he die?” The Provost says “As I do think, tomorrow.” Duke-Friar says “Repent you, fair one, of the sin you carry?” Juliet says “I do.” He says “Love you the man that wronged you?” Juliet replies “Yes, as I love the woman that wronged him.” He says “So then it seems your most offenseful act was mutually committed?” She says “Mutually. I do repent me as it is an evil. And take the shame with joy.” He says “Your partner, as I hear, must die tomorrow, and I am going with instruction to him. Grace be with you.” Juliet cries “Must die tomorrow?” Provost says “’Tis pity of him.”

Abridged Measure for Measure/#9/Proposition/Act 2, Scene 4

Angelo is on stage. He lets us know that “Heaven hath my empty words, whilst my mind, hearing not my tongue anchors on Isabel.” A Servant enters and says “One Isabel, a sister, desires access to you.” Isabella enters and says “I am come to know your pleasure.” Angelo says “Your brother cannot live.” She says “When, I beseech you?” He doesn’t answer her, instead asking “Which had you rather, that the just law take your brother’s life, or, to redeem him, give up your body to such sweet uncleanness as she that he hath stained?” She says “I would rather give my body than my soul.” He says “I talk not of your soul.” Isabella asks “How say you?” He asks “Might there not be a charity in sin to save this brother’s life?” She says “That I do beg his life, if it be sin heaven let me bear it.” He says “Your sense pursues not mine. I’ll speak more gross; your brother is to die.” She says “So.” He says “But, finding yourself desired by such a person who could fetch your brother from the all-binding law, you must lay down the treasures of your body to this person, or else to let your brother die. What would you do?” She says “I would subject myself to whips and tie myself to death before I’d yield my body up to shame.” Angelo says “Then must your brother die.” She responds “Better it were a brother died at once than that a sister, by redeeming him, should be condemned to eternal damnation.” Unwilling to concede, he tries a more subtle approach, tying women to frailty. She says “Gentle my lord, let me entreat you speak the former language.” Angelo says “Plainly, I love you.” She says “My brother did love Juliet, and you tell me that he shall die for it.” Angelo says “He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.” She replies “Sign me a present pardon for my brother or with an outstretched throat I’ll tell the world aloud what man thou art.” He says “Who will believe thee, Isabel?” He gets angrier, saying “Redeem thy brother by yielding up thy body to my will, or else he must not only die the death, but thy unkindness shall his death draw out to long’ring sufferance. Answer me tomorrow.” He exits. She says to herself “To whom should I complain? I’ll to my brother who hath such a mind of honor that he’d yield twenty heads to the block if he had them before his sister should her body stoop to such abhorred pollution. Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die. More than our brother is our chastity. I’ll tell him of Angelo’s request, and fit his mind to death, for his soul’s rest.”

Abridged Measure for Measure/#10/Conflict/Act 3, Scene 1.1

The Duke, as Friar Lodowick, Claudio and the Provost are on stage. The Duke-Friar talks to Claudio, assuming he is frightened by the thought of death, as people are, saying “Reason thus: if you do lose life, you lose a thing that none but fools would keep.” He tells Claudio that “Merely, thou art death’s fool, for him that labor’st by thy flight to shun, yet runn’st toward Death continually. Thou’rt by no means valiant, for thou dost fear the soft and tender forked tongue of a poor worm. If thou art rich, thou’rt poor, for, like a donkey whose back with ingots bows, thou bear’st thy heavy riches but a journey, and death unloads thee.” Claudio says “I humbly thank you. In petitioning to live, I find I seek to die, and seeking death, find life. Let it come on.” Isabella enters. The Duke-Friar says to the Provost “Bring me to hear them speak, where I may be concealed.” Duke and Provost exit. Isabella says to her brother “Tomorrow you go forward.” Claudio says “Is there no remedy?” She says, well, “Yes. This night’s the time that I should do what I abhor to name, or else thou diest tomorrow.” Claudio shouts “Thou shalt not do ‘t.” She says “O, were it but my life, I’d throw it down for your deliverance.” He says “Thanks, dear Isabel.” She says “Be ready, Claudio, for your death tomorrow.” He says “O, Isabel, death is a fearful thing.” She says “And shamed life a hateful thing.” He says “Ay, but to die, and go we know not where, is too horrible. 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.” She cries “O, you beast! 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? I give you my contempt; die, perish. I’ll pray a thousand prayers for thy death, no word to save thee.” He says “Nay, hear me, Isabella —.” The Duke-Friar enters.