quotes, notes, timelines & more

Home » Shakespeare's Works » Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure

Written: 1603 Text: First Folio 1623 (Comedy); no quarto editions
Source: Geroge Whetstone (c.1544-87). Promos and Cassandra (1578); Cinthio, Giovanni Battista Giraldi.1504-73). Hecatommithi (1565. No English translations found, therefore, Shakespeare probably read it either in Italian or French.); Cinthio, Giovanni Battista Giraldi.1504-73) Epitia (1583. No English translations found, therefore, Shakespeare probably read it either in Italian or French.); Barnabe Riche (c.1540-1617). The Adventures of Brusanus, prince of Hungaria (1592)–Lucio's interactions with the disguised Duke.
Characters: Duke of Vienna, Isabella, Angelo, Lucio, Escalus, Provost, Claudio
Setting: Vienna
Time:  c. AD 1485

Xxx xxx

Shakespeare and the Casting Couch

Read the Note

Stories about women summoned as supplicants to the portals of men with the power to grant their wishes, for a price, are common across professions, across countries, across millennia. Shakespeare dramatized the dilemmas some of these women faced in more than one of his plays.

In both Henry VI Part 3 and Measure for Measure, for example,
… continue reading this note

Tempter or Tempted?

Read the Note

In Measure for Measure (2.2.197), Angelo confronts, possibly for the first time in his life, the temptation of lust. And since this is new to him and because he is highly moralistic, he is troubled and confused. He reacts by asking himself a series of questions for which he has no answers.

What’s this? What’s this? Is this her fault,
… continue reading this note

Seduction or Harassment?

Read the Note

Shakespeare delights in the seduction ceremonies of bright men with even brighter women. These dialogues, whether between adolescents like Romeo and Juliet, more mature characters like Henry V and Princess Katherine, or seasoned adults like the widow Lady Grey and the sexual harasser King Edward, in this scene (3HenryVI 3.2.36), give Shakespeare opportunities to employ dazzling webworks of rhetorical exchanges.
… continue reading this note

Sexual Extortion

Read the Note

In Measure for Measure (2.4.95), Angelo, the classic sexual harasser, adopts a method of sexual extortion similar to King Edward’s in Henry VI Part 3 (3.2.36).  Both men begin with oblique insinuations about their desires, which can be innocently misread. When the women, Isabella in Measure for Measure and Lady Grey in Henry VI,
… continue reading this note

Of government the properties to unfold

Read the Quote

Duke
Of government the properties to unfold
Would seem in me t’ affect speech and discourse,
Since I am put to know that your own science
Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice
My strength can give you.Hyperbaton

For you must know, we have with special soul
Elected him our absence to supply,
… continue reading this quote

Act 1
Scene 1
Line 1

Source Type:

Spoken by:
,

Figures of Speech:
, ,

Angelo, There is a kind of character in thy life

Read the Quote

Duke
Angelo,
There is a kind of character in thy life,
That to th’ observer doth thy history
AlliterationFully unfoldHyperbaton
. Thyself and thy belongings
Are not thine own so properAnastrophe as to waste
Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee.
… continue reading this quote

If the Duke, with the other dukes, come not to composition with the King of Hungary

Read the Quote

Lucio
If the Duke, with the other dukes, come not to
composition with the King of Hungary, why then all
the dukes fall upon the King.
First Gentleman
Heaven grant us its peace, but not
the King of Hungary’s!Paronomasia

Grace is grace, despite of all
controversy; as,
… continue reading this quote

Why, how now, Claudio? Whence comes this restraint?

Read the Quote

Lucio
Why, how now, Claudio? Whence comes this restraint?
Claudio
From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty.Diacope
As surfeit is the father of much fast,Simile & Alliteration
So every scope by the immoderate use
Turns to restraint.Irony
Our natures do pursue,
… continue reading this quote

We have strict statutes and most biting laws

Read the Quote

Duke
We have strict statutes and most biting lawsMetaphor
The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,Metaphor
Which for this fourteen years we have let slip,
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,

… continue reading this quote

Act 1
Scene 3
Line 20

Source Type:

Spoken by:
,

Themes:
, ,

Figures of Speech:
, , , , , ,

Who’s that which calls?

Read the Quote

Lucio, within 
Ho, peace be in this place!
Isabella
Who’s that which calls?
Nun
It is a man’s voice. Gentle Isabella,
Turn you the key and 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.
… continue reading this quote

Act 1
Scene 4
Line 6

Source Type:

Spoken by:
, ,

Themes:
,

Figures of Speech:
, , , , , , , ,

We must not make a scarecrow of the law

Read the Quote

Angelo
We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape till custom make it
AntithesisTheir perch and not their terror.Metaphor

Well, heaven forgive him and forgive us all.
Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall.
… continue reading this quote

Act 2
Scene 1
Line 1

Source Type:

Spoken by:
, ,

Themes:
,

Figures of Speech:
, , , , , ,

Come you hither to me, Master Tapster

Read the Quote

Escalus
Come you hither to me, Master Tapster. What’s your
name, Master Tapster?
Pompey
Pompey.
Escalus
What else?
Pompey
Bum, sir.

Does your Worship mean to geld and
splay all the youth of the city?

Escalus
Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing
about you,
… continue reading this quote

Act 2
Scene 1
Line 220

Source Type:

Spoken by:
,

Figures of Speech:
, , , ,

Must he needs die?

Read the Quote

Isabella, to Angelo
Must he needs die?
Angelo
  Maiden, no remedy.
Isabella
Yes, I do think that you might pardon him,
And neither heaven nor man grieve at the mercy.

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.
… continue reading this quote

Act 2
Scene 2
Line 65

Source Type:

Spoken by:
, ,

Themes:

Figures of Speech:
, , , , , ,

It is the law, not I, condemn your brother

Read the Quote

Angelo
It is the law, not I, condemn your brother.
Were he my kinsman, brother, or my son,
It should be thus with him. He must die tomorrow.
Isabella
Tomorrow? O, that’s sudden! Spare him, spare him.
He’s not prepared for death.Epizeuxis
Even for our kitchens
We kill the fowl of season.

… continue reading this quote