Measure for Measure (Modern Library Royal Shakespeare Company Series)

Measure for Measure (Modern Library Royal Shakespeare Company Series)

Measure for Measure (Modern Library Royal Shakespeare Company Series)

Measure for Measure (Modern Library Royal Shakespeare Company Series)


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Eminent Shakespearean scholars Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen provide a fresh new edition of this powerful play that explores sexual hypocrisy and questions morality at all levels of society. This volume also includes more than a hundred pages of exclusive features, including:
• an original Introduction to Measure for Measure
• incisive scene-by-scene synopsis and analysis with vital facts about the work
• commentary on past and current productions based on interviews with leading directors, actors, and designers
• photographs of key RSC productions
• an overview of Shakespeare’s theatrical career and chronology of his plays
Ideal for students, theater professionals, and general readers, these modern and accessible editions from the Royal Shakespeare Company set a new standard in Shakespearean literature for the twenty-first century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812969283
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/14/2010
Series: Modern Library Classics
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

About The Author
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King’s New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as “an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers.” Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later under James I, called the King’ s Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain’s Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.

Date of Death:


Place of Birth:

Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

Place of Death:

Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

Read an Excerpt

Act 1 Scene 1 running scene 1

Enter Duke, Escalus, Lords [and Attendants]

DUKE Escalus.

ESCALUS My lord.

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. Then no more remains

But that to your sufficiency as your worth is able,

And let them work. The nature of our people,

Our city's institutions, and the terms

For common justice, you're as pregnant in

As art and practice hath enrichèd any

That we remember. There is our commission, Hands him a paper

From which we would not have you warp. Call hither,

I say, bid come before us Angelo. [Exit an Attendant]

What figure of us think you he will bear?

For you must know, we have with special soul

Elected him our absence to supply;

Lent him our terror, dressed him with our love,

And given his deputation all the organs

Of our own power. What think you of it?

ESCALUS If any in Vienna be of worth

To undergo such ample grace and honour,

It is Lord Angelo.

DUKE Look where he comes.

Enter Angelo

ANGELO Always obedient to your grace's will,

I come to know your pleasure.

DUKE Angelo,

There is a kind of character in thy life

That to th'observer doth thy history

Fully unfold. Thyself and thy belongings

Are not thine own so proper as to waste

Thyself upon thy virtues, they 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, 'twere all alike

As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touched

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. But I do bend my speech

To one that can my part in him advertise.

Hold therefore, Angelo.

In our remove be thou at full ourself:

Mortality and mercy in Vienna

Live in thy tongue and heart. Old Escalus,

Though first in question, is thy secondary.

Take thy commission. Offers a paper

ANGELO Now, good my lord,

Let there be some more test made of my mettle,

Before so noble and so great a figure

Be stamped upon it.

DUKE No more evasion.

We have with a leavened and preparèd choice

Proceeded to you: therefore take your honours. Angelo takes

Our haste from hence is of so quick condition paper

That it prefers itself and leaves unquestioned

Matters of needful value. We shall write to you,

As time and our concernings shall importune,

How it goes with us, and do look to know

What doth befall you here. So, fare you well:

To th'hopeful execution do I leave you

Of your commissions.

ANGELO Yet give leave, my lord,

That we may bring you something on the way.

DUKE My haste may not admit it,

Nor need you, on mine honour, have to do

With any scruple. Your scope is as mine own,

So to enforce or qualify the laws

As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand,

I'll privily away. I love the people,

But do not like to stage me to their eyes:

Though it do well, I do not relish well

Their loud applause and aves vehement,

Nor do I think the man of safe discretion

That does affect it. Once more, fare you well.

ANGELO The heavens give safety to your purposes!

ESCALUS Lead forth and bring you back in happiness!

DUKE I thank you. Fare you well. Exit

ESCALUS I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave

To have free speech with you; and it concerns me

To look into the bottom of my place.

A power I have, but of what strength and nature

I am not yet instructed.

ANGELO 'Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together,

And we may soon our satisfaction have

Touching that point.

ESCALUS I'll wait upon your honour. Exeunt

Act 1 Scene 2 running scene 2

Enter Lucio and two other Gentlemen

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!


LUCIO Thou concludest like the sanctimonious pirate, that went to sea with the Ten Commandments, but scraped one out of the table.

SECOND GENTLEMAN 'Thou shalt not steal'?

LUCIO Ay, that he razed.

FIRST GENTLEMAN Why, 'twas a commandment to command the captain and all the rest from their functions: they put forth to steal. There's not a soldier of us all that, in the thanksgiving before meat, do relish the petition well that prays for peace.

SECOND GENTLEMAN I never heard any soldier dislike it.

LUCIO I believe thee; for I think thou never wast where grace was said.

SECOND GENTLEMAN No? A dozen times at least.

FIRST GENTLEMAN What, in metre?

LUCIO In any proportion or in any language.

FIRST GENTLEMAN I think, or in any religion.

LUCIO Ay, why not? Grace is grace, despite of all controversy: as for example, thou thyself art a wicked villain, despite of all grace.

FIRST GENTLEMAN Well, there went but a pair of shears between us.

LUCIO I grant, as there may between the lists and the velvet. Thou art the list.

FIRST GENTLEMAN And thou the velvet. Thou art good velvet; thou'rt a three-piled piece, I warrant thee. I had as lief be a list of an English kersey as be piled, as thou art piled, for a French velvet. Do I speak feelingly now?

LUCIO I think thou dost, and indeed, with most painful feeling of thy speech. I will, out of thine own confession, learn to begin thy health, but, whilst I live, forget to drink after thee.

FIRST GENTLEMAN I think I have done myself wrong, have I not?

SECOND GENTLEMAN Yes, that thou hast, whether thou art tainted or free.

Enter Bawd [Mistress Overdone]

LUCIO Behold, behold, where Madam Mitigation comes! I have purchased as many diseases under her roof as come to-


LUCIO Judge.

SECOND GENTLEMAN To three thousand dolours a year.


LUCIO A French crown more.

FIRST GENTLEMAN Thou art always figuring diseases in me, but thou art full of error, I am sound.

LUCIO Nay, not as one would say, healthy: but so sound as things that are hollow; thy bones are hollow, impiety has made a feast of thee.

FIRST GENTLEMAN How now! Which of your To Mistress Overdone

hips has the most profound sciatica?

MISTRESS OVERDONE Well, well. There's one yonder arrested and carried to prison was worth five thousand of you all.

SECOND GENTLEMAN Who's that, I pray thee?

MISTRESS OVERDONE Marry, sir, that's Claudio, Signior Claudio.

FIRST GENTLEMAN Claudio to prison? 'Tis not so.

MISTRESS OVERDONE Nay, but I know 'tis so. I saw him arrested, saw him carried away, and, which is more, within these three days his head to be chopped off.

LUCIO But, after all this fooling, I would not have it so. Art thou sure of this?

MISTRESS OVERDONE I am too sure of it. And it is for getting Madam Julietta with child.

LUCIO Believe me, this may be: he promised to meet me two hours since, and he was ever precise in promise-keeping.

SECOND GENTLEMAN Besides, you know, it draws something near to the speech we had to such a purpose.

FIRST GENTLEMAN But most of all agreeing with the proclamation.

LUCIO Away! Let's go learn the truth of it.

Exeunt [Lucio and Gentlemen]

MISTRESS OVERDONE Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what with the gallows and what with poverty, I am custom-shrunk.

Enter Clown [Pompey]

How now? What's the news with you?

POMPEY Yonder man is carried to prison.

MISTRESS OVERDONE Well, what has he done?

POMPEY A woman.

MISTRESS OVERDONE But what's his offence?

POMPEY Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

MISTRESS OVERDONE What, is there a maid with child by him?

POMPEY No, but there's a woman with maid by him. You have not heard of the proclamation, have you?

MISTRESS OVERDONE What proclamation, man?

POMPEY All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down.

MISTRESS OVERDONE And what shall become of those in the city?

POMPEY They shall stand for seed: they had gone down too, but that a wise burgher put in for them.

MISTRESS OVERDONE But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs be pulled down?

POMPEY To the ground, mistress.

MISTRESS OVERDONE Why, here's a change indeed in the commonwealth! What shall become of me?

POMPEY Come, fear you not: good counsellors lack no clients. Though you change your place, you need not change your trade: I'll be your tapster still. Courage! There will be pity taken on you; you that have worn your eyes almost out in the service, you will be considered.

MISTRESS OVERDONE What's to do here, Thomas tapster? Let's withdraw.

POMPEY Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the provost to prison, and there's Madam Juliet. Exeunt

Act 1 Scene 3 running scene 2 continues

Enter Provost, Claudio, Juliet, Officers; Lucio and the two Gentlemen [follow]

CLAUDIO Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to th'world?

Bear me to prison, where I am committed.

PROVOST I do it not in evil disposition,

But from Lord Angelo by special charge.

CLAUDIO Thus can the demigod Authority

Make us pay down for our offence by weight

The words of heaven; on whom it will, it will,

On whom it will not, so. Yet still 'tis just.

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

CLAUDIO From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty:

As surfeit is the father of much fast,

So every scope by the immoderate use

Turns to restraint. Our natures do pursue,

Like rats that ravin down their proper bane,

A thirsty evil, and when we drink we die.

LUCIO If I could speak so wisely under an arrest, I would send for certain of my creditors: and yet, to say the truth, I had as lief have the foppery of freedom as the morality of imprisonment. What's thy offence, Claudio?

CLAUDIO What but to speak of would offend again.

LUCIO What, is't murder?


LUCIO Lechery?

CLAUDIO Call it so.

PROVOST Away, sir. You must go.

CLAUDIO One word, good friend. Lucio, a word with you.

LUCIO A hundred, if they'll do you any good.

Is lechery so looked after?

CLAUDIO Thus stands it with me: upon a true contract

I got possession of Julietta's bed.

You know the lady, she is fast my wife,

Save that we do the denunciation lack

Of outward order. This we came not to

Only for propagation of a dower

Remaining in the coffer of her friends,

From whom we thought it meet to hide our love

Till time had made them for us. But it chances

The stealth of our most mutual entertainment

With character too gross is writ on Juliet.

LUCIO With child, perhaps?

CLAUDIO Unhappily, even so.

And the new deputy now for the duke -

Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness,

Or whether that the body public be

A horse whereon the governor doth ride,

Who, newly in the seat, that it may know

He can command, lets it straight feel the spur:

Whether the tyranny be in his place,

Or in his eminence that fills it up,

I stagger in - but this new governor

Awakes me all the enrollèd penalties

Which have, like unscoured armour, hung by th'wall

So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round

And none of them been worn; and, for a name,

Now puts the drowsy and neglected act

Freshly on me. 'Tis surely for a name.

LUCIO I warrant it is: and thy head stands so tickle on thy shoulders that a milkmaid, if she be in love, may sigh it off. Send after the duke and appeal to him.

CLAUDIO I have done so, but he's not to be found.

I prithee, Lucio, do me this kind service:

This day my sister should the cloister enter

And there receive her approbation.

Acquaint her with the danger of my state,

Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends

To the strict deputy: bid herself assay him.

I have great hope in that, for in her youth

There is a prone and speechless dialect,

Such as move men. Beside, she hath prosperous art

When she will play with reason and discourse,

And well she can persuade.

LUCIO I pray she may; as well for the encouragement of the like, which else would stand under grievous imposition, as for the enjoying of thy life, who I would be sorry should be thus foolishly lost at a game of tick-tack. I'll to her.

CLAUDIO I thank you, good friend Lucio.

LUCIO Within two hours.

CLAUDIO Come, officer, away! Exeunt

Act 1 Scene 4 running scene 3

Enter Duke and Friar Thomas

DUKE No, holy father, throw away that thought:

Believe not that the dribbling dart of love

Can pierce a complete bosom. Why I desire thee

To give me secret harbour hath a purpose

More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends

Of burning youth.

FRIAR THOMAS May your grace speak of it?

DUKE My holy sir, none better knows than you

How I have ever loved the life removed,

And held in idle price to haunt assemblies

Where youth and cost and witless bravery keeps.

I have delivered to Lord Angelo -

A man of stricture and firm abstinence -

My absolute power and place here in Vienna,

And he supposes me travelled to Poland,

For so I have strewed it in the common ear,

And so it is received. Now, pious sir,

You will demand of me why I do this.

FRIAR THOMAS Gladly, my lord.

DUKE We have strict statutes and most biting laws,

The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,

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,

Only to stick it in their children's sight

For terror, not to use, in time the rod

Becomes more mocked than feared: 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.

FRIAR THOMAS It rested in your grace

To unloose this tied-up justice when you pleased:

And it in you more dreadful would have seemed

Than in Lord Angelo.

DUKE I do fear, too dreadful.

Sith 'twas my fault to give the people scope,

'Twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them

For what I bid them do, for we bid this be done,

When evil deeds have their permissive pass

And not the punishment. Therefore indeed, my father,

I have on Angelo imposed the office,

Who may in th'ambush of my name strike home,

And yet my nature never in the fight

To do in slander. And to behold his sway,

I will, as 'twere a brother of your order,

Visit both prince and people: therefore, I prithee,

Supply me with the habit and instruct me

How I may formally in person bear me

Like a true friar. More reasons for this action

At our more leisure shall I render you;

Only, this one: Lord Angelo is precise,

Stands at a guard with envy, scarce confesses

That his blood flows, or that his appetite

Is more to bread than stone. Hence shall we see,

If power change purpose, what our seemers be. Exeunt

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