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Measure for Measure Act 4, Scene 3 Summary

  • Pompey takes a look around the prison and declares that he feels like he's at his workplace, Mistress Overdone's brothel. (In other words, most of Overdone's customers are now in jail.)
  • Abhorson calls Barnardine out of his cell and announces that it's time for him to be executed.
  • Barnardine says he was partying and drinking all night, so he's not fit to be executed right now –on account of his terrible hangover.
  • Pompey says the best cure for a hangover is a good hanging because it allows one to sleep it off… permanently.
  • The Duke arrives in his friar disguise and offers to pray with Barnardine before he dies.
  • Barnardine says he's not feeling well enough to be executed and says he's going back to his cell, but thanks anyway.
  • The Duke orders Pompey and Abhorson to take Barnardine to the chopping block.
  • The Duke complains to the Provost that Barnardine isn't prepared for death and it would be a "damnable" sin to execute a man who isn't ready to die.
  • Duke Vincentio is upset because his plan to substitute Barnardine's head for Claudio's doesn't seem like it will work out. Then, though, the Provost reveals that a pirate who looks like Claudio just died in the prison that morning – they can cut off his head and send it to Angelo. (Gee. What a strange coincidence.)
  • The Provost runs off to hide Claudio so Angelo won't know he's being scammed.
  • The Duke writes Angelo a letter announcing that he'll be back in town soon and that Angelo should meet him at a fountain in Vienna.
  • The Provost returns with Ragusine's head (we now have a name for the conveniently dead pirate who looks just like Claudio) and runs off to deliver it to Angelo.
  • Isabella enters the prison asking about her brother.
  • For some reason, the Duke decides it's a good idea to lie and say that, sadly, Claudio has been executed.
  • Isabella is crushed, but the Duke calms her down by promising that he has a plan to punish Angelo.
  • The Duke gives Isabella a letter to deliver to Friar Peter and promises her that she'll be able to lodge a complaint with the Duke who is due back in Vienna any day now. Isabella should meet with him at Mariana's house later that night.
  • Lucio enters and declares that, if Duke Vincentio hadn't run off to some secret hiding place, he, the Duke never would have allowed Claudio to be executed.
  • Lucio confesses that he once got a girl pregnant, but denied it when he was taken to court. As a result, he got off the hook without having to marry her.

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