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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #4

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. (1.2.2)

Angelo doesn't waste any time upholding the law, which says it's illegal for men and women to "fornicate" outside of marriage.  When it becomes obvious that Claudio's fiancé is pregnant, Angelo sentences him to death.  Is this a just or fair punishment?  Does the crime measure up to the punishment?  Should fornication even be a crime monitored by the government?

Quote #5

'Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth. (2.4.5)

When Angelo says that fornication and murder are equally "filthy vices," Isabella notes that divine law forbids them both equally but, according to earthly law, murder is worse.

Although many sins are considered crimes in Vienna, Isabella's remark that the laws in "heaven" are at odds with the laws created by man "on earth" remind us that secular law and religious law aren't always compatible in Measure for Measure.

Quote #6

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. (1.2.2)

When Claudio is being led to prison, he wonders at the way humans take it upon themselves to be administrators of God's "heaven[ly]" laws. 

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