Measure for Measure
How we cite our quotes:
O, were it but my life,
I'd throw it down for your deliverance
As frankly as a pin. (3.1.12)
Isabella declares that she would give her life to save her brothers but we wonder if this is really true. Some literary critics think Isabella is full of it when she says this. What do you think?
Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thought
Imagine howling: 'tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury and imprisonment
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death. (3.1.17)
Earlier, we saw Claudio try to convince himself that he was ready to face his own mortality. Here, however, he expresses his fear and uncertainty in a speech that seems to anticipate Hamlet's great "To be, or not to be speech," where Hamlet calls death "the undiscover'd country from whose bourn / No traveller returns" (Hamlet, 3.1).
P.S. Literary critic Walter Pater thought this passage was one of the most "eloquent" speeches in all of Shakespeare. We have to agree that it's pretty stunning, but we think Hamlet's speech is awesome too.
Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd time out of mind;
but yet I will be content to be a lawful hangman. I
would be glad to receive some instruction from my
fellow partner. (4.2.2)
Hmm. Pompey makes a very interesting point here. It's illegal for him to work in the sex industry, but it's perfectly "lawful" for him to work as an executioner. What's Shakespeare up to when he puts these words in Pompey's mouth?