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Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure

 Table of Contents

Measure for Measure Mortality Quotes

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Quote #1

O, were it but my life,I'd throw it down for your deliveranceAs 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?

Quote #2

Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;This sensible warm motion to becomeA kneaded clod; and the delighted spiritTo bathe in fiery floods, or to resideIn thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,And blown with restless violence round aboutThe pendent world; or to be worse than worstOf those that lawless and incertain thoughtImagine howling: 'tis too horrible!The weariest and most loathed worldly lifeThat age, ache, penury and imprisonmentCan lay on nature is a paradiseTo 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.

Quote #3

Sir, I have been an unlawful bawd time out of mind;but yet I will be content to be a lawful hangman. Iwould be glad to receive some instruction from myfellow 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? 

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