Measure for Measure Mortality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Riverside edition.
You rogue, I have been drinking all night; I am not
fitted for 't. (4.3.4)
When Barnardine, a drunken prisoner sentenced to die, informs the officials that he is simply too hungover to be executed that day, we're pretty astonished (and amused). But, why does Shakespeare write this scene into the play? How does Barnardine's behavior create meaning in Measure for Measure? It seems like the nineteenth-century literary critic William Hazlitt said it best when he wrote that "Barnardine is a fine antithesis to the morality and the hypocrisy of the other characters in the play."
O, the better, sir; for he that drinks all night,
and is hanged betimes in the morning, may sleep the
sounder all the next day. (4.3.4)
If you thought Barnardine's line about being too hungover to die was astonishing, get a load of Pompey, who says the best cure for a hangover is a good hanging. In other words, if Barnardine is executed, he'll be able to "sleep it off" (so to speak) forever.
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. (1.2.3)
Although Claudio insists that his relationship with Juliet is legit, his view of sexuality is pretty disturbing. Here, he compares having sex to drinking rat poison – the idea is that both acts lead to a painful, gut-wrenching death.