Measure for Measure Monologue Act 3 Scene 1 | Full Analysis

Measure for Measure Monologue Act 3 Scene 1 (Duke)

Written by on | Monologues Unpacked

This is an iconic monologue from Measure for Measure. This is one of Shakespeare’s most underrated plays, but it is widely loved by avid Shakespeare fans (like myself). It also features many of Shakespeare best monologues. If you are looking for an incredible male Shakespeare monologue, you have landed on an awesome choice. This monologue would serve as a great option for auditions, or just a fun piece to explore for your own acting development.

Where are we: A prison.

Who is present: Duke Vincentio is talking with Claudio, who is currently in prison.

Measure for Measure (Act 3 Scene 1)


Be absolute for death: either death or life
Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life:
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep. A breath thou art,
Servile to all the skyey influences
That dost this habitation where thou keep’st
Hourly afflict. Merely, thou art Death’s fool;
For him thou labourist by thy flight to shun,
And yet run’st toward him still. Thou art not noble;
For all th’accommodations that thou bear’st
Are nurs’d by baseness. Thou’rt by no means valiant;
For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is sleep;
And that thou oft provok’st, yet grossly fear’st
Thy death, which is no more. Thou art not thyself;
For thou exists on many a thousand grains
That issue out of dust. Happy thou art not;
For what thou hast not, still thou striv’st to get,
And what thou hast, forget’st. Thou art not certain;
For thy complexion shifts to strange effects
After the moon. If thou art rich, thou’rt poor;
For like an ass, whose back with ingots bows,
Thou bear’st thy heavy riches but a journey,
And Death unloads thee. Friend hast thou none;
For thine own bowels which do call thee sire,
The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum
For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth, nor age,
But as it were an after-dinner’s sleep
Dreaming on both; for all thy blessed youth
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of palsied eld: and when thou art old and rich,
Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty
To make thy riches pleasant. What’s yet in this
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
Lie hid moe thousand deaths; yet death we fear
That makes these odds all even.

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About the Author

Andrew Hearle

is the founder of StageMilk. Andrew trained at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and is now a Sydney-based actor working in Theatre, Film and Television.

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