Isabella at the Moated Grange

Act 4 Scene 1 – Key Scene

In this scene, Isabella and the disguised duke visit the heartbroken Mariana in her secluded retreat to persuade her to sleep with Angelo in Isabella's place. Isabella tells the disguised duke that Angelo has given her instructions to meet him in a locked and walled garden.

  • Look
    Take a look at the scene. Who has the most lines? Are they using prose or verse? Actors at the RSC often put the language into their own words to help them understand what they are saying. We’ve added some definitions (in green), questions (in red) and paraphrased some sections (in blue) to help with this. You can click on the text that is highlighted for extra guidance.
    I cry you mercy, sir, and well could wish
    You had not found me here so musical.
    Let me excuse me, and believe me so,
    My mirth it much displeased, but pleased my woe.

    I wish you hadn’t found me listening to music. I beg your pardon, believe me, it drove away my sorrow and helped my pain.

    ’Tis good; though music oft hath such a charm
    To make bad good and good provoke to harm.

    I pray you tell me, hath anybody enquired for me here today? Much upon this time have I promised here to meet.

    That’s good, although music often has the power to make bad things seem attractive and encourage good people to misbehave.

    What effects do the rhyming couplets from the Duke and Mariana have in this scene?

    You have not been enquired after: I have sat here all day. [Enter ISABELLA]

    The characters switch between verse and prose in this scene. What effect does this have?

    I do constantly believe you. The time is come even now. I shall crave your forbearance a little, may be I will call upon you anon for some advantage to yourself.

    With confidence.



    I am always bound to you. [Exit]
    Very well met, and welcome.
    What is the news from this good deputy?
    He hath a garden circummured with brick,
    Whose western side is with a vineyard backed;
    And to that vineyard is a planchèd gate
    That makes his opening with this bigger key.
    This other doth command a little door
    Which from the vineyard to the garden leads;
    There have I made my promise, upon the heavy
    Middle of the night
    to call upon him.
    He did show me the way twice o’er.

    Walled around.

    Made of planks.


    In the darkest part of night.

    What is the importance of Isabella’s long description of Angelo’s instructions?

    I have not yet made known to Mariana
    A word of this. What ho, within, come forth. [Enter MARIANA]
    I pray you be acquainted with this maid, She comes to do you good.
    I do desire the like.
    Do you persuade yourself that I respect you?

    Have your best interests at heart.

    Good friar, I know you do, and have found it.
    Take then this your companion by the hand,
    Who hath a story ready for your ear.
    I shall attend your leisure, but make haste:
    The vaporous night approaches.

    What does the duke’s use of language tell you about him and what he’s trying to do?

    Who has something to tell you.

    Murky, unhealthy air.

    (Text edited for rehearsals)
  • Listen
    Read the speech aloud. Are there any words or lines that really stand out?
  • Watch
    Take a look at the actors performing this scene. How do the characters come across in this version?
  • Imagine
    Explore these two images from past versions of Measure for Measure at the RSC. Which sets and staging choices for the opening scene feel right to you?