English 366C, Section F01: Shakespeare's Comedies and Romances   >   Measure for Measure   >   Adaptation To the previous page To the next page

Measure for Measure: adaptation

Here is a comparison between a passage in Shakespeare's play and the adaptation of it by John Davenant, A Law for Lovers. Consider what it tells us about changes in taste between the writing of the play and the Restoration when Davenant was writing.

[Davenant]
Claudio: . . .But Isabel --
Isabella: What says my brother?
Claudio: Death is a fearful thing.
Isabella: And living shame more hateful.
Sure you have studied what it is to die.
Claudio: Oh sister, 'tis to go we know not whither.
We lie in silent darkness, and we rot;
Where long our motion is not stopt; for though
In graves none walk upright (proudly to face
The stars) yet there we move again, when our
Corruption makes those worms in whom we crawl.
Perhaps the spirit (which is future life)
Dwells salamander-like, unharmed in fire:
Or else with wand'ring winds is blown about
The world. But if condemned like those
Whom our incertain thought imagines howling;
Th[e]n the most loathed and the most weary life
Which age, or ache, want or imprisonment
Can lay on nature, is a paradise
To what we fear of death.
[Shakespeare]
Claudio: O Isabel!
Isabella: What says my brother?
Claudio: Death is a fearful thing.
Isabella: And shamed life a hateful.
Claudio: 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.
To the previous page Top To the next page

This page last updated on 28 August 2006. © Michael Best, 2002.