William Holman Hunt, Claudio and Isabella

William Holman Hunt, Claudio and Isabella, 1850, oil on mahogany, 758 x 426 x 10 mm (Tate Britain)

From William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Act III, scene 1 (a room in a prison):

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.
ISABELLA Alas, alas!

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Cite this page as: Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris, "William Holman Hunt, Claudio and Isabella," in Smarthistory, December 3, 2015, accessed June 25, 2024, https://smarthistory.org/hunt-claudio-and-isabella-2/.