, believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604. It was (and continues to be) classified as comedy, but its mood defies those expectations. As a result and for a variety of reasons, some critics have labelled it as one of Shakespeare's problem plays
. Originally published in the First Folio
of 1623 (where it was first labelled as a comedy), the play's first recorded performance was in 1604.
He was ever precise in promise-keeping.
I have on Angelo impos'd the office;Who may, in the ambush of my name, strike home.
I hold you as a thing ensky’d and sainted.
A man whose bloodIs very snow-broth; one who never feelsThe wanton stings and motions of the sense.
He arrests him on it;And follows close the rigour of the statute,To make him an example.
Our doubts are traitors,And make us lose the good we oft might win, By fearing to attempt.
'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,Another thing to fall. I do not deny,The jury, passing on the prisoner’s life,May in the sworn twelve have a thief or twoGuiltier than him they try.
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.