Complete Annotated Text
The following version of
The Merchant of Venice is
based on the text in the authoritative 1914 Oxford Edition of
Shakespeare's works, edited by W. J. Craig. The text numbers the
lines, including those with stage directions such as "Enter" and
Please note that the character list (dramatis personae) below
includes descriptions and comments that did not appear in the
original manuscript of the play or in the Oxford edition.
Antonio: A merchant of Venice
who borrows money from the Jewish moneylender Shylock on behalf of
his friend Bassanio. Antonio agrees to pay a pound of flesh if he
defaults on the loan. Antonio is the protagonist (main character)
in the comic plot.
Shylock: Wealthy Jewish
moneylender who seeks revenge for ill treatment by Christians.
Because he is a tragic figure—and the most compelling character in
the play—the drama takes on overtones of tragedy. Shylock is the
protagonist (main character) in the tragic plot.
Portia: Wealthy heiress
wooed by many suitors at her estate, Belmont. Although often
described by Shakespeare interpreters as noble, upright, and
benevolent, a close reading of the play reveals her as a bigot who
despises Jews and blacks.
Bassanio: Friend of
Antonio. Bassanio loves Portia but lacks money to woo and win her.
Duke of Venice: Ruler who
sits as the judge in the trial of Antonio, who defaults on his
loan from Shylock.
Prince of Morocco, Prince of Arragon: Suitors of
Nerissa: Portia's maid.
Gratiano: Friend of
Bassanio. He loves Nerissa.
Salanio, Salarino, Salerio: Friends of Antonio and Bassanio.
Lorenzo: Jessica's suitor
and later her husband.
Tubal, Chus: Lorenzo's Jewish
friends. Chus has no speaking part.
Launcelot Gobbo: Clown
and Shylock's servant.
Old Gobbo: Launcelot's
Balthasar, Stephano: Portia's servants.
Leah: Wife of Shylock. She
has no speaking role.
Margery: Wife of Old
Gobbo. She is Launcelot's mother. Margery has no speaking role.
Magnificoes of Venice, officers of the court of justice, gaoler
(jailer), servants, attendants.
Text of the Merchant
Annotations by Michael J.
Act 1, Scene 1: Venice. A street.
Act 1, Scene 2: Belmont. A room in
Act 1, Scene 3: Venice. A public
Act 2, Scene 1: Belmont. A room in
Act 2, Scene 2: Venice. A street.
Act 2, Scene 3: Venice. A room in
Act 2, Scene 4: Venice. A street.
Act 2, Scene 5: Venice. In front of
Act 2, Scene 6: Venice. In front of
Act 2, Scene 7: Belmont. A room in
Act 2, Scene 8: Venice. A street.
Act 2, Scene 9: Belmont. A room in
Act 3, Scene 1: Venice. A street.
Act 3, Scene 2: Belmont. A room in
Act 3, Scene 3: Venice. A street.
Act 3, Scene 4: Belmont. A room in
Act 3, Scene 5: Belmont. A garden.
Act 4, Scene 1: Venice. A court of
Act 4, Scene 2: Venice. A street.
Act 5, Scene 1: Belmont. The avenue
to Portia's house.
Act 1, Scene 1
Venice. A street
Enter ANTONIO, SALARINO, and SALANIO.
ANTONIO: In sooth [truth],
I know not why I am so sad:
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado [trouble;
bother] to know myself.
SALARINO: Your mind is tossing on the
There, where your argosies [merchant
ships laden with valuable cargo] with portly [wind-filled]
Like signiors [signors: Italian
gentlemen; misters] Iand rich burghers [businessmen] on the
Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea,—
Do overpeer the petty
[on the flood . . . traffickers:
passing by in large ships, as if in a pageant, that look down on
smaller vessels of lesser men]
That curtsy to them, do them reverence,
As they fly by them with their woven wings [sails].
SALANIO: Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
[venture forth: fleet of ships
making money for me]
The better part of my affections would
Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still [constantly]
Plucking the grass to know where sits the wind;
[Plucking . . . wind: Plucking a
long blade of grass and holding it up to determine the wind
Peering in maps for ports, and piers, and roads [anchorage sites];
And every object that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
Would make me sad.
SALARINO: My wind, cooling my broth,
Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
What harm a wind too great might do at sea.
[My wind . . . sea: Blowing my
breath to cool a bowl of hot broth would give me a fever, for I
would be reminded of what harm a great wind can to do ships.]
I should not see the sandy hour-glass run
But I should think of shallows and of flats [sandbars],
And see my wealthy Andrew [ship]
dock’d in sand
Vailing [lowering] her
high-top lower than her ribs [supports
on the sides of ships]
To kiss her burial [sinking].
Should I go to church
And see the holy edifice of stone,
And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,
Which touching but my gentle vessel’s side
Would scatter all her spices on the stream,
Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks;
[Should I go . . . silks: Going
to a church built of stone would make me think of dangerous
rocks gashing the side of my ship and releasing its cargo,
including spices and silks.]
And, in a word, but even now worth this,
And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
[even now . . . nothing: One
moment, the ship has a fortune on board; the next moment, it has
To think on this, and shall I lack the thought
That such a thing bechanc’d [unlucky]
would make me sad?
But tell not me: I know Antonio
Is sad to think upon his merchandise.
ANTONIO: Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
Upon the fortune of this present year:
Therefore, my merchandise makes me not sad.
SALARINO: Why, then you are in love.
ANTONIO: Fie, fie! [Expression
of dismay or disapproval]
SALARINO: Not in love neither? Then let’s say you are
Because you are not merry: and ’twere as easy
For you to laugh and leap, and say you are
Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Janus [in Roman mythology, a god with faces
on the front and back of his head]
Nature hath fram’d strange fellows in her time:
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes
And laugh like parrots at a bag-piper,
And other of such vinegar aspect
That they’ll not show their teeth in way of
Though Nestor [in ancient Greek
mythology, a wise old man] swear the jest be
Enter BASSANIO, LORENZO, and GRATIANO.
SALANIO: Here comes Bassanio, your most noble
Gratiano, and Lorenzo. Fare ye well:
We leave you now with better company.
SALARINO: I would have stay’d till I had made you
If worthier friends had not prevented me.
[If worthier . . . me: If your
worthier friends had not come along]
ANTONIO: Your worth is very dear in my
I take it, your own business calls on you,
And you embrace the occasion to depart.
SALARINO: Good morrow, my good lords.
BASSANIO: Good signiors [signors:
Italian gentlemen; misters] both, when shall we laugh?
You grow exceeding strange: must it be so?
[Good signiors . . . be so?: Good
sirs (Salarino and Salanio), when are we going to get together
to have a merry time? You've been strangers to me lately. Must
it be so?]
SALARINO: We’ll make our leisures to attend on yours.
[Exeunt SALARINO and SALANIO.
[We'll . . . yours: We'll get
together with you whenever you please.]
[Exeunt: Stage direction
indicating that two or more characters are leaving the stage]
LORENZO: My Lord Bassanio, since you have found
We too will leave you; but, at dinner-time,
I pray you, have in mind where we must meet.
BASSANIO: I will not fail you.
GRATIANO: You look not well, Signior
You have too much respect upon the world:
[You have . . . world: You are
too preoccupied with the business world.]
They lose it that do buy it with much care:
Believe me, you are marvellously [greatly]
ANTONIO: I hold the world but as the world,
A stage where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.
GRATIANO: Let me play the fool [jester; comedian; merrymaker]:
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
[With mirth . . . come: Let me
laugh and make merry as the years pass.]
And let my liver rather heat with wine
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
[Sit . . . alabaster: Sit
around like a stone statue of his grandfather]
Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice [depression; sadness]
By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio—
I love thee, and it is my love that speaks—
There are a sort of men whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
And do a wilful stillness
[men whose visages . . .
entertain: Men whose faces scum over like stagnant water and who
remain quiet and aloof]
With purpose to be dress’d in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;
[With purpose . . . conceit: Such
men get a reputation for spending all their time trying to be
wise, grave, and lost in thought.]
As who should say, ‘I am Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips let no dog bark!’
[As who . . . bark!: These men
might say, "I am a wise man. When I speak, everyone should keep
O, my Antonio, I do know of these,
That therefore only are reputed wise
For saying nothing; when, I am very sure,
If they should speak, would almost damn those
Which, hearing them, would call their brothers
I’ll tell thee more of this another time:
But fish not, with this melancholy bait,
For this fool-gudgeon, this opinion.
[But fish . . . opinion: But
don't go through life trying to attract attention with a
melancholy demeanor. You'll only attract the attention
offools whose opinions are not worth your time. Note: a gudgeon
is a fish that is easy to catch.]
Come, good Lorenzo. Fare ye well a while:
I’ll end my exhortation after dinner.
LORENZO: Well, we will leave you then till
I must be one of these same dumb-wise men,
For Gratiano never lets me speak.
GRATIANO: Well, keep me company but two years moe [more],
Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own
ANTONIO: Farewell: I’ll grow a talker for this gear.
[Farewell . . . gear: Well, now
that I've heard your advice, I'll be more outgoing and
GRATIANO: Thanks, i’ faith; for silence is only
In a neat’s tongue dried and a maid not vendible. [Exeunt
GRATIANO and LORENZO.
[neat's tongue dried: Dried ox
[maid . . . vendible: Woman
without marketable charms; old maid.]
ANTONIO: Is that anything now? [Is what he saying really true?]
BASSANIO: Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more
than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat
hid in two bushels of chaff: you shall seek all day ere you find
them, and, when you have them, they are not worth the
[Gratiano speaks . . . search:
Gratiano talks a lot but doesn't really say anything
In the following passage, Antonio asks Bassanio about a young lady
whom Bassanio wishes to woo. But Bassanio says he is in debt and
thus lacks the money to carry on a proper courtship. Antonio then
says he will provide his friend the financial means to woo the
ANTONIO: Well, tell me now, what lady is the
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
That you to-day promis’d to tell me of?
BASSANIO: ’Tis not unknown to you,
How much I have disabled mine estate,
By something showing a more swelling port
Than my faint means would grant continuance:
[By something . . .
continuance: By spending money lavishly. Eventually I drove
myself into debt.]
Nor do I now make moan to be abridg’d
From such a noble rate; but my chief care
Is, to come fairly off from the great debts
Wherein my time, something too prodigal,
Hath left me gag’d. To you, Antonio,
[Nor do I . . . gag'd: But I am
not moaning and groaning about having to rein in my spending.
What I want now is to pay off the bills that plunged me deep
I owe the most, in money and in love;
And from your love I have a warranty
To unburthen all my plots and purposes
How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
[I have . . . owe: I have an
obligation to tell you about my plan to clear away all my
ANTONIO: I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know
And if it stand, as you yourself still do,
Within the eye of honour, be assur’d,
My purse, my person, my extremest means,
Lie all unlock’d to your occasions.
BASSANIO: In my school-days, when I had lost one
I shot his fellow of the self-same flight
The self-same way with more advised watch,
To find the other forth, and by adventuring
I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof,
Because what follows is pure innocence.
I owe you much, and, like a wilful youth,
That which I owe is lost; but if you please
To shoot another arrow that self way
Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As I will watch the aim, or to find both,
Or bring your latter hazard back again,
And thankfully rest debtor for the first.
[In my school-. . . the first: In
my school days, whenever I lost an arrow while practicing
archery, I would shoot another arrow in the same direction with
the same arc, watching carefully. In so doing, I would often
find the first arrow, since the second arrow would land near it.
Here's why I am telling you about this childhool experience. I
owe you a lot of money, but I have lost it--like the first
arrow. But if you shoot another arrow toward what I lost, I will
watch it carefully. I'll certainly be able to get back your
arrow (what you lend me). But if I'm lucky, I'll get back both
arrows--that is, I'll be in the money and again and be able to
pay back everything I owe you.]
ANTONIO: You know me well, and herein spend but
To wind about my love with circumstance;
And out of doubt you do me now more wrong
In making question of my uttermost
Than if you had made waste of all I have:
Then do but say to me what I should do
That in your knowledge may by me be done,
And I am prest unto it [ready to
help you]: therefore speak.
BASSANIO: In Belmont is a lady richly left [a lady with a large inheritance],
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wondrous virtues: sometimes from her eyes
I did receive fair speechless messages:
Her name is Portia; nothing undervalu’d
To Cato’s daughter, Brutus’ Portia:
[nothing . . . Portia: The
Belmont Portia is just as virtuous as the Portia who was married
to the ancient Roman senator, Marcus Brutus (84-42 BC).]
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
For the four winds blow in from every coast
Renowned suitors; and her sunny locks
Hang on her temples like a golden fleece;
Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos’ Strond,
And many Jasons come in quest of her.
[her sunny . . . quest of her:
Her blond hair resembles the golden fleece. In Greek mythology,
the fleece was sheared from a golden ram that was sacrificed to
Zeus at Colchis, a region along the Black Sea. The Greek hero
Jason retrieved the fleece and took it back to his homeland.]
O my Antonio! had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them,
I have a mind presages me such thrift [profit],
That I should questionless be fortunate.
ANTONIO: Thou knowest that all my fortunes are at
Neither have I money, nor commodity
To raise a present sum: therefore go forth;
Try what my credit can in Venice do:
That shall be rack’d [stretched],
even to the uttermost,
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
Go, presently inquire, and so will I,
Where money is, and I no question make
To have it of my trust or for my sake.
[To have . . . trust: To make an
arrangement to borrow it]
Act 1, Scene 2
Belmont. A Room in
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA.
PORTIA: By my troth [faith;
faithfulness], Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this
NERISSA: You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in
the same abundance as your good fortunes are: and yet, for aught I
see [from what I observe],
they are as sick that surfeit with [surfeit with: indulge in] too much as they that
starve with nothing. It is no mean [small] happiness therefore, to be seated in the
mean [to be satisfied with basic
needs]: superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but
competency lives longer.
[superfluity . . . longer: Living
the high life will give you white hairs sooner than living
simply and frugally.]
PORTIA: Good sentences [wise
sayings; proverbs] and well pronounced.
NERISSA: They would be better if well
PORTIA: If to do were as easy as to know what were good to
do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’
palaces. It is a good divine [clergyman]
that follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what
were good to be done [what is
the right thing to do], than be one of the twenty to
follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood,
but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree: such a hare is madness
the youth, to skip o’er the meshes of good counsel the cripple. [such a hare . . . cripple:
Hot-blooded young people are like a hare in that they jump over
good advice without taking it.] But this reasoning is not
in the fashion to choose me a husband [But . . . husband: But this reasoning won't help me to
choose a husband]. O me, the word ‘choose!’ I may neither
choose whom I would [choose whom
I like] nor refuse whom I dislike; so is the will of a
living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. Is it not
hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one nor refuse
NERISSA: Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men at
their death have good inspirations; therefore, the lottery [drawing] that he hath devised
in these three chests of gold, silver, and lead, whereof who
chooses his meaning [the right
chest, the one containing a portrait of Portia] chooses
you, will, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly but one who
you shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection
towards any of these princely suitors that are already
PORTIA: I pray thee, over-name them [repeat their names], and as
thou namest them, I will describe them; and, according to my
description, level at my affection.
NERISSA: First, there is the Neapolitan prince [prince from Naples, Italy].
PORTIA: Ay, that’s a colt indeed, for he doth nothing but
talk of his horse; and he makes it a great appropriation to his
own good parts that he can shoe him himself. I am much afeard my
lady his mother played false with a smith. [I am . . . smith: I think his mother
must have gone to bed with a blacksmith.]
NERISSA: Then is there the County [Count] Palatine.
PORTIA: He doth nothing but frown, as who should say, ‘An [if] you will not have me,
choose.’ He hears merry tales, and smiles not: I fear he will
prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so full of
unmannerly sadness in his youth. I had rather be married to a
death’s-head with a bone in his mouth than to either of these. God
defend me from these two!
NERISSA: How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le
PORTIA: God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man.
In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker; but, he! why, he hath
a horse better than the Neapolitan’s, a better bad habit of
frowning than the Count Palatine; he is every man in no man; if a
throstle [thrush, a songbird]
sing, he falls straight a-capering; he will fence with his own
shadow: if I should marry him, I should marry twenty husbands. If
he would despise me, I would forgive him, for if he love me to
madness, I shall never requite him.
[If he love . . . requite him: No
matter how much love he lavished on me, I would not return it.]
NERISSA: What say you, then, to Falconbridge, the young
baron of England?
PORTIA: You know I say nothing to him, for he understands
not me, nor I him: he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian; and
you will come into the court and swear that I have a poor
pennyworth in the English. He is a proper [handsome] man’s picture, but,
alas! who can converse with a dumb-show [with such a bozo]? How oddly he is suited! I
think he bought his doublet [close-fitting
sleeveless jacket] in Italy, his round hose [breeches extending down to the
knees] in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his
behaviour every where.
NERISSA: What think you of the Scottish lord, his
PORTIA: That he hath a neighbourly charity in him, for he
borrowed [suffered; received]
a box of the ear of the Englishman, and swore he would pay him
again [pay him back] when
he was able: I think the Frenchman became his surety and sealed
under for another.
[the Frenchman . . . another: The
Frenchman agreed to help the Scotsman and sealed his pledge with
another slap to the Scot.]
NERISSA: How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony’s
PORTIA: Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober, and
most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk: when he is best,
he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is
little better than a beast. An [if]
the worst fall that ever fell, I hope I shall make shift [find a way] to go without
NERISSA: If he should offer to choose, and choose the right
casket, you should refuse to perform your father’s will, if you
should refuse to accept him.
PORTIA: Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee, set a
deep glass of Rhenish [Rhine]
wine on the contrary casket, for, if the devil be within and that
temptation without, I know he will choose it. I will do anything,
Nerissa, ere [before] I
will be married to a sponge.
NERISSA: You need not fear, lady, the having any of these
lords: they have acquainted me with their determinations; which
is, indeed, to return to their home and to trouble you with no
more suit, unless you may be won by some other sort [way; means] than your
father’s imposition depending on the caskets.
PORTIA: If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as
chaste as Diana, unless I be obtained by the manner of my father’s
will. I am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable, for there
is not one among them but I dote on his very absence, and I pray
God grant them a fair departure.
[Sybilla: Sybil, a character in
the Aeneid, by Virgil (70-19 BC). Sybil led the
Roman hero Aeneas into and out of the underworld. She was seven
hundred years old at the time. When Aeneas asked how she came to
be so old, she told him that the god Apollo granted her when she
was young as many years as there are grains of sand. However,
because she rejected him as a lover, Apollo refused to grant her
eternal youth. As she lived on and on, she also shriveled and
shrank. She told Aeneas that eventually nothing would be left of
her but her voice.]
NERISSA: Do you not remember, lady, in your father’s time, a
Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither in the company
of the Marquis of Montferrat?
PORTIA: Yes, yes: it was Bassanio; as I think, he was so
NERISSA: True, madam: he, of all the men that ever my
foolish eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a fair
PORTIA: I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of
Enter a Servant.
How now! what news?
SERVANT: The four strangers seek for you, madam, to take
their leave; and there is a forerunner come from a fifth, the
Prince of Morocco, who brings word the prince his master will be
PORTIA: If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good heart
as I can bid the other four farewell, I should be glad of his
approach: if he have the condition of a saint and the complexion
of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive
Come, Nerissa. Sirrah, go before.
Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the
Act 1, Scene 3
Venice. A public
Enter BASSANIO and SHYLOCK.
SHYLOCK: Three thousand ducats; well?
[ducats (DUK its): Gold or silver
coins once used in Italy, the Netherlands, and some other
BASSANIO: Ay, sir, for three months.
SHYLOCK: For three months; well?
BASSANIO: For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be
SHYLOCK: Antonio shall become bound; well?
BASSANIO: May you stead [help]
me? Will you pleasure me? Shall I know your
SHYLOCK: Three thousand ducats, for three months, and
BASSANIO: Your answer to that.
SHYLOCK: Antonio is a good man.
BASSANIO: Have you heard any imputation to the
SHYLOCK: Ho, no, no, no, no: my meaning in saying he is a
good man is to have you understand me that he is sufficient. Yet
his means are in supposition [not
necessarily secure]: he hath an argosy bound to Tripolis
[region of northern Africa],
another to the Indies; I understand moreover upon the Rialto [an island that was the business
center of Venice], he hath a third at Mexico, a fourth
for England, and other ventures he hath, squandered abroad. But
ships are but boards, sailors but men: there be land-rats and
water-rats, land-thieves, and water-thieves,—I mean pirates,—and
then there is the peril of waters, winds, and rocks. The man is,
notwithstanding, sufficient. Three thousand ducats; I think, I may
take his bond.
BASSANIO: Be assured you may.
SHYLOCK: I will be assured I may; and, that I may be
assured, I will bethink me [this
about this matter]. May I speak with
BASSANIO: If it please you to dine with
SHYLOCK: Yes, to smell pork; to eat of the habitation [body of a pig] which your
prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into. [In the Bible, the gospel of Mark
(5:1-17) tells of an exorcism in which Jesus cast devils out of
the body of a man. The devils then entered the bodies of pigs.]
I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you,
and so following; but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor
pray with you. What news on the Rialto? Who is he comes
BASSANIO: This is Signior Antonio.
SHYLOCK: [Aside.] How like a fawning publican [tax collector who bows and kowtows]
[Aside: Stage direction
indicating that a character is whispering or speaking in a low
voice so that another character (or other characters) cannot
hear him. In a stage performance, however, the actor playing the
character speaks loudly enough for the audience to hear him.]
I hate him for he is a Christian;
But more for that in low simplicity
He lends out money gratis, and brings down
The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
[But more . . . Venice: But I
hate him more for his foolish practice of lending money without
charging interest. This practice brings down the rate of
interest that people like me can charge. Shylock and other
businessmen generally charged an excessive interest rate.]
If I can catch him once upon the hip,
I will feed fat the
ancient grudge I bear him.
[If I . . . bear him: If I can
outsmart him, I can turn the tables on him and gain revenge
against him and his kind.]
He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
Even there where merchants most do congregate,
On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe,
If I forgive him!
BASSANIO: Shylock, do you hear?
SHYLOCK: I am debating of my present
And, by the near guess of my memory,
I cannot instantly raise up the gross
Of full three thousand ducats. What of that?
Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe,
Will furnish me. But soft! how many months
Do you desire? [To ANTONIO.] Rest you fair, good
Your worship was the last man in our mouths.
ANTONIO: Shylock, albeit I neither lend nor
By taking nor by giving of excess,
Yet, to supply the ripe wants of my friend,
I’ll break a custom. [To BASSANIO.] Is he yet
How much ye would? [Does he know
how much you want?]
SHYLOCK: Ay, ay, three thousand ducats.
ANTONIO: And for three months.
SHYLOCK: I had forgot; three months; you told me
Well then, your bond; and let me see. But hear
Methought you said you neither lend nor borrow
Upon advantage [at interest].
ANTONIO: I do never use it.
SHYLOCK: When Jacob graz’d his uncle Laban’s
This Jacob from our holy Abram was,
As his wise mother wrought in his behalf,
The third possessor: ay, he was the third,—
[Jacob was the grandson of Abram, or Abraham. Abraham made Jacob's
father, Isaac, his heir. Isaac, in turn, made Jacob his heir.
Thus, Jacob was--as Shylock says--"the third possessor."
ANTONIO: And what of him? did he take
In the following passage (lines 57-71), Shylock paraphases a story
in Genesis 30:27-43. The story says that, while tending Laban's
sheep, Jacob found a way to develop his own flock without
"charging interest" or stealing from Laban.
SHYLOCK: No; not take interest; not, as you would
Directly interest: mark what Jacob did.
When Laban and himself were compromis’d [agreed],
That all the eanlings [baby
lambs] that were streak’d and pied [having patchy color]
Should fall as Jacob’s hire [Jacob's
wages], the ewes, being rank [in heat],
In end of autumn turned to the rams;
And, when the work of generation was
Between these woolly breeders in the act,
The skilful shepherd peel’d me certain wands,
And, in the doing of the deed of kind,
He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes,
Who, then conceiving, did in eaning time
Fall parti-colour’d lambs, and those were
[The skilful . . . were Jacob's:
It was said that a ewe would give birth to a lamb with a coat
resembling whatever she was looking at when she mated. So Jacob
placed in front of them tree branches with the bark peeled off
here and there. Thus, the ewes gave birth to lambs with streaks
and patches here and there. Laban, of course, had agreed that
all sheep with patchy fleeces would be Jacob's.]
This was a way to thrive, and he was blest:
And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.
ANTONIO: This was a venture, sir, that Jacob serv’d
A thing not in his power to bring to pass,
But sway’d and fashion’d by the hand of heaven.
Was this [story] inserted
to make interest good [justifiable]?
Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams?
SHYLOCK: I cannot tell; I make it breed as
But note me, signior.
ANTONIO: Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul, producing holy witness,
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
SHYLOCK: Three thousand ducats; ’tis a good round
Three months from twelve, then let me see the
ANTONIO: Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to
SHYLOCK: Signior Antonio, many a time and
In the Rialto you have rated [berated]
About my moneys and my usances [usury;
charging high interest rates]:
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For sufferance [patience]
is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spet [spit] upon my
Jewish gaberdine [cloak made of
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Well then, it now appears you need my help:
Go to then; you come to me, and you say,
‘Shylock, we would have moneys:’ you say so;
You, that did void your rheum [mucus
or spit] upon my beard,
And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
Over your threshold:
moneys is your suit.
[And foot . . . threshold: And
kick me as you would a stray dog at your doorstep]
What should I say to you? Should I not say,
‘Hath a dog money? Is it possible
A cur can lend three thousand ducats?’ or
Shall I bend low, and in a bondman’s key [slave's tone],
With bated breath, and whispering humbleness,
‘Fair sir, you spet [spit]
on me on Wednesday last;
You spurn’d me such a day; another time
You call’d me dog; and for these courtesies
I’ll lend you thus much moneys?’
ANTONIO: I am as like to call thee so
To spet on thee again, to spurn thee too.
If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
As to thy friends,—for when did friendship take
A breed for barren metal of his friend?—
[when did . . . friend?: When did
anyone charge a friend interest for a loan?]
But lend it rather to thine enemy:
Who if he break [fails to pay
back the money], thou mayst with better
Exact the penalty.
SHYLOCK: Why, look you, how you storm!
I would be friends with you, and have your love,
Forget the shames that you have stain’d me with,
Supply your present wants, and take no doit
Of usance for my moneys, and you’ll not hear me:
[no doit of usance: Not one cent
of interest. A doit was a Dutch coin worth a small
This is kind I offer. [This
is kind of me to make this offer.]
ANTONIO: This were kindness.
SHYLOCK: This kindness will I show.
Go with me to a notary, seal me there
Your single bond; and, in a merry sport,
If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Express’d in the condition, let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me.
ANTONIO: Content, i’ faith: I’ll seal to such a
And say there is much kindness in the Jew.
BASSANIO: You shall not seal to such a bond for
I’ll rather dwell in my necessity.
[dwell . . . necessity: Remain in
ANTONIO: Why, fear not, man; I will not forfeit
Within these two months, that’s a month before
This bond expires, I do expect return
Of thrice three times the value of this bond.
SHYLOCK: O father Abram! what these Christians
Whose own hard dealing teaches them suspect
The thoughts of others. Pray you, tell me this;
If he should break his day [fail
to pay in time], what should I gain
By the exaction of the forfeiture?
A pound of man’s flesh, taken from a man,
Is not so estimable, profitable neither,
As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say,
To buy his favour, I extend this friendship:
If he will take it, so; if not, adieu [farewell];
And, for my love, I pray you wrong me not.
ANTONIO: Yes, Shylock, I will seal unto this
SHYLOCK: Then meet me forthwith at the
Give him direction for this merry bond,
And I will go and purse the ducats straight,
See to my house, left in the fearful guard
Of an unthrifty knave, and presently
I will be with you.
ANTONIO: Hie thee [Go],
gentle Jew. [Exit SHYLOCK.
This Hebrew will turn Christian: he grows kind.
BASSANIO: I like not fair terms and a villain’s
ANTONIO: Come on: in this there can be no
My ships come home a month before the day.
Act 2, Scene 1
Belmont. A Room in
Flourish of Cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF MOROCCO, and his
Followers; PORTIA, NERISSA, and Others of her Train.
[Flourish of Cornets: Short tune
played by cornets to herald the entrance of a royal person, the
Prince of Morocco]
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: Mislike me not for my
The shadow’d livery of
the burnish’d sun,
[The shadow'd . . . sun: The
black uniform I wear as a servant of the sun]
To whom I am a neighbour and near bred.
Bring me the fairest creature northward born,
Where Phoebus’ fire scarce thaws the icicles,
[Phoebus: In Greek mythology, the
name used for Apollo in his role as the sun god]
And let us make incision for your love,
To prove whose blood is reddest [boldest;
bravest], his or mine.
I tell thee, lady, this aspect [face;
appearance] of mine
Hath fear’d [frightened]
the valiant: by my love, I swear
The best regarded virgins of our clime [country; region]
Have lov’d it too: I would not change this hue,
Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.
PORTIA: In terms of choice I am not solely
By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes;
Besides, the lottery of my destiny
Bars me the right of voluntary choosing:
But if my father had not scanted me
And hedg’d me by his wit, to yield myself
His wife who wins me by that means I told you,
[But if . . . told you: But if my
father had not made me promise to marry the man who won me by a
Yourself, renowned prince, then stood as fair
As any comer I have look’d on yet
For my affection.
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: Even for that I thank
Therefore, I pray you, lead me to the caskets
To try my fortune. By this scimitar [sword with a curved blade],—
That slew the Sophy [Persian
king], and a Persian prince
That won three fields of Sultan Solyman,—
[That won . . . Solyman: That won
three battles against the Turkish emperor Suleiman]
I would outstare the sternest eyes that look,
Outbrave the heart most daring on the earth,
Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she-bear,
Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey,
To win thee, lady. But, alas the while!
If Hercules and Lichas [servant
of Hercules] play at dice
Which is the better man, the greater throw
May turn by fortune from the weaker hand:
So is Alcides [another name for
Hercules] beaten by his page;
And so may I, blind fortune leading me,
Miss that which one unworthier may attain,
And die with grieving.
PORTIA: You must take your chance;
And either not attempt to choose at all,
Or swear before you choose, if you choose wrong,
Never to speak to lady afterward
In way of marriage: therefore be advis’d.
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: Nor will not: come, bring me unto my
PORTIA: First, forward to the temple: after
Your hazard shall be made [You
will try your luck].
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: Good fortune then!
To make me blest or cursed’st among men! [Cornets, and
Act 2, Scene 2
Venice. A Street.
Enter LAUNCELOT GOBBO.
LAUNCELOT: Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from
this Jew my master. The fiend [devil]
is at mine elbow, and tempts me, saying to me, ‘Gobbo, Launcelot
Gobbo, good Launcelot,’ or ‘good Gobbo,’ or ‘good Launcelot Gobbo,
use your legs, take the start, run away.’ My conscience says, ‘No;
take heed, honest Launcelot; take heed, honest Gobbo;’ or, as
aforesaid, ‘honest Launcelot Gobbo; do not run; scorn running with
thy heels.’ Well, the most courageous fiend bids me pack: ‘Via!’ [Go!] says the fiend; ‘away!’
says the fiend; ‘for the heavens, rouse up a brave mind,’ says the
fiend, ‘and run.’ Well, my conscience, hanging about the neck of
my heart, says very wisely to me, ‘My honest friend Launcelot,
being an honest man’s son,’—or rather an honest woman’s son;—for,
indeed, my father did something smack [taste], something grow to, he had a kind of
taste; [for, indeed . . . kind
of taste: Launcelot's father did something dishonest, but it is
not clear what his offense was.]
—well, my conscience says, ‘Launcelot, budge not.’ ‘Budge,’ says
the fiend. ‘Budge not,’ says my conscience. ‘Conscience,’ say I,
‘you counsel well;’ ‘fiend,’ say I, ‘you counsel well:’ to be
ruled by my conscience, I should stay with the Jew my master, who,
God bless the mark! [God forgive
me], is a kind of devil; and, to run away from the Jew, I
should be ruled by the fiend, who, saving your reverence [sorry to say], is the devil
himself. Certainly, the Jew is the very devil incarnal [incarnate]; and, in my
conscience, my conscience is but a kind of hard conscience, to
offer to counsel me to stay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more
friendly counsel: I will run, fiend; my heels are at your
commandment; I will run.
Enter Old GOBBO, with a basket.
OLD GOBBO: Master young man, you; I pray you, which is the
way to Master Jew’s?
LAUNCELOT: [Aside.] O heavens! this is my
true-begotten father, who, being more than sandblind [partly blind], high-gravel
blind [almost totally blind],
knows me not: I will try confusions with him [I will have a little fun with him].
OLD GOBBO: Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is the
way to Master Jew’s?
LAUNCELOT: Turn up on your right hand at the next turning,
but, at the next turning of all, on your left; marry, at the very
next turning, turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly to the
OLD GOBBO: By God’s sonties [saints], ’twill be a hard way to hit [hard to find]. Can you tell
me whether one Launcelot, that dwells with him, dwell with him or
no [still lives with him]?
LAUNCELOT: Talk you of young Master Launcelot?
[Aside.] Mark me now; now will I raise the waters. Talk you
of young Master Launcelot?
OLD GOBBO: No master, sir, but a poor man’s son: his father,
though I say it, is an honest, exceeding poor man, and, God be
thanked, well to live [living an
LAUNCELOT: Well, let his father be what a’ will, we talk of
young Master Launcelot.
OLD GOBBO: Your worship’s friend, and Launcelot,
LAUNCELOT: But I pray you, ergo [therefore], old man, ergo, I beseech you, talk
you of young Master Launcelot?
OLD GOBBO: Of Launcelot, an [if] ’t please your mastership.
LAUNCELOT: Ergo, Master Launcelot. Talk not of Master
Launcelot, father; for the young gentleman,—according to Fates and
Destinies and such odd sayings, the Sisters Three and such
branches of learning,—is, indeed, deceased; or, as you would say
in plain terms, gone to heaven.
[Sisters Three: In Greek
mythology, the three Fates, who controlled the destinies of
humans. Their names were Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos.]
OLD GOBBO: Marry [By the
Blessed Virgin Mary], God forbid! the boy was the very
staff of my age, my very prop.
LAUNCELOT: [Aside.] Do I look like a cudgel or a
hovel-post [post supporting a
hovel, a small dwelling], a staff or a prop? Do you know
OLD GOBBO: Alack [expression
of dismay] the day! I know you not, young gentleman: but
I pray you, tell me, is my boy,—God rest his soul!—alive or
LAUNCELOT: Do you not know me, father?
OLD GOBBO: Alack, sir, I am sand-blind [partly blind]; I know you
LAUNCELOT: Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail
of the knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his own child.
Well, old man, I will tell you news of your son. Give me your
blessing; truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a
man’s son may, but, in the end, truth will out.
OLD GOBBO: Pray you, sir, stand up. I am sure you are not
Launcelot, my boy.
LAUNCELOT: Pray you, let’s have no more fooling about it,
but give me your blessing: I am Launcelot, your boy that was, your
son that is, your child that shall be.
OLD GOBBO: I cannot think you are my son.
LAUNCELOT: I know not what I shall think of that; but I am
Launcelot, the Jew’s man, and I am sure Margery your wife is my
OLD GOBBO: Her name is Margery, indeed: I’ll be sworn, if
thou be Launcelot, thou art mine own flesh and blood. Lord
worshipped might he be! what a beard hast thou got! thou hast got
more hair on thy chin than Dobbin my thill-horse has on his tail.
[thill: One of two long shafts
beteween which a horse is harnessed when it pulls a wagon.]
LAUNCELOT: It should seem then that Dobbin’s tail grows
backward: I am sure he had more hair on his tail than I have on my
face, when I last saw him.
OLD GOBBO: Lord! how art thou changed. How dost thou and thy
master agree? I have brought him a present. How ’gree you
LAUNCELOT: Well, well: but for mine own part, as I have set
up my rest to run away, so I will not rest till I have run some
ground. [Rest was a term used in an old card game,
primero, to signify a stake. In Launcelot's sentence, rest suggests that he is betting
everything to run away from Shylock.] My master’s a very
Jew: give him a present! give him a halter [noose]: I am famished in his
service; you may tell every finger I have with my ribs. [Notice how my ribs stick out.]
Father, I am glad you are come: give me your present [so that I can give it] to one
Master Bassanio, who, indeed, gives rare new liveries [who outfits his servants with new
uniforms]. If I serve not him, I will run as far as God
has any ground. O rare fortune! here comes the man: to him,
father; for I am a Jew, if I serve the Jew any
Enter BASSANIO, with LEONARDO, and other Followers.
BASSANIO: You [servants
accompanying Bassanio] may do so; but let it be so hasted
[done so speedily] that
supper be ready at the very furthest [latest] by five of the clock. See these letters
delivered; put the liveries [servants'
uniforms] to making; and desire Gratiano to come anon [soon; right now] to my
lodging. [Exit a ServANTONIO:
LAUNCELOT: To him, father.
OLD GOBBO: God bless your worship!
BASSANIO: Gramercy! [Thank
you!] wouldst thou aught with me? [Do you have any business with me?]
OLD GOBBO: Here’s my son, sir, a poor
LAUNCELOT: Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew’s man; that
would, sir,—as my father shall specify,—
OLD GOBBO: He hath a great infection [affection; desire], sir, as
one would say, to serve—
LAUNCELOT: Indeed, the short and the long is, I serve the
Jew, and have a desire, as my father shall
OLD GOBBO: His master and he, saving your worship’s
reverence, are scarce cater-cousins,—
[scarce cater-cousins: Scarcely
close cousins; hardly good friends]
LAUNCELOT: To be brief, the very truth is that the Jew
having done me wrong, doth cause me,—as my father, being, I hope,
an old man, shall frutify [verify;
certify; declare] unto you,—
OLD GOBBO: I have here a dish of doves that I would bestow
upon your worship, and my suit is,—
LAUNCELOT: In very brief, the suit is impertinent
[pertinent] to myself, as your worship shall know by this honest
old man; and, though I say it, though old man, yet poor man, my
BASSANIO: One speak for both. What would
LAUNCELOT: Serve you, sir.
OLD GOBBO: That is the very defect [crux; heart; point; effect]
of the matter, sir.
BASSANIO: I know thee well; thou hast obtain’d thy
Shylock thy master spoke with me this day,
And hath preferr’d thee, if it be preferment
To leave a rich Jew’s service, to become
The follower of so poor a gentleman.
[I know . . . gentleman: I know
about you, and you can have what you seek. Shylock told me today
that he recommended you to my service. Be aware, though, that I
am a poor gentleman.]
LAUNCELOT: The old proverb is very well parted [divided] between my master
Shylock and you, sir: you have the grace of God, sir, and he hath
enough [of the same thing].
BASSANIO: Thou speak’st it well. Go, father, with thy
Take leave of thy old master, and inquire
My lodging out. [To his followers.] Give him a livery
More guarded [more elegant]
than his fellows’: see it done.
LAUNCELOT: Father, in [walk
on]. I cannot get a service, no; I have ne’er a tongue in
my head. [So, people think I
can't get work and that I don't have a fancy tongue in my head.
(Launcelot is bragging that he can get work and can communicate
effectively.)] Well, [looking on his palm] if
any man in Italy have a fairer table [hand] which doth offer to swear upon a book [Bible], I shall have good
fortune. Go to; here’s a simple line of life: here’s a small
trifle of wives: alas! fifteen wives is nothing: a ’leven widows
and nine maids is a simple coming-in for one man; and then to
’scape drowning thrice, and to be in peril of my life with the
edge of a feather-bed; here are simple ’scapes. [In the last sentence, Launcelot
reads his palm and predicts what the future holds for him.]
Well, if Fortune be a woman, she’s a good wench for this gear.
Father, come; I’ll take my leave of the Jew in the twinkling of an
eye. [Exeunt LAUNCELOT and Old GOBBO.
BASSANIO: I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on
These things being bought, and orderly bestow’d,
Return in haste, for I do feast to-night
My best-esteem’d acquaintance: hie thee, go.
LEONARDO: My best endeavours shall be done
GRATIANO: Where is your master?
LEONARDO: Yonder, sir, he walks.
GRATIANO: Signior Bassanio!—
GRATIANO: I have a suit to you.
BASSANIO: You have obtain’d it.
GRATIANO: You must not deny me: I must go with you to
BASSANIO: Why, then you must. But hear thee,
Thou art too wild, too rude and bold of voice;
Parts that become thee happily enough,
And in such eyes as ours appear not faults;
But where thou art not known, why, there they
Something too liberal [free;
uninhibited]. Pray thee, take pain
To allay with some cold drops of modesty
Thy skipping spirit, lest, through thy wild
I be misconstru’d [misjudged]
in the place I go to,
And lose my hopes.
GRATIANO: Signior Bassanio, hear me:
If I do not put on a sober habit,
Talk with respect [Talk
respectfully], and swear but now and
Wear prayer-books in my pocket, look demurely,
Nay more, while grace is saying, hood mine eyes
Thus with my hat, and sigh, and say ‘amen;’
Use all the observance of civility,
Like one well studied in a sad ostent [face]
To please his grandam, never trust me more.
BASSANIO: Well, we shall see your bearing.
GRATIANO: Nay, but I bar [rule
out; do not count] to-night; you shall not gauge
By what we do to-night.
BASSANIO: No, that were pity:
I would entreat you rather to put on
Your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends
That purpose [want]
merriment. But fare you well:
I have some business.
GRATIANO: And I must to Lorenzo and the
But we will visit you at supper-time.
Act 2, Scene 3
Venice. A Room in
Enter JESSICA and LAUNCELOT.
JESSICA: I am sorry thou wilt leave my father
Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil,
Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness.
But fare thee well; there is a ducat for thee:
[ducat (DUK it): Gold or silver
coin once used in Italy, the Netherlands, and some other
And, Launcelot, soon at supper shalt thou see
Lorenzo, who is thy new master’s guest:
Give him this letter; do it secretly;
And so farewell: I would not have my father
See me in talk with thee.
LAUNCELOT: Adieu! [Farewell!]
tears exhibit my tongue. Most beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew! If
a Christian did not play the knave and get thee, I am much
deceived. But, adieu! these foolish drops do somewhat drown my
manly spirit: adieu!
JESSICA: Farewell, good Launcelot. [Exit
Alack [[expression of dismay],
what heinous sin is it in me
To be asham’d to be my father’s child!
But though I am a daughter to his blood,
I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo!
If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife,
Become a Christian, and thy loving wife.
Act 2, Scene 4
Venice. A Street.
Enter GRATIANO, LORENZO, SALARINO, and SALANIO.
LORENZO: Nay, we will slink [sneak] away in [at]
Disguise us [put on masks]
at my lodging, and return
All in an hour.
GRATIANO: We have not made good
SALARINO: We have not spoke us yet of torch-bearers.
[not . . . -bearers: not yet
arranged for torchbearers]
SALANIO: ’Tis vile, unless it may be quaintly [cleverly] order’d,
And better, in my mind, not undertook.
['Tis vile . . . undertook: The
party won't succeed unless it is cleverly planned. I think it's
better not to have it.]
LORENZO: ’Tis now but four o’clock: we have two
To furnish us [make
Enter LAUNCELOT, with a letter.
Friend Launcelot, what’s the news?
LAUNCELOT: An [If]
it shall please you to break up this [break the seal on this letter], it shall seem to
signify [it shall tell you the
LORENZO: I know the hand: in faith, ’tis a fair
And whiter than the paper it writ [it is written] on
Is the fair hand that writ [wrote
GRATIANO: Love news [news
about romance], in faith.
LAUNCELOT: By your leave, sir.
LORENZO: Whither goest thou?
LAUNCELOT: Marry, sir, to bid my old master, the Jew, to sup
to-night with my new master, the Christian.
LORENZO: Hold here, take this: tell gentle
I will not fail her; speak it privately.
Go, gentlemen. [Exit LAUNCELOT.
Will you prepare you for this masque [masquerade party] to-night?
I am provided of a torch-bearer.
SALARINO: Ay, marry, I’ll be gone about it
SALANIO: And so will I.
LORENZO: Meet me and Gratiano
At Gratiano’s lodging some hour hence [in an hour].
SALARINO: ’Tis good we do so. [Exeunt SALARINO and
GRATIANO: Was not that letter from fair
LORENZO: I must needs tell thee all. She hath
How I shall take her from her father’s house;
What gold and jewels she is furnish’d with;
What page’s suit she hath in readiness [to disguise herself].
If e’er the Jew her father come to heaven,
It will be for his gentle daughter’s sake;
And never dare misfortune cross her foot,
[And never . . . foot: And never
will she have bad luck]
Unless she do it under this excuse,
That she is issue to a faithless Jew.
Come, go with me: peruse this [letter]
as thou goest.
Fair Jessica shall be my torch-bearer.
Act 2, Scene 5
Venice. Before SHYLOCK’S
Enter SHYLOCK and LAUNCELOT.
SHYLOCK: Well, thou shalt see, thy eyes shall be thy
The difference of old Shylock and Bassanio:—
[The difference . . . Bassanio:
The difference between working for me and working for Bassanio]
What, Jessica!—thou shalt not gormandize,
As thou hast done with me;—What, Jessica!—
And sleep and snore, and rend apparel out—
Why, Jessica, I say!
[What, Jessica . . . apparel out:
Hey, Jessica! You will not gorge yourself with food as you have
done before. And you will not snore and oversleep and wear your
LAUNCELOT: Why, Jessica! [Hey, Jessica!]
SHYLOCK: Who bids thee call? I do not bid thee
[Who . . . call: Who asked you to call out? I'm not asking you to
call for her.
LAUNCELOT: Your worship was wont to tell me that I could do
nothing without bidding.
[Shylock told Launcelot that he
could do nothing without first asking. But Launcelot--no
JESSICA: Call you? What is your will?
SHYLOCK: I am bid forth to supper,
There are my keys. But wherefore [why]
should I go?
I am not bid for love; they flatter me:
But yet I’ll go in hate, to feed upon
The prodigal [spendthrift]
Christian. Jessica, my girl,
Look to my house. I am right loath to go:
There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest [contentment],
For I did dream of money-bags to-night.
LAUNCELOT: I beseech you, sir, go: my young master doth
expect your reproach [approach].
SHYLOCK: So do I his.
LAUNCELOT: And they have conspired [worked] together: I will not
say you shall see a masque; but if you do, then it was not for
nothing that my nose fell a-bleeding on Black-Monday [Easter Monday] last, at six
o’clock i’ the morning, falling out that year on Ash-Wednesday was
four year in the afternoon.
[then it . . . afternoon:
Then my nose bled the day after Easter, a sign fortelling their
masquerade, and four years later my nose bled again on Ash
SHYLOCK: What! are there masques? Hear you me,
Lock up my doors; and when you hear the drum,
And the vile squealing of the wry-neck’d fife,
[wry-necked fife: One of the
meanings of wry
is twisted. A fifer generally twists his neck while playing.]
Clamber not you up to the casements [windows] then,
Nor thrust your head into the public street
To gaze on Christian fools with varnish’d [painted]
But stop my house’s ears [close
the windows], I mean my casements;
Let not the sound of shallow foppery [foolishness] enter
My sober house. By Jacob’s staff I swear
I have no mind of feasting forth to-night;
But I will go. Go you before me, sirrah [mister; fellow. Used to speak to an underling or a
Say I will come.
LAUNCELOT: I will go before, sir. Mistress, look out at
window, for all this;
There will come a
Will be worth a Jewess’
eye. [Exit LAUNCELOT.
SHYLOCK: What says that fool of Hagar’s offspring,
[Hagar: In the Old Testament, the
Egyptian handmaid of Sarah in Genesis, Chapter 16. Hagar bore a
son, Ishmael, to Abraham, the husband of Sarah. Ishmael was the
ancestor of Arab tribes (Genesis 21:8-21; 25:12-18). When he was
a youth, Ishmael was cast out of Abraham's household and became
JESSICA: His words were, ‘Farewell, mistress;’ nothing
SHYLOCK: The patch [fool]
is kind enough, but a huge feeder [eater];
Snail-slow in profit, and he sleeps by day
More than the wild cat: drones [loafers]
hive [reside] not with
Therefore I part with him, and part with him
To one that I would have him help to waste
His borrow’d purse. Well, Jessica, go in:
Perhaps I will return immediately:
Do as I bid you; shut doors after you:
‘Fast bind, fast find,’
A proverb never stale in thrifty mind.
JESSICA: Farewell; and if my fortune be not crost [crossed; thwarted],
I have a father, you a daughter, lost.
Act 2, Scene 6
Venice. Before SHYLOCK'S
Enter GRATIANO and SALARINO, masqued.
GRATIANO: This is the penthouse under which
Desir’d us to make stand.
[penthouse: Dwelling with eaves;
the eaves themselves]
SALARINO: His hour is almost past.
[His . . . past: He should have
been here by now.]
GRATIANO: And it is marvel he out-dwells his
For lovers ever run before the clock.
[And it is . . . clock: And it is
surprising that he is late, for lovers are usually early for
SALARINO: O! ten times faster Venus’ pigeons fly
[Venus: In ancient mythology, the
Roman name for the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite]
To seal love’s bonds new-made, than they are
To keep obliged faith unforfeited!
[ten times . . . forfeited: New
sweethearts are ten times faster to declare the bonds of their
love than old married couples.]
GRATIANO: That ever holds: who riseth from a
With that keen appetite that he sits down?
[who riseth . . . down?: Who gets
up from the dinner table with the same appetite that he had when
he sat down?]
Where is the horse that doth untread again
His tedious measures with the unbated fire
That he did pace them first? All things that
Are with more spirit
chased than enjoy’d.
[Where is . . . enjoy'd: Where is
the horse that can run the same course a second time, moments
later, with the same blazing speed? It is more exciting to chase
something than to catch it; it is more exhilarating to
anticipate a pleasure than to experience the pleasure.]
How like a younker [young man]
or a prodigal
The scarfed [flying flags]
bark [ship] puts from her
Hugg’d and embraced by the strumpet wind!
[Hugg'd . . . wind: Metaphor
comparing the embracing wind to a prostitute]
How like the prodigal doth she return,
With over-weather’d ribs and ragged sails,
Lean, rent, and beggar’d [driven
into bankruptcy] by the strumpet wind!
SALARINO: Here comes Lorenzo: more of this
LORENZO: Sweet friends, your patience for my long abode [delay];
Not I, but my affairs, have made you wait:
When you shall please to play the thieves for wives,
[When . . . wives: When the
day comes for you to woo a future wife]
I’ll watch as long for you then. Approach;
Here dwells my father Jew. Ho! who’s within?
[father: future father-in-law]
Enter JESSICA above, in boy’s clothes.
JESSICA: Who are you? Tell me, for more
Albeit I’ll swear that I do know your tongue.
LORENZO: Lorenzo, and thy love.
JESSICA: Lorenzo, certain; and my love
For whom love I so much? And now who knows
But you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours?
LORENZO: Heaven and thy thoughts are witness that thou
JESSICA: Here, catch this casket [box; container]; it is worth the
I am glad ’tis night, you do not look on me,
For I am much asham’d of my exchange [exchange of clothes; (she is disguised as a boy)]
But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit;
For if they could, Cupid [god of
love] himself would blush
To see me thus transformed to a boy.
LORENZO: Descend, for you must be my
JESSICA: What! must I hold a candle to my
They in themselves, good sooth [truth],
are too-too light [too obvious].
Why, ’tis an office of discovery, love,
And I should be obscur’d.
LORENZO: So are you, sweet,
Even in the lovely garnish of a boy.
But come at once;
For the close night doth play the runaway [the night is fleeting],
And we are stay’d [waited]
for at Bassanio’s feast.
JESSICA: I will make fast the doors, and gild
With some more ducats, and be with you straight. [Exit
GRATIANO: Now, by my hood, a Gentile, and no
LORENZO: Beshrew [despise]
me, but I love her heartily;
For she is wise, if I can judge of her,
And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true,
And true she is, as she hath prov’d herself;
And therefore, like herself, wise, fair, and
Shall she be placed in my constant soul.
What, art thou come? On, gentlemen; away!
Our masquing mates by this time for us stay. [Exit with
JESSICA and SALARINO.
[Our . . . stay: Our disguised
friends are waiting for us by this time.]
ANTONIO: Who’s there?
GRATIANO: Signior Antonio!
ANTONIO: Fie, fie, Gratiano! where are all the
’Tis nine o’clock; our friends all stay [wait] for you.
No masque to-night: the wind is come about;
Bassanio presently will go aboard:
I have sent twenty out to seek for you.
GRATIANO: I am glad on ’t: I desire no more
Than to be under sail and gone to-night.
Act 2, Scene 7
Belmont. A Room in
Flourish of Cornets. Enter PORTIA, with the PRINCE OF
MOROCCO, and their Trains.
PORTIA: Go, draw aside the curtains, and discover [reveal]
The several caskets to this noble prince.
Now make your choice.
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: The first, of gold, which this
Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.
The second, silver, which this promise carries:
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he
This third, dull lead, with warning all as
Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he
How shall I know if I do choose the right?
PORTIA: The one of them contains my picture,
If you choose that, then I am yours withal [immediately].
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: Some god direct my judgment! Let me
I will survey the inscriptions back again:
What says this leaden casket?
Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he
Must give: For what? for lead? hazard for lead?
This casket threatens. Men that hazard all
Do it in hope of fair advantages:
A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross [waste given off during the
manufacture of certain metals];
I’ll then nor give nor hazard aught [anything] for lead.
What says the silver with her virgin hue?
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he
As much as he deserves! Pause there, Morocco,
And weigh thy value with an even hand.
If thou be’st [be] rated
by thy estimation,
Thou dost deserve enough; and yet enough
May not extend so far as to the lady:
And yet to be afeard of my deserving
Were but a weak disabling of myself.
As much as I deserve! Why, that’s the lady:
I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes,
In graces, and in qualities of breeding;
But more than these, in love I do deserve.
What if I stray’d no further, but chose here?
Let’s see once more this saying grav’d [engraved] in gold:
Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.
Why, that’s the lady: all the world desires her;
From the four corners of the earth they come,
To kiss this shrine, this mortal-breathing
The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
[Hyrcania: Region of Asia
southeast of the Caspian Sea]
Of wide Arabia are as throughfares [thoroughfares] now
For princes to come view fair Portia:
The watery kingdom [the sea],
whose ambitious head
Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar
To stop the foreign spirits, but they come,
As o’er a brook, to see fair Portia.
One of these three contains her heavenly
Is ’t like that lead contains her? ’Twere
To think so base a thought: it were too gross
To rib her cerecloth [waxed
burial cloth; waxed shroud] in the obscure grave.
Or shall I think in silver she’s immur’d [walled in],
Being ten times undervalu’d to [worth
less than] tried [tested;
O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem
Was set in worse than gold. They have in England
A coin that bears the figure of an angel
Stamped in gold, but that’s insculp’d upon [engraved on the outside];
But here an angel in a golden bed
Lies all within. Deliver me the key:
Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may!
PORTIA: There, take it, prince; and if my form lie
Then I am yours. [He unlocks the golden
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: O hell! what have we
A carrion Death [a decaying
skull], within whose empty eye [eye socket]
There is a written scroll. I’ll read the writing.
All that glisters [glistens] is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms infold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscroll’d:
Fare you well; your suit is cold.
Cold, indeed; and labour lost:
Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost!
Portia, adieu. I have too griev’d a heart
To take a tedious leave: thus losers part. [Exit with his
Train. Flourish of Cornets.
PORTIA: A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains:
Let all of his complexion choose me so.
Act 2, Scene 8
Venice. A Street.
Enter SALARINO and SALANIO.
SALARINO: Why, man, I saw Bassanio under sail:
With him is Gratiano gone along;
And in their ship I’m sure Lorenzo is not.
SALANIO: The villain Jew with outcries rais’d [summoned] the
Who went with him to search Bassanio’s ship.
SALARINO: He came too late, the ship was under
But there the duke was given to understand
That in a gondola were seen together
Lorenzo and his amorous Jessica.
Besides, Antonio certified the duke
They were not with Bassanio in his ship.
SALANIO: I never heard a passion so confus’d,
So strange, outrageous, and so variable,
As the dog Jew did utter in the streets:
‘My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!
Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!
Justice! the law! my ducats, and my daughter!
A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats,
Of double ducats, stol’n from me by my daughter!
And jewels! two stones, two rich and precious stones,
Stol’n by my daughter! Justice! find the girl!
She hath the stones upon her, and the ducats.’
SALARINO: Why, all the boys in Venice follow
Crying, his stones, his daughter, and his ducats.
SALANIO: Let good Antonio look he keep his day [reimburse Shylock on the due date],
Or he shall pay for this.
SALARINO: Marry, well remember’d.
I reason’d [talked] with
a Frenchman yesterday,
Who told me,—in the narrow seas that part
The French and English,—there miscarried
A vessel of our country richly fraught.
[there miscarried . . . fraught: A Venetian ship laden with
I thought upon Antonio when he told me,
And wish’d in silence that it were not his.
SALANIO: You were best to tell Antonio what you
Yet do not suddenly, for it may grieve him.
SALARINO: A kinder gentleman treads not the
I saw Bassanio and Antonio part:
Bassanio told him he would make some speed
Of his return: he answer’d ‘Do not so;
Slubber not [do not delay]
business for my sake, Bassanio,
But stay the very riping of the time [stay until you complete your tasks];
And for the Jew’s bond which he hath of me,
Let it not enter in your mind of love:
Be merry, and employ your chiefest thoughts
To courtship and such fair ostents [displays] of love
As shall conveniently become you there:’
And even there, his eye being big with tears,
Turning his face, he put his hand behind him,
And with affection wondrous sensible
He wrung Bassanio’s hand; and so they parted.
SALANIO: I think he only loves the world for
[I think . . . him: I
believe he thinks the world of Bassanio.]
I pray thee, let us go and find him out,
And quicken his embraced heaviness
With some delight or other.
[quicken . . . other: lift him
out of his gloom with some sort of merrymaking]
SALARINO: Do we so. [Exeunt.
Act 2, Scene 9
Belmont. A Room in
Enter NERISSA, with a Servitor.
NERISSA: Quick, quick, I pray thee; draw the curtain
The Prince of Arragon hath ta’en his oath,
And comes to his election presently.
Flourish of Cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF ARRAGON, PORTIA,
and their Trains.
PORTIA: Behold, there stands the caskets, noble
If you choose that wherein I am contain’d,
[that . . . contain'd: the one
containing my picture]
Straight shall our nuptial [wedding]
rites be solemniz’d;
But if you fail, without more speech, my lord,
You must be gone from hence immediately.
Ar. I am enjoin’d by oath to observe three
First, never to unfold to any one
Which casket ’twas I chose; next, if I fail
Of the right casket, never in my life
To woo a maid in way of marriage;
If I do fail in fortune of my choice,
Immediately to leave you and be gone.
PORTIA: To these injunctions [directives] every one doth swear
That comes to hazard for my worthless self.
Ar. And so have I address’d me. Fortune now
To my heart’s hope! Gold, silver, and base lead.
Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath:
You shall look fairer, ere [before]
I give or hazard.
What says the golden chest? ha! let me see:
Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.
What many men desire! that ‘many’ may be meant
By the fool multitude, that choose by show,
[meant . . . show: Meant for
fools who choose on the basis of the casket's glittering
Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach;
Which pries not to the interior, but, like the martlet [a type of swallow with a square or
Builds [its nest] in the
weather on the outward wall,
Even in the force and road of casualty [even in wind and rain that could cause damage or injury].
I will not choose what many men desire,
Because I will not jump with [act
like] common spirits
And rank me with the barbarous multitude.
Why, then to thee, thou silver treasure-house;
Tell me once more what title thou dost bear:
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.
And well said too; for who shall go about
To cozen [cheat] fortune
and be honourable
Without the stamp of merit? [Who
shall pretend to be honorable without earning honor?] Let
To wear an undeserved dignity.
O! that estates, degrees, and offices
Were not deriv’d corruptly, and that clear honour
Were purchas’d by the merit of the wearer.
How many then should cover that stand bare; [How many men would then be exposed
How many be commanded that command; [How many would have to take orders
instead of giving them?]
How much low peasantry would then be glean’d
From the true seed of honour; and how much honour
Pick’d from the chaff and ruin of the times
To be new varnish’d! Well, but to my choice:
[How much . . . varnish'd: How
many dishonorable people would be separated from the honorable,
and how many worthy people would be elevated from a lowly
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.
I will assume desert. Give me a key for this,
And instantly unlock my fortunes here. [He opens the silver
PORTIA: Too long a pause for that which you find
Ar. What’s here? the portrait of a blinking
Presenting me a schedule [a
message to read]! I will read it.
How much unlike art thou to Portia!
How much unlike my hopes and my deservings!
Who chooseth me shall have as much as he deserves.
[How much . . . deserves: Arragon
is not yet reading. Rather, he is commenting on what he finds in
Did I deserve no more than a fool’s head?
Is that my prize? are my deserts no better?
PORTIA: To offend, and judge, are distinct
And of opposed natures.
[are my . . . natures: Don't I
deserve better? I'd rather not say. You might find my answer
Ar. What is here?
[Arragon now reads the message.]
The fire seven times tried this:
Seven times tried that judgment is
That did never choose amiss.
Some there be that shadows kiss;
Such have but a shadow’s bliss:
There be fools alive, I wis [also written as iwis: it means certainly]
Silver’d o’er; and so was this.
Take what wife you will to bed,
I will ever be your head:
So be gone, sir: you are sped.
[The fire . . . sped: This silver
casket was forged in a fire. Unerring judgment is forged
in the fire of life. Those lacking good judgment kiss shadows
instead of what casts the shadows. Consequently, they experience
a shadow of joy, not real joy. There are old fools, certainly,
silvered over with gray hair. This casket is like an old fool.
Whatever wife you take to bed, what you see in this casket--a
fool's head--will ever be your head.]
Still more fool I shall appear
By the time I linger here:
With one fool’s head I came to woo,
But I go away with two.
Sweet, adieu. I’ll keep my oath,
Patiently to bear my wroth [anger]. [Exit ARRAGON
with his Train.
PORTIA: Thus hath the candle sing’d the moth.
[Thus . . . moth: Portia compares
the casket to a flame and Arragon to a moth attracted to the
O, these deliberate fools! when they do choose,
They have the wisdom by their wit to lose.
[They have . . . lose: They know
only how to lose.]
NERISSA: The ancient saying is no heresy:
‘Hanging and wiving goes by destiny.’ [Fate chooses the time you will die
and the time you will marry.]
PORTIA: Come, draw the curtain, Nerissa.
Enter a Servant.
SERVANT: Where is my lady?
PORTIA: Here; what would my lord?
SERVANT: Madam, there is alighted at your gate
A young Venetian, one that comes before
To signify the approaching of his lord;
From whom he bringeth sensible regreets [sincere and heartfelt greetings],
To wit,—besides commends and courteous breath,—
Gifts of rich value. Yet I have not seen
So likely an embassador of love.
[besides commends . . . love:
Besides courteous greetings, he offers gifts of great value.
Moreover, I have never seen so handsome an ambassador of love.]
A day in April never came so sweet,
To show how costly summer was at hand,
As this fore-spurrer comes before his lord.
[A day in April . . .
lord: This young messenger is like a glorious day in April
that heralds the coming of a beautiful summer.]
PORTIA: No more, I pray thee: I am half afeard
Thou wilt say anon [soon]
he is some kin to thee,
Thou spend’st such high-day wit in praising him.
[Thou . . . him: Since you use
such lavish poetic expressions to praise him.]
Come, come, Nerissa; for I long to see
Quick Cupid’s post [messenger]
that comes so mannerly.
NERISSA: Bassanio, lord Love, if thy will it be!
[Bassanio . . . be: Bassanio, if
you have come here to win Portia, let thy will be done!]
Act 3, Scene 1
Venice. A Street.
Enter SALANIO and SALARINO.
SALANIO: Now, what news on the Rialto [news in the business district]?
SALARINO: Why, yet it lives there unchecked [Rumors are circulating] that
Antonio hath a ship of rich lading wracked on the narrow seas [ship with valuable cargo wrecked in
the English Channel]; the Goodwins, I think they call the
place; a very dangerous flat, and fatal, where the carcasses of
many a tall ship lie buried, as they say, if my gossip Report be
an honest woman of her word.
[Goodwins: Goodwin Sands, a
sandbank off the coast of the county of Kent in southeastern
England. Goodwin Sands has been the site of numerous
SALANIO: I would she were as lying a gossip in that as ever
knapped [chewed] ginger,
or made her neighbours believe she wept for the death of a third
husband. But it is true,—without any slips of prolixity or
crossing the plain highway of talk [speaking plainly without being wordy],—that the
good Antonio, the honest Antonio,—O, that I had a title good
enough to keep his name company!—
SALARINO: Come, the full stop.
SALANIO: Ha! what sayst thou? Why, the end is, he hath lost
SALARINO: I would it might prove the end of his
SALANIO: Let me say ‘amen’ betimes [immediately], lest the devil
cross my prayer, for here he comes in the likeness of a
How now, Shylock! what news among the merchants?
SHYLOCK: You knew, none so well, none so well as you, of my
SALARINO: That’s certain: I, for my part, knew the tailor
that made the wings she
flew withal [wings (disguise)
that she used to fly away from you].
SALANIO: And Shylock, for his own part, knew the bird was
fledged; and then it is the complexion of them all to leave the
[knew the bird . . . dam: Knew
that Jessica was ready and able to leave home. There comes a
time when all children leave home.]
SHYLOCK: She is damned for it.
SALARINO: That’s certain, if the devil may be her
SHYLOCK: My own flesh and blood to rebel!
SALANIO: Out upon it, old carrion [rotting flesh]! rebels it at these years? [are you saying that your own
body--your own flesh and blood--rebels against you at your
SHYLOCK: I say my daughter is my flesh and
SALARINO: There is more difference between thy flesh and
hers than between jet and ivory; more between your bloods than
there is between red wine and Rhenish. But tell us, do you hear
whether Antonio have had any loss at sea or no?
SHYLOCK: There I have another bad match: a bankrupt, a
prodigal, who dare scarce show his head on the Rialto; a beggar,
that used to come so smug upon the mart; let him look to his bond:
he was wont to call me usurer; let him look to his bond: he was
wont to lend money for a Christian courtesy; let him look to his
SALARINO: Why, I am sure, if he forfeit thou wilt not take
his flesh: what’s that good for?
SHYLOCK: To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else,
it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me
half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned
my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes?
hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections,
passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons,
subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and
cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you
prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if
you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in
that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge.
If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you teach me I will
execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the
[The villany . . . instruction: I
will improve on the villainy you taught me when I gain my
Enter a Servant.
SERVANT: Gentlemen, my master Antonio is at his house, and
desires to speak with you both.
SALARINO: We have been up and down to seek him.
SALANIO: Here comes another of the tribe: a third cannot be
matched, unless the devil himself turn Jew. [Exeunt SALANIO,
SALARINO and ServANTONIO:
SHYLOCK: How now, Tubal! what news from Genoa? Hast thou
found my daughter?
TUBAL: I often came where I did hear of her, but cannot find
SHYLOCK: Why there, there, there! a diamond gone [a diamond she took with her],
cost me two thousand ducats in Frankfort [Frankfurt, an important financial
center in Germany]! The curse never fell upon our nation
till now; I never felt it till now: two thousand ducats in that;
and other precious, precious jewels. I would my daughter were dead
at my foot, and the jewels in her ear! would she were hearsed at
my foot, and the ducats in her coffin! No news of them? Why, so:
and I know not what’s spent in the search: Why thou—loss upon
loss! the thief gone with so much, and so much to find the thief;
and no satisfaction, no revenge: nor no ill luck stirring but what
lights on my shoulders; no sighs but of my breathing; no tears but
of my shedding.
TUBAL: Yes, other men have ill luck too. Antonio, as I heard
SHYLOCK: What, what, what? ill luck, ill luck?
TUBAL: —hath an argosy cast away, coming from Tripolis [region of northern Africa].
SHYLOCK: I thank God! I thank God! Is it true? is it
TUBAL: I spoke with some of the sailors that escaped the
SHYLOCK: I thank thee, good Tubal. Good news, good news! ha,
ha! Where? in Genoa?
TUBAL: Your daughter spent in Genoa, as I heard, one night,
SHYLOCK: Thou stick’st a dagger in me: I shall never see my
gold again: fourscore ducats at a sitting! fourscore
TUBAL: There came divers of Antonio’s creditors in my
company to Venice, that swear he cannot choose but
[There came . . . break: Various
creditors of Antonio came with me to Venice. They swear that he
has no choice but to go bankrupt.]
SHYLOCK: I am very glad of it: I’ll plague him; I’ll torture
him: I am glad of it.
TUBAL: One of them showed me a ring that he had of your
daughter for a monkey [that he
received from your daughter in exchange for a monkey].
SHYLOCK: Out upon her! Thou torturest me, Tubal: it was my
turquoise; I had it of Leah [Shylock's
wife] when I was a bachelor: I would not have given it
for a wilderness of monkeys.
TUBAL: But Antonio is certainly undone.
SHYLOCK: Nay, that’s true, that’s very true. Go, Tubal, fee
[hire] me an officer [police officer who arrests
deadbeats]; bespeak [instruct]
him to begin standying by two weeks in advance. I will have the
heart of him [Antonio],
if he forfeit; for, were he out of Venice, I can make what
merchandise I will. Go, go, Tubal, and meet me at our synagogue;
go, good Tubal; at our synagogue, Tubal. [Exeunt.
[for, were he . . . I will: Once
he is gone from Venice, I can make whatever trades I wish.]
Act 3, Scene 2
Belmont. A Room in
Enter BASSANIO, PORTIA, GRATIANO, NERISSA, and Attendants.
PORTIA: I pray you, tarry [wait
awhile]: pause a day or two
Before you hazard [choose a
casket]; for, in choosing wrong,
I lose your company: therefore, forbear a while.
There’s something tells me, but it is not love,
I would not lose you; and you know yourself,
Hate counsels not in such a quality.
[There's something . . . quality:
Something tells me that I don't want to lose you. I wouldn't
have such a thought if I disliked you.]
But lest you should not understand me well,—
And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought,—
I would detain you here some month or two
Before you venture for me. I could teach you
How to choose right, but then I am forsworn;
[But lest . . . forsworn: So that
you understand me clearly, what I am saying is that I want you
to stay here for a month or two before you try your luck with
the caskets. I could teach you how to choose the right casket.
On the other hand, I have sworn not to give out any clues.]
So will I never be: so may you miss me;
[However, I will never break my
oath not to reveal the right casket. Thus, you might choose the
But if you do, you’ll make me wish a sin,
That I had been forsworn. Beshrew your eyes,
They have o’erlook’d me and divided me:
One half of me is yours, the other half yours,
Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours,
And so all yours. O! these naughty times
Put bars between the owners and their rights;
And so, though yours, not yours. Prove it so,
[But if you do . . . not yours:
If you do choose the wrong casket, you'll make me wish I had
broken my oath. O, those eyes of yours. When they look at me,
they divide me in two. One of me is yours. The other half
belongs to me. However, whatever is mine is also yours. So I am
all yours. It's too bad that these times we live in separate
owners from their rights. What I mean is that, though I am
yours, I am not yours.]
Let fortune go to hell for it, not I.
[Let . . . I: Let fortune go to
hell for giving me such bad luck.]
I speak too long; but ’tis to peise the time [to weight down time, making it pass
To eke [increase] it and
to draw it out in length,
To stay you from election [to
keep you with me for a while before you choose a casket].
BASSANIO: Let me choose;
For as I am, I live upon the rack.
[I live . . . rack: I live in
torment, like a man stretched on the rack, as I wonder whether I
will make the right choice. (The rack was an instrument of
torture. The victim was bound at the wrists at one end of a
rectangular frame and at the ankles at the other end. By means
of ratchets, pulleys, or similar devices, the torturers
gradually stretched the victim's body to cause him so much pain
that he would reveal secret information, confess to a crime,
PORTIA: Upon the rack, Bassanio! then
What treason [crime]
there is mingled with your love.
BASSANIO: None but that ugly treason of
Which makes me fear th’ enjoying of my love:
[None . . . love: My only crime
is my fear that I will never get a chance to love you.]
There may as well be amity and life
’Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love.
[There may . . . love: Treason
has no more to do with my love for you than friendship and love
have to do with the "relationship" between snow and fire.]
PORTIA: Ay, but I fear you speak upon the
Where men enforced do speak anything.
[Ay, but . . . anything: Yes, but
I worry that—just as a man being tortured on the rack—you will
say anything to escape your torment.]
BASSANIO: Promise me life, and I’ll confess the
PORTIA: Well then, confess, and live.
BASSANIO: ‘Confess’ and ‘love’
Had been the very sum of my confession:
O happy torment, when my torturer
Doth teach me answers for deliverance!
["Confess" and . . . deliverance: To confess my love for you is
exactly what I want to acknowledge. O, it is a happy moment when
my torturer tells me the answers that will free me!]
But let me to my fortune and the caskets.
[But . . . caskets: But let me go
in now and choose one of the caskets.]
PORTIA: Away then! I am lock’d [My portrait is locked] in one of
If you do love me, you will find me out.
Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof.
Let music sound while he doth make his choice;
Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end,
[swan-like end: In myth and
legend, a swan was said to sing a song when it was dying.]
Fading in music: that the comparison
May stand more proper, my eye shall be the
And watery death-bed for him. He may win;
And what is music then? then music is
Even as the flourish when true subjects bow
To a new-crowned monarch: such it is
As are those dulcet sounds
in break of day
That creep into the dreaming bridegroom’s ear,
And summon him to marriage.
[then music is . . . marriage:
Then music is like the glorious trumpet fanfare played when a
newly crowned monarch enters a room and his subjects bow to him.
The music is also like the sweet morning sounds that creep
through a bedroom window and awaken a sleeping bridegroom to his
wedding day and the coming joys and pleasures of marriage.]
Now he goes,
With no less presence, but with much more love,
Than young Alcides, when he did redeem
The virgin tribute paid by
To the sea-monster: I stand for sacrifice;
The rest aloof are the
With bleared visages, coe forth to view
The issue of the exploit. Go, Hercules!
[Now he . . . Go, Hercules!: Now he goes to choose
a casket. But he has much more love for me than Hercules had for
the young princess, Hesione—daughter of the Trojan king
Laomedon—when he rescued her from a sea monster. Alcides pronunciation: AL sy deez or al SY deez). I
am like that princess. The rest gathered around me are like the
Trojan wives who went forth, with teary eyes, to observe the
outcome of the battle between Hercules and the sea monster.
Live thou, I live: with much, much more dismay
I view the fight than thou that mak’st the fray. [A Song,
whilst BASSANIO comments on the caskets to himself.
[Live thou . . . fray: Portia
compares Bassanio to Hercules. If Bassanio "rescues" Portia's
portrait from a casket—while Portia looks on very nervously—she
and Bassanio will marry.]
Tell me where is fancy [love; desire] bred,
Or in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
It is engender’d in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies.
Let us all ring
I’ll begin it,—Ding,
All. Ding, dong, bell.
BASSANIO: So may the outward shows be least
The world is still deceiv’d with ornament.
[So may . . . ornament: People
are often deceived by appealing outward appearances.]
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt
But, being season’d with a gracious voice,
Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
There is no vice so simple but assumes
Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.
[There is . . . parts: Even
people with simple vices attempt to pass them off as virtues.]
How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false
As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars [In ancient mythology, the Roman name
for the Greek god of war, Ares, pronounced AIR eez]
Who, inward search’d, have livers white as milk;
And these assume but valour’s excrement
To render them redoubted! Look on beauty,
And you shall see ’tis
purchas’d by the weight;
Which therein works a miracle in nature,
Making them lightest that wear most of it:
[How many . . . most of it: How
many cowards there are with false hearts who pretend to be
heroes. Look into their characters and you will find that they
are lily-livered. They display the outward appearance of valor
to make them look strong and invincible. (In this passage, excrement means excretion or growth. Thus, a
beard (a growth of hairs on the face) is an excrement that
cowards use to appear manly and courageous.) When you look on
beauty, you will notice that it is purchased by the weight—in
creams, powders, dyes, lipsticks, and cosmetics. Those weighted
down with the most makeup seem, ironically, light-hearted and
So are those crisped snaky golden locks [curly blond hair]
Which make such wanton gambols with the wind [which blow wantonly in the wind],
Upon supposed fairness, often known
To be the dowry of a second head,
The skull that bred them, in the sepulchre.
[Upon supposed . . . sepulchre:
But that blond hair is often just a wig whose hairs came from
the skull of someone now lying in a burial chamber.]
Thus ornament is but the guiled shore
To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf
Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word,
The seeming truth which cunning times put on
To entrap the wisest. Therefore, thou gaudy
[Thus ornament. . . the wisest:
Thus an ornamented outward appearance may conceal dangers that
can entrap even the wisest of persons.]
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee;
[Hard . . . Midas: Midas was a
king of Phrygia in ancient times. In Greek mythology, the
teacher of the god Dionysus, old Silenus, wandered off one day
after becoming drunk. Subjects of Midas found him and took him
to the king. After several days, Midas took Silenus to Dionysus.
Overjoyed to have Silenus back, Dionysus told Midas he would
grant him any wish. Midas then said he wished that everything he
touched would turn to gold. After Dionysus granted the wish,
Midas discovered that everything he touched indeed turned to
gold, including food. According to one version of this story,
Midas then died of starvation.]
Nor none of thee [the silver
casket], thou pale and common drudge
’Tween man and man: but thou, thou meagre lead,
[drudge . . . man: common medium
of exchange; money]
Which rather threat’nest than dost promise aught,
[threat'nest . . . aught: The
lead casket looks threatening and does not appear to promise
Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence,
And here choose I: joy be the consequence!
PORTIA: [Aside.] How all the other passions fleet to
As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embrac’d despair,
And shuddering fear, and green-ey’d jealousy.
O love! be moderate; allay thy ecstasy;
In measure rain thy joy; scant this excess;
[allay . . . excess: Don't get
too excited. Express your joy in droplets, not in a flood.]
I feel too much thy blessing; make it less,
For fear I surfeit!
BASSANIO: What find I here? [Opening the leaden
Fair Portia’s counterfeit! [likeness].
What demi-god [creature who is
half god and half human]
Hath come so near creation? Move these eyes?
Or whether, riding on the balls [eyeballs]
Seem they in motion? [As my eyes
move, hers also seem to move.] Here are sever’d [separated]
Parted with sugar breath; so sweet a bar [breath]
Should sunder [pass between]
such sweet friends. Here, in her hairs
The painter plays the spider, and hath woven
A golden mesh to entrap the hearts of men
Faster than gnats in cobwebs: but her eyes!—
How could he see to do them? having made one,
Methinks it should have power to steal both his
And leave itself unfurnish’d: yet look, how far
[having made . . . unfurnish'd:
Having painted one of her eyes, he would stare at it with such
admiration that he could not shift his gaze away from it. Thus,
the painted eye would be unfurnished—that is, it would have no
The substance of my praise doth wrong this
In underprizing it, so far this shadow
Doth limp behind the substance. Here’s the
[The substance . . . behind the
substance: My praise of this image is inadequate, just as this
image is inadequate to represent the real Portia.]
The continent [content]
and summary of my fortune.
You that choose not by the view,
Chance as fair and choose as true!
Since this fortune falls to you,
Be content and seek no new.
If you be well pleas’d with this
And hold your fortune for your bliss,
Turn you where your lady is
And claim her with a loving kiss.
A gentle scroll. Fair lady, by your leave; [Kissing
I come by note, to give and to receive.
Like one of two contending in a prize,
That thinks he hath done well in people’s eyes,
Hearing applause and universal shout,
Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt
Whether those peals of praise be his or no;
[I come by . . . his or no: I am
following the instructions in the scroll, to give and to
receive. I must say that I feel like the victorious contender
for a prize who receives the applause of the people but wonders
whether he is worthy of it.]
So, thrice-fair lady, stand I, even so,
As doubtful whether what I see be true,
Until confirm’d, sign’d, ratified by you.
PORTIA: You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I
Such as I am: though for myself alone
I would not be ambitious in my wish,
To wish myself much better; yet, for you
I would be trebled twenty times myself;
A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times
That only to stand high in your account,
[for myself . . . your account: I
would not wish myself to be better to satisfy my own desires or
wishes. But to satisfy your desires and wishes, I would like to
be so much more than I am—for example, a thousand times more
attractive, ten thousand times more prosperous—so that I could
stand high in your regard.]
I might in virtues, beauties, livings [property], friends,
Exceed account: but the full sum of me
Is sum of nothing; which, to term in gross [to speak in plain language],
Is an unlesson’d girl, unschool’d, unpractis’d;
Happy in this, she is not yet so old
But she may learn; happier than this,
She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours to be directed,
As from her lord, her governor, her king.
Myself and what is mine to you and yours
Is now converted [given]:
but now I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen o’er myself; and even now, but now,
This house, these servants, and this same myself
Are yours, my lord. I give them with this ring;
Which when you part from, lose, or give away,
Let it presage [foretell]
the ruin of your love,
And be my vantage to exclaim on you.
[vantage . . . you: reason to
BASSANIO: Madam, you have bereft me of all
[bereft . . . words: Made me
Only my blood speaks to you in my veins;
And there is such confusion in my powers,
As, after some oration fairly spoke
By a beloved prince, there doth appear
Among the buzzing pleased multitude;
Where every something, being blent together,
Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy,
[And there . . . joy: And I am as
excited as a crowd of citizens listening to a rousing speech by
their ruler in which every sentence pleases the multitude.]
Express’d and not express’d. But when this ring
Parts from this finger, then parts life from
O! then be bold to say Bassanio’s dead.
[But when . . . dead: Bassanio
pledges never to remove the ring from his finger.]
NERISSA: My lord and lady, it is now our
That have stood by and seen our wishes prosper,
To cry, good joy. Good joy, my lord and lady!
GRATIANO: My Lord Bassanio and my gentle
I wish you all the joy that you can wish;
For I am sure you can wish none from me:
And when your honours mean to solemnize
The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you,
[when your . . . faith: When you
two get married]
Even at that time I may be married too.
BASSANIO: With all my heart, so thou canst get a
GRATIANO: I thank your lordship, you have got me one.
My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours:
You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid;
You lov’d, I lov’d for intermission [in the meantime].
No more pertains to me, my lord, than you.
Your fortune stood upon the caskets there,
And so did mine too, as the matter falls;
For wooing here until I sweat again,
And swearing till my very roof was dry
With oaths of love, at last, if promise last,
[For wooing . . . oaths of love:
For wooing the maid, sweating
profusely until I had nothing left, and swearing oaths of
love to her until the very roof of my mouth was dry]
I got a promise of this fair one here
To have her love, provided that your fortune
Achiev’d her mistress.
[provided . . . mistress:
Provided that you chose the right casket and thus won her
PORTIA: Is this true, Nerissa?
NERISSA: Madam, it is, so you stand pleas’d
BASSANIO: And do you, Gratiano, mean good
GRATIANO: Yes, faith, my lord.
BASSANIO: Our feast shall be much honour’d in your
GRATIANO: We’ll play with them the first boy for a thousand
ducats. [Whichever couple
produces the first male infant will receive a thousand ducats.]
NERISSA: What! and stake down? [Are you going to lay down the money now?]
GRATIANO: No; we shall ne’er win at that sport, and stake
[No . . . down: No. We shall
never win the bet if I have to put down my stake. Stake appears to have a double meaning:
the obvious one, bet or wager, and the hidden one, penis.]
But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel [Jewish girlfriend]?
What! and my old Venetian friend, Salanio?
Enter LORENZO, JESSICA, and SALANIO.
BASSANIO: Lorenzo, and Salanio, welcome
If that the youth of my new interest here [If a newcomer to Portia's household]
Have power to bid you welcome. By your leave,
I bid my very friends and countrymen,
Sweet Portia, welcome.
[I bid . . . welcome: Sweet
Portia, I bid welcome to my friends and countrymen.]
PORTIA: So do I, my lord:
They are entirely welcome.
LORENZO: I thank your honour. For my part, my
My purpose was not to have seen you here;
But meeting with Salanio by the way,
He did entreat me, past all saying nay,
[past . . . nay: He wouldn't take
no for an answer.]
To come with him along.
SALANIO: I did, my lord,
And I have reason for it. Signior Antonio
Commends him to you. [Gives BASSANIO a
BASSANIO: Ere [before]
I ope [open] his
I pray you, tell me how my good friend doth.
SALANIO: Not sick, my lord, unless it be in
Nor well, unless in mind: his letter there
Will show you his estate.
GRATIANO: Nerissa, cheer yon stranger [Jessica]; bid her
Your hand, Salanio. What’s the news from Venice?
How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio?
I know he will be glad of our success;
We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece.
[We are . . . fleece:
In Greek mythology, the fleece
was sheared from a golden ram that was sacrificed to Zeus at
Colchis, a region along the Black Sea. Zeus was the king of the
Greek gods. The Greek hero Jason retrieved the fleece and took
it back to his homeland. Here, Gratiano is saying that he and
Bassanio were victorious in pursuit of love.]
SALANIO: I would you had won the fleece that he hath
PORTIA: There are some shrewd contents in yon same
That steal the colour from Bassanio’s cheek:
Some dear friend dead, else nothing in the world
Could turn so much the constitution
Of any constant man. What, worse and worse!
With leave, Bassanio; I am half yourself,
And I must freely have the half of anything
That this same paper brings you.
BASSANIO: O sweet Portia!
Here are a few of the unpleasant’st words
That ever blotted paper. Gentle lady,
When I did first impart my love to you,
I freely told you all the wealth I had
Ran in my veins, I was a gentleman:
[all the . . . veins:
Nobility ran in my veins, not wealth.]
And then I told you true; and yet, dear lady,
Rating myself at nothing, you shall see
How much I was a braggart. When I told you
My state was nothing, I should then have told
That I was worse than nothing; for, indeed,
[Rating . . . worse than nothing:
When I said I had nothing, I was bragging. The truth is, I was
deep in debt.]
I have engag’d myself financially to a dear friend [Antonio],
Engag’d my friend to his mere enemy, [bitter enemy, Shylock]
To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady;
The paper as the body of my friend,
And every word in it a gaping wound,
[The paper . . . wound: The
letter may be compared to the body of my friend. Every word in
it is a wound.]
Issuing life-blood. But is it true, Salanio?
Hath all his ventures fail’d? What, not one hit?
From Tripolis, from Mexico, and England,
From Lisbon, Barbary, and India?
And not one vessel ’scape [escape]
the dreadful touch
Of merchant-marring rocks?
SALANIO: Not one, my lord.
Besides, it should appear, that if he had
The present money to discharge the Jew,
He would not take it. Never did I know
A creature, that did bear the shape of man,
So keen and greedy to confound a man.
[it should . . . confound a man:
Antonio appears to have defaulted on his debt to Shylock,
exactly what Shylock wanted to gain revenge against a Christian.
But even if Antonio somehow obtained enough money to pay off
Shylock at this late date, Shylock would not accept it. He is
bent on destroying Antonio.]
He plies the duke at morning and at night,
And doth impeach [question]
the freedom of the state,
If they deny him justice: twenty merchants,
The duke himself, and the magnificoes [great and respected men]
Of greatest port [importance],
have all persuaded [reasoned]
But none can drive him from the envious plea
Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond.
[envious . . . bond: cruel demand
for justice because of Antonio's default on his pledge]
JESSICA: When I was with him, I have heard him
To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen,
That he would rather have Antonio’s flesh
Than twenty times the value of the sum
That he [Antonio] did owe
him; and I know, my lord,
If law, authority, and power deny not,
It will go hard with poor Antonio.
PORTIA: Is it your dear friend that is thus in
BASSANIO: The dearest friend to me, the kindest
The best-condition’d and unwearied spirit
In doing courtesies, and one in whom
The ancient Roman honour more appears
Than any that draws breath in Italy.
PORTIA: What sum owes he the Jew?
BASSANIO: For me, three thousand ducats.
PORTIA: What, no more?
Pay him six thousand, and deface [eliminate;
destroy; tear up] the bond;
Double six thousand, and then treble that,
Before a friend of this description
Shall lose a hair thorough Bassanio’s fault.
First go with me to church and call me wife,
And then away to Venice to your friend;
[then away: Then you can go]
For never shall you lie by Portia’s side
With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold
To pay the petty debt twenty times over:
When it is paid, bring your true friend along.
My maid Nerissa and myself meantime,
Will live as maids and widows. Come, away!
For you shall hence [go off]
upon your wedding-day.
Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer;
Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear.
But let me hear the letter of your friend.
BASSANIO [reading from the letter]:
Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried, my
creditors grow cruel, my estate is very low, my bond to the Jew
is forfeit; and since, in paying it, it is impossible I should
live, all debts are cleared between you and I, if I might but
see you at my death. Notwithstanding, use your pleasure: if your
love do not persuade you to come, let not my letter.
PORTIA: O love, dispatch all business, and be
BASSANIO: Since I have your good leave to go
I will make haste; but, till I come again,
No bed shall e’er be guilty of my stay,
Nor rest be interposer ’twixt us twain. [Exeunt.
['twixt us twain: Between the two
Act 3, Scene 3
Enter SHYLOCK, SALARINO, ANTONIO, and Gaoler [Jailer].
SHYLOCK: Gaoler, look to him: tell not me of
This is the fool that lent out money gratis:
Gaoler, look to him.
ANTONIO: Hear me yet, good Shylock.
SHYLOCK: I’ll have my bond; speak not against my
I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond.
Thou call’dst me dog before thou hadst a cause,
But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs:
The duke shall grant me justice. I do wonder,
Thou naughty gaoler, that thou art so fond
To come abroad with him at his request.
ANTONIO: I pray thee, hear me speak.
SHYLOCK: I’ll have my bond; I will not hear thee
I’ll have my bond, and therefore speak no more.
I’ll not be made a soft and dull-eyed fool,
To shake the head, relent, and sigh, and yield
To Christian intercessors. Follow not;
I’ll have no speaking; I will have my bond.
[Follow . . . speaking: Don't
follow me. I don't want to speak to you.]
SALARINO: It is the most impenetrable cur
That ever kept with men.
ANTONIO: Let him alone:
I’ll follow him no more with bootless [useless] prayers.
He seeks my life; his reason well I know.
I oft deliver’d from his forfeitures
Many that have at times made moan to me;
[I oft deliver'd . . . me: I
often helped people who were in debt to him.]
Therefore he hates me.
SALARINO: I am sure the duke
Will never grant this forfeiture to hold.
ANTONIO: The duke cannot deny the course of
For the commodity that strangers have
With us in Venice, if it be denied,
’Twill much impeach [damage the
reputation of] the justice of the
Since that the trade and profit of the city
Consisteth of all nations. Therefore, go:
These griefs and losses have so bated me,
That I shall hardly spare a pound of flesh
To-morrow to my bloody creditor.
Well, gaoler, on. Pray God, Bassanio come
To see me pay his debt, and then I care not!
Act 3, Scene 4
Belmont. A Room in
Enter PORTIA, NERISSA, LORENZO, JESSICA, and BALTHAZAR.
LORENZO: Madam, although I speak it in your
You have a noble and a true conceit [understanding; appreciation; conception]
Of god-like amity [friendship];
which appears most strongly
In bearing thus the absence of your lord.
But if you knew to whom you show this honour,
How true a gentleman you send relief,
How dear a lover of my lord your husband,
I know you would be prouder of the work
Than customary bounty can enforce you.
PORTIA: I never did repent for doing good,
Nor shall not now: for in companions
That do converse and waste the time together,
Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love,
There must be needs a like proportion
Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit;
[in companions . . . of spirit:
Bassanio and I enjoy conversing, spending leisure time together,
and loving each other equally. Our closeness has taught me that
we are alike in manners, spirit, and personal characteristics.]
Which makes me think that this Antonio,
Being the bosom lover of my lord,
Must needs be like my lord. If it be so,
How little is the cost I have bestow’d
In purchasing the semblance of my soul [Antonio, like Bassanio, is the semblance--or
likeness--of her soul]
From out the state of hellish cruelty!
This comes too near the praising of myself;
Therefore, no more of it: hear other things.
Lorenzo, I commit into your hands
The husbandry and manage of my house
[husbandry: Management of
Until my lord’s return: for mine own part,
I have toward heaven breath’d a secret vow
To live in prayer and contemplation,
Only attended by Nerissa here,
Until her husband and my lord’s return.
There is a monastery two miles off,
And there will we abide. I do desire you
Not to deny this imposition [not
to refuse my request],
The which my love and some necessity
Now lays upon you.
LORENZO: Madam, with all my heart:
I shall obey you in all fair commands.
PORTIA: My people do already know my mind,
And will acknowledge you and Jessica
In place of Lord Bassanio and myself.
So fare you well till we shall meet again.
LORENZO: Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on
JESSICA: I wish your ladyship all heart’s
PORTIA: I thank you for your wish, and am well
To wish it back on you: fare you well, Jessica. [Exeunt
JESSICA and LORENZO.
As I have ever found thee honest-true,
So let me find thee still. Take this same letter,
And use thou all the endeavour of a man
In speed to Padua [important
city in northeast Italy, about twenty-five miles west of Venice]:
see thou render this
Into my cousin’s hand, Doctor Bellario;
And, look, what notes [messages
or letters] and garments he doth give thee,
Bring them, I pray thee, with imagin’d speed [fastest speed you can imagine]
Unto the traject, to the common ferry
[traject: Means of transport]
Which trades to Venice. Waste no time in words,
But get thee gone: I shall be there before thee.
BALTHAZAR: Madam, I go with all convenient speed.
PORTIA: Come on, Nerissa: I have work in hand
That you yet know not of: we’ll see our husbands
Before they think of us.
NERISSA: Shall they see us?
PORTIA: They shall, Nerissa; but in such a habit [disguise]
That they shall think we are accomplished
With that we lack. I’ll hold thee any wager,
[That they . . .
lack: That they will take us for men]
When we are both accoutred [outfitted;
dressed] like young men,
I’ll prove the prettier fellow of the two,
And wear my dagger with the braver grace,
And speak between the change of man and boy
[speak . . . boy: Speak like an
adolescent male when his voice is changing into that of a young
With a reed voice [voice like
that of a reed musical instrument], and turn two mincing
Into a manly stride, and speak of frays [fights]
Like a fine bragging youth, and tell quaint lies,
How honourable ladies sought my love,
Which I denying, they fell sick and died:
I could not do withal [What was
I to do?]; then I’ll repent,
And wish, for all that, that I had not kill’d them:
And twenty of these puny lies I’ll tell,
That men shall swear I have discontinu’d school
Above a twelvemonth [just over a
year ago]. I have within my mind
A thousand raw [simple; silly;
childish] tricks of these bragging Jacks [fellows; knaves],
Which I will practise.
NERISSA: Why, shall we turn to men?
PORTIA: Fie, what a question’s that,
If thou wert near a lewd interpreter!
[what a . . . interpreter: It
sounds as if you are asking whether we will turn to men for
But come: I’ll tell thee all my whole device
When I am in my coach, which stays for us
At the park gate; and therefore haste away,
For we must measure twenty miles to-day.
Act 3, Scene 5
Enter LAUNCELOT and JESSICA.
LAUNCELOT: Yes, truly; for, look you, the sins of the father
are to be laid upon the children; therefore, I promise you, I fear
[for] you. I was always
plain with you, and so now I speak my agitation of the matter [why I am concerned about the matter]:
therefore be of good cheer; for, truly, I think you are damned.
There is but one hope in it that can do you any good, and that is
but a kind of bastard hope neither.
JESSICA: And what hope is that, I pray
LAUNCELOT: Marry, you may partly hope that your father got
you not, that you are not the Jew’s daughter.
JESSICA: That were a kind of bastard hope, indeed: so the
sins of my mother should be visited upon me.
LAUNCELOT: Truly then I fear you are damned both by father
and mother: thus when I shun Scylla, your father, I fall into
Charybdis, your mother: well, you are gone both ways.
[Scylla and Charybdis (SIL uh,
kuh RIB dis): In Homer's Odyssey,
Scylla and Charybdis are monsters that threaten the Greek hero
Odysseus (Roman name: Ulysses)—the designer of the Trojan
Horse—on his way home from the Trojan War. Odysseus and his
crewmen encounter these monsters when passing through a strait.
On a rock on one side is a six-headed monster, Scylla; opposite
the rock, near the shore on the other side, is a whirlpool
created when the sea monster Charybdis gulps water. When the
ship passes between the twin perils, Scylla stretches its necks
down and devours six of the crewmen. Over the years, writers
have often alluded to Scylla and Charybdis to describe a
JESSICA: I shall be saved by my husband; he hath made me a
LAUNCELOT: Truly the more to blame he: we were Christians
enow [enough] before;
e’en as many as could well live one by another. This making of
Christians will raise the price of hogs: if we grow all to be
pork-eaters, we shall not shortly have a rasher on the coals for
money. [Jews generally did
not eat the meat of pigs. Launcelot is saying that if more and
more Jews become Christians, they will begin eating pork,
driving up the cost of hogs.]
JESSICA: I’ll tell my husband, Launcelot, what you say [Launcelot, I'll tell my husband what
you say]: here he comes.
LORENZO: I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Launcelot, if
you thus get my wife into corners.
JESSICA: Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo: Launcelot and I
are out [Launcelot and I
disagree on a matter]. He tells me flatly, there is no
mercy for me in heaven, because I am a Jew’s daughter: and he says
you are no good member of the commonwealth, for, in converting
Jews to Christians, you raise the price of pork.
LORENZO: I shall answer that better to the commonwealth than
you can the getting up of the negro’s belly: the Moor is with
child by you, Launcelot.
[I shall . . . Launcelot: I can
give a better excuse to the state for my actions than you can in
explaining that Portia's servant, a native of north Africa, is
pregnant by you, Launcelot. Consider that I turn Jews into
Christians but that you cannot turn your black baby white.]
LAUNCELOT: It is much that the Moor should be more than
reason; but if she be less than an honest woman, she is indeed
more than I took her for.
[It is . . . her for: It is
a matter of much concern that the Moor is pregnant. But if she
is less than virtuous, she is at least more than I expected.
(Note the use of Moor
and more in the first
clause and more in the
second clause. Lorenzo answers Launcelot's punning, or play on
words, in the next line.]
LORENZO: How every fool can play upon the word! I think the
best grace of wit will shortly turn into silence, and discourse
grow commendable in none only but parrots. Go in, sirrah: bid them
prepare for dinner.
[How every . . . parrots: Any
fool can make a pun. I think the wittiest thing we can do
now is keep quiet. Only parrots should be allowed to talk.]
LAUNCELOT: That is done, sir; they have all
LORENZO: Goodly Lord, what a wit-snapper are you! then bid
them prepare [cook; make]
LAUNCELOT: That is done too, sir; only, ‘cover’ is the
LORENZO: Will you cover [put
on a tablecloth and set the places], then,
LAUNCELOT: Not so, sir, neither; I know my duty. [Launcelot says he will not cover his
head—that is, put on a hat, which would make him the equal of
nobles and other important people wearing hats.]
LORENZO: Yet more quarrelling with occasion! Wilt thou show
the whole wealth of thy wit in an instant? I pray thee, understand
a plain man in his plain meaning: go to thy fellows; bid them
cover the table, serve in the meat, and we will come in to dinner.
LAUNCELOT: For the table, sir, it shall be served in; for
the meat, sir, it shall be covered [have lids and tops]; for your coming in to
dinner, sir, why, let it be as humours and conceits shall govern [let it be as your mood and wishes
LORENZO: O dear discretion, how his words are suited! [how he uses words to create double
The fool hath planted in his memory
An army of good words: and I do know
A many fools, that stand in better place,
Garnish’d like him, that for a tricksy word
Defy the matter. How cheer’st thou, Jessica?
[I do know . . . the
matter: I do know many jesters at royal courts who talk the way
he does to get a laugh or divert attention from the matter at
And now, good sweet, say thy opinion;
How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio’s wife?
JESSICA: Past all expressing. It is very meet [appropriate; right and proper],
The Lord Bassanio live an upright life,
For, having such a blessing in his lady,
He finds the joys of heaven here on earth;
And if on earth he do not mean it, then
In reason he should never come to heaven.
[And if . . . heaven: And if on
earth he does not live a life that merits his lady's approval,
he should be banned from heaven.]
Why, if two gods should play some heavenly
And on the wager lay two earthly women,
And Portia one, there must be something else
Pawn’d with the other, for the poor rude world
Hath not her fellow.
[there must . . . fellow: There
must be something of great value added to the other woman to
make her worthy of the competition. The fact is, she has no
equal in all the world.]
LORENZO: Even such a husband
Hast thou of me as she is for a wife.
[Even such . . . wife: I am as a
good a husband to you as she is to Bassanio.]
JESSICA: Nay, but ask my opinion too of
[Nay . . . that: Ask me what I
think of you as a husband.]
LORENZO: I will anon [soon]; first, let us go to dinNERISSA:
JESSICA: Nay, let me praise you while I have a
[Nay . . . stomach: First, let me
say some nice things about you while I have the appetite to do
LORENZO: No, pray thee, let it serve for
Then howsoe’er thou speak’st, ’mong other things
I shall digest it.
[Then . . . digest it: Then,
whatever you say about me, I'll digest it—along with the food I
JESSICA: Well, I’ll set you forth. [Why, then, I'll present you as one
of the dishes.] [Exeunt.
Act 4, Scene 1
Venice. A Court of
Enter the DUKE: the Magnificoes; ANTONIO, BASSANIO, GRATIANO,
SALARINO, SALANIO, and Others.
DUKE: What, is Antonio here?
ANTONIO: Ready, so please your Grace.
DUKE: I am sorry for thee: thou art come to
A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
Uncapable of pity, void and empty
From any dram of mercy.
ANTONIO: I have heard
Your Grace hath ta’en great pains to qualify [soften; restrain; moderate]
His rigorous course; but since he stands
And that no lawful means can carry me
Out of his envy’s reach, I do oppose
[envy: This word was once used to
mean evildoing or malice.]
My patience to his fury, and am arm’d
To suffer with a quietness of spirit
The very tyranny and rage of his.
DUKE: Go one, and call the Jew into the court. [One of you go out and call the Jew
into this court.]
SALARINO: He’s ready at the door: he comes, my
DUKE: Make room, and let him stand before our
Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too,
That thou but lead’st this fashion of thy malice
To the last hour of act; and then ’tis thought
Thou’lt show thy mercy and remorse more strange
Than is thy strange-apparent cruelty;
[Shylock . . . cruelty: Shylock,
everyone thinks—as I do—that you plan to press your claim for a
pound of Antonio's flesh right up to the last moment before the
sentence is carried out. Then, at that same moment, you will
withdraw your claim in a show of mercy.]
And where thou now exact’st the penalty,—
Which is a pound of this poor merchant’s flesh,—
Thou wilt not only loose the forfeiture [cancel his debt of flesh to you],
But, touch’d with human gentleness and love,
Forgive a moiety [a part]
of the principal;
Glancing an eye of pity on his losses,
That have of late so huddled on his back,
Enow [enough] to press a
royal merchant down,
And pluck commiseration of his state
From brassy bosoms and rough hearts of flint,
[And pluck . . . flint: And
engender sympathy for his sorry state from even hard-hearted
women and men]
From stubborn Turks and Tartars, never train’d
To offices of tender courtesy.
We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.
SHYLOCK: I have possess’d [told;
informed] your Grace of what I purpose [what my purpose is];
And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn
To have the due and forfeit of my bond:
If you deny it, let the danger light
Upon your charter [authority,
which can be taken away] and your city’s
You’ll ask me, why I rather choose to have
A weight of carrion flesh than to receive
Three thousand ducats: I’ll not answer that:
But say it is my humour [desire;
whim]: is it answer’d [is
that the answer you are looking for]?
What if my house be troubled with a rat,
And I be pleas’d to give ten thousand ducats
To have it ban’d [baned—that is,
poisoned]? What, are you answer’d yet?
Some men there are love not a gaping pig [roasted pig with a fruit in its
Some, that are mad if they behold a cat;
And others, when the bagpipe sings i’ the nose [when the bagpipe plays],
Cannot contain their urine: for affection [my natural inclination; my
Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood
Of what it likes, or loathes. Now, for your
As there is no firm reason to be render’d [As there is no exact reason to
explain my desire],
Why he cannot abide a gaping pig;
Why he, a harmless necessary cat;
Why he, a wauling [wailing]
bagpipe; but of force
Must yield to such inevitable shame
As to offend, himself being offended;
[Why he cannot . . .
offended: A man would be shamed for explaining why he
cannot tolerate a gaping pig, a cat, and bagpipes. He is
offended by these things, but he would offend others by
explaining his feelings.]
So can I give no reason, nor I will not,
More than a lodg’d [fierce;
imbedded] hate and a certain loathing
I bear Antonio, that I follow thus
A losing suit [an unprofitable
legal claim] against him. Are you
BASSANIO: This is no answer, thou unfeeling
To excuse the current [flow]
of thy cruelty.
SHYLOCK: I am not bound to please thee with my
BASSANIO: Do all men kill the things they do not
SHYLOCK: Hates any man the thing he would not kill? [Doesn't every man want to kill the
thing that he hates?]
BASSANIO: Every offence is not a hate at first. [The first time someone offends you,
you shouldn't hate him.]
SHYLOCK: What! wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee
ANTONIO: I pray you, think you question with the Jew:
[think you . . . Jew: Don't think
you can argue with a Jew.]
You may as well go stand upon the beach,
And bid the main flood [ocean]
bate [lessen; decrease; abate]
his usual height;
You may as well use question with the wolf,
Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;
You may as well forbid the mountain pines
To wag their high tops, and to make no noise
When they are fretted [blown
this way and that] with the gusts of
You may as well do anything most hard,
As seek to soften that—than which what’s
His Jewish heart: therefore, I do beseech you,
Make no more offers, use no further means;
But with all brief and plain conveniency,
Let me have judgment, and the Jew his will.
BASSANIO: For thy three thousand ducats here is
SHYLOCK: If every ducat in six thousand
Were in six parts and every part a ducat,
I would not draw them; I would have my bond.
DUKE: How shalt thou hope for mercy, rendering
SHYLOCK: What judgment shall I dread, doing no
You have among you many a purchas’d slave,
Which, like your asses and your dogs and mules,
You use in abject and in slavish parts,
Because you bought them: shall I say to you,
Let them be free, marry them to your heirs?
Why sweat they under burdens? let their beds
Be made as soft as yours, and let their palates
Be season’d with such viands [delicious
foods]? You will answer:
‘The slaves are ours:’ so do I answer you:
The pound of flesh which I demand of him,
Is dearly bought; ’tis mine and I will have it.
If you deny me, fie upon your law!
There is no force in the decrees of Venice.
I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?
DUKE: Upon my power I may dismiss this
Unless Bellario, a learned doctor,
Whom I have sent for to determine this,
Come here to-day.
SALARINO: My lord, here stays without
A messenger with letters from the doctor,
New come from Padua.
DUKE: Bring us the letters: call the
BASSANIO: Good cheer, Antonio! What, man, courage
The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and
Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood.
ANTONIO: I am a tainted wether [castrated male sheep] of the
Meetest for death: the weakest kind of fruit
Drops earliest to the ground; and so let me:
You cannot better be employ’d, Bassanio,
Than to live still, and write mine epitaph.
Enter NERISSA, dressed like a lawyer’s clerk.
DUKE: Came you from Padua, from Bellario?
NERISSA: From both, my lord. Bellario greets your
Grace. [Presents a letter.
BASSANIO: Why dost thou whet [sharpen] thy knife so earnestly? [Shylock sharpens his knife on the
sole of his shoe.]
SHYLOCK: To cut the forfeiture from that bankrupt
GRATIANO: Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh
Thou mak’st thy knife keen; but no metal can,
No, not the hangman’s axe, bear half the
Of thy sharp envy. Can no prayers pierce thee?
SHYLOCK: No, none that thou hast wit [intelligence] enough to
GRATIANO: O, be thou damn’d, inexecrable dog [person who cannot be denounced
And for thy life let justice be accus’d.
[And for . . . accus'd: You
deserve to die. But if you do not, justice should be accused of
sparing a hateful criminal.]
Thou almost mak’st me waver in my faith
To hold opinion with Pythagoras,
That souls of animals infuse themselves
Into the trunks of men: thy currish spirit
Govern’d a wolf, who,
hang’d for human slaughter,
Even from the gallows did his fell [deadly; evil] soul fleet,
And whilst thou lay’st in thy unhallow’d dam,
Infus’d itself in thee; for thy desires
Are wolfish, bloody, starv’d, and ravenous.
[Thou almost . . . ravenous: You
almost make me believe, against my Christian faith, what the
ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras said: that the souls of
animals are reborn in human bodies. Before you were born, your
future soul inhabited a wolf when it slaughtered humans. When it
hanged for its deed, its soul left its body and lodged in you
while you were in your mother's womb. Now you are a bloody and
SHYLOCK: Till thou canst rail [cancel; undo] the seal from off my
Thou but offend’st [tax; injure]
thy lungs to speak so loud:
Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall
To cureless ruin. I stand here for law.
DUKE: This letter from Bellario doth
A young and learned doctor [Portia
in the disguise of an attorney] to our
Where is he?
NERISSA: He attendeth here hard by,
To know your answer, whether you’ll admit him.
DUKE: With all my heart: some three or four of
Go give him courteous conduct to this place.
Meantime, the court shall hear Bellario’s
Clerk. Your Grace shall understand that at the receipt of your
letter I am very sick; but in the instant that your messenger
came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome; his
name is Balthazar. I acquainted him with the cause in controversy
between the Jew and Antonio the merchant: we turned o’er many
books together: he is furnished with my opinion; which, bettered
with his own learning,—the greatness whereof I cannot enough
commend,—comes with him, at my importunity, to fill up your
Grace’s request in my stead. I beseech you, let his lack of years
be no impediment to let him lack a reverend estimation, for I
never knew so young a body with so old [wise] a head. I leave him to your gracious
acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his commendation.
DUKE: You hear the learn’d Bellario, what he
And here, I take it, is the doctor come.
Enter PORTIA, dressed like a doctor of laws.
Give me your hand. Came you from old Bellario?
PORTIA: I did, my lord.
DUKE: You are welcome: take your place.
Are you acquainted with the difference
That holds this present question in the court?
PORTIA: I am informed throughly [thoroughly] of the cause.
Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?
DUKE: Antonio and old Shylock, both stand
PORTIA: Is your name Shylock?
SHYLOCK: Shylock is my name.
PORTIA: Of a strange nature is the suit you
Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.
[To ANTONIO.] You stand within his danger, do you
ANTONIO: Ay, so he says.
PORTIA: Do you confess the bond?
ANTONIO: I do.
PORTIA: Then must the Jew be merciful.
SHYLOCK: On what compulsion must I? tell me
PORTIA: The quality [nature;
essence] of mercy is not strain’d [forced; imposed],
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives [mercy]
and him that takes [mercy]:
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself,
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
[show likest: Resemble; look
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy,
[Though justice . . . salvation:
Though you are pleading for justice, consider that justice alone
won't win your salvation.]
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
[To mitigate . . . plea: To
lessen the severity of your plea; to persude you to give up your
plea; to be merciful]
Which if thou follow, this strict court of
Must needs give sentence ’gainst the merchant there.
[Which if . . . there: But if you
continue to pursue this case, the court will have no choice but
to carry out the sentence against him.]
SHYLOCK: My deeds upon my head! I crave the
The penalty and forfeit of my bond.
[My deeds . . . bond: I take
full responsibility for my actions! And I stand on the law,
which should grant me satisfaction for Antonio's failure to meet
PORTIA: Is he not able to discharge the
BASSANIO: Yes, here I tender it for him in the
Yea, twice the sum: if that will not suffice,
I will be bound to pay it ten times o’er,
On forfeit of my hands, my head, my heart.
If this will not suffice, it must appear
That malice bears down truth. And, I beseech
Wrest once the law to your authority:
[Wrest . . . authority: Seize the
law, Duke, and place it under your authority.]
To do a great right, do a little wrong,
And curb this cruel devil of his will.
PORTIA: It must not be. There is no power in
Can alter a decree established:
’Twill be recorded for a precedent,
And many an error by the same example
Will rush into the state. It cannot be.
SHYLOCK: A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a
[Daniel: In the Book of Daniel in
the Roman Catholic and certain other versions of the Old
Testament, Daniel skillfully interrogates two men who accuse a
woman named Susanna (also called Shoshana) of adultery. His
questioning—not unlike that of a brilliant lawyer—exposes the
men as liars.]
O wise young judge, how I do honour thee!
PORTIA: I pray you, let me look upon the
SHYLOCK: Here ’tis, most reverend doctor; here it
PORTIA: Shylock, there’s thrice thy money offer’d
SHYLOCK: An oath, an oath, I have an oath in
Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?
No, not for Venice.
PORTIA: Why, this bond is forfeit [has been violated];
And lawfully by this the Jew may claim
A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
Nearest the merchant’s heart. Be merciful:
Take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.
SHYLOCK: When it is paid according to the tenour [dictates of the bond].
It doth appear you are a worthy judge;
You know the law, your exposition [analysis]
Hath been most sound: I charge you by the law,
Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,
Proceed to judgment: by my soul I swear
There is no power in the tongue of man
To alter me. I stay here on my bond.
ANTONIO: Most heartily I do beseech the
To give the judgment.
PORTIA: Why then, thus it is:
You must prepare your bosom for his knife.
SHYLOCK: O noble judge! O excellent young
PORTIA: For, the intent and purpose of the
Hath full relation to the penalty,
[Hath . . . to: Sanctions;
Which here appeareth due upon the bond.
SHYLOCK: ’Tis very true! O wise and upright
How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
[How much . . . looks: You have
the wisdom of an old man even though you are young.]
PORTIA: Therefore lay bare your bosom.
SHYLOCK: Ay, ‘his breast:’
So says the bond:—doth it not, noble judge?—
‘Nearest his heart:’ those are the very words.
PORTIA: It is so. Are there balance [weighing device; scales] here
SHYLOCK: I have them ready.
PORTIA: Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your
To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.
SHYLOCK: Is it so nominated in the bond?
PORTIA: It is not so express’d; but what of
’Twere good you do so much for charity.
SHYLOCK: I cannot find it: ’tis not in the
PORTIA: You, merchant, have you anything to
ANTONIO: But little: I am arm’d and well
Give me your hand, Bassanio: fare you well!
Grieve not that I am fallen to this for you;
For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom: it is still her use [habit; inclination]
To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
An age of poverty; from which lingering penance
Of such a misery doth she cut me off.
[Grieve not . . . cut me off:
Don't mourn for me when I am gone. Here is why: Fortune (Lady
Luck; the goddess of fortune) usually directs that men outlive
their wealth. Thus, when they are old and wrinkled, they live in
poverty. But Fortune cuts me off from this fate, since I will
die now and never become old and poverty-stricken.]
Commend me to your honourable wife:
Tell her the process of Antonio’s end;
Say how I lov’d you, speak me fair in death;
And, when the tale is told, bid her be judge
Whether Bassanio had not once a love.
Repent not you that you shall lose your friend,
And he repents not that he pays your debt;
[And he . . . debt: Antonio does
not regret having to pay Bassanio's debt with his life.]
For if the Jew do cut but deep enough,
I’ll pay it instantly with all my heart.
BASSANIO: Antonio, I am married to a wife
Which is as dear to me as life itself;
But life itself, my wife, and all the world,
Are not with me esteem’d above thy life:
I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all,
Here to this devil, to deliver you.
PORTIA: Your wife would give you little thanks for
If she were by to hear you make the offer.
GRATIANO: I have a wife, whom, I protest, I
I would she were in heaven, so she could
Entreat some power to change this currish Jew.
NERISSA: ’Tis well you offer it behind her
The wish would make else an unquiet house.
[The wish . . . house: If she had
heard what you said, she would be angry.]
SHYLOCK: These be the Christian husbands! I have a
Would any of the stock of Barabbas
[Barabbas: In the New Testament,
a Jewish thief released from custody after the Roman governor of
Judea, Pontius Pilate, offered to free either Jesus Christ or
Barabbas during Passover in Jerusalem. The crowd gathered before
Pilate chose Barabbas. Christ was then crucified.]
Had been her husband rather than a Christian!
We trifle time; I pray thee, pursue sentence.
PORTIA: A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is
The court awards it, and the law doth give it.
SHYLOCK: Most rightful judge!
PORTIA: And you must cut this flesh from off his
The law allows it, and the court awards it.
SHYLOCK: Most learned judge! A sentence! come,
PORTIA: Tarry a little: there is something
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are ‘a pound of flesh:’
Then take thy bond, take thou thy pound of
But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.
GRATIANO: O upright judge! Mark, Jew: O learned
SHYLOCK: Is that the law?
PORTIA: Thyself shalt see the act;
For, as thou urgest justice, be assur’d
Thou shalt have justice, more than thou
GRATIANO: O learned judge! Mark, Jew: a learned
SHYLOCK: I take this offer then: pay the bond
And let the Christian go.
BASSANIO: Here is the money.
PORTIA: Soft! [Wait
The Jew shall have all justice; soft! no haste:—
He shall have nothing but the penalty.
GRATIANO: O Jew! an upright judge, a learned
PORTIA: Therefore prepare thee to cut off the
Shed thou no blood; nor cut thou less, nor more,
But just a pound of flesh: if thou tak’st more,
Or less, than a just pound, be it but so much
As makes it light or heavy in the substance,
Or the division of the twentieth part
Of one poor scruple [unit of
weight equaling less than one-twentieth of an ounce],
nay, if the scale do turn
But in the estimation of a hair,
Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate [will be confiscated].
GRATIANO: A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew!
Now, infidel, I have thee on the hip.
[on . . . hip: At a disadvantage]
PORTIA: Why doth the Jew pause? take thy
SHYLOCK: Give me my principal [the amount lent (3,000 ducats), minus interest],
and let me go.
BASSANIO: I have it ready for thee; here it
PORTIA: He hath refus’d it in the open
He shall have merely justice, and his bond.
GRATIANO: A Daniel, still say I; a second
I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.
SHYLOCK: Shall I not have barely my
PORTIA: Thou shalt have nothing but the
To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.
SHYLOCK: Why, then the devil give him good of
I’ll stay no longer question.
[Why, then . . . question: Then
let the devil deal with him. As for me, I do not wish to
continue this argument.]
PORTIA: Tarry, Jew:
The law hath yet another hold on you.
It is enacted in the laws of Venice,
If it be prov’d against an alien
That by direct or indirect attempts
He seek the life of any citizen,
The party ’gainst the which he doth contrive
Shall seize one half his goods; the other half
Comes to the privy coffer of the state [the state treasury];
And the offender’s life lies in the mercy
Of the duke only, ’gainst all other voice.
In which predicament, I say, thou stand’st;
For it appears by manifest proceeding,
That indirectly and directly too
Thou hast contriv’d against the very life
Of the defendant; and thou hast incurr’d
The danger formerly by me rehears’d.
[The danger . . . rehears'd: The
penalty of which I have just spoken]
Down therefore and beg mercy of the duke.
GRATIANO: Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang
And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
Thou hast not left the value of a cord [rope to hang himself];
Therefore thou must be hang’d at the state’s
DUKE: That thou shalt see the difference of our
I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it.
For half thy wealth, it is Antonio’s;
The other half comes to the general state,
Which humbleness may drive into a fine.
PORTIA: Ay, for the state; not for
[The other half . . . for
Antonio: The other half of your possessions goes to the state
treasury. But if you exhibit humility—if you apologize and admit
you were wrong—I can reduce the amount the state will take from
SHYLOCK: Nay, take my life and all [You might as well kill me and take
everything dear to me]; pardon not
You take my house when you do take the prop [money]
That doth sustain my house; you take my life
When you do take the means whereby I live.
PORTIA: What mercy can you render him,
GRATIANO: A halter [noose]
gratis [free of charge];
nothing else, for God’s sake!
ANTONIO: So please my lord the duke, and all the
To quit [set] the fine
for one half of his goods,
I am content; so he will let me have
The other half in use, to render it,
Upon his death, unto the gentleman
That lately stole his daughter:
Two things provided more, that, for this favour,
He presently become a Christian;
The other, that he do record a gift,
Here in the court, of all he dies possess’d,
Unto his son [son-in-law]
Lorenzo, and his daughter.
DUKE: He shall do this, or else I do
The pardon that I late pronounced here.
PORTIA: Art thou contented, Jew? what dost thou
SHYLOCK: I am content.
PORTIA: Clerk, draw a deed of gift.
SHYLOCK: I pray you give me leave to go from
I am not well. Send the deed after me,
And I will sign it.
DUKE: Get thee gone, but do it.
GRATIANO: In christening thou shalt have two
Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more,
[two . . . ten more: Two and ten
make twelve for a jury that would find Shylock guilty and
sentence him to death]
To bring thee to the gallows, not the font. [ [Exit
[font: In a church, a basin
containing water to baptize a person]
DUKE: Sir, I entreat you home with me to dinNERISSA:
PORTIA: I humbly do desire your Grace of
I must away this night toward Padua,
And it is meet [necessary]
I presently set forth.
DUKE: I am sorry that your leisure serves you
Antonio, gratify this gentleman,
For, in my mind, you are much bound to him. [Exeunt DUKE,
Magnificoes, and Train.
BASSANIO: Most worthy gentleman, I and my
Have by your wisdom been this day acquitted
Of grievous penalties; in lieu whereof,
Three thousand ducats, due unto the Jew,
We freely cope your courteous pains withal.
[We . . . withal: We freely give
to you to compensate you for the inconvenience you endured in
overseeing this trial]
ANTONIO: And stand indebted, over and
In love and service to you evermore.
PORTIA: He is well paid that is well
And I, delivering you, am satisfied,
And therein do account myself well paid:
My mind was never yet more mercenary.
[He is . . . mercenary: Being
well satisfied with the outcome of this proceeding is enough
payment for me. My mind was never focused on making money.]
I pray you, know me when we meet again:
[I pray . . . again: I pray that
we shall meet again.]
I wish you well, and so I take my leave.
BASSANIO: Dear sir, of force I must attempt [talk with; detain] you
Take some remembrance of us, as a tribute,
Not as a fee. Grant me two things, I pray you,
Not to deny me, and to pardon me.
[Not to deny . . . pardon me:
Don't deny my request but pardon me for boldly presenting it.]
PORTIA: You press me far, and therefore I will
[To ANTONIO:] Give me your gloves, I’ll wear them for your
[To BASSANIO:] And, for your love, I’ll take this ring from
Do not draw back your hand; I’ll take no more;
And you in love shall not deny me this.
BASSANIO: This ring, good sir? alas! it is a
I will not shame myself to give you this.
PORTIA: I will have nothing else but only
And now methinks I have a mind to it.
BASSANIO: There’s more depends on this than on the
The dearest ring in Venice will I give you,
And find it out by proclamation:
Only for this, I pray you, pardon me.
[There's more . . . pardon me:
It's not the value of this ring that makes me want to keep it;
rather, it is what it means to me. In place of it, I'll give you
the most expensive ring in Venice after I find out where it is.
I pray you, pardon me for insisting on keeping the ring.]
PORTIA: I see, sir, you are liberal in
You taught me first to beg, and now methinks
You teach me how a beggar should be answer’d.
BASSANIO: Good sir, this ring was given me by my
And, when she put it on, she made me vow
That I should never sell nor give nor lose it.
PORTIA: That ’scuse [excuse]
serves many men to save their gifts.
An if your wife be not a mad-woman,
And know how well I have deserv’d the ring,
She would not hold out enemy for ever,
For giving it to me. Well, peace be with you. [Exeunt PORTIA
[She would . . . me: She would
not be cross with you forever for giving me the ring.]
ANTONIO: My Lord Bassanio, let him have the
Let his deservings and my love withal
Be valu’d ’gainst your wife’s commandment.
BASSANIO: Go, Gratiano; run and overtake
Give him the ring, and bring him, if thou canst,
Unto Antonio’s house. Away! make haste. [Exit
Come, you and I will thither [go
to your house] presently,
And in the morning early will we both
Fly toward Belmont. Come, Antonio. [Exeunt.
Act 4, Scene 2
Venice. A Street.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA.
PORTIA: Inquire the Jew’s house out, give him this
And let him sign it. We’ll away to-night,
And be a day before our husbands home [come home]:
This deed will be well welcome to Lorenzo.
GRATIANO: Fair sir, you are well o’erta’en [overtaken].
My Lord Bassanio upon more advice
Hath sent you here this ring, and doth entreat
Your company at dinNERISSA:
PORTIA: That cannot be:
His ring I do accept most thankfully;
And so, I pray you, tell him: furthermore,
I pray you, show my youth old Shylock’s house.
GRATIANO: That will I do.
NERISSA: Sir, I would speak with you.
[Aside to PORTIA.] I’ll see if I can get my husband’s
Which I did make him swear to keep for ever.
PORTIA: Thou mayst, I warrant. We shall have old swearing
[old swearing: In this phrase, old means much or a lot of. Swearing means vowing.]
That they did give the rings away to men;
But we’ll outface them, and outswear them too.
Away! make haste: thou know’st where I will tarry.
NERISSA: Come, good sir, will you show me to this
Act 5, Scene 1
Belmont. The Avenue
to PORTIA’S House.
Enter LORENZO and JESSICA.
LORENZO: The moon shines bright: in such a night as
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees
And they did make no noise, in such a night
Troilus methinks mounted the Troyan walls,
And sigh’d his soul toward the Grecian tents,
Where Cressid [Cressida]
lay that night.
[Troilus . . . that night:
In Greek mythology, Troilus was a prince of Troy when the Greeks
attacked that city to ignite the Trojan War. He loved a Trojan
maid named Cressida. But she abandoned him for a Greek warrior
named Diomedes. After leaving the walled city of Troy, she
walked across the battlefield to the Greek camp and presented
herself to Diomedes in his tent.]
JESSICA: In such a night
Did Thisbe fearfully o’ertrip the dew,
And saw the lion’s shadow ere himself,
And ran dismay’d away.
[Thisbe: In ancient mythology,
Thisbe loved Pyramus. Both Babylonians, they were the subject of
a story by Ovid (43 BC-17 AD) in his long poem Metamorphoses. When Pyramus thinks a lion has
killed Thisbe, he kills himself. Thisbe is still alive, however.
But when she discovers the body of Pyramus, she also kills
LORENZO: In such a night
Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
Upon the wild sea-banks, and waft her love
To come again to Carthage.
[Dido: Queen of Carthage in the Aeneid, an epic poem by the Roman author
Vergil (70-19 BC). This poem centers on the exploits of Aeneas,
a warrior prince of the ancient city of Troy. After the Greeks
defeated the Trojans in the Trojan War, Aeneas escapes the
marauding Greeks and sails to Italy, where he founds the Roman
civilization. On his way to Italy, he and his men stop at
Carthage in North Africa. There, Aeneas and Dido have a love
affair. After Aeneas leaves her to seek his destiny in Italy,
Dido observes his departure, brokenhearted. She kills herself.]
JESSICA: In such a night
Medea gather’d the enchanted herbs
That did renew old Aeson.
[Medea: In Greek mythology, the
wife of Jason, who undertook a perilous journey during which he
retrieved the fabled Golden Fleece. Medea used her magical
powers to turn Jason's elderly father, Aeson, into a vigorous
LORENZO: In such a night
Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew,
And with an unthrift [spendthrift;
prodigal; lavish] love did run from
As far as Belmont.
JESSICA: In such a night
Did young Lorenzo swear he lov’d her well,
Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
And ne’er a true one.
LORENZO: In such a night
Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
Slander her love, and he forgave it her.
JESSICA: I would out-night you, did no body come;
But, hark! I hear the footing of a man.
[I would . . . of a man: I would
outdo you with colorful language beginning with "in such a
night" if nobody interrupted us. But I hear the footsteps of a
man coming toward us.]
LORENZO: Who comes so fast in silence of the
Steph. A friend.
LORENZO: A friend! what friend? your name, I pray you,
Steph. Stephano is my name; and I bring
My mistress will before the break of day
Be here at Belmont: she doth stray about
By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
For happy wedlock hours.
LORENZO: Who comes with her?
Steph. None, but a holy hermit and her maid.
[hermit: There is no hermit with
Portia. She is pretending that there is in order to support her
excuse for leaving Belmont to act as Antonio's lawyer. See lines
26-33 in Act 3, Scene 4.]
I pray you, is my master yet return’d?
LORENZO: He is not, nor we have not heard from
But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica,
And ceremoniously let us prepare
Some welcome for the mistress of the house.
LAUNCELOT: Sola, sola [cry
for attention; sound of a horn blown by a postman]! wo
ha, ho! sola, sola!
LORENZO: Who calls?
LAUNCELOT: Sola! did you see Master
Master Lorenzo! sola, sola!
LORENZO: Leave hollaing, man; here.
LAUNCELOT: Sola! where? where?
LAUNCELOT: Tell him there’s a post come from my master, with
his horn full of good news: my master will be here ere [before] morning.
LORENZO: Sweet soul, let’s in, and there expect their
And yet no matter; why should we go in?
My friend Stephano, signify, I pray you,
Within the house, your mistress is at hand;
And bring your music forth
into the air. [Exit STEPHANO.
[My friend . . . the air:
Stephano, my friend, please signify to those in the house that
Portia will soon arrive. Then tell some musicians to come
outside and play.]
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica: look, how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines [sheens]
of bright gold:
There’s not the smallest orb which thou
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring [choiring;
singing] to the young-eyed cherubins [angels depicted as adorable
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
[Such harmony . . . hear it: Such
singing comes naturally to immortal creatures. However, on this
muddy, decaying earth, we humans cannot hear it.]
Come, ho! and wake Diana with a
[Diana: In ancient mythology, the
Roman name for the Greek goddess Artemis. Artemis was the
goddess of the moon, of hunting, and—being a virgin—of chastity.
She loved a shepherd named Endymion.]
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress’ ear,
And draw her home with music. [Music.
JESSICA: I am never merry when I hear sweet
LORENZO: The reason is, your spirits are attentive [you listen carefully]:
For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
Fetching mad bounds [wildly
jumping around], bellowing and neighing
Which is the hot condition of their blood [which is natural for them to do];
If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound,
Or any air of music touch their ears,
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
Their savage eyes turn’d to a modest gaze
By the sweet power of music: therefore the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and
[therefore . . . floods: Orpheus
was the greatest musician in the legends and myths of ancient
Greece. So good was he—said the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos (a
Greek island)—that he could make rocks and trees dance merely by
playing his lyre and singing a song.]
Since nought [nothing; no one]
so stockish, hard, and full of rage,
[Since . . . rage: No one is so
insensitive, or angry]
But music for the time doth change his nature.
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
[Erebus: In Greek mythology, a
region of darkness between earth and the Underworld (Hades). The
souls of the dead passed through it to reach Hades.]
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA, at a distance.
PORTIA: That light we see is burning in my
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
NERISSA: When the moon shone, we did not see the
PORTIA: So doth the greater glory dim the
A substitute shines brightly as a king
Until a king be by, and then his state
Empties itself, as doth an inland brook
Into the main of waters. Music! hark!
NERISSA: It is your music, madam, of the house.
[It is . . . house: Your
musicians are playing, madam. The sound is coming from your
PORTIA: Nothing is good, I see, without
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
[Nothing . . . by day: Nothing
can be called good unless it is compared to something else. In
this case, I think music played at night sounds much sweeter
than music played during the day.]
NERISSA: Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.
[Silence . . . madam: The silence
of the night makes night music better; there are no competing
PORTIA: The crow doth sing as sweetly as the
When neither is attended, and I think
[The crow . . . attended: The
crow sings as sweetly as the lark when no one is around to hear
The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
How many things by season season’d are
To their right praise and true perfection!
[How many . . . perfection: How
many things are brought to perfection by what's around them:
darkness, silence, the absence of listeners, etc.]
Peace, ho! the moon
sleeps with Endymion,
And would not be awak’d! [Music ceases.
LORENZO: That is the voice,
Or I am much deceiv’d, of Portia.
PORTIA: He knows me, as the blind man knows the
By the bad voice.
LORENZO: Dear lady, welcome home.
PORTIA: We have been praying for our husbands’
Which speed, we hope, the better for our words.
[Which speed . . . words: We hope
our prayers speed to heaven and assure their well-being.]
Are they return’d?
LORENZO: Madam, they are not yet;
But there is come a messenger before,
To signify their coming.
PORTIA: Go in, Nerissa:
Give order to my servants that they take
No note at all of our being absent hence;
[Give order . . . hence: Order my
servants not to say anything about our absence from Belmont to
attend Antonio's trial.]
Nor you, Lorenzo; Jessica, nor you. [A tucket [trumpet]
LORENZO: Your husband is at hand; I hear his
We are no tell-tales [we will
keep your secret], madam; fear you not.
PORTIA: This night methinks is but the daylight
It looks a little paler: ’tis a day,
Such as the day is when the sun is hid.
Enter BASSANIO, ANTONIO, GRATIANO, and their Followers.
BASSANIO: We should hold day with the Antipodes
If you would walk in absence of the sun.
[We should . . . sun: The
antipodes are two regions on earth that are diametrically
opposite each other. If you drove an ice pick completely through
a rubber ball (imagining that it is the earth), passing the pick
through the exact center of the ball, the entry point of the tip
of the pick would be the antipodes of the exit point of the tip.
The antipodes of Venice is a point in the South Pacific. When it
is midnight at one antipode, it is noon at the other. What
Bassanio is saying here is that whenever Portia walks in shadows
or darkness, her shining presence makes everything bright—as if
she were the antipodes of a dark region.]
PORTIA: Let me give light, but let me not be light [promiscuous; unfaithful];
For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
And never be Bassanio so for me:
But God sort all! You are welcome home, my lord.
BASSANIO: I thank you, madam. Give welcome to my
This is the man, this is Antonio,
To whom I am so infinitely bound.
PORTIA: You should in all sense be much bound to
For, as I hear, he was much bound for you.
ANTONIO: No more than I am well acquitted of. [My troubles have ended.]
PORTIA: Sir, you are very welcome to our
It must appear in other ways than words,
Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy.
[It must . . . courtesy: Your
welcome must be supported with meaningful gestures rather than
the courteous words I breathe.]
GRATIANO: [To NERISSA.] By yonder moon I swear you do
In faith, I gave it to the judge’s clerk:
Would he were gelt [gelded,
castrated] that had it, for my part,
Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.
PORTIA: A quarrel, ho, already! what’s the
GRATIANO: About a hoop of gold, a paltry
That she did give me, whose posy [poetic
line or motto engraved on a ring or trinket]
For all the world like cutlers’ [cutler:
maker or seller of knives] poetry
Upon a knife, ‘Love me, and leave me not.’
NERISSA: What talk you of the posy, or the
You swore to me, when I did give it you,
That you would wear it till your hour of death,
And that it should lie with you in your grave:
Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
You should have been respective [respectful;
careful] and have kept it.
Gave it a judge’s clerk! no, God’s my judge,
The clerk will ne’er wear hair [a
beard] on ’s [on his]
face that had it.
[The clerk . . . had it: Nerissa
is suggesting that Gratiano gave the ring to a woman.]
GRATIANO: He will, an if he live to be a
NERISSA: Ay, if a woman live to be a man.
GRATIANO: Now, by this hand, I gave it to a
A kind of boy, a little scrubbed boy,
[scrubbed: Scrubby—that is,
insignificant, shabby, or undersized]
No higher than thyself, the judge’s clerk.
A prating [chattering; given to
idle talk] boy, that begg’d it as a
I could not for my heart deny it him.
PORTIA: You were to blame,—I must be plain with
To part so slightly with your wife’s first gift;
A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger,
And riveted so with faith unto your flesh.
I gave my love a ring and made him swear
Never to part with it; and here he stands,
I dare be sworn for him he would not leave it
Nor pluck it from his finger for the wealth
That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano,
You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief:
An ’twere to me, I should be mad at it.
BASSANIO: [Aside.] Why, I were best to cut my left
And swear I lost the ring defending it.
GRATIANO: My Lord Bassanio gave his ring
Unto the judge that begg’d it, and indeed
Deserv’d it too; and then the boy, his clerk,
That took some pains in writing, he begg’d mine;
And neither man nor master would take aught [anything]
But the two rings.
PORTIA: What ring gave you, my lord?
Not that, I hope, that you receiv’d of me.
BASSANIO: If I could add a lie unto a
I would deny it; but you see my finger
Hath not the ring upon it; it is gone.
PORTIA: Even so void is your false heart of
By heaven, I will ne’er come in your bed
Until I see the ring.
NERISSA: Nor I in yours,
Till I again see mine.
BASSANIO: Sweet Portia,
If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
And would conceive [imagine]
for what I gave the ring,
And how unwillingly I left the ring,
When naught would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate [lessen]
the strength of your displeasure.
PORTIA: If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness
that gave the ring,
Or your own honour to contain the ring,
[If you . . . contain the ring:
If you had known what that ring meant to me, if you had
appreciated even half the worthiness of me in giving it to you,
or if you had regarded keeping the ring as a point of honor,]
You would not then have parted with the ring.
What man is there so much unreasonable,
If you had pleas’d to have defended it
With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
To urge the thing held as a ceremony?
[What man . . . ceremony: What
man would have been so unreasonable as to insist on having you
give him the ring if he saw how zealously you defended it? What
man would have lacked the common decency to urge you to keep the
ring as a sacred memento?]
Nerissa teaches me what to believe:
I’ll die for ’t but some woman had the ring.
BASSANIO: No, by my honour, madam, by my
No woman had it; but a civil doctor [Portia in disguise as a doctor of laws],
Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me,
And begg’d the ring, the which I did deny him,
And suffer’d him to go displeas’d away;
Even he that did uphold the very life
Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet
I was enforc’d [honor-bound]
to send it after him;
I was beset with shame and courtesy;
My honour would not let ingratitude
So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady,
For, by these blessed candles of the night,
Had you been there, I think you would have
The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.
PORTIA: Let not that doctor e’er come near my
Since he hath got the jewel that I lov’d,
And that which you did swear to keep for me,
I will become as liberal as you;
I’ll not deny him anything I have;
No, not my body, nor my husband’s bed.
Know him I shall, I am well sure of it:
Lie not a night from home; watch me like Argus [in Greek mythology, a giant with one
If you do not, if I be left alone,
Now by mine honour, which is yet mine own,
I’ll have that doctor for my bedfellow.
NERISSA: And I his clerk; therefore be well
How you do leave me to mine own protection.
[leave . . . protection: Leave me
to do as I please]
GRATIANO: Well, do you so: let me not take him,
For if I do, I’ll mar the young clerk’s pen.
[Well . . . pen: Well, go ahead.
But if I catch up with that clerk, I'll break his pen.]
ANTONIO: I am the unhappy subject of these
PORTIA: Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome
BASSANIO: Portia, forgive me this enforced [unavoidable; forced]
And in the hearing of these many friends,
I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
Wherein I see myself,—
PORTIA: Mark you but that! [Take note of what you say!]
In both my eyes he doubly sees himself;
In each eye, one: swear by your double self,
And there’s an oath of credit.
[In both . . . credit: You see an
image of yourself in each of my eyes. Swear by your
double-dealing self, and I'll believe you.]
BASSANIO: Nay, but hear me:
Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear
I never more will break an oath with thee.
ANTONIO: I once did lend my body for his
Which, but for him that had your husband’s ring,
Had quite miscarried: I dare be bound again,
My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord
Will never more break faith advisedly.
[I once . . . advisedly: I once
staked my life for Bassanio's financial benefit. I would have
lost my life if it had not been for the young man to whom
Bassanio gave the ring. I now stake my very soul on this: that
Bassanio will never again willingly break faith with you.]
PORTIA: Then you shall be his surety. Give him
[Then . . . surety: Then
you shall guarantee his faithfulness.]
And bid him keep it better than the other.
ANTONIO: Here, Lord Bassanio; swear to keep this
BASSANIO: By heaven! it is the same I gave the
PORTIA: I had it of him: pardon me,
For, by this ring, the doctor lay with me.
NERISSA: And pardon me, my gentle
For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor’s clerk,
In lieu of this last night did lie with me.
GRATIANO: Why, this is like the mending of
In summer, where the ways are fair enough.
[Why, this . . . enough: Why,
this is like repairing roads that are already in good
What! are we cuckolds ere we have deserv’d it?
[What! . . . it: What! Are
you saying that you two slept with these men—Portia with the
doctor and Nerissa with the doctor's clerk?]
PORTIA: Speak not so grossly. You are all
Here is a letter; read it at your leisure;
It comes from Padua, from Bellario:
There you shall find that Portia was the doctor,
Nerissa, there, her clerk: Lorenzo here
Shall witness I set forth as soon as you
And even but now return’d; I have not yet
Enter’d my house. Antonio, you are welcome;
And I have better news in store for you
Than you expect: unseal this letter soon;
There you shall find three of your argosies
Are richly come to harbour suddenly.
You shall not know by what strange accident
I chanced on this letter.
ANTONIO: I am dumb.
BASSANIO: Were you the doctor and I knew you
GRATIANO: Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?
[Were . . . cuckold: Were you the clerk that you say you slept
NERISSA: Ay; but the clerk that never means to do
Unless he live until he be a man.
[Ay . . . man: Yes, I am the
clerk. But I will never be unfaithful to you unless I turn into
a man (like the clerk that I was disguised as).]
BASSANIO: Sweet doctor, you shall be my
When I am absent, then, lie with my wife.
ANTONIO: Sweet lady, you have given me life and
For here I read for certain that my ships
Are safely come to road.
PORTIA: How now, Lorenzo!
My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.
NERISSA: Ay, and I’ll give them him without a
There do I give to you and Jessica,
From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,
After his death, of all he dies possess’d of.
LORENZO: Fair ladies, you drop manna in the
Of starved people.
[manna: In the Old Testament
(Exodus 16:1-36), the food God provided the Israelites during
their journey through the wilderness after Moses led them out of
bondage in Egypt. The term is used figuratively by Lorenzo.]
PORTIA: It is almost morning,
And yet I am sure you are not satisfied
Of these events at full. Let us go in;
And charge us there upon inter’gatories,
And we will answer all things faithfully.
[charge us . . . faithfully:
Impose on us the duty to answer your questions, and we will do
GRATIANO: Let it be so: the first
That my Nerissa shall be sworn on is,
Whe’r till the next night she had rather stay,
Or go to bed now, being two hours to day:
[Whe'r . . . to day: Whether she
would rather go to bed tomorrow night or now, being two hours
But were the day come, I should wish it dark,
That I were couching with the doctor’s clerk.
Well, while I live I’ll fear no other thing
So sore as keeping safe Nerissa’s ring. [Exeunt.