The Merchant of Venice simplified

Synopsis

Many centuries ago there was a merchant in Venice named Antonio, and he was wealthy, having made his money successfully trading goods internationally.  Antonio had a friend in Bassanio, and Bassanio had an interest in Portia, “a lady richly left, fairer than that word, and of wondrous virtues.”  Early in the play, Antonio, concerned over the possibility of losing his friend Bassanio to Portia, laments “I know not why I am so sad.”  As he expresses his discontent, Gratiano encourages him to be more up-beat, Gratiano being a friend of both his and Bassanio’s. There in Venice; actually not living in Venice, but rather in the Ghetto, is Shylock, a moneylender.  Being a Jew, Shylock was often denied the civil rights offered gentiles.

Early in the play we learn that Bassanio is most eager to spend more time courting and being with Portia.  But she lives in Belmont, and Bassanio doesn’t have the funds or other means to get there.  It’s a serious issue for him.  Antonio, good friend that he is, suggests Bassanio secure the funds he needs to get to Belmont by negotiating a loan there in Venice, using the prosperous merchant’s good credit as collateral.  Taking advantage of Antonio’s generous offer, Bassanio works out a deal with Shylock, borrowing three thousand ducats for three months. But Shylock, with a dislike for Antonio, justifiably believing Antonio has treated him poorly in the past, has extracted stiff terms. Using this opportunity to perhaps get even with Antonio, Shylock tells Bassanio that the bondholder must “forfeit a pound of his fresh flesh” if the loan is not repaid on the day agreed, Antonio being the bondholder. Bassanio thinks the terms of the loan are a little harsh, but a confident Antonio tells him “fear not, man, I will not forfeit it!”  Bassanio doesn’t think much more about it, excited as he is thinking about getting to Belmont and to being with Portia. 

Meanwhile in Belmont, a worried Portia frets over her near-term future.  She’s consumed with the thought of having to follow the husband-choosing process designed for her by her recently deceased father.  She makes plans to begin a “lottery” that her father “hath devised” for her through his will, lamenting that “the will of a living daughter is curbed by the will of a dead father. I cannot choose one, nor refuse none.” Her gentlewoman Nerissa tries to soothe her saying, “Your father was very virtuous, and holy men at their death have good inspirations.”  The winner of the lottery, the one who wins Portia, will be the one who “chooses his meaning” by choosing the correct chest, which is one of three, a gold, silver or lead chest.  Portia is stressed-out over the steps she has to take to deal with these suitors, but agrees with Nerissa that of all the men in her life, Bassanio “was the best deserving a fair lady.”  The first suitor to arrive in Belmont is the Prince of Morocco.  He has high hopes to be the suitor to win her father’s lottery. She invites him to dinner.

Back in Venice, Lancelet, Shylock’s servant, lets us know that he plans to leave the employ of “the Jew my master.”  Lancelet’s “sandblind” father, Gobbo, enters, not recognizing his son; treated beautifully by the son he can’t quite see.  The two of them talk with Bassanio, encouraging him to employ Lancelet.  He does.  Meanwhile Bassanio’s good friend Gratiano, looking for some adventure, aggressively begs Bassanio to let him accompany him to Belmont.  Bassanio ends up agreeing with the request, but he sets some conditions.  He demands that Gratiano become more urbane in his deportment if he is to join him on this trip to Belmont. Gratiano agrees to give it a good try.  Separately, Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, tells us she plans to leave her father’s household. She gives Lancelet a letter to be delivered to Lorenzo, the young Christian she loves. 

Lancelet delivers Jessica’s letter to Lorenzo. Shylock tells his daughter “I am bid forth to supper, Jessica, there are my keys. Look to my house.”  Just before Shylock leaves for the dinner party, Lancelet whispers to Jessica “Mistress, look out at window for all this there will be a Christian by.”  Right after her father leaves the house, Jessica says to herself “Farewell, and if my fortune be not crossed, I have a father, you a daughter, lost.”  As planned, Jessica elopes with Lorenzo, but not before helping herself to some of her father’s gold coins and jewels.  The dinner party is canceled.  Returning home early, Shylock is beside himself, realizing that his daughter has “stol’n from me a sealed bag of double ducats and two rich and precious jewels” and that she has “fled with a Christian.” 

At about this time Antonio greets Gratiano, telling him that “the wind is come about; Bassanio presently will go aboard.”  Gratiano responds “I am glad on‘t. I desire no more delight than to be under sail and gone tonight.”  Bassanio and Gratiano are soon on their way to Belmont. 

In Belmont, the Prince of Morocco chooses the gold chest, a wrong chest, and exits. As Morocco is leaving, the Prince of Arragon arrives, acknowledging through an oath that if he fails to choose the correct chest he must never unfold to anyone the casket he choose, to never woo a maid in way of marriage, and to immediately leave Portia and be gone.  He chooses the silver chest, also a wrong chest, and leaves.  A messenger enters to tell Portia “a young Venetian is alighted” and that he “has not seen so likely an ambassador of love” and “that a day in April never came so sweet.”  Nerissa squeals “Bassanio, Lord Love, if thy will it be!”

A rumor surfaces in Venice that a Venetian merchant’s ships have gone down in the English Channel. Separately, Shylock learns from Tubal, another moneylender and Shylock’s friend and agent, that Jessica cannot be located, try as they might to find her.  Meanwhile, back in Belmont, Portia is encouraging Bassanio to take his time before making his casket choice.  An impatient and eager Bassanio responds “Let me choose.” He opens the lead casket, the winning casket. He and Portia promptly marry, as do Gratiano and Nerissa.  Giving us a heads-up of what might be to come, Portia warns Bassanio to never lose his wedding ring or give it away.  A shocked Bassanio soon learns from a Venetian messenger that it looks like Antonio’s ships have been lost at sea, and that Shylock plans to enforce his bond.  When wealthy Portia learns the amount of the bond, she says “What, no more?”  Having a plan in mind, she offers to cover it “twenty times over.”  She turns the management of her house over to visiting Lorenzo and Jessica, who having fled Venice have by happenstance found themselves in Belmont.  She tells them that she and Nerissa are going to a monastery.  The clever Portia sends a letter to her cousin, a Doctor Bellario, “a noted jurist in Padua,” the letter requesting that he help her with her plan.  She lets him know that he has to keep her plan a secret. She doesn’t let us know of her plan. She quietly tells Nerissa that “I’ll tell thee all my whole device when I am in my coach.”

Aware that Antonio’s ships may be lost, Shylock seeks to have Antonio’s bond forfeited, causing a court in Venice to convene.  The duke of Venice, Antonio, Bassanio and Gratiano have all now arrived at the courthouse.  Shylock enters and promptly lets all know that he holds firm to his demand “to forfeit on my bond.”  The duke is aware that a Dr. Bellario is scheduled in as counsel to the defense.  He says that he will dismiss the court unless Bellario arrives soon.  A disguised-as-a-law-clerk Nerissa enters to report the Bellario has sent a learned young lawyer, Balthazar, as his substitute, Bellario not being well.  Portia enters, disguised as Balthazar, and is welcomed by the duke.  Balthazar says he is aware of the case and suggests Shylock show more mercy and seek less justice.  In her famous the-quality-of-mercy-is-not-strained speech, she lets him know that he has a very strong case. Shylock doesn’t budge, saying “I crave the law, the penalty and forfeit of my bond.”  Balthazar essentially says, well, okay, you may take a pound of flesh, but you must take no blood and may take but precisely one pound. Recognizing that he has trapped himself, Shylock says he’ll take the money offered, Bassanio having offered “for thy three thousand ducats here is six.”  The duke tells Shylock essentially, no deal, and tells the court that Antonio is to get one-half of Shylock’s goods; the state the other half.  Antonio suggests a lesser fine.  The duke agrees.  Shylock asks the court “I pray you give me leave to go from hence. I am not well.” The duke does.

Bassanio says to Balthazar that since “I and my friend have by your wisdom been this day acquitted of grievous penalties” we want to give you the “three thousand ducats due unto the Jew.”  Balthazar refuses the offer.  As Balthazar is about to leave, Bassanio cries out “Dear sir, of force I must attempt you further.  Take some remembrance of us as a tribute.  I pray you not to deny me.”  Balthazar says “you press me far, and therefore I will yield.  I’ll take this ring from you. Do not draw back your hand.”  All the while, of course, Balthazar remains a disguised Portia.  A frightened Bassanio says “I will not shame myself to give you this.”  Balthazar responds “I will have nothing else but only this.”  Portia and Nerissa exit.  Antonio persuasively says “My Lord Bassanio, let him have the ring.”  Bassanio reluctantly consents and gives his ring to Gratiano, saying “Go, Gratiano, run and overtake him.” As Gratiano exits, Bassanio says to Antonio “in the morning early will we both fly toward Belmont.”  Gratiano chases her down and gives her the ring.  Portia says “His ring I do accept most thankfully, and so pray you tell him.” Aside, Nerissa says to Portia “I’ll see if I can get my husband’s ring, which I did make him swear to keep forever.”  Nerissa gets her husband’s ring.

Back in Belmont, Lorenzo and Jessica greet Portia and Nerissa as they return.  Bassanio, Gratiano and Antonio arrive a little later.  Nerissa promptly takes Gratiano aside to express her displeasure, noting that his ring is missing. Portia scolds Gratiano and then turns to Bassanio, and as smooth as can be asks him about his missing ring. Bassanio desperately tries to explain and apologize his way out of his serious predicament.  Accepting responsibility, Antonio steps-in saying I am “th’ unhappy subject of these quarrels.” Portia says, “Sir, grieve not you.”  Antonio profusely apologizes for the misunderstanding, saying to her “your lord will never more break faith advisedly.”  She gives Antonio the ring saying “Then you shall be his surety. Give him this ring. And bid him keep it better than the other.”  Nerissa returns Gratiano’s ring to him.  Portia describes the ruse.  Portia shows Antonio a paper that lets him know his ships have in fact safely arrived back in Venice.  Nerissa shows Lorenzo a paper from Shylock deeding all his possessions at his death to Jessica and him.  Gratiano vows to take better care of his ring. 

Principal Characters

Antonio.  Antonio is the merchant who risks all to help his friend, Bassanio.  Bassanio borrows money using Antonio’s good credit.  Antonio’s ships are the basis for his good credit, and it is reported they’ve been lost at sea. The possible loss of his ships is central to the play.  At the end we learn that his ships have safely returned.

Bassanio.  Bassanio is by all accounts a fine young man and a very eligible bachelor.  His interest in seeing Portia, then winning her, and then almost losing her, is the play’s central theme.  Portia, in disguise as a “young lawyer of Rome,” whom the revered Bellario had described in his letter to the court as “the greatness whereof I cannot enough commend,” is in disguise the “young lawyer of Rome,” Balthazar, who becomes the defense attorney who saves Antonio’s life from the high-risk deal Bassanio had made early-on with Shylock on his behalf.

Gratiano. Gratiano is by early accounts a rowdy playboy, but changes his behavior at the insistence of Bassanio. Gratiano ends up with Nerissa, becoming a loyal husband and a reliable friend to Bassanio.

Jessica.  Jessica is Shylock’s daughter, his only child, who runs off with a Christian, Lorenzo, after taking some of her father’s gold and jewels.  She doesn’t have a big role, but comes to peace with her father who ends up willing her and her husband all of his possessions.

Lancelet.  Lancelet has a small role, first as Shylock’s servant and then as a servant to Bassanio.

Lorenzo.  Lorenzo is the Christian who marries Jessica, running off with her to Belmont, where he and Jessica act as managers of Portia’s estate while Portia is off defending (in disguise) Antonio against Shylock’s effort to extract his “pound of flesh.” 

Nerissa.  Nerissa is Portia’s waiting-gentlewoman; she is Portia’s loyal assistant as Portia acts out her clever chicanery.  She marries Gratiano. 

Portia.  Portia is the beautiful, wise, wealthy, talented and virtuous heroine of the play, Shakespeare giving her perhaps his best female role.  She is the lead and makes the play.  She is wonderful. 

Shylock.   Shylock is the antagonist, a wealthy moneylender, used by Shakespeare to help make the play.  Jews were discriminated against in early Venice; Venice being at the time the world’s major center for trade, and Shakespeare lets us count the ways.  As a Jew, Shylock would have been denied citizenship in Venice.  He lived in a suburb known as the Ghetto.  He has one child, a daughter, Jessica.

The Play


  • Act 1, Scene 1
  • Antonio, a wealthy Venetian importer/exporter, and two of his friends, Salarino and Solanio, are on stage.
  • ANTONIO
  • In sooth I know not why I am so sad.
  • SALARINO
  • Your mind is tossing on the ocean, there where your ships sail, overlooking the petty traffickers that curtsy to them.
  • SOLANIO
  • Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth, every object that might make me fear misfortune to my ventures would make me sad.
  • SALARINO
  • I know Antonio is sad to think upon his merchandise.
  • ANTONIO
  • Believe me, no.
  • SOLANIO
  • Why then you are in love.
  • ANTONIO
  • Fie, fie!
  • SOLANIO
  • Not in love neither? Then let us say you are sad because you are not merry.
  • Bassanio, Lorenzo and Gratiano enter.
  • SALANIO
  • Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman, Gratiano, and Lorenzo. Fare you well. We leave you now with better company.
  • Salarino and Solanio exit.
  • GRATIANO
  • You look not well, Signior Antonio.
  • ANTONIO
  • I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano, a stage where every man must play part, and mine a sad one.
  •  
  •  
  • Gratiano to Antonio.
  •  
  • Let me play the fool. With mirth and laughter
  • Let old wrinkles come, and let your liver
  • Rather heat with wine than let your heart cool
  • With mortifying groans. Why should you, so
  • With life's hope, sit like your grandsire and duel
  • With sleep? I tell thee what, Antonio
  • There are men who do a willful stillness
  • Entertain, wishing their stillness doth dress
  • As wisdom, as who should say, “I am Sir
  • Oracle, and when I open my lips,
  • Let no dog bark.” I know these mute men were
  • Reported wise, but then if a word slips
  • Off their tongues, they'd be called fools. Tempt not fate,
  • And fish not with this melancholy bait.
  • GRATIANO
  • Come good Lorenzo. Fare you well a while. I'll end my exhortation after dinner.
  • LORENZO
  • I must be one of these dumb wise men, for Gratiano never lets me speak.
  • Gratiano and Lorenzo exit.
  • 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 search.
  • ANTONIO
  • Well, tell me now what lady is the same to whom you swore a secret pilgrimage.
  • BASSANIO
  • To you, Antonio, I owe the most in money, and I have a warranty to unburden all my plots and purposes how to get clear of all the debts I owe.
  • ANTONIO
  • I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it; and if it stand, be assured my purse, my person, lie all unlocked to your occasions. Do but say to me what I should do that in your knowledge may by me be done. Therefore speak.
  • BASSANIO
  • In Belmont is a lady richly left, and she is fair, and, fairer than that word, of wondrous virtues. Her name is Portia, nothing undervalued to Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia. Renowned suitors, and her sunny locks hang on her temples like a golden fleece. O my Antonio, had I but the means to hold a rival place with one of them.
  • ANTONIO
  • Therefore go forth: try what my credit can in Venice do; that shall be racked even to the uttermost to furnish thee to Belmont to fair Portia.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 2
  • Portia and her waiting-gentlewoman, Nerissa, enter.
  •  
  •  
  • Portia to Nerissa, No. 1
  •  
  • Nerissa, my body is aweary
  • Of this world. If to do were as easy
  • As to know what were good to do, the cur
  • Would be kind, and the home of a poor man
  • A prince's palace. I can easier
  • Teach twenty what were good to be done than
  • To be one of the twenty to follow
  • My teaching. Emotion's laws are hollow,
  • Watching a hot temper leap over a
  • Cold decree; such is the madness of youth
  • To skip o'er good counsel. ‘Tis not the way
  • To choose a husband, Nerissa, in sooth.
  • O, me, the word “choose.” The cold will is done,
  • Where I cannot choose one, nor refuse none.
  • NERISSA
  • Your father was very virtuous, and holy men at their death have good inspirations. Therefore the lottery that he hath devised in these three chests of gold, silver, and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning 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 come?
  • PORTIA
  • I pray thee, say their names, and I will describe them, and according to my description level at my affection.
  • NERISSA
  • First, there is the Neapolitan prince.
  • PORTIA
  • Ay, that's a colt indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horse. I am much afeard my lady his mother played false with a smith.
  • NERISSA
  • Then is there is the County Palatine.
  • PORTIA
  • He hears merry tales and smiles not. I had rather be married to a skull with a bone in his mouth than to either of these.
  • NERISSA
  • How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?
  • PORTIA
  • God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man.
  • 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 is a proper man's picture, but alas, who can converse with a dumb show?
  • NERISSA
  • How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony's nephew?
  • PORTIA
  • Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober, and most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk.
  • NERISSA
  • Do you not remember, lady, in your father's time, a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither in company of the Marquess of Montferrat?
  • PORTIA
  • Yes, yes, it was Bassanio, as I think so was he called.
  • NERISSA
  • True, madam. He, of all the men that ever my foolish eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.
  • PORTIA
  • I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of thy praise.
  • A Serving man enters.
  • SERVINGMAN
  • 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 here tonight.
  • PORTIA
  • If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good heart as I can bid the other four farewell, I should be glad to his approach. Come Nerissa. Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the door.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 3
  • Bassanio and Shylock are on stage, negotiating the terms of Bassanio's proposed loan, based on Antonio's credit.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Three thousand ducats, well.
  • BASSANIO
  • Ay, sir, for three months.
  • SHYLOCK
  • For three months, well.
  • BASSANIO
  • For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Antonio shall become bound, well. Antonio is a good man. Yet his means are uncertain. The man is, notwithstanding, sufficient. Three thousand ducats. I think I may take his bond.
  • BASSANIO
  • Be assured you may.
  • SHYLOCK
  • May I speak with Antonio?
  • BASSANIO
  • If it please you to dine with us.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Yes, to smell pork! I will buy with you, sell with you, but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you.
  • Antonio enters.
  • BASSANIO
  • This is Signior Antonio.
  • SHYLOCK ASIDE
  • How like a fawning publican he looks. 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 interest here with us in Venice. He hates our sacred nation, and my well-won thrift, which he calls “interest.”
  • BASSANIO
  • Shylock, do you hear?
  • SHYLOCK
  • I am debating of my present store, and, by the near guess of my memory, I cannot instantly raise up the gross of full three thousand ducats. But soft, how many months do you desire?
  • ANTONIO TO BASSANIO
  • Is he yet possessed how much you would?
  • SHYLOCK
  • Ay, ay, three thousand ducats.
  • ANTONIO
  • And for three months.
  • SHYLOCK
  • I had forgot --- three months.
  • SHYLOCK TO BASSANIO
  • You told me so.
  • SHYLOCK TO ANTONIO
  • Methought you said you neither lend nor borrow upon advantage.
  • ANTONIO
  • I do never use it.
  • SHYLOCK
  • When Jacob grazed his Uncle Laban's sheep --- this Jacob from our holy Abram was the third possessor; ay, he was the third ----
  • ANTONIO
  • Did he take interest?
  • ANTONIO ASIDE TO BASSANIO
  • Mark you this, Bassanio, the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose!
  • SHYLOCK
  • Three thousand ducats. ‘Tis a good round sum. Three months from twelve, then let me see, the rate -----
  • ANTONIO
  • Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to you?
  •  
  •  
  • Shylock to Antonio
  •  
  • Signior Antonio, you have many
  • Times berated me about my money,
  • Which I have borne with a shrug, as a sign
  • You need my help. You call me a cutthroat
  • Dog, all for the use of that which is mine
  • Own. You say, “we would have moneys, you dote,”
  • As you foot me as you spurn a strange cur
  • Over your threshold. You need money, sir.
  • Shall I bend low, and with the patient mew
  • Of a slave, and with bated breath, here whine
  • In whispered humbleness, saying: “Sir, you
  • Spurned me such a day, and another time
  • You called me ‘dog'; and for these courtesies
  • I'll without rate lend you thus much moneys?”
  • ANTONIO
  • If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not as to thy friends. But lend it rather to thine enemy, who, if he break, thou mayst with better face exact the penalty.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Why, look you how you storm! This is kind I offer.
  • BASSANIO
  • This were kindness!
  • SHYLOCK
  • This kindness will I show. If you repay me not on such a day, let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh.
  • BASSANIO
  • You shall not seal to such a bond for me! I'll rather dwell in my neediness.
  • ANTONIO
  • Why, fear not, man, I will not forfeit it! Within these two months, I do expect return of thrice three times the value of this bond.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Pray you tell me this: if he should break his day, what should I gain by the exaction of the forfeiture? A pound of man's flesh taken from a man is not so profitable as flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say, for my love I pray you wrong me not.
  • ANTONIO
  • Yes, Shylock, I will seal unto this bond.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Then meet me forthwith at the notary's. I'll be with you.
  • Shylock exits.
  • BASSANIO
  • I like not fair terms and a villain's mind.
  • ANTONIO
  • Come on, in this there can be no dismay; my ships come home a month before the day.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 1
  • The Prince of Morocco, a tawny Moor, with Portia, Nerissa and their train enter.
  • PORTIA
  • The lottery of my destiny bars me the right of voluntary choosing. But if my father had not restricted me and hedged me by his wit to yield myself his wife who wins me by that means I told you, yourself, renowned prince, then stood as fair as any comer I have looked on yet for my affection.
  •  
  •  
  • Morocco to Portia
  •  
  • Dislike me not as a tawny Moor's son,
  • A darkened product of the burnished sun,
  • To whom I am a neighbor and near bred.
  • Bring me the fairest creature northward born
  • And cut us, to prove whose blood is most red,
  • His or mine; the valiant become forlorn.
  • I would not change this hue except to share
  • Your thoughts, my gentle queen. I would o'erstare
  • The sternest eyes that look and out clock
  • Them, outbrave the most daring heart that's been,
  • Pluck the young cubs from the she-bear, yea, mock
  • The lion when he roars for prey, to win
  • Thee. And so may I, blind Fortune leading
  • Me, miss by losing you, and die grieving.
  • MOROCCO
  • I pray you lead me to the caskets to try my fortune.
  • 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 advised.
  • MOROCCO
  • Come, bring me unto my chance.
  • PORTIA
  • After dinner your hazard shall be made.
  • MOROCCO
  • Good fortune then, to make me blest --- or cursed'st among men!
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 2
  • Lancelet, Shylock's servant, is on stage alone.
  • LANCELET
  • Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from this Jew my master. To be ruled by my conscience, I should stay with the Jew my master, who is a kind of devil; and to run away from the Jew, I should be ruled by the fiend, who is the devil himself. I will run, fiend. My heels are at your commandment. I will run.
  • Old Gobbo, Lancelet's father, enters.
  • GOBBO
  • Master young man, you, I pray you, which is the way to Master Jew's?
  • LANCELET ASIDE
  • O heavens, this is my true begotten father, who being more than sandblind, knows me not.
  • GOBBO
  • Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is the way to Master Jew's. Can you tell me whether one Lancelet, that dwells with him, dwell with him or no?
  • LANCELET
  • Talk you of young Master Lancelet?
  • GOBBO
  • No, master, sir, but a poor man's son.
  • LANCELET
  • Do you not know me, father?
  • GOBBO
  • Alack, sir, I am sandblind. I know you not.
  • LANCELET
  • Give me your blessing. Truth will come to light. In the end, truth will out. I am Lancelet, the Jew's man, and I am sure Margery your wife is my mother.
  • GOBBO
  • Her name is Margery, indeed. I'll be sworn if thou be Lancelet, thou art mine own flesh and blood. Lord, how art thou changed! How dost thou and thy master agree? I have brought him a present.
  • LANCELET
  • Well, well. I have set up my rest to run away, so I will not rest till I have run some ground. Give me your present to one Master Bassanio. If I serve not him, I will run as far as God has any ground.
  • Bassanio and Leonardo enter.
  • LANCELET
  • To him, father.
  • GOBBO TO BASSANIO
  • God bless your Worship?
  • BASSANIO
  • Wouldst thou aught with me?
  • GOBBO
  • Here's my son, sir, a poor boy ----
  • LANCELET
  • Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew's man, that would, sir -----
  • GOBBO
  • He hath a great infection, sir, as one would say, to serve ----
  • BASSANIO
  • One speak for both. What would you?
  • LANCELET
  • Serve you, sir.
  • BASSANIO TO LANCELET
  • Thou hast obtained thy suit. Shylock thy master spoke with me this day, and hath recommended thee, if it be advancement to leave a rich Jew's service, to become the follower of so poor a gentleman.
  • LANCELET
  • The old proverb is very well parted between my master Shylock and you.
  • BASSANIO
  • Thou speak'st it well. Go, father, with thy son. Take leave of thy old master, and inquire my lodging out.
  • Lancelet and old Gobbo exit. Gratiano enters.
  • GRATIANO
  • Signior Bassanio! I must go with you to Belmont.
  • BASSANIO
  • Why then you must. But hear thee, Gratiano.
  •  
  •  
  • Bassanio to Gratiano
  •  
  • Thou art too wild, too rude and bold of voice,
  • Where these qualities become thee of choice,
  • And in such eyes as ours appear not as
  • Faults. But where thou art not known, why, they may
  • See thee as reckless, and as one who has
  • Undisciplined parts. Take pain to allay
  • Your spirit with some drops of modesty,
  • Lest through thy stormy behavior I be
  • Misconsidered and lose my hopes. Do lace
  • Your talk with respect, and swear but now and
  • Then. Wear prayer books in thy vest and at grace
  • Hood thine eyes and sigh, and say “amen.” Stand
  • With the style of one well studied, and aim
  • To please my friends, as to please your granddame.
  • GRATIANO
  • Signior Bassanio, hear me. If I do not put on a sober habit, never trust me more.
  • BASSANIO
  • Well, we shall see your bearing.
  • GRATIANO
  • Nay, but I bar tonight. You shall not gauge me by what we do tonight.
  • BASSANIO
  • I would entreat you rather to put on your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends that purpose merriment. But fare you well. I have some business.
  • GRATIANO
  • And I must to Lorenzo and the rest. But we will visit you at supper time.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 3
  • Jessica, Shylock's daughter, and Lancelet are on stage.
  • JESSICA
  • I am sorry thou wilt leave my father so. There is a ducat for thee, and Lancelet, soon at supper shalt thou see Lorenzo, who is thy new master's guest. Give him this letter. Do it secretly, and so farewell.
  • LANCELET
  • Adieu. Tears exhibit my tongue, most beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew.
  • Lancelet exits.
  • JESSICA
  • O, Lorenzo, if thou keep promise, I shall end this strife, become a Christian and thy loving wife.
  • She exits.
  • Act 2, Scene 4
  • Gratiano, Lorenzo, Salarino and Solanio are on stage preparing for Bassanio's masquerade dinner party.
  • LORENZO
  • Nay, we will slink away in supper time, disguise us at my lodging, and return all in an hour. ‘Tis not but four o'clock. We have two hours to furnish us.
  • Lancelet enters, handing Lorenzo Jessica's letter.
  • LORENZO
  • I know the hand; in faith, ‘tis a fair hand.
  • GRATIANO
  • Love news, in faith!
  • LORENZO
  • Hold here, take this.
  • Lorenzo gives Lancelet money.
  • LORENZO
  • Tell gentle Jessica I will not fail her. Speak it privately.
  • Lancelet exits. Salarino and Solanio exit.
  • GRATIANO
  • Was not that letter from fair Jessica?
  • LORENZO
  • She hath directed how I shall take her from her father's house, what gold and jewels she is furnished with, what page's suit she hath in readiness. Come, go with me. Peruse this as thou goest.
  • He hands Gratiano the letter.
  • LORENZO
  • Fair Jessica shall be my torchbearer.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 5
  • Shylock and Lancelet are on stage.
  • SHYLOCK
  • What Jessica! Why, Jessica, I say!
  • Jessica enters.
  • JESSICA
  • Call you? What is your will?
  • SHYLOCK
  • I am bid forth to supper, Jessica. There are my keys. Jessica, my girl, look to my house. I am right loath to go. There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest.
  • LANCELET
  • I beseech you, sir, go. My young master doth expect your approach. I will not say you shall see a masque---
  • SHYLOCK
  • What, are there masques. Hear you me, Jessica. Lock up my doors. Thrust not your head into the public street to gaze on Christian fools with varnished faces.
  • LANCELET ASIDE TO JESSICA
  • Mistress, look out at window for all this.
  • He exits.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Perhaps I will return immediately. Do as I bid you. Shut doors after you.
  • He exits.
  • JESSICA
  • Farewell, and if my fortune be not crossed, I have a father, you a daughter, lost.
  • She exits.
  • Act 2, Scene 6
  • Gratiano and Salarino enter, masked.
  • GRATIANO
  • This is the penthouse under which Lorenzo desired us to make stand. It is marvel he out dwells his hour, for lovers ever run before the clock. All things that are, are with more spirit chased than enjoyed.
  • Lorenzo enters.
  • LORENZO
  • Sweet friends, your patience for my long abode. Not I but my affairs have made you wait. Here dwells my father Jew. Ho! Who's within?
  • Jessica enters above, dressed as a boy.
  • JESSICA
  • Who are you? Tell me for more certainty, albeit I'll swear that I do know your tongue.
  • LORENZO
  • Lorenzo, and thy love.
  • JESSICA
  • Lorenzo certain, for who love I so much? And now who knows but you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours.
  • LORENZO
  • Heaven and thy thoughts are witness that thou art.
  • JESSICA
  • But love is blind, and lovers cannot see the petty follies that themselves commit, for if they could, Cupid himself would blush to see me thus transformed to a boy.
  • LORENZO
  • Descend, for you must be my torchbearer.
  • JESSICA
  • Why, ‘tis an office of discovery, love, and I should be obscured.
  • LORENZO
  • So are you, sweet, even in the lovely garnish of a boy.
  • JESSICA
  • I will make fast the doors and gold myself with some more ducats, and be with you straight.
  • Jessica exits, above.
  • LORENZO
  • Curse 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 proved herself.
  • Jessica enters, below. All exit but Gratiano. Antonio enters.
  • ANTONIO
  • Fie, fie, Gratiano, where are all the rest? No masque tonight; the wind is come about; Bassanio presently will go aboard.
  • GRATIANO
  • I am glad on ‘t. I desire no more delight than to be under sail and gone tonight.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 7
  • Portia and the Prince of Morocco enter.
  • PORTIA
  • Go, draw aside the curtains and discover the several caskets to this noble prince.
  • A curtain is drawn.
  • PORTIA
  • Now make your choice.
  • MOROCCO
  • This first, of gold, who this inscription bears, “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire”; the second, silver, which this promise carriers, “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves”; this third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt, “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.” How shall I know if I do choose the right?
  • PORTIA
  • The one of them contains my picture, prince. If you choose that, then I am yours withal.
  •  
  •  
  • Morocco to himself, No. 1
  •  
  • What says this leaden casket? “Who doth choose
  • Me must give all and risk that he might lose
  • All he hath.” Must give? For lead? This casket
  • Threatens. Those men that hazard all do it
  • In hope of fair advantage. I'll not set
  • This key for lead. What says this silver kit?
  • “Who doth choose me shall get as much as he
  • Deserves.” Thou deserves enough, if thou be
  • Rated by thy own estimation, but
  • That may not reach to the lady to win.
  • I do in love most deserve her, but what
  • If there's more? Let's see this saying graved in
  • Gold. “Who doth choose me shall gain what many
  • Men desire.” Would that not be the lady?
  • MORROCO
  • All the world desires her.
  •  
  •  
  • Morocco to himself, No. 2
  •  
  • Men come from the four corners of the earth
  • To be near this mortal, breathing saint, worth
  • More than gold. The wilds of Arabia
  • And the eastern deserts are as throughfares
  • For princes to come view this fair Portia.
  • The great ocean, whose ambitious head tears
  • At the seams of heaven, is no barrier
  • To men, who come as o'er a brook to her.
  • One of these three contains her heavenly
  • Picture. It too base to think the one wooed
  • Contained in lead. Dare think in silver she
  • Is immured, being ten times less valued
  • Than gold? Never has a story been told
  • Where such a gem was set in worse than gold.
  • MOROCCO
  • Deliver me the key. Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may.
  • PORTIA
  • There, take it, prince.
  • She hands him the key.
  • PORTIA
  • And if my form lie there, then I am yours.
  • Morocco opens the gold casket.
  • MOROCCO
  • There is a written scroll. I'll read the writing. “All that glisters is not gold --- often have you heard that told. Fare you well your suit is cold.” Cold indeed and labor lost! Then, Portia, adieu. Thus losers part.
  • He exits.
  • PORTIA
  • A gentle riddance! Draw the curtains, go.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 8
  • Salarino and Solanio enter.
  • SALARINO
  • Why, man, I saw Bassanio under sail: with him is Gratiano gone along; and in their ship I am sure Lorenzo is not. The duke of Venice was given to understand that in a gondola were seen together Lorenzo and his amorous Jessica.
  • SOLANIO
  • I never heard a passion so confused as the Jew did utter in the streets. “My daughter, O my ducats, fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats! A sealed bag, of double ducats, stol'n from me by my daughter, and jewels, two rich and precious stones stol'n from me by my daughter! Justice! Find the girl! She hath the stones upon her, and the ducats.”
  • SALARINO
  • I reasoned 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. I thought upon Antonio when he told me, and wished in silence that it were not his.
  • SOLANIO
  • You were best to tell Antonio what you hear.
  • SALARINO
  • A kinder gentleman treads not the earth. I saw Bassanio and Antonio part. Bassanio told him he would make some speed of his return. He answered “Do not so.” Antonio said be merry, and employ your chiefest thoughts to courtship and such fair appearances of love as shall conveniently become you there. He wrung Bassanio's hand --- and so they parted.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 9
  • In Belmont, Nerissa and a servant are on stage.
  • NERISSA
  • Quick, quick, I pray thee, draw the curtain straight.
  • The Prince of Arragon and Portia enter.
  • PORTIA
  • Behold, there stand the caskets, noble prince. If you choose that wherein I am contained, straight shall our nuptial rites be solemnized. But if you fail, my lord, you must be gone from hence immediately.
  • ARRAGON
  • I am enjoined by oath to observe three things: First, never to unfold to anyone 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; lastly, if I do fail in fortune of my choice, immediately to leave you, and be gone.
  • PORTIA
  • To these injunctions everyone doth swear that comes to hazard for my worthless self.
  • ARRAGON
  • And so have I addressed me.
  •  
  •  
  • Arragon to Portia
  •  
  • Fortune now to my heart's hope. Let's look at
  • Base lead. “Must give and hazard all!” If that
  • Means risk all, thou shall look fairer ere I
  • Choose lead. What says the golden chest? Let me
  • See: “What many men desire!” They choose by
  • Show, the barbarous multitudes that see
  • Not more than the fond eye doth teach, prying
  • Not into the interior. Willing
  • I not to jump with them. Let's to that, then,
  • Thou silver treasure house. “As much as he
  • Deserves.” Well said, for who should trick fortune
  • Without the stamp of merit? Dignity
  • Deserves honor; the true seed of honor
  • Is gained by the merit of the wearer.
  • ARRAGON
  • Well, but to my choice. “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.” I will assume that I deserve the best. Give me a key for this.
  • He is given a key. He opens the silver casket.
  • ARRAGON
  • The portrait of a blinking idiot. 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 offices and of opposed natures.
  • ARRAGON
  • What is here?
  • He reads.
  • ARRAGON
  • There be fools alive, certainly, with gray hair, and so was this. So be gone; you are sped.
  • He exits.
  • PORTIA
  • Thus hath the candle singed the moth. O, these deliberate fools, when they do choose, they have the wisdom by their wit to lose. Come, draw the curtain, Nerissa.
  • A Messenger enters.
  • MESSENGER
  • Madam, there is alighted at your gate a young Venetian. He bringeth sensible regreets; gifts of rich value; yet I have not seen so likely an ambassador of love. A day in April never came so sweet.
  • PORTIA
  • No more, I pray you. Come, come Nerissa, for I long to see quick Cupid's post that comes so mannerly.
  • NERISSA
  • Bassanio, Lord Love, if thy will it be!
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 1
  • Solanio and Salarino are on stage.
  • SOLANIO
  • Now, what news on the Rialto?
  • SALARINO
  • Why, yet it lives there unchecked that Antonio hath a ship of rich lading wracked on the Narrow Seas.
  • Shylock enters.
  • SOLANIO
  • How now, Shylock, what news among the merchants?
  • SHYLOCK
  • You knew of my daughter's flight.
  • SALARINO
  • That's certain.
  • SHYLOCK
  • My own flesh and blood to rebel!
  • SALARINO
  • There is more difference between thy flesh and hers than between red wine and Rhenish. But tell us, do you hear whether Antonio have had any loss at sea or no?
  • SHYLOCK
  • Thee I have another bad match! He was wont to call me usurer; let him look to his bond.
  • SALARINO
  • Why, I am sure if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh! What's that good for?
  • SHYLOCK
  • To bait fish withal.
  •  
  •  
  • Shylock to Salarino
  •  
  • It will feed my revenge, if it will feed
  • Nothing else. We know not where this will lead,
  • But he hath hindered and disgraced me, mocked
  • My gains, laughed at my losses, heated mine
  • Enemies, cooled my friends, and proudly talked
  • Me down. Are we not fed with the same fine
  • Food, healed by God's grace, cooled in the winter,
  • And blessedly warmed by the same summer
  • Sun as a Christian is? Hath not a Jew
  • Eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, senses, passions?
  • If you poison us, do we not die? Do
  • We not laugh if you tickle us? Christians
  • Seek revenge if wronged by a Jew. If you
  • Wrong us, are we not like you in that, too?
  • A Servingman enters.
  • SERVINGMAN
  • Gentlemen, my master Antonio is at his house and desires to speak with you both.
  • Salarino, Solanio and the Servingman exit. Tubal, another moneylender, enters.
  • 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 her.
  • SHYLOCK
  • A diamond gone cost me two thousand ducats in Frankfurt! No news of them? And I know not what's spent in the search!
  • TUBAL
  • Yes, other men have ill luck, too. Antonio, as I heard in Genoa ----
  • SHYLOCK
  • What? Ill luck?
  • TUBAL
  • I spoke with some of the sailors that escaped the wrack.
  • SHYLOCK
  • I thank thee, good Tubal.
  • TUBAL
  • Your daughter spent in Genoa, as I heard, one night fourscore ducats.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Thou stick'st a dagger in me. I shall never see my gold again.
  • TUBAL
  • One of them showed me a ring that he had of your daughter for a monkey.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Curses on her! Thou torturest me, Tubal.
  • TUBAL
  • But Antonio is certainly undone.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Nay, that's true, that's very true.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 2
  • Bassanio, Gratiano, Portia and Nerissa enter.
  • PORTIA
  • I pray you tarry, pause a day or two before you hazard, for in choosing wrong I lose your company; therefore forbear a while. 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. So will I never be. So my you miss me. But if you do, you'll make me wish a sin, that I had been forsworn.
  • BASSANIO
  • Let me choose, for as I am, I live upon the rack.
  • PORTIA
  • Upon the rack, Bassanio? Then confess what treason there is mingled with your love.
  • BASSANIO
  • None but that ugly treason of mistrust, which makes me doubt th' enjoying of my love.
  • 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! But let me to my fortune and the caskets.
  • PORTIA
  • Away, then. I am locked in one of them. If you do love me, you will find me out. Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof.
  • BASSANIO
  • So may the outward shows be least themselves.
  •  
  •  
  • Bassanio to himself, No. 1.
  •  
  • The world is deceived with outward luster.
  • Corrupt pleas are seasoned when a sober
  • Legal voice obscures the evil. Do not
  • Gracious religious brows bless and approve
  • Sins with a text, granting the pardons sought?
  • Cowards, with hearts false as stairs of sand, soothe
  • Their fears with beards of Hercules, and lurch
  • Masquered for valor's seeming, where a search
  • Inward would find livers white as lilies.
  • Counterfeit beauties made to decorate
  • Are but gilded shores to the dang'rous seas.
  • Beauty by weight works in nature to fate
  • Those that wear the most of it the lightest.
  • The brightest ornaments tempt the wisest.
  • BASSANIO
  • Therefore, then, thou gaudy gold, hard food for Midas, I will none of thee. For none of thee, thou silver, currency, the servant to everyone. But thou, thou meager lead, thy paleness moves me more than eloquence, and here choose I. Joy be the consequence!
  • Bassanio is given a key.
  • PORTIA ASIDE
  • O love, be moderate, allay thy ecstasy, scant this excess! I feel too much thy blessing.
  • Bassanio opens the lead casket.
  • BASSANIO
  • What find I here? Fair Portia's counterfeit. What artist has so nearly duplicated Portia as to seem a god?
  •  
  •  
  • Bassanio to himself, No. 2
  •  
  • Nearly replicated, she doth seem a
  • Goddess. Are these eyes moving, or do they
  • Just seem in motion? Here are severed lips
  • Parted with sugar breath, and here in her hair
  • The painter plays the spider, weaving tips
  • Into a golden mesh, catching men; their
  • Hearts trapped as gnats in cobwebs. Yet how far
  • The subject of my honest praise doth mar
  • The picture in under prizing it, so
  • Far this likeness limps behind the subject.
  • Portia, justified by this scroll in tow,
  • I come to give and receive. I detect
  • As doubtful whether what I see is true,
  • Until confirmed and ratified by you.
  • PORTIA
  • You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand, such as I am.
  •  
  •  
  • Portia to Bassanio
  •  
  • I'm not so ambitious to wish for me
  • Much better, yet for you, I'd be twenty
  • Times myself, a thousand times more fair, ten
  • Thousand times more rich, stand up high to be
  • Counted. If virtue and friends added, then
  • I'd exceed count. But the full sum of me
  • Is an unschooled, unpracticed girl, unread;
  • Yet she's not so old nor so dully bred
  • That she can't learn. Happily, she accords
  • This home, these aides, and all that she doth bring
  • To you, her governor. They're yours, my lord's.
  • But be warned, I give them all with this ring,
  • Which, if lost or given away, you'll rue
  • Your love, that I might cry out against you.
  • Portia gives Bassanio a ring.
  • BASSANIO
  • Madam, you have bereft me of all words. When this ring parts from this finger, then parts life from hence. O, then be bold to say Bassanio's dead!
  • NERISSA
  • My lord and lady, it is now our time to cry “Good joy, good joy, my lord and lady!”
  • GRATIANO
  • My Lord Bassanio, and my gentle lady, I wish you all the joy that you can wish, for I am sure you can wish none from me. I do beseech you even at that time I may be married too.
  • BASSANIO
  • With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.
  • 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. I got a promise of this fair one here to have her love, provided that your fortune achieved her mistress.
  • PORTIA
  • Is this true, Nerissa?
  • NERISSA
  • Madam, it is, so you stand pleased withal.
  • BASSANIO
  • And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?
  • GRATIANO
  • Yes, faith, my lord.
  • BASSANIO
  • Our feast shall be much honored in your marriage.
  • Lorenzo, Jessica, and Salerio, a messenger from Venice.
  • LORENZO TO BASSANIO
  • For my part, my lord, my purpose was not to have seen you here, but meeting with Salerio by the way, he did entreat me past all saying nay to come with him along.
  • Salerio hands Bassanio a letter, and Bassanio opens it.
  • GRATANIO
  • Your hand Salerio. What's the news from Venice? How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio?
  • PORTIA
  • Thee are some shrewd contents in yond same paper that steals the color from Bassanio's cheek. 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, I should have told you that I was worse than nothing. But is it true, Salerio? Hath all his ventures failed? And not one vessel ‘scape the dreadful touch of merchant-marring rocks?
  • SALERIO
  • Not one, my lord. Besides, it should appear that if he had the present money to discharge the Jew, he would not take it. He plies the Duke at morning and at night, and doth impeach the freedom of the state if they deny him justice.
  • JESSICA
  • When I was with him, I have heard him swear to Tubal that he would rather have Antonio's flesh than twenty times the value of the sum that he did owe him.
  • PORTIA
  • Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble?
  • BASSANIO
  • The dearest friend to me.
  • PORTIA
  • What sum owes he the Jew?
  • BASSANIO
  • For me, three thousand ducats.
  • PORTIA
  • What, no more? Pay him six thousand and deface the bond. First go with me to church and call me wife, and then away to Venice to your friend! You shall have gold to pay the petty debt twenty times over. But let me hear the letter of your friend.
  • Bassanio reads the letter to Portia.
  • PORTIA
  • O love, dispatch all business and be gone!
  • BASSANIO
  • Since I have your good leave to go away, I will make haste.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 3
  • Shylock, Antonio, Solanio and the Jailer are on stage.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Jailer, look to him. Tell not me of mercy. This is the fool that lent out money gratis.
  • ANTONIO
  • Hear me yet, good Shylock.
  • SHYLOCK
  • I'll have my bond. Thou call'dst me dog before thou hadst a cause, but since I am a dog, beware my fangs.
  • ANTONIO
  • I pray thee, hear me speak----
  • SHYLOCK
  • I'll have my bond. I will not hear thee speak. I'll not be made a soft and dull-eyed fool, and yield to Christian intercessors.
  • He exits.
  • SOLANIO
  • I am sure the duke will never grant this forfeiture to hold.
  • ANTONIO
  • The duke cannot deny the course of law, for the commodity that strangers have with us in Venice, if it be denied, will much impeach the justice of the state, since that the trade and profit of the city consisteth of all nations.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 4
  • Portia, Nerissa, Lorenzo, Jessica and Balthazar, a man of Portia's, are on stage.
  • PORTIA
  • Lorenzo, I commit into your hands the husbandry and manage of my house unto my lord's return. For mine own part, I have toward heaven breathed 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 we will abide.
  • 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.
  • JESSICA
  • I wish your Ladyship all heart's content.
  • Lorenzo and Jessica exit.
  • PORTIA
  • Now, Balthazar, take this same letter in speed to Padua. See thou render this into my cousin's hands, Doctor Bellario.
  • She gives him a paper.
  • PORTIA
  • Waste no time in words, but get thee gone. I shall be there before thee.
  • Balthazar exits.
  • 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 to Nerissa, No. 2
  •  
  • They shall, Nerissa, but dressed in such clothes
  • That they, so tricked, shall think each of us goes
  • With that we lack. I'll bet thee, Nerissa,
  • When we are dressed as young men, I will prove
  • The prettier one, and better speak the
  • Voice change ‘tween man and boy, and quicker move
  • Two mincing steps into a manly stride,
  • And speak of frays, letting my dagger ride
  • At my side with a braver grace, and tell
  • Quaint lies how worthy ladies, seeking my
  • Love, which I cavalierly denied, fell
  • Sick and died; then I'll repent, saying I
  • Was sorry I had killed them. My mind lacks
  • Not new tricks to play on these bragging jacks.
  • NERISSA
  • Why, shall we turn to men?
  • PORTIA
  • Fie, what a question's that? I'll tell thee all my whole device when I am in my coach.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 5
  • Lancelet and Jessica enter.
  • LANCELET
  • Thee is but one hope in it that can do you any good.
  • JESSICA
  • And what hope is that, I pray thee?
  • LANCELET
  • Marry, that you are not the Jew's daughter.
  • JESSICA
  • I shall be saved by my husband. He hath made me a Christian.
  • LANCELET
  • Truly the more to blame him! This making of Christians will raise the price of hogs.
  • Lorenzo enters. Lancelet exits.
  • LORENZO
  • How cheer'st thou, Jessica? How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio's wife?
  • JESSICA
  • Past all expressing. The Lord Bassanio, having such a blessing in this lady, finds the joys of heaven here on earth.
  • LORENZO
  • Even such a husband hast thou of me as she is for a wife.
  • JESSICA
  • Nay, but ask my opinion too of that!
  • LORENZO
  • I will anon. First let us go to dinner.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 1
  • The Duke of Venice, Antonio, Bassanio, Gratiano and others enter.
  • DUKE
  • What, is Antonio here?
  • ANTONIO
  • Ready, so please your Grace.
  • DUKE
  • I am sorry for thee. Thou art come to answer a stony adversary. Go, one, and call the Jew into the court.
  • Shylock enters.
  • DUKE
  • Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too, that thou'lt show thy mercy. We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.
  • SHYLOCK
  • By our holy Sabbath have I sworn to have the due and forfeit of my bond. You'll ask me why I rather choose to have a weight of carrion flesh than to receive three thousand ducats. Now, for your answe: as there is no firm reason to be rendered, I give no reason. Are you answered?
  • BASSANIO
  • This is no answer.
  • SHYLOCK
  • I am not bound to please thee with my answers.
  • ANTONIO
  • I pray you, think you question with the Jew. You may as well forbid the mountain pines to wag their high tops and to make no noise when they are agitated with the gusts of heaven. Let me have judgment and the Jew his will.
  • BASSANIO
  • For thy three thousand ducats here is six.
  • SHYLOCK
  • I would have my bond.
  • DUKE
  • How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend'ring none?
  •  
  •  
  • Shylock to Duke of Venice
  •  
  • What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong,
  • Breaking no law? You have among you long
  • Purchased slaves, which, like your mules and dogs, you
  • Use in abject labor to ease your cares,
  • Because you bought them. If here I were to
  • Say “Let them be free, and marry your heirs!
  • Why sweat they, so burdened? Give them a voice;
  • Let their palates be seasoned as your choice
  • Meals; let their beds be soft, as where you lie.”
  • 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. If you
  • Deny me, there is no law in Venice.
  • What's your judgment? How do you answer this?
  • DUKE
  • Upon my power I may dismiss this court unless Bellario, a learned doctor whom I have sent for to determine this, come here today.
  • ANTONIO
  • I am a tainted sheep of the flock, meetest for death. The weakest kind of fruit drops earliest to the ground, and so let me.
  • Nerissa enters, disguised as a lawyer's clerk.
  • DUKE
  • Came you from Padua, from Bellario?
  • NERISSA
  • From both, my lord. Bellario greets your Grace.
  • She (He) hands him a paper, which he reads.
  • DUKE
  • This letter from Bellario doth commend a young and learned doctor to our court. Where is he?
  • NERISSA
  • He attendeth here hard by to know your answer whether you'll admit him.
  • DUKE
  • With all my heart. Go give him courteous conduct to this place.
  • The Duke reads the letter.
  • DUKE READING
  • “I am very sick. A young doctor of Rome; his name is Balthazar. He is furnished with my opinion, which, bettered with his own learning comes with him at my importunity to fill up your Grace's request in my stead. I leave him to your gracious acceptance.”
  • DUKE
  • You hear the learned Bellario what he writes.
  • Portia enters, disguised as a lawyer.
  • DUKE
  • Come you from old Bellario?
  • PORTIA
  • I did, my lord.
  • DUKE
  • Are you acquainted with the difference that holds this present question in the court?
  • PORTIA
  • I am informed thoroughly of the cause. Is your name Shylock?
  • SHYLOCK
  • Shylock is my name.
  • PORTIA
  • Of a strange nature is the suit you follow, yet in such rule that the Venetian law cannot impugn you as you do proceed.
  • PORTIA TO ANTONIO
  • You stand within his danger, do you not?
  • 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 that.
  •  
  •  
  • Portia to Shylock, No. 1
  •  
  • The quality of mercy is not strained.
  • It droppeth upon this earth as if rained
  • From heaven. It blesseth both him that gives
  • And him that takes; a gift from the mighty,
  • The monarch better than his crown, who lives
  • But as a temporal sway, where mercy
  • Is above the crown's power; it's God's hand.
  • It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, and
  • Earthly power doth then show when God's love
  • Seasons justice. It's an attribution
  • To God himself. Therefore in the course of
  • Justice none of us should see salvation.
  • Praying for mercy doth teach us that we
  • All should surrender to deeds of mercy.
  • SHYLOCK
  • I crave the law, the penalty and forfeit of my bond.
  • PORTIA
  • Is he not able to discharge the money?
  • BASSANIO
  • Yes. Here I tender it for him in the court, yea, twice the sum.
  • BASSANIO TO THE DUKE
  • I beseech you to do a great right, and curb this cruel devil of his will.
  • PORTIA
  • There is no power in Venice can alter a decree established.
  • SHYLOCK
  • O wise young judge, how I do honor thee?
  • PORTIA
  • I pray you let me look upon the bond.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Here ‘tis, most reverend doctor, here it is.
  • He hands Portia a paper.
  • PORTIA
  • Why, this bond is forfeit, 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 twice thy money; bid me tear the bond.
  • SHYLOCK
  • It doth appear you are a worthy judge; you know the law. I charge you by the law. Proceed to judgment. I stay here on my bond.
  • PORTIA
  • Why, then, this it is: you must prepare your bosom for his knife----
  • SHYLOCK
  • O noble judge! O excellent young man! How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
  • PORTIA TO ANTONIO
  • 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. You, merchant, have you anything to say?
  •  
  •  
  • Antonio to Bassanio
  •  
  • I'm well prepared, Bassanio, believe
  • Me. Give me your hand and fare you well. Grieve
  • Not that I have fallen to this for you,
  • For with this, Fortune shows herself more kind
  • Than is her custom. Oft' her use is to
  • Let the wretched man end in a packed bind,
  • Outliving his wealth, viewing with hollow
  • Eye and wrinkled brow the hopeless shallow
  • End of poverty, and from such ling'ring
  • Penance of suff'ring doth she take my breath.
  • Tell your wife of the process that did bring
  • Me to this end, and speak me fair in death.
  • If the Jew cut the vulnerable part,
  • 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 esteemed above thy life.
  • PORTIA
  • Your wife would give you little thanks for that if she were by to hear you make the offer.
  • GRATIANO
  • I have a wife who I protest I love. I would she were in heaven, so she could entreat some power to change the currish Jew.
  • NERISSA
  • ‘Tis well you offer it behind her back. The wish would make else an unquiet house.
  • SHYLOCK
  • These be the Christian husbands! We trifle time. I pray thee, pursue sentence.
  • PORTIA
  • A pound of that same merchant's flesh is thine: The court awards it, and the law doth give it.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Most rightful judge! A sentence! Come, prepare.
  • PORTIA
  • Tarry a little. There is something else. This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood. The words expressly are “a pound of flesh.”
  • SHYLOCK
  • Is that the law?
  • PORTIA
  • Thyself shalt see the act. For, as thou urgest justice, be assured thou shalt have justice more than thou desir'st.
  • SHYLOCK
  • I take this offer then. Pay the bond twice and let the Christian go.
  • BASSANIO
  • Here is the money.
  • PORTIA
  • Soft! The Jew shall have all justice. Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh. 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, thou diest, and all they good are confiscate.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Give me my principal and let me go.
  • BASSANIO
  • I have it ready for thee. Here it is.
  • PORTIA
  • He hath refused it in the open court. He shall have merely justice and his bond.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Shall I not have barely my principal?
  • PORTIA
  • Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture.
  • SHYLOCK
  • I'll stay no longer question.
  • He begins to exit.
  • PORTIA
  • Tarry. The law hath yet another hold on you.
  •  
  •  
  • Portia to Shylock, No. 2
  •  
  • The current laws in Venice have been so
  • Enacted that if they do prove to go
  • ‘Gainst one denied citizenship and who
  • Has sought the life of a legal person,
  • The party so aggrieved hath the right to
  • Seize one half his goods, and the state may dun
  • The offender for the other half. The
  • Guilty party's life lies in the mercy
  • Of the Duke only. Since you have been bent
  • On justice o'er mercy as you did try
  • Throughout to take life from the defendant,
  • And you have incurred here the danger by
  • Me rehearsed, the court now doth you rebuke
  • And suggests you beg mercy of the Duke.
  • DUKE
  • 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.
  • SHYLOCK
  • Nay, take my life and all. You take my house when you do take the prop 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, Antonio?
  • ANTONIO
  • So please my lord the Duke and all the court to quit 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.
  • DUKE
  • He shall do this.
  • PORTIA
  • Art thou contented, Jew?
  • SHYLOCK
  • I am content. I pray you give me leave to go from hence. I am not well.
  • Shylock exits. The duke and his train exit.
  • BASSANIO TO PORTIA
  • Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend have been this day acquitted of grievous penalties, in lieu whereof three thousand ducats due unto the Jew we freely cope your courteous pains withal.
  • PORTIA
  • He is well paid that is well satisfied, and I, delivering you, am satisfied, and therein do account myself well paid. I pray you know me when we meet again.
  • She begins to exit.
  • BASSANIO
  • Dear sir, of force I must attempt you further. Take some remembrance of us as a tribute, not as fee. I pray you: not to deny me.
  • PORTIA
  • You press me far, and therefore I will yield. For your love I'll take this ring from you. 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? I will not shame myself to give you this.
  • PORTIA
  • I will have nothing else but only this.
  • BASSANIO
  • There's more depends on this than on the value. I pray you pardon me.
  • PORTIA
  • I see, sir, you are liberal in offers. You taught me first to beg, and now methinks you teach me how a beggar should be answered.
  • BASSANIO
  • Good sir, this ring was given me by my wife, and when she put it on, she made me vow that I should neither sell, nor give nor lose it.
  • PORTIA
  • That ‘scuse serves many men to save their gifts. And if your wife be not a madwoman, and know how well I have deserved this ring, she would not hold out enemy forever for giving it to me.
  • Portia and Nerissa exit.
  • ANTONIO
  • My Lord Bassanio, let him have the ring.
  • BASSANIO
  • Go, Gratiano, run and overtake him. Give him the ring.
  • Gratiano exits.
  • BASSANIO
  • In the morning early will we both fly toward Belmont. Come, Antonio.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 2
  • Portia and Nerissa enter, still in disguise.
  • PORTIA
  • Inquire the Jew's house out; give him this deed and let him sign it. We'll away tonight, and be a day before our husbands home. This deed will be well welcome to Lorenzo.
  • Gratiano enters.
  • GRATIANO
  • Fair sir, my Lord Bassanio, upon more advice, hath sent you here this ring.
  • He gives her the ring.
  • 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 ASIDE TO PORTIA
  • I'll see if I can get my husband's ring, which I did make him swear to keep forever.
  • PORTIA ASIDE TO NERISSA
  • Thou mayst, I warrant!
  • She exits.
  • NERISSA
  • Come, good sir, will you show me to this house?
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 1
  • Lorenzo and Jessica are on stage in Belmont.
  • LORENZO
  • The moon shines bright. In such a night did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew, and with an unthrift love did run from Venice as far as Belmont.
  • JESSICA
  • In such a night did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well, stealing her soul with many vows of faith, and ne'er a true one. I would out-night you did nobody come, but hark, I hear the footing of a man.
  • A Messenger, Stephano, enters.
  • STEPHANO
  • My mistress will before the break of day be here at Belmont.
  • LORENZO
  • Who comes with her?
  • STEPHANO
  • None but a holy hermit and her maid. I pray you, is my master yet returned?
  • LORENZO
  • He is not, nor we have not heard from him. Stephano, I pray you, your mistress is at hand, and bring your music forth into the air.
  • Stephano exits. Stephano reenters wit musicians. Music plays.
  • JESSICA
  • I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
  • LORENZO
  • The reason is, your spirits are attentive. The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils. Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.
  • Portia and Nerissa enter.
  • PORTIA
  • That light we see is burning in my hall. So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
  • NERISSA
  • When the moon shone we did not see the candle.
  • PORTIA
  • So doth the greater glory dim the less. A substitute shines brightly as a king unto a king be by.
  • NERISSA
  • It is your music, madam, of the house.
  • PORTIA
  • Nothing is good, I see, except for the circumstances that attend it.
  • The music ceases.
  • LORENZO
  • Dear lady, welcome home.
  • PORTIA
  • We have been praying for our husbands' welfare. Are they returned?
  • LORENZO
  • Madam, they are not yet.
  • PORTIA
  • Go in, Nerissa. Give order to my servants that they take no note at all of our being absent hence --- nor you, Lorenzo --- Jessica, nor you.
  • A trumpet sounds.
  • LORENZO
  • Your husband is at hand. I hear his trumpet. We are no tell-tales, madam, fear you not.
  • PORTIA
  • This night methinks is but the daylight sick; it looks a little paler. ‘Tis a day such as the day is when the sun is hid.
  • Bassanio, Antonio, Gratiano and others enter.
  • PORTIA
  • Let me give light, but let me not be light, for a light wife doth make a heavy husband, and never be Bassanio so for me. You are welcome home, my lord.
  • Gratiano and Nerissa talk aside.
  • BASSANIO
  • Give welcome to my friend. This is the man, this is Antonio.
  • PORTIA
  • Sir, you are very welcome to our house.
  • GRATIANO TO NERISSA
  • By yonder moon I swear you do me wrong! In faith, I gave it to the judge's clerk.
  • PORTIA
  • A quarrel ho, already! What's the matter?
  • GRATIANO
  • About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring that she did give me.
  • NERISSA
  • What talk you of the value? You swore to me when I did give it you that you would wear it till your hour of death. You should have been respective and have kept it. Gave it a judge's clerk!
  • GRATIANO
  • Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth, a kind of boy, a little scrubbed boy, a prating boy that begged it as a fee.
  •  
  •  
  • Portia to Gratiano
  •  
  • I must be plain with you. Your were to blame
  • To part with your wife's first gift, when she came
  • With her oaths and stuck it on your finger,
  • Riveting her faith unto your flesh. I
  • Gave my love a ring and he swore never
  • To part with it, never to let it fly
  • From his finger. If you'd known the virtue
  • Of the ring or the lady who gave you
  • The ring, or your own honor to contain
  • The ring, you'd not parted with it. What kind
  • Of reasonable man would not so retain
  • It with zeal, so no one would ever find
  • It? There's a message Nerissa doth bring.
  • I'll bet my life some woman hath the ring.
  • BASSANIO ASIDE
  • Why, I were best to cut my left hand off and swear I lost the ring defending it.
  • PORTIA
  • What ring gave you, my lord?
  • BASSANIO
  • If I could add a lie unto a fault, 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 truth. By heaven, I will ne'er come in your bed until I see the ring!
  • NERISSA TO GRATIANO
  • 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 for what I gave the ring, and how unwillingly I left the ring, when naught would be accepted but the ring, you would abate the strength of your displeasure. By my honor, madam, by my soul, no woman had it, but a civil doctor, which did refuse three thousand ducats of me and begged the ring. What should I say, sweet lady? I was enforced to send it after him. I was beset with shame and courtesy.
  • PORTIA
  • Let not that doctor e'er come near my house. Since he hath got the jewel that I loved, and that which you did swear to keep for me, I will become as liberal as you.
  • NERISSA
  • And I his clerk. Be well advised how you do leave me to mine own protection.
  • ANTONIO
  • I am th' unhappy subject of these quarrels.
  • PORTIA
  • Sir, grieve not you. You are welcome notwithstanding.
  • BASSANIO
  • Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong. I swear to thee -----
  • PORTIA
  • Mark you but that! Swear by your double self, and there's a credible oath.
  • 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 dare be bound again, my soul upon the forfeit, that your lord will never more break faith advisedly.
  • PORTIA
  • Then you shall be his surety.
  • She gives him a ring.
  • PORTIA
  • And bid him keep it better than the other.
  • ANTONIO
  • Here, Lord Bassanio, swear to keep this ring.
  • BASSANIO
  • By heaven, it is the same I gave the doctor!
  • PORTIA
  • I had it of him.
  • NERISSA
  • And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano.
  • She shows a ring.
  • PORTIA
  • You are all amazed.
  • She hands a paper to Bassanio.
  • PORTIA
  • Here is a letter. It comes from Padua from Bellario. There you shall find that Portia was the doctor; Nerissa there, her clerk. Antonio, you are welcome, and I have better news in store for you than you expect.
  • She hands him a letter.
  • PORTIA
  • There you shall find three of your ships are richly come to harbor suddenly.
  • ANTONIO
  • I am dumbstruck.
  • BASSANIO
  • Were you the doctor and I knew you not?
  • ANTONIO
  • Sweet lady, you have given me life and living; for here I read for certain that my ships are safely come to harbor.
  • PORTIA
  • How now, Lorenzo? My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.
  • Nerissa hands him a paper.
  • NERISSA
  • Thee do I give to you and Jessica, from the rich Jew, a special deed of gift, after his death, of all he dies possessed of.
  • LORENZO
  • Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way of starved people.
  • GRATIANO
  • Let it be so. Well, while I live, I'll fear no other thing so sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.
  • They exit.

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