Monday, 27 June 2016

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE by “William Shakespeare”
A Contemporary English Version,

PRINCE OF ARRAGON (ARAGON) A suitors to Portia
ANTONIO (ANTHONIO-Q1 ), a merchant of Venice, friend of Bassanio
BASSANIO, winner of Portia
LEONARDO, a servant to Bassanio
GRATZIANO (GRATIANO-Q1, GRAZIANO), friend of Bassanio, with Nerissa
LORENZO (LORENSO), friend of Gratziano, with Jessica
SALANIO-Q1 (SOLANIO-Q1) | friends of Antonio
SALERIO, a messenger from Venice |
SHYLOCK (SHYLOCKE-Q1) a Jewish money-lender
JESSICA, daughter of Shylock, with Lorenzo
TUBAL (TUBALL-Q1), a Jew, friend of Shylock
LAUNCELET -Q1 (LANCELET-Q2, LAUNCELOT, LANCELOT), a fool, servant to Shylock
OLD GOBBO (GOBBO), father to Launcelet
PORTIA, an heiress of Belmont
NERISSA, her waiting-woman
STEPHANO (STEFANO) | servants of Portia
MESSENGER, for Portia
MAN, messenger for Antonio
MESSENGER, for Jessica
Magnificoes of Venice, Officers of the Court of Justice,
a Jailor, Servants and other Attendants
[See Additional Notes, 0.1.1, for a further discussion on the names]
Editions and Printing Dates:
First Quarto (Q1), 1600. The Most Excellent Historie of the Merchant of Venice.
Second Quarto (Q2), 1619. The Excellent History of the Merchant of Venice.
Third Quarto (Q3), 1637. The Most Excellent Historie of the Merchant of Venice.
First Folio (F1), 1623; Second Folio (F2), 1632; Third Folio (F3), 1663; Fourth Folio (F4), 1685
Punctuation Key
Punctuation Key:
a) All line numbering and text references generally follow The Merchant of Venice, Oxford
Edition, edited by Jay L. Halio, 1993.
b) Text found within {special brackets} is a reference to the text as found in Q1.
c) Text which follows ‘ / ’ or ‘// ’ indicates alternative renderings.
d) Words found within + single brackets , indicate text which was not found in the original yet
which was suggested by, or which clarifies, the original. Words found within ++ double brackets
,, indicate text which has been added to the original and which was not indicated nor suggested
by the original text.
e) Text found within jopen square bracketsk was not found in the original but is directly indicated
by the original.
f) Text found within [brackets] indicate text which is found in the original but which is suspect.
g) An arrow ‘ > ‘ indicates a commentary on the text
1. These opening lines of Antonio are not found in the original play and were added to focus and clarify the central
conflict of the play (between Antonio and Shylock) which is principally over usury, not religion. In the original we
find Antonio musing over his serious and concerned demeanor (or “sadness’) yet such a theme has no direct
relevance to the plot nor does it set up a context for understanding the action of play. [To understand usury as it was
viewed in Elizabethan England, see Additional Note, 1.1.0]
2. / But I am sickened by their very sight
3. / A plague afflicting the goodness of man / A plague upon the righteousness of man / A plague afflicting the spirit
of man / A plague destroying the very heart of man / A plague that ravages the heart of man / A plague that crushes (/
destroys / ruins / shatters) the spirit of man / That which destroys the righteousness of man
4. / And all their contracts, listing penalties / And all the loans they make with forfeitures
5. / Made with a show of kindness and of friendship / Made under pretense of kindness and friendship / With shows
of kindness and seeming friendship
6. / Are none but fell deceit and thievery
7. Option, add line: +Taking a loan beyond their means to pay,,
8. / All one has worked for and gained in his life / All that a man has made and gained in life / All that a man has
gained in years of work
9. / Would soon come to a sad and ruinous end / / Would end in sorrow, pain, and tearful ruin / Would end in
sadness and a tearful ruin / Would come to sadness and ruin in the end.
10. / ‘Tis a greed most obscene and despicable / Showing a greed obscene and despicable / It is a show of greed,
gross and despicable
11. / They but entrap those who are most desperate:
Having them sign a bond to borrow money
For which they cannot repay, then as forfeit,
And after great despair, all that these men have
Is taken, all they have worked for is lost;
All is but gone to these heartless usurers.
12. / . . . and gained in life | Is lost—but gone to these heartless usurers. |
‘Tis an obscene, despisèd greed they show.
ACT ONE - Scene One (1.1)
Venice. Enter Antonio, Salarino, and Salanio
______________________________________________________ [added text]
++—Antonio 1
I know this hatred mocks° all Christian virtue / hate befouls / hatred fouls
But they I loathe: their very sight abhors me.2
They are° but vile infractions° of nature, / They’re none // infracts
A plague on all that is righteous and good. 3
And the contracts they use to loan out money,4 / they make to ply their loans
Made ‘neath the guile of friendship and trust 5 / guise of kindliness and friendship
Are none but instruments of fell deceit,
And sordid° means to fetch° another’s ruin. 6 / wretched // bring
They would have men sign bonds to borrow money, 7
And if the sums are° not repaid on time / loan is
Then, as forfeit, they would take everything;
All that the man has earned in his lifetime 8
Would come to naught and end in tearful ruin. 9
‘Tis an obscene,° despisèd greed they show—10 / It is a foul
These heartless usurers.11 There is a place° / There’s a special place
In hell made just° for them.12 / reserved
13. / ‘Tis more a foul disease
14. / But oft you’ve heard me moan,° /my grievance
15. / But here this face so sad, we know not well. | Why look ye so, my friend; what has got you?
/ But here this face so saddened, ‘tis a sight | We know not well. Why look ye so, my friend?
/ But here this face so sad,‘tis not a sight | We know. Why look ye so, my friend? Why so?
16. The original play begins here, with Antonio talking about his sad and worrisome state. The play opens in media
res, in the middle of an ongoing conversation between Antonio, Salarino, and Salanio, where Antonio is answering a
question that was asked before the action of the play begins.
17. The term sad generally means grave, serious, or concerned. The commiserating images supplied by Salarino and
Salanio (your mind is tossing on the ocean) suggest that Antonio’s state resembles some kind of uneasiness or worry
rather than sadness or depression. In all of this we never discover why Antonio is so grave or concerned—is it his
nature to be grave (as later suggested by himself) or has his concern been brought about by some recent event? In
either case, the issue of Antonio’s grave nature has no bearing on the play nor does it make any further appearance.
Antonio’s talk of ‘sadness’ (or concern) could simply be a tool which allows the Sals to describe the grandeur of
Antonio’s sea ventures. Some commentators hold that the early talk of ‘sadness’ is meant to present a sense of
foreboding but the jovial way that the subject is approached precludes this. [See Additional Note, 1.1.1] [For a
rectification of this scene, as it may have appeared in an earlier draft, see Appendix].
18. {It wearies me, you say it wearies you}
As it stands, this line is somewhat misplaced and may be an appendage from an earlier draft, where the
opening conversation was between Antonio, Gratziano, and Lorenzo, and where this line was originally voiced by
Gratziano. This lines suggest that Antonio has spoken about his serious nature on numerous occasions, so much so
that it wearies him (talking about it) and it wearies Salarino (and Salanio) upon hearing it. The line (as it stands in
the original) is also questionable, since Antonio’s sadness seems to be something newly experienced by the Sals, and
not something they could have grown weary of. In addition, the Sals, who are unmitigated supporters of Antonio,
would never have told Antonio that they were weary of hearing about his concerns.
I think: {you say} I hear, I know, I believe, I’m sure. This line (and especially the reference to you say) is
most likely a remnant from a prior draft of the play where it opened, in media res, with Antonio, Gratziano, and
Lorenzo (and not with Salarino and Salanio.) Hence, the familiar and history-based phrase, you say, was likely
directed to Gratziano (as a singular)—a person who was familiar with Antonio’s sad musings, and a person who
would have told Antonio that he (Gratziano) was weary of hearing about Antonio’s sadness. As neither Salarino nor
Salanio have heard much about Antonio’s sadness in the past—and as neither are so chummy and bold as to tell
Antonio they are weary of hearing about it—neither would have made such a comment. [See Additional Notes,
— Salanio Those damnèd° Jews. / cursèd
No, ‘tis no Jewish thing this usury—° / ‘Tis not a Jewish thing, this usury, no—
‘Tis but a godless thing;13 a cursèd° thing, / godless / damnèd
An aberration felling Jew and gentile—° / A thing bereft of all humanity
A wretched thing. Enough of my complaints, ° 14 / But enough of my moaning,
You know them° well. / it
—Salarino And so we do, Antonio,
But here this face so grave, ‘tis not a sight° / thing / face
We know so well.° Why look ye so, my friend? 15 ,, / That we know well / We often see
—Antonio 16
In sooth,° I know not why I am so somber.° 17 / truth // {sad} / grave
[It wearies me, I know° it wearies you;] 18 {you say} / I think / it must
Yet how I caught it, found it, or came by it, {But}
What stuff ‘tis made of, whereof it is born,
19. +And why it lingers on, / And why is has (/grips) me so / And why it doth remain / And why I hold it so
The line found in Q1 ( I am to learn) is truncated, containing only two iambs (feet), as opposed to the usual
five—i.e., four syllables as opposed to ten. It is also missing a connector, such as ‘and.’ Thus, the line as it appears
is likely an error, and was not intended by the author. This short line could resulted from a smudge mark, rendering
the text unreadable or some other such error. [For theories about this truncated line, See Additional Notes, 1.1.5]
20. There are several anomalies with respect to Antonio’s opening lines, including the words ‘you say’ [2], the
truncated line 5, and the repetitive and unsupported content of lines 6 and 7. Clearly these later two lines [6-7] are
orphaned, repeat the sentiment of the previous lines, and weaken the overall import of the passage. Due to their
prominent position in the original play (appearing in the opening passage), and being that they stand rather harmless,
they could remain; being that they weaken the passage, may have found their way into the text by error—and in
context of the emended opening about usury—these lines should be deleted. [See Additional Notes, 1.1.6]
21. / Your mind does toss like ships upon the wave
22. {Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood} / Like proud magnificoes° upon° the wave,
burghers: wealthy Venetians, rich citizens
23. {Or as it were the pageants of the sea} / Or like the grand water-floats of a pageant
/ Or like the festive pageants of the sea
pageants of the sea: floats and displays that were used on ships, as part of a festive pageantry held on the water.
Pageants, like modern-day floats used in a parade, refer to large displays (such as castles, ships, or other staged
figures) that were wheeled about the streets in ancient shows or pageants, or ships that provided such displays.
24. {Do overpeer the petty traffickers} / Where they but dwarf the petty traffickers
overpeer: peer over, look down on, tower above
petty traffickers: / petty trading ships / petty trade vessels / smaller merchant ship / smaller trading ships
25. {That curtsey to them, do them reverence} / That come to lower their topsails in reverence / That do but bow to
them in utter reverence / And moving them to curtsy low in reverence / Impelling them to bow in awe reverence
cursy (Q1 = cursie) / curtsy: bow down. Refers to the image of: a) small ships that bob around in the wake of a
passing argosy, which seemingly (and impelled by the wake) bow down or curtsy to these larger ships, or b) small
cargo ships which would lower their topmasts as a sign of respect at the passing of a much larger ship. In both
cases, there a show of reverence, akin to a tradesman bowing to a passing dignitary of higher rank
26. woven wing: The large sails on Antonio’s ships are likened to the wings of flying bird (for their speed) or to the
‘billowing splendor’ of the clothes worn by wealthy burghers.
27. / Were all my wealth involved in such ventures
28. {I should be still} / Each day I’d be
still: always
29. {Plucking the grass to know where sits the wind}
+And why it lingers on°, I’ve y 19 et to learn.° / And why it holds me so {I am to learn}
[And such a want-wit graveness° makes of me ] {sadness}
[That I have much ado to know myself.] 20
Your mind is tossing on the ocean. 21
There [pointing] are your argosies° with portly sails— / grand vessels
Streaming° upon the wave° like proud maestros°22 / Moving {flood} / sea
Or like the grand displays of a sea pageant. 23
See your ships rise above° the smaller boats°24 {overpeer} // petty boats
That curtsy° to them in awe and reverence 25 / bow down / prostrate
As they fly by with their grand, woven wings. 26
¢Ah, what a sight it is!° ¦ / to see
—Salanio Believe me, sir,
Were I involved in ventures of such risk° 27 {such ventures abroad}
The better part of my concerns would rest° {affections would}
Upon° my hopes° abroad. And everyday° 28 / Within // ships
I’d toss the grass° to know where blows the wind,° 29 / which way the winds blows
And peer° in maps for ports and piers and roads— / Peering
30. {Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt | Would make me sad.}
/Misfortune to my ventures would, no doubt | But make me sad
31. By this description, and the preceding ones, we see that Salarino and Salanio are well-versed in the jargon of
merchants, and both appear to be involved in the business of trade, as is Antonio.
32. {And see my wealthy Andrew docked in sand,}
/ And how my ship, the Andrew, rife with wealth, | Might fall a-ground and die a woeful° death / piteous
33. / Laid out upon her burial like a shroud / Just like a shroud placed upon her grave / A shroud that kisses the
ground of her burial / And now to kiss the ground wherein she lies
34. {Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs | To kiss her burial}
vailing: lowering, bringing down
ribs: the hull of a ship, made up of wooden ribs or center beams
The image here is that of a ship overturned, with her top-sails now lower than her hull; the top-sails are now
kissing the ground, which is the place of the ship’s burial (and the once proud sails have now become its burial
shroud. [ See Additional Notes, 1.1.28]
35. / Would scatter all her spices on the wave
36. / I, too, would have a mind that’s fraught with sadness°
/ besieged by worry / filled with distress / sad and distraught
Salarino (and Salanio) are describing Antonio’s risky business ventures, which would elicit concern, worry,
agitation, stress, etc. rather than sadness. (Thus, ‘sadness’ in this context should be taken to mean, ‘worry, concern,
distress,’ etc.) This talk of Antonio’s sadness seems to be an import of an earlier draft of the play, where the play
initially opened with Antonio talking with Gratziano and Lorenzo about his (Antonio’s) sad nature. Later in the
scene we see the same conversation about Antonio’s sadness repeated with Gratziano—and this relates to Antonio’s
sad and depressed nature, and not a new-arising sadness, related to a specific conditions (as is the subject of the
conversation with Salarino and Salanio).
37. / Is worried when he thinks upon his ventures
These two lines are superfluous and appear too bold for either Salarino or Salanio—sounding more like
something Gratziano would say. These lines may be vestiges of an earlier draft which involved a conversation
between Antonio and Gratziano. Thus, these two lines could be deleted without any a meaningful loss and perhaps
And every object that might make me fear
Misfortune to my enterprise,° no doubt, / undertaking / venture, there’s no
Would bring concern.° 30 {Would make me sad}
—Salarino 31 My breath,° cooling my broth,° {wind} / soup
Would blow me to a shiver° when I thought {an ague} / a frenzy / into a chill
What harm a wind, too great, might do at sea.
Each time I saw the sandy hour-glass run,
I’d think of shallow flats and sandy banks,
And see my ship, the Andrew,° docked in sand, 32 / my wealthy Andrew
With her top-sail a-hung° below her ribs—° / hanging / fallen // hull
Kissing her grave just like° a burial shroud. 33 34 / as would
And should I go to church, instead of praying,
I’d see the holy edifice of stone
And straightaway bethink of dang’rous rocks° / me of the rocks
Which, by a mere touch° of my vessel’s side, / gentle stroke
Would spread her cache° of spice upon the wave,°35 / prize //{stream} /sea
And robe the roaring waters with her silk.
And thus, in sum, reduce my worth° to naught.° / wealth // nothing
Had I the mind° to think on all of this, / Should I have thoughts
And should I think on all that could go wrong,
I, too, would have a mind o’erly concerned .° 36 {o’ercome by sadness}
So tell me not: I know Antonio
Is grave° to think upon° his parlous ventures.° 37 {sad} // about // {merchandise} / risky ventures
with a slight improvement in the flow of the text.
38. Previously, Antonio’s sadness was thought to be venture-related, then love-related—both causes of which
Antonio denied. Here Salanio is surmising that Antonio must be sad because it is his nature to be sad. This
philosophical address of Antonio sad nature is repeated later in the scene by Gratziano. It is likely, that in an earlier
draft, Salanio’s words were mouthed by Lorenzo (or possibly Gratziano) and herein transposed (somewhat
imperfectly) to Salanio. Salanio (and Salarino) seem to know a lot about Antonio’s business venture but little about
his sad nature. [See Additional Notes, 1.1.47]
39. / Neither in love? Ah, then you must be sad
40. {Now, by two-headed Janus}
Janus: the Roman god of exits and entrances, who has two faces (not two heads) which looks in opposite
directions; one face is smiling and the other is frowning. One god, having two opposite faces, suggests the singular
root of both comedy and tragedy.
41. / Now, by Janus’s | Two faces, one which laughs and one which cries
/ But here we see | Two sides of Janus—one laughing, one crying
/ But here are Janus’ | Two heads, that face in opposite directions
42. {some that will evermore peep through their eyes}
This line refers to people who smile so much so that their cheek muscles have atrophied and now keep their
eyes half-shut—and now they can only peep through them. The image, akin to the laughing face of Janus, is of a
person smiling so much that it looks as if he is wearing the mask of a smiling face.
/ Some that can barely see through so much smiling / Some that e’er peep through eyes half-shut by smiling
43. laugh like parrots: a) refers to the parrot who by rote response laughs at everything, even a mournful tune.
Hence, laughing like a parrot refers to one who laughs at everything; one who is always laughing. b) implies a loud
screeching laughter rather than the actual laughter of a parrot.
44. {at a bagpiper} The music of a bagpipe was considered woeful, which should bring on tears, not laughter.
45. / And there be others of such gloomy aspect (/sullen mode) / And others of such a vinegary aspect (/ sullen
temperament) / And there be others of such sour mode / And there are others, so sour and tart
Believe me—no. I thank my fortune for it:
My ventures are not in one vessel° trusted, {bottom}
Nor in one place, nor does my wealth depend° {nor is my whole estate}
Upon the fortune of this present year.
Therefore, my ventures do not make me somber.° {makes me not sad}
Why then, you are in love.
—Antonio Nay, nay! {Fie, fie} / No, no
—Salanio 38
Not in love neither? Then you must be somber 39 / Then say you are sad
Because you are not destined° to be merry; / fated / fashioned / humoured
For ‘twere° as easy now for you to laugh, / ‘Twould be
And leap,° and say that you are merry, only / dance
Because you are not sad. By the two faces
Of Janus—one which laughs and one which cries— 40 41
Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time:° / day
Some that will smile so much their eyes have shut,° 42 / are half-shut
And laugh like parrots 43 when all else are crying.° / at a mournful tune 44
And others so acerbic° in their mode 45 / others be so gloomy
That they’ll not show their teeth in way of smile,
46. {Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable}
Nestor: a Greek officer of the Iliad, famous for his soberness and gravity.
/ Not even at a jest that able to rouse | Stern-browèd Nestor to rambunctious laughter.
/ Not even at a joke that could bestir | The somber Nestor into drunken laughter.
/ E’en at a jest that would rouse stern-browèd | Nestor into a most rambunctious laughter.
47. The name of these two characters, Salarino and Salanio, are never mentioned in the play even though it is
customary to name a character upon his entrance or during the first scene in which he appears. The failure to ever
mention the names of these minor but significant characters may be because these they were not conceived as part of
the original draft but added as part of a later draft. Thus, throughout the play, these two characters remain nameless.
To rectify this omission, a line which includes both their names, could be added here.
48. {You grow exceedingly strange. Must it be so?}
exceedingly strange: (a) like strangers, (b) strange in your ways, i.e, too reserved, too serious, not willing to get
together for a laugh.
Must it be so?: (a) i.e., it should not be that way and we must do something about it—such as get together for a
laugh. (b) must you be so serious and not willing to laugh with us.
49. In Q1 the speech heading reads Sal. which is most often attributed to Salarino. Due to the confusion in
abbreviations found in Q1, and because Salarino and Salanio often talk in tandem, this line is attributed to Salanio.
50. This exchange seems more of a gratuitous gesture than an actual intention to get together. We sense a cordial
distance between Bassanio and Salarino-Salanio, as they all seek Antonio’s attention. Bassanio may view the Sals as
fans, supporters, and ‘lesser friends’ of Antonio.
Though stern-browed Nestor swear the jest be funny.46
Enter Bassanio, Lorenzo, and Gratziano.
Here comes Bassanio, your most favored° friend,° / dearest of friends {most noble kinsman}
With Gratziano and Lorenzo. Farewell,
We leave you now with better company.
I° would have stayed until I° made you merry, / we
If worthier friends had not prevented me.° / us
+Nay Salarino—and my friend Salanio—,47
Your worth is very dear in my regard.° / esteem
I take it your own business calls you,
And you embrace th’occasion° to depart. / the moment
—Salarino [to those approaching]
Good morrow, my good lords.° / Good day, good gentlemen
—Bassanio [also in greeting]
Good signors both, when shall we laugh? Say when?
You’ve become strangers. Must it be that way? 48
—Salanio 49
We’ll make our leisure time° fit in with° yours. 50 {leisures} / free time {to attend on}
My friend° Bassanio, here° you have found Antonio. {lord} {since}
51. The meeting Lorenzo is referring to involves the planning to steal Jessica [2.4]. This meeting involves the two
Sals, not Bassanio. Hence, Lorenzo’s reminder of such a meeting to Bassanio—and the assurance made in the next
line by Bassanio [I will not fail you]—as found in the original, is amiss. [See next note].
52. In the original, this line is attributed to Bassanio, and reads: ‘I will not fail you’ and is spoken after Salarino and
Salanio have already exited. Thus Bassanio is telling Lorenzo that he (Bassanio) will not fail him (Lorenzo) and that
he will be there as planned. However, there is no future plan involving Lorenzo and Bassanio. [See Additional
Notes, 1.1.72]
53. Some commentators suggest that the play may have initially opened here, at line 73. Gratziano’s opening
statement resembles that of Antonio’s opening, and the discourse that follows is similar in tone to the previous
conversation had with Salarino and Salanio. [See Additional Notes, 1.1.73] [See Appendix: The Three Sallies]
54. {You have too much respect upon the world}
55. {They lose it that do buy it with much care}
/ When too concerned about what can go wrong | You can’t enjoy all the things that are right.
/ All this concern with loss does have a cost: | You can’t enjoy all the great things that you have.
Gratziano is saying that one who buys life with too much care (i.e., spends too much time in worry and sadness),
cannot enjoy life. In other words, things usually turn out poorly for one who is too concerned about how things will
turn out.
56. {Believe me, you are marvellously changed}
/ Believe me, you are decidedly different / Believe me you look nothing like yourself / Believe me when I
say, you’re not yourself / Believe me, friend, you are completely changed
57. {Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster}
[aside, to Salarino]
We, too, will leave soon,° but at dinner time,°
I pray you, have° in mind where we must meet. 51 / bear
— Salarino 52
We will not fail you.
—Salanio +We’ll be there as planned.,
Exeunt Salarino and Salanio
You look not well, Signior Antonio; 53
You care too much for the things of this world. 54
The ones who buy this world with too much care
Are apt to lose it for want of enjoyment.55 / Do end up losing it for want of joy
Believe me friend, you don’t look like yourself.°56 / you’re not being yourself
I hold the world but as the world, Gratziano,
A stage where every man must play a part—
And mine’s a sad° one. / grave
—Gratziano Let me° play the fool: / me
With mirth and laughter let old smiles° come,° {wrinkles}
And let my liver rather heat with joy° {wine}
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,° / veins run warm with blood
Sit like a marble° statue° of his grandsire, 57 / granite // carving
58. {Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice} / creep into an illness
/ Sleep when awake and give himself an illness
jaundice: a disease related to the liver and caused by an excess of yellow bile; as such, it brings a yellowish
complexion to the skin and whites of the eyes. Up until the 19 th century, this disease was thought to have a
psychosomatic origin. Hence, Gratziano is saying that Antonio is going to get jaundice as a result his depressed
disposition (which makes him appear as though he is asleep when awake).
59. {I tell the what, Antonio— | I love thee, and ‘tis my love that speaks:}
60. {There are a sort of men whose visages | Do cream and mantle like a standing pond | And do a willful stillness
cream and mantle: cover over and mask; become pale and mask-like. This image suggests a) the algae that floats
upon the surface of a stagnant pond (covering the interior of the pond), or b) the covering of cream on milk. [See
Additional Notes, 1.1.90]
61. {With purpose to be dressed in an opinion}
62. {Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit} / As men of profound wisdom and insight.
gravity: authority, seriousness, weight
profound conceit: deep thinking; those who deeply contemplate the matter
63. {If they should speak, would almost dam those ears}
dam: dam, clog up, block, stop damn: damn, curse, foul
64. {But fish not with this melancholy bait | For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.}
fool gudgeon: gudgeon are fish which were thought to be gullible, easy believers in the bait, (and which would
bite and anything). Thus they were easy to catch. Some editions use Pope’s emendation of: fool’s gudgeon.
opinion: the opinion that others will think you are wise because you look sad and do not open your mouth.
65. There are three direct references that the parties are going meet later for dinner [70, 104, 105], plus a response to
those references [72]. Is dinner in these references the same as the supper which Bassanio has the night he leaves for
Belmont or is there some other meeting indicated?
Sleep when he wakes, and become ill with jaundice° 58 / bring about the jaundice
By being peevish° from morning till night? / cranky / sad-faced
I say Antonio—I speak out of love— 59
There are some men who show no expression, / reveal no emotion
Their face is held in a willful stillness
Just like the muck cov’ring° a stagnant pond; 60 / atop
They hope that others will look well upon them 61
As men of wisdom, gravity, and depth,° 62 {and profound conceit}
As who should say,° ‘I am Sir Oracle, / Who proudly say
And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!’
O my Antonio, I do know of those° {these}
Who are reputed° wise for saying naught, / Who are but held as
When I am sure, if they should move to speak,
‘Twould almost° dam the ears of those who listen 63 / surely
And cause their brothers to say they are fools.
I’ll tell thee more of this another time.
But fish not with this melancholy bait
For e’er the worthless° opinion of others, / For the ill-gained / unvalued
Which one can catch° as eas’ly as fool gudgeon— 64 / Which can be caught
+A fish inclined will biteB at any° bait., / well-known to bite // ev’ry
Come good Lorenzo. Fare thee well for now; ° {awhile}
I’ll finish with my preaching° after dinner. {end my exortation}
Well, we will leave you then, till dinner-time.65
I must be one of these same dumb wise men
66. {Fare you well. I’ll grow a talker for this gear} / Farewell, I’ll grow more of a talker next time
gear: a) discourse, talk. ‘Farewell, I’ll take your advice and become more of a talker (next time we meet);
b) matter, affair. ‘Farewell, now that you’re gone, and I’m with Bassanio, I’ll become a talker—for this
matter, now that there is something relevant to speak about.’
c) reason ‘Farewell, ‘I’ll talk more (with respect to your advice) so that others do not think that I silent (for
the reason you mentioned) to try and get others to think I am full of wisdom and profound understanding—which is
not the case.’
67. {Thanks, i’faith, for silence is only commendable | In a neat’s tongue dried and a maid not vendible.}
/ Please do, for silence is best in ox-tongue, | And in craggy old maids no longer young.
/ Please do, for silence’s best in ox-tongue dried, | And in a maid too old to be a bride.
neat’s tongue dried: the dried tongue of an ox, which is commendable precisely because one does not want this
kind of tongue to talk—one wants it to be dead, dried, and ready to eat. (Some commentators suggest that this
reference to neat’s tongue dried may be a bawdy a reference to the dried up penis of an old man which cannot
become erect—but why Gratziano would find this commendable is unclear).
not vendible: not saleable. Refers to a maid who cannot be sold (with a dowry) in the way of marriage—and
thus a maid who is worthless and unsaleable. The implication is that someone who is old and unwed (and whom
nobody wants) would speak with bitter and complaining words—so her silence would be welcomed. Some interpret
not vendible as referring to a maid who is too young and not yet saleable (in the marketplace of marriage)—and
whose talk might be witless. It seems more likely that Gratziano would commend silence in a craggy old maid (who
is wont to complain) rather than in a young maid who is not yet of a marriageable age. [See Additional Notes,
68. {It is that any thing now.}
/ He speaks and speaks, and yet says not a thing / He speaks a lot, yet says a lot of nothing.
This line, as it appears in Q1, is missing three syllables and does not fit the standard meter. Editors have treated
this anomalous line in several ways: A) Left it as is. B) Deleted the opening ‘It’ and posited that the line as a
question: ‘Is that anything now?’—which means: ‘What was all that talk about?’ This renders the line somewhat
intelligible, but does not correct the line structure. (This emendation was first proposed by Rowe). C) Changed It to
Yet:‘Yet is that anything now?’ With this emendation, Antonio is apparently referring to the newfound silence
(which is being enjoyed since Gratziano, the talker, has just left). This emendation is based upon the supposition
that ‘Yet’ was found in the original manuscript, and somehow became ‘Yt’ and then ‘It.’) All these textual
contortions do not improve the line. It is most likely that the original contained a full five iambs and part of the line
had become unreadable. Thus, the typesetter did his best in setting what part of the line he could read.
We find that the lines of Bassanio, which follow this one, are also corrupt in that they do not adhere to the
standard meter. Hence, one possibility is that the name Gratziano was originally intended to be part of Antonio’s
line, and somehow got shifted to Bassanio. If so, the lines might have appeared as follows:
Ant. Did Gratziano say anything now?
Bass. He speaks an infinite deal of nothing,
Ay, more than any man in all of Venice . . .
[See Additional Notes, 1.1.113.]
For Gratziano never lets me speak.
Well, keep my company for two more years
And you’ll forget the sound of your own tongue.° / voice
Farewell. I’ll grow in talk next time. 66
—Gratziano Please do—
Silence is virtue° in dried tongue of ox / preferred / better/ prais’ble
And in craggy old maids who’ve got the pox. 67
Exeunt Gratziano and Lorenzo
He speaks a great deal yet says° not a thing. 68 / a lot yet he says
69. Bassanio’s opening talk can be seen as a chummy elaboration upon Antonio’s previous remark about Gratziano’s
empty talk. In Q1, these lines do not appear in meter, which is odd since all the verse preceding it and following it,
are in meter. Moreover, these are the first lines uttered by our romantic hero, which, though light-hearted and
playful, should, at least, be delivered in the standard meter. It could be, however, for no clear reason, that this nonmetered
opening by Bassanio was a deliberate attempt to first present Bassanio as somewhat awkward with his
words. Most likely, however, (and consistent with Antonio’s previous line, which is corrupt) this non-metered
opening by Bassanio resulted from some problem with the reading of the text and not by original design. Q1
(uncorrected) reads: {Gratiano speaks and infinite deale of nothing more then any man in all Venice, his reasons are
as two graines of wheate hid in two bushels of chaffe: you shall seeke all day ere you finde them, and when you have
them, they are not worth the search.}. [See Additional Notes, 1.1.118]
70. {His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff:}
his reasons: his point, his conclusions; the value of what he says
/ All of his wit are as two grains of wheat | Hid in two bushels full of worthless chaff—
71. / In all of Venice. And, his final point
Is like a grain of wheat in’a heap of chaff:
72. / He speaks an infinite deal of nothing, | More so than any man in all of Venice. | His point resembles but two
grains of wheat | Hid in two bushels of chaff. You must seek | All day before you find them; and when you | Finally
have them, they’re not worth the search.
73. {Well, tell me now what lady is the same | To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage}
Some commentators surmise that Antonio’s sadness has come about due to Bassanio’s secret rendezvous
with a woman. However, this conclusion is forced and unlikely. Antonio’s sadness is a result of his disposition,
which is confirmed by Antonio when he states that the part he has been selected to play, on the world stage, is a sad
one [78-79]. Bassanio’s potential love interest may have exacerbated Antonio’s worrisome condition but this, too, is
unlikely, since Bassanio did not even know the identity of the woman with whom Bassanio was meeting. All
Antonio knew was that Bassanio was meeting with some woman, whose identity he swore to keep secret—and whom
he promised to tell Antonio about (after the meeting was over). Bassanio was well aware of the nature of the
meeting, and that the subject discussed involved Antonio in some way, and that is why Bassanio told Antonio about
the ‘secret’ meeting and told him that he (Bassanio) was going to tell him about what he learned from the meeting
today. (We can assume that the meeing took palce yesterday, as Bassanio would not delay in telling Antonio about
it—especially if Antonio’s help, with respect to actuating the plan formulated during the meeting, was needed.)
Who was this lady to whom Bassanio swore to meet with in secret (and to keep the whole meeting a secret,
and to keep secret the identity of the woman with whom he was meeting)? Certainly it was not Portia, as Portia
would not have arranged such a meeting nor would she have any reason to meet with Bassanio. Neither was this a
meeting with an irrelevant love interest—or it would not have been so secretive and Bassanio would have no reason
to have discussed it with Antonio.
In the meeting we know that Bassanio learned about Portia and the lottery—yet this was not something that
needed to be sealed by a vow of secrecy, as this was public knowledge. The meeting had an undisclosed purpose
such that Bassanio could not even reveal the identity of the lady with whom he was meeting (for he did not know it)
to his dearest friend—nor was he at liberty to tell his dearest friend anything about the meeting, nor what was
discussed, nor the identity of the woman with whom he met (after he discovered her identity). All we know is that
Bassanio does not talk about whom he met with—the one he promised to tell Antonio about—but only about what he
learned from the meeting (which concerns Portia’s situation and no other).
So, whom did he meet with and for what purpose? All indications suggest that he met with Nerissa, Portia’s
trusting handmaid, to discuss Portia and the lottery. He told Antonio about the meeting because as he correctly
anticipated, he needed a large sum of money (from Antonio) in order to carry out the plan hatched out in the meeting.
[See, Additional Notes, 1.1.120]
—Bassanio 69
Our Gratziano speaks an infinite
Amount of nothing,° more than any man / nonsense
In all of Venice. His main point is like° / And, his final point is
Two grains of wheat, hid in two bushels° of chaff: 70 71 / heaps / mounds / piles / pails
There you must seek all day ere you find them,
And when you have them, they’re not worth the search. 72
Well, tell me now about this same lady
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage, 73
That you, today, promised to tell me of.
74. Bassanio tells nothing of the woman he met with, only about his plan and his need of Antonio’s help
75. Bassanio seems to be part of an aristocratic class called ‘gentlemen’—a class of young, single men living off
their parentage inheritance (or estate). As they do not need to work, their days are concerned with entertainment,
parties, feasting, womanizing, etc.
76. {By something showing a more swelling port} / By showing off a more lavish life-style
77. / Nor do I make moan that such noble° spending / lordly
/ Has been abridged.° But now my chief concern / cut short
78. {Wherein my time something too prodigal}
too prodigal: too extravagant and wasteful
79. {Hath left me gaged}
gaged: a) engaged (with creditors), indebted, owing, entangled, pledged, bound
b) gaged, bound by a gag, muzzled. The implication here is that Bassanio wasted all his money on high
living and feasting (something too prodigal) and is now gaging (choking) on this pile debt in the same way as one
might gag on biting off more food than he can chew.
80. a) Is to come clear° of all the debts amassed° / pay off // accrued
During my time of prodigal spending,° / improvident waste
Which now I gag upon. To you, my friend
b) Is to come fully clear from all my debts
Which I’ve amassed from years° of wasteful spending
Which now I gag upon. To you, my friend
c) Is to come fully clear of the great debts
/ Wherein my time of wonton wastefulness | Hath left me now to gag upon. To you
/ Which all my time of prodigal expense | Hath left me bound and indebted. To you
81. {And from your love I have a warranty}
/ And by your love, I have a guarantee / And now your love does grant me permission
82. Here Bassanio claims: I will unburden all my plots and purposes yet he never discloses anything to Antonio
about the woman with whom he met nor his true plot—a plot which involves winning Portia by way of a lottery not
by customary courtship (as Antonio may be led to believe). Bassanio tells Antonio about Portia, and his sureness of
winning her, but does not disclose the means (i.e. the lottery), nor the identity of the woman with whom he met, nor
the true reason as to why he is so certain (and ‘questionless’) of victory. Bassanio (leading Antonio to believe his
venture involves a typical courtship scenario) tells Antonio he is sure to win her because she once looked upon him
favorably—but such a favorable glance has no bearing on his odds of winning her. It is irrelevant. He can only win
her by choosing the right chest, through his own wit and wisdom—or through some other kind of help—and not
through anything Portia’s favorable glances could bestow.
—Bassanio 74
‘Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
How much I have depleted my savings° {disabled mine estate}75
By sometimes° showing a more swelling port° 76 {something} / lavish style
Than my faint means could rightfully support;° {would grant continuance}
Nor do I moan about being deprived° {abridged}/ reduced
Of° such a noble style.° Now my chief care 77 / From {noble rate} / grand life-style
Is to come fully clear° of all my debts° {fairly off} {the great debts}
Wherein° my years of prodigal° spending 78 / In which // of wastefulness and
Hath left me gagged.79 To you, Antonio 80
I owe the most in money, and in love,
And by your love, I am granted permission° 81 {I have a warranty}
To unburden all° my plans° and purposes / To tell you all {plots}
On how to clear myself of every debt.° 82 / On geting clear of all the debts I owe.
I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it,° / tell me your plan
And if it stand, as you yourself still do,
83. {And if it stand, as you yourself still do, | Within the eye of honour}
> if your plan is righteous, honorable, above board, ethical, etc.
Antonio is adding a caveat here: Bassanio’s plan must stand within the eye of honour. However, the plan as
we know it, which involves a chance lottery (or, as we may surmise, receiving a guarantee of help from Nerissa if
certain conditions are met) is not honorable. As such, Bassanio does not tell Antonio the actual plan, nor “unburden
all his pots and purposes.” He presents what appears to be a normal courtship scenario without any mention of the
actual plot or circumstances. (When does Antonio finally learn about the true nature of the chance venture?—and
what does he do when he finds out that Bassanio has borrowed the money under a false pretense?) It seems
Antonio’s blind love for Bassanio causes him to see past all of Bassanio’s flaws, even the avoidable action of failing
to cure Antonio’s bond when he had means enough, and time enough, to do so. [See Additional Notes, 1.1.137]
84. Bassanio asking Antonio for money—yet again—might suggests some kind of abuse. In the past Bassanio has
borrowed money from Antonio to ‘show a more swelling port’ and to live beyond his means—and he made no
attempt to repay any of the borrowed money. Here again, knowing that most of Antonio’s money is tied up in his
ventures, Bassanio again comes to Antonio. It seems that Antonio loves this young man, who is high-spirited and
who brings to Antonio a sense of life he is missing—so much so that he is willing to do anything for him. Bassanio
is aware of Antonio’s love and he uses that affection—perhaps in an innocent or careless way, as opposed to a
deceitful or knowingly abusive way—for his own financial benefit. Bassanio, too, has genuine love for Antonio, so
the relationship is one of mutual support and friendship.
85. {I shot his fellow of the selfsame flight | The selfsame way}
/ I shot another in the selfsame way | And in the selfsame direction, but then
/ I’d see exactly where the next one fell, | And in venturing forth I oft found both.
86.{To find the other forth, and by adventuring both, | I oft found both}
/ Then I would venture for the second shaft, | And oft found both.
/ Then, by adventuring for the second, | I oft found both.
oft: often—often, but not always; the venture had some risk and sometimes both arrows were lost.
87. Not true! The plan—which is never truly told to Antonio—is far from innocent. In the highest embodiment
(and most unlikely scenario) it involves a deceitful appearance and an uncertain choice between three caskets; in the
lowest embodiment (and most likely scenario) it involves “cheating”(for good reasons, no doubt) and the unfair
winning of another’s wealth. The plan, moreover, is somewhat mercenary; it is first proposed as a way to clear up all
of Bassanio’s debts rather than the defiant and risky action of someone truly in love.
88. {. . . I do not doubt, | As I will watch the aim, or to find both}
I do not doubt. . .
/ That I will watch the aim and then find both
/ I’ll watch the aim with care and find them both
Within the eye of honour, be assured 83
My purse, my person,° my extremest means° / My bank, my body // and my every means
Lie all unlocked to whate’er you may need.° 84 {to your occasions}
In my school days, when I had lost an arrow° {shaft}
I shot another one in the same way, / but
And in the same direction yet,° this time, 85 / and
With a more careful° and advisèd watch; / much keener
Then, in my vent’ring° for the second arrow, / in adventure / my searching
I oft found both.86 I urge° this childhood proof° / give // lesson / story
Because what follows is pure innocence:° 87 / my plan holds the same innocence
I owe you much and, like a wilful youth,
That which I owe is lost; but, if you’d please° / were
To shoot another shaft the self-same way°
As you did shoot the first, +and loan to me
Again, one more amount,°, I do not doubt— / another sum
Watching the aim with care—that I’ll find both: 88
I will return° the sums that now you risk,° / bring back // loan / give
89. / And funds° to clear my debtors from the past. / sums
90. {Or bring your latter hazard back again | And thankfully rest debtor for the first.}
or: and
latter hazard: your present loan or risk (which I will watch more carefully than I did your earlier loans).
debtors for the first: all my previous debts, debtors from before (i.e., the first arrow which has been lost).
thankfully rest: pay back (with gratitude); put to rest, clear up
Thus, I will bring back to you all the money you risk on me now (the second arrow) and, finding this second arrow
(which is all of Portia’s wealth) I will be able to play off all my previous debts (which are the first arrows that I lost).
[See Additional Notes, 1.1.151]
91. Antonio is so eager to accommodate Bassanio’s plans, that he agrees to help him without so much as hearing
it. (He assumes that Bassanio is going to woo Portia in accordance with customary acts of courtship; he hears
nothing of the hazardous risk involved). From what we come to know (and something which Bassanio intimates in
his proposed scheme to pay off his debts) the plan is decidedly a get-rich-quite scheme; it does not fall within the eye
of honor nor Antonio’s sense of Christian virtue—which is that money should be earned through the sweat of one’s
92. {To wind about my love with circumstance:}
wind: a) blow wind, be long-winded a) wind about, curve, meander, be indirect
wind about my love: not approach me directly; not know that I love you and will give you what you ask
(without you needing to waste breath on details).
with circumstance: needless details, circumlocutions, beating around the bush
93. {And, out of doubt, you do me more wrong}
out of doubt: beyond doubt
94. {In making question of my uttermost}
/ In questioning my uttermost compliance° / abidance
95. / And try my love° with circuitous pleas° / strain my heart // long-winded appeals
That one so dear as you need never make;
And now your doubt about my willingness
To give my uttermost,° does me more wrong / you everything
96. A loose rendering:
/ All you need do is tell me what you want; | Surely you know I will give it to you, | For my heart cannot say
‘no’: therefore speak.
97. {In Belmont is a lady richly left}
/ Who has recently come upon a fortune
/ Who has been left a fortune beyond measure
98. / And she is fair, and even more than ‘fair’/ And she is fair, more fair than words can say
And funds enough° to clear° my former debts.° 89 90 / And all I need // rest
—Antonio 91
You know me well, yet herein spend° but time, / waste
To try my love with needless circumstance°: 92 / burdensome detail
And certainly,° you offer me° more wrong,93 {And out of doubt} // do me now
In doubting° my utmost desire to help,94 95 / questioning
Than if you had made waste of° all I have.° / laid waste to // my wealth
Then do but say to me° what I should do, / All you need do is say
The most you know that° may be done by me, {That in your knowledge}
And I am pressed unto it.° Therefore speak. 96 / And I’ll be bound to do it
Alas, there is in Belmont, a lady / Alas, there is a lady in Belmont
Who has since come upon a countless fortune;° 97 / great wealth and fortune
And she is fair and, fairer than all words,° 98 {that word}
Of wondrous virtues. Sometimes,° from her eyes,° / often // with her glance
99. {I did receive fair speechless messages}
fair speechless messages: beautiful and affectionate glances (which silently told me of her affection)
/ I did receive her° loving messages
/ I did receive the most adoring glances° / loving of glances
100. golden fleece: Jason was the rightful heir to his father’s throne but was deprived of his rights by his uncle.
Thus, to settle the matter, Jason and his uncle made an agreement: if Jason could bring back the golden fleece from
Colchis (which all believed was an impossible task) then Jason would be restored to his throne and gain back his
kingdom. So Jason and the Argonauts traveled to the shores (strond) of Colchis to retrieve the golden fleece. [See
Additional Notes, 1.1.170]
101. {Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos’ strond}
/ Which now makes Belmont like the shores of Colchis
seat: residence
Colchos’ strond (also ‘strand’): the shores of Colchis—the land where the Golden Fleece resided. The image
evoked is of many suitors (like Jason seeking his fortune) landing upon the shores of Belmont to obtain Portia (who
is likened to the golden fleece in both riches and beauty).
102. This line can be added for further clarity: +Each one in quest of her riches and beauty.,
103. This plea of Bassanio takes a few shifts: first from a personal connection to Portia, to a classical description of
her beauty, and back to a more personal plea to Antonio, with O my Antonio.
104. Why is Bassanio impelled to borrow such a large sum of money and put his friend at risk? [See Additional
Note, 1.1.174]
105. {I have a mind presages me such thrift}
/ I have a mind foretells me of success / I have a premonition of success / My mind tells me of assured success
presages: foretells, augurs, give a premonition of
such thrift: such success, such profit (which will comes from Portia and her fortune)
106. {I should questionless be fortunate.}
/ That I, without a doubt, shall win her fortune / That I, without question, should win her love.
How does Bassanio come to be questionless, without doubt, about being fortunate—about winning Portia
through a chance drawing of one of three chests? Is he so certain of his ability, or does something else tell him of his
assured success? And what, exactly, is Bassanio questionless about?—that he will win Portia’s love, or the lottery,
or both? [See Additional Notes, 1.1.76]
The theory which I put forth is that Bassanio received assurance from Nerissa, in their secret meeting, that
she would help him with the lottery if he could win Portia’s love. That is why, in 2.9, when Nerissa hears news of an
unannounced suitor from Venice, she already knows (and hopes) that it is Bassanio. She says, “Bassanio, Lord
Love, if thy will it be!” [See Appendix: The Lottery]
107. / Nor have I money, nor the extra goods
I did receive fair hints of her affection. 99
Her name is Portia—and she’s worth no less° {and nothing undervalued}
Than Cato’s daughter, Brutus’ Portia.°
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
For the four winds blow in from every coast
Renownèd° suitors; and her sunny° locks / golden
Adorn° her temples like a golden fleece 100 {Hang on}
Which turns her country° estate° at Belmont / beautiful // gardens
Into the promising° shores of Colchis. 101 / beckoning/ venturous / glistening
Where many Jasons come in quest of her.102
O my Antonio,103 had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them° 104 / along with them
My mind portends° me of certain success, 105 / foretells
That I, without doubt, should° be fortunate. 106
You knows’t that all my fortunes are at sea;
Neither have I money, nor sufficient store° 107 {commodity} / goods to sell
To raise a present sum.B Therefore, go forth, / To raise the sum right now
108. {Try what my credit can in Venice do.}
109. {That shall be racked, even to the uttermost}
racked: painfully stretched, as if on the rack. > Stretch my credit to the utmost; get every ducat you can.
110. {Where money is, and I no question make | To have it of my trust, or for my sake.}
and I no question make: a) and I am sure, I do not question it (that you will get the sums you seek, based upon
my credit or my reputation); b) and I will not question (nor place restrictions upon) from where you get the
money—get it from wherever you can
a) / Where money is: and I’m sure just the same, | You’ll get it based on my credit or name
b) / Secure the funds from whomever you may | Based on my name, my worth, my trust to pay.
Try what my credit in Venice can do;° 108 / can bring you in Venice.
Let it be stretched° even to the utmost° 109 {That shall he racked} {uttermost}
To furnish° thee to Belmont, to fair Portia. / provide
Go and make inquiries°—and so will I— {Go presently inquire}
Secure the funds from wherever° you must, / whomever
Based on my name, my credit, or my trust. 110
1. The name Nerissa is derived from the Italian root, ner, which means dark, thus suggesting that Nerissa has dark
hair or a dark complexion, while Portia’s complexion is fair and her hair is blond. A waiting-woman is different
from a maid: she is not a servant, and she can marry whomever she chooses. Hence, Nerissa, plays the part of a
facilitator and confidant for Portia rather than a servant.
2. {by my troth} In truth / I tell you truly / In faith
3. little body: a figure of speech which implies that the body is small or frail in comparison to the ‘great world’
(rather than implying a body that is small in comparison to other bodies).
4. / in equal measure to
5. {they are as sick that surfeit too much as they that starve with nothing}
surfeit too much: live in excess, have too much, over-indulge, (eat too much)
starve with nothing: have nothing, (have too little food).
6. {It is no mean happiness, therefore, to be seated in the mean.}
> A large amount of happiness, therefore, comes to one who is positioned in the middle, between the
extremes of life.
mean: meager, medium, small, middle-of-the road
no mean happiness: no meager happiness; no medium happiness; great happiness
/ There is much happiness, therefore, to sit between too much and too little.
/ Therefore, the means to happiness is to be seated in the mean.
7. {Superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer}
/ Excess makes you old before your time, while moderation allows you to live longer.
8. sweet: dear / fine all: {aught} indulge: {surfeit} / glut / stuff themselves
gray hairs: {white hairs} > rapid aging, aging before one’s time
moderation: {competency} / sufficiency / having what you need
brings longer life: {lives longer}
9. {Good sentences and well-pronounced}
sentences: sayings, sentiments, teachings
well-delivered: well-spoken
10. The sense here is that if doing good were as easy as knowing what were good to do—which it is not—than
everyone would be doing good deeds, such as going to church and giving to the poor. This meaning could be
further clarified with an added line: ‘If to do good were as easy as to know what were good to do, +than everyone
would do good:,
11. {chapels had been churches} / chapels would become churches
ACT ONE - Scene Two 1.2
Portia’s house at Belmont. Enter Portia with her waiting-woman, Nerissa.1
By my word,2 Nerissa, my little3 body is aweary of this great world.
You would be, sweet° madam, if your miseries were in the same abundance as are4 your good
fortunes. And yet, for all° I see, those who indulge° with too much are as sick as those who
starve with too little. 5 It is the means to happiness, therefore, to be seated in the mean.6 Excess
is soon accompanied by gray° hairs, while moderation° brings longer life.° 7 8
Wise words and well-delivered. 9
They would be better if well-followed.
If to do good were as easy as to know what were good to do,10 chapels would be° churches 11 +to
12. / . . . to jhold all the worshipersk chapels would become churches; jas result of all those who gave in charityk poor
men’s cottages would become princes’ palaces. [See Additional Notes, 1.2.25]
The images of this passage could be interpreted metaphorically (as opposed to literally). Hence: If to do
good were as easy as to know what were good to do, then everyone would do good (and practice what they preach);
by such truthful and honest actions, a meager person (a chapel) would become a person of great spiritual standing (a
church) and a poor person (living in a poor man’s cottage) would become princely (living in a princely palace).
13. {It is a good divine that follows his own instruction}
14. {a hot temper} / rash impulses / heated passion
15. {such a hare is madness, the youth, to skip over the meshes of good counsel, the cripple}
/ Such a rabbit is rashness, the youth, which jumps over the traps of good counsel, the cripple.
/ The rashness of youth is such a hare, that jumps over good counsel like a netted trap.
16. {But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband}
/ But all this philosophy is not of any use in my choosing a husband.
not in the fashion: of no use (in helping me chose a husband according to my wishes); not the way I am allowed
to choose a husband. In sum, there is nothing Portia can to do chose a husband, it all depends upon the test that her
father devised. All of her wisdom, charm, and reasoning is of no use (not in the fashion) in helping her choose a
husband—because the chose is not her own.
17. {I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike}
/ I may neither choose whom I want, nor refuse whom I don’t want
18. {that I cannot chose one nor refuse none?}
I cannot choose: Portia is powerlessness; she cannot choose; she is bound by her father’s conditions and
yet—unlike the submissive fairy-tale princess—she is complaining about these fairy-tale conditions in a real way,
secretly wishing there was something she could do to alter the situation. [See Additional Notes, 1.2.26]
19. chapels would be: {chapels had been}
+from all that was given in charity,: / because of the great sums given in charity / from all that were given to
the needy
devise: / come up with / think up / contrive / produce / invent
to control one’s passion: {for the blood} / to keep the emotions in check
that skips o’er the traps: {to skip o’er the meshes} / jumps o’er the netted traps
philosophy: {reasoning} / philosophizing / logic
not in fashion: / not of any use I would: / I like none: / the other
20. {whereof who chooses his meaning chooses you; will, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly but one who you
shall love rightly.} / Whereof, the one who chooses the right chest, in accordance with the meaning of its inscription,
wins you.
his meaning: your father’s meaning—i.e., the right chest, according to the meaning of its inscription.
meaning: the right chest according to the inscription on it
Nerissa is saying that the one who chooses the right chest (and wins Portia) will be one whom Portia rightly
loves (and not necessarily the one who rightly loves Portia). Hence, the outcome of the lottery would be the same as
if Portia had made her own choice—as she would chose herself a husband whom she rightly loved. So, the intent of
the lottery is to deliver to Portia a man whom she truly loves—based upon the premise that she cannot make the
choice through her own wits. Here Nerissa is assuring Portia of a positive and desired outcome of the lottery-contest
in obeisance to her father’s wisdom—yet, it appears, that neither Portia nor Nerissa have real faith in this method.
hold all the worshipers, and poor men’s cottages +would be as, princely palaces +from all that
was given in charity,.12 It is a good preacher who follows his own sermon.13 I could easier teach
twenty others what were good to be done than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own
teaching. The brain may devise° laws to control one’s passion,° but hot desire 14 leaps o’er a
cold decree. Such a hare is folly°—the youth—that skips o’er the traps° of good counsel—the
cripple.15 But such insight is not going to find me a husband of my choosing. 16 O me, the word,
choose: I may neither chose whom I would,° nor refuse whom I dislike.17 So is the will of a
living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that there is none I can
chose, nor none I can refuse? 18 19
Your father was ever virtuous,° and holy men nearing death have good inspirations.° Therefore,
the lott’ry° that he hath devised in these three chests of gold, silver, and lead, wherein the one
who chooses the right chest,° by its inscription, chooses you, will no doubt, never be chosen
rightly by one whom you shall not rightly love.20 But what warmth is there in your affection
Later, we see, that Portia comes to rightly love Bassanio and thus she wishes that he choses the right
casket—which he does. That side of the story is clear. The reverse position, however, is not so certain: does
Bassanio rightly love Portia, does he selflessly love her—or is his chief aim to win her wealth.
21. ever virtuous: / a man of great virtue nearing death: {at their death}/ on their deathbed
good inspirations: / are well-inspired. lott’ry: / lottery / contest / drawing
chooses the right chest: {chooses his meaning} / chooses the right chest (according to the meaning of its
inscription) already come: / since arrived?
22. {according to my description level at my affection.}
level at: guess at, infer, point to . . . the level of my response will be equal to—and on the same level as—my
23. Neapolitans, during Shakespeare’s time, were famed for their horsemanship.
24. / he counts it as some great virtue
25. {and he makes it a great appropriation to his own good parts that he can shoe him himself.}
/ and he calls attention to his own good breeding that he can shoe the horse himself
/ and he is quick to endorse (/commend) his own talent in that he can shoe the horse himself
/ and he claims himself worthy of some prize (/commendation) in that he can shoe the horse himself.
26. {his mother played false with a smith}
/ his mother fooled ‘round with a blacksmith / his mother had a long ride on the blacksmith
In this rather bawdy remark, Portia is saying that he loves horses, and is able to shoe his own horse, because his
mother (played false with) slept with a blacksmith behind his father’s back; thus his father was a blacksmith and not
a nobleman.
27. colt: unruly youth good parts: / talent / qualities / virtue
appropriation to: / addition to / endorsement of / a prize of / a trophy to / a testament of / ‘a blue ribbon’ to
28. {He doth nothing but frown, as who should say, ‘And you will not have me choose.’}
/ as if to say, ‘I know you don’t want me to choose.’
29. the weeping philosopher: refers to Heraclitus, who lived about 500 B.C., and was known to weep at the sad
condition of humanity
30. / so besieged by the sadness of his youth / entombed in sadness from his early youth / so inclined to sadness
since his youth.
towards any of these princely suitors that have already come?° 21
I pray thee, name them once again;° and as thou namest them, I will describe them, and,
according to my description, level +a guess, at my affection. 22 {overname them}
First there is the Neapolitan prince.° 23 / prince from Naples.
Ay, there’s a colt° indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of his horse; and he counts it a great
appropriation to° his own good parts°24 that he can shoe the horse himself. 25 I am much afeard,
my lady, that his mother had a good ride upon the blacksmith! 26 27
Then there is the Count Palatine.
He does nothing but frown +all day,, as if to say: ‘You would rather not have me choose.’ 28 +He
courts sadness and that is what he finds., He hears a merry tale yet does not smile. I fear he will
prove +himself to be,° the weeping philosopher 29 when he grows old, being so full of
unmannerly° sadness in his youth.30 I would rather be married to a skull with a bone in its mouth
31. {I’d rather be married to a death’s-head with a bone in his mouth} > I’d rather be dead
32. unmannerly: unfortunate / unbecoming / misappropriated / unbridled / unseemly > not fit for a youth
prove +himself to be,: {prove} / prove +himself,: / prove +to be,
protect: {defend} / rescue / save
33. / What do you think of
34. {a better bad habit of frowning than the Count Palatine}
35. {He is every man in no man.} / As he is no one (in himself), he must try to be everyone else. / He seems to be
everyone but himself.
This line is open to several interpretations: a) as he is no one (having no character of his own) he tries to be
like everyone else, to take on the traits and characteristics of those around him; b) as he is no one (and feeling
inferior to those around him) he tries to impress and to look better than everyone—more of a horseman than the
Neapolitan, more of a sad character than the Count. [See Additional Notes, 1.2.58]
36. Add line: ¢ But what sort of man does this make him? ¦ / +But what manner of man is he?,
37. {If a trassell sing, he falls straight a cap’ring}
trassell: / throstle / thrush falls straight: begins straight away / starts right away
a cap’ring : merrily jumping about, gayly dancing, frolicking // convulsing in fright
/ he suddenly convulses with fear / he immediately begins shaking / he straight away begins to dance.
The exact meaning of a cap’ring is unclear. It could mean a) that the moment he hears the sound of a bird
he begins to dance about, suggesting that he is like a puppet and dances to everyone else’s tune—but not his own. (It
could also be that he is so eager to show off his dancing skills, that the moment a bird sings he will take that as his
opportunity to dance); b) when he hears the song of a bird, a throstle sing, he falls to the ground in a frenzy—so
lacking in manhood and courage that even the sound of bird can cause him to shiver in fright.
38. {He will fence with his own shadow}
> The possible implication of this image is that his shadow is as real as he and/or that he is afraid of his own
39. {for if he love me to madness, I shall never requite him.}
40. a-shaking: {a cap’ring} / cowers / shivers / convulses fence: / duel / battle / do battle
reject: {despise} return the favor: {forgive him} / give him the same
41. {dumb-show} / pantomime / ‘someone in a silent show’
42. {doublet} / suit (double-breasted suit) / vest / > referring to a tight-fitting upper-garment
than to either of these. God protect° me from these two! 31 32
What° say you of33 the French lord, Monsieur le Bon? {How}
God made him so, 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 and a frown more formidable than the
Count Palantine.34 As he is no one, he tries to be everyone. 35 36 At the song of a sparrow, he
dances straight-away like a puppet. 37 Afraid of his own shadow, he draws a sword to fence with
it. 38 If I should marry him, I’d have to marry twenty of him to have one husband. If he would
reject° me I would return the favor;° but should he fall madly in love with me, that I shall never
requite. 39 40
What say you then to Falconbridge, the young baron of England?
You know I say nothing to him, for he understands me not, nor I him. He speaks° neither Latin,
French, nor Italian; and, as you would swear in court, I have a poor penny’s worth of English.
He is the picture of a proper man—but alas, who can converse with a picture? 41 And how oddly
he is suited! I think he got° his jacket42 in Italy, his stockings° in France, his round hat° in
43. {and his behaviour everywhere} / from who knows where.
> He procures his manners from all those around him, just like his clothes.
behaviour: manners / mannerisms / affection
Compare Greene, Farewell to Follie (1591): ‘I have seen an English gentleman so diffused in his suits, his
doublet being the wear of Castile, his hose from Venice, his hat from France, and his cloak from Germany.’
44. speaks: {hath} got: {bought} stockings: {round hose} / tights round hat: {bonnet}
45. This outdated political reference is somewhat obscure (and confusing) and should be deleted. Hence, the
deletion of Nerissa’s question about the Scottish Lord, and Portia’s response to it would make for a more cogent
exchange and not tax the audience with something it clearly recognizes as being partial to another time and place. It
is likely that this reference, as well as the previous one, were later additions to the original text—perhaps to suit the
temperament of a specific audience. [See Additional Notes, 1.2.75]
46. {That he hath a neighborly charity in him: for he borrowed a box of the ear of the Englishman and swore he
would pay him again when he was able. I think the Frenchman became his surety and sealed under for another.}
47. {very vilely} / with disgust / with much vile
48. {most vilely} / with loathing
49. make do: {make shift} / make the needed adjustments
50. / A thing of which I am too well aware.
51. / to prevent my worst fears from coming true
52. ‘I will do anything,’ says Portia—anything short of going directly against her father’s will. In her playful
suggestion that Nerisaa dupe the German suitor into picking the wrong casket, Portia is expressing her unspoken
wish that Nerissa somehow intervene. Nerissa, as a loyal servant, may feel the need to act upon this unspoken wish
and alter the outcome of lottery in favor of Portia’s choice (and allow someone whom Portia loves to win her). Thus,
Portia can have her wish and remain faithful to her father’s will.
Germany, and his behavior from everywhere.43 44
—Nerissa 45
[What think you of the Scottish lord, his neighbor?
That he shows himself as a charitable neighbor: for he borrowed a punch in the ear from the
Englishman, and swore that he would pay him back when he was able. I think the
Frenchman secured° the debt, saying he would punch the Englishman on behalf of the Scott
if the Scott were unable to do so himself.] 46
secured: / {became his surety} / underwrote
How do you like the young German, nephew to the Duke of Saxony?
With much vile47 in the morning when he is sober; and with great vile 48 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. Should the worst fate that ever fell, now fall +and I ne’er see his face again,, I hope
I shall make do49 to live° without him. to live: {to go} / to go on living
If he should decide° to choose, and should he choose the right casket—you would refuse to
perform° your father’s will should you refuse to accept him. decide: {offer}
perform: / carry out
¢’Tis a fate of which I am well aware.¦ 50 Therefore, for fear of the worst, 51 I pray thee set a full°
glass of white° wine on the contrary° casket; for if the devil be within, and that temptation
without, I know he will chose it. I will do anything, Nerissa,52 ere I will be married to a sponge.°
53. full: {deep} white:{Rhenish} > a fine, white German wine, superior to the common table wine, which is red
contrary: / wrong drunkard: {sponge} / sop / one who soaks up liquor like a sponge
54. In the original, no Servant enters in to bring news (from the suitors) and Nerissa’s next line reads: You need not
fear, lady, the having of any of these lords. They have acquainted me with their determinations, which is indeed to
return to their home . . .’ This indicates that the lords had informed Nerissa about their intention to leave before the
scene opened—which is suspect. Nerissa knew of Portia’s distaste for this parcel of suitors and so she would have
told Portia about the good news as soon as it arrived. If Nerissa did know of the lords’s departure beforehand then
the scene could only be played out in a teasing fashion, with Nerissa prolonging Portia’s misery by having her
believe that all the suitors are still vying for her. Thus, to remedy this situation, a Servant enters with the news. [See
Additional Notes, 1.2.96]
55. {they have acquainted me with their determinations}
With the entrance of a Servant to break the news to Nerissa, the pronoun ‘me’ would be removed, as the
suitors have not stated their determination directly to Nerissa.
acquainted me: / apprised me of / told me of
their determinations / what they have determined / what they’ve decided to do / their decision / their determined
course of action
56. {than your father’s imposition, depending on the caskets}
/ than your father’s contest of having to chose the right casket.
imposition: condition, demand, imposed methodology
depending on the caskets: contingent upon the contest he devised (whereby a suitor must choose the right
casket to win Portia).
57. {If I live to be as old as Sibylla} / If I live to be as old as +the prophetess, Sibylla
Sibylla was the prophetess of Cumae, and Apollo’s lover. Apollo granted her as many years of life as the
grains of sand she could hold in her hand. From Ovid’s Metamorphoses 14.129-53
58. {are so reasonable}
reasonable: a) amicable, in that they are doing what Portia wants and leaving, b) swayed by reason; a true lover
would not be reasonable and would take any risk to win his beloved
59. {there is not one among them but I dote on his very absence}
dote upon: {dote on} / take delight in / cherish / long for
60. Q1 = {and I pray God grant them a fair departure.} F1 ={and I wish them a fair departure.}
61. Here Nerissa ‘tests the waters’ to see if Portia favors Bassanio, as Nerissa assumes she does. Portia confirms her
high opinion of Bassanio. (This confirmation lets Nerissa know that her plan to have Bassanio come to Belmont,
and win Portia, in on target.)
Why does Nerissa even mention Bassanio—who is said to be a soldier and a scholar (which he is not)—
when there is no hint that he would be a likely suitor? [See Essays: The Lottery]
jEnter a Servingman; Nerissa meets with him. Servingman exits. 54 k
You need not fear, lady, in having any of these lords. They have all come to the same decision, 55
which is indeed to return to their home and to trouble you with no more suit, unless you may
be won by some means° other than your father’s condition,° of having to choose the right
casket.56 means: {sort} / method
condition: {imposition} / imposed contest
If I live to be as old as the Prophetess of Cumae, +whose years were as many as grains of sand she
could hold in her hand, 57 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, 58 +in deciding to depart, for there
is not one among them, whose very absence I do not dote upon—59 and I pray God grant them a
fair departure.60
Do you not remember, lady, in your father’s time, a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came
hither in the company of Marquis of Montferrat? 61
62. {Yes, yes, it was Bassanio—as I think so was he called} Portia clearly recalls his name, with enthusiasm—but
quickly tempers her feelings with a seeming uncertainty. The original, ‘as I think so was he called’ is a bit jumbled
and confused, suggesting that she is not thinking straight and/or talking very quickly in order to mask her excitement.
63. The following line by Portion, which appears in Q1 {How now! What news?} has been deleted: Most
commentators hold that this line is superfluous and out of place: Portia is not likely to greet her servant in such a
way. This line is omitted in F1—either in error or, more likely, with the intention of ‘enhancing’ the text. If the
Servant is made to enter before [line 96] then this short greeting might come as a result of Portia’s surprise—and
perhaps in slight apprehension that there is some additional news which is contrary to the good news previously
delivered (which is that all the suitors intend to leave). Hence, if this innocuous line is preserved (and if, the Servant
had come once before) then Portia’s line would read: ‘How now, more news?
64. {four strangers} Actually, six suitors are named in the original, and the mention of four is probably a remnant of
an earlier draft. As discussed in a previous note, it is likely that the original scene had four suitors, with the
Englishman and Scottish suitors added in a later draft. Several references to four suitors—and a reference to a fifth,
who comes after the four—are made by Portia.
One could rectify this discrepancy by a) changing all references to four to six, and the reference to a fifth, to
a seventh (which is somewhat cumbersome); b) changing the references to five suitors and a sixth (and delete the
Scottish suitor), or c) leaving the references as they are, to four (and delete the English and Scottish suitors). One
could also leave the inaccurate references as they are, without harming to the text. In this version, five suitors are
named yet the reference remains at four suitors—the implication being that the French suitor is not extant enough to
be counted as a suitor.
65. {with so good heart} /as whole-heartedly / with the fullness of heart / with the same warmheartedness / with the
same warm affection
66. {if he have the condition of a saint and the complexion of a devil}
condition: / virtue / character / temperament / affection
the complexion of: / the dark color of / the dark skin of [See Additional Notes, 1.2.127]
67. {I had rather he should shrive me than wive me}
> If he has a dark complexion (like the devil) and a disposition like a saint, I would rather that he be my
priest, and hear my confession (shrive me), than marry me (wive me).
shrive me: hear my confession, absolve me of my sins (as would a priest) > the precise meaning is uncertain
/ I had rather he absolve me of my sin, then wive me herein
Yes, yes, it was Bassanio—as I think so was he called. 62
True, madam. He, of all the men that ever my foolish eyes looked upon, was the most° deserving
of a fair° lady. most: {best} fair: beautiful
I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of thy praise.
Enter a Servant
— 63
The four foreigners seek for you, madam, t 64 o take their leave—and there is a messenger° come
from° a fifth, the Prince of Morocco, who brings word the Prince, his master, will be here
tonight. messenger: {forerunner} / herald from: / to announce
If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good° a heart 65 as I can bid the other four farewell, I
should be glad of his approach. And if he had the temperament of a saint and the complexion of
a devil,66 I had rather he should hear of my strife than take me as a wife. 67
68. {Come Nerissa, sirrah, go before}
sirrah: a term used to address someone of low standing, such as a servant, or a boy
69. {Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer}
wooer: in the original, wooer may have rhymed with before and door, and thereby provided for a triplicate rhyme
scheme. In modern pronunciation the rhyme is only between before and door.
/ Whiles one suitor leaves, and chances° no more, / Whiles one suitor leaves to depart my shore
/ We go and shut the gate upon one more
70. {Another knocks at the door} / While comes another to knock at the door
71. As mentioned (in a previous note), the original may have been pronounced with a triplicate rhyme scheme,
involving before, wooer, and door. The meter of the rhyming lines, however, is not certain, (and is not part of the
standard iambic meter): the first two lines have nine syllables and the third, has seven. If a triplicate rhyme was
intended, then the third line would contain nine syllable and could be emended as follows: ‘Another suitor knocks at
the door’ or ‘Another comes to knock at my door.’
The rectification above, contains three rhyming lines of ten syllables each, yet the meter does not conform
to the standard iambic pentameter. In the standard iambic pentameter, there is an emphasis on the fourth syllable, in
the above meter, the emphasis is on the fifth syllable.
Come Nerissa, ‘tis° just like before: 68 / it’s / it is
Whiles we shut the gate upon one° 69 / upon one more
Another now comes to knock at the° door. 70 71 / on my
1. ducats: (lit., ‘of the duke’); gold coins. These were first struck in Venice in the thirteenth century and came to
signify a wealthy currency (such as the South African Kugerrand does today). Three thousand ducats, during that
time, was an extremely large sum of money. [See Additional Notes, 1.3.1]
2. {Three thousand ducats, well}
well: good / alright / OK // yes? / is that right?
The repeated use of the term, ‘yes?’ or ‘good’ after each condition would be like a person going over a checklist and
acknowledging that the stated condition is clear and understood—and agreed upon. A question is indicated by
Bassanio’s response in the next line, which is: ‘Ay sir, for three months.’ If the term good is used, it would be
spoken three times, in the same matter-of-fact style, as one going over a checklist. The term well, which is found in
the original, is an imprecise fit. Many productions, in trying to make the term well sound ‘natural,’ have added
different inflections and tonalities to it. Thus, instead of the term being repeated in the exact same way each time, the
word is intoned as a question, a note of surprise, a sense of disbelief, etc.
3. shall be bound: shall cover the loan, shall sign the bond
4. {May you stead me?} / Can you cover me? / Can you supply the money for me?
5. {Will you pleasure me?} / Will you meet my needs?/ Will you please me with your reply? / Will you fulfill my
request / Will you help me?
6. Shall you say, ‘yes’? / Shall your answer be ‘yes’? / What is your answer?
ACT ONE - Scene Three 1.3
Venice. Enter Bassanio and Shylock.
Three thousand ducats1—yes?° 2 {well} / good / alright
Ay sir, for three months.
For three months—yes?° {well} / good / alright
For which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound. 3
Antonio shall be° bound—yes?° {become} {well} / good / alright
Can you help me?4 Will you do me this favor? 5 Shall I know your answer? 6
Three thousand ducats, for three months, and Antonio bound.
Your answer to that?
Antonio is a good man.
7. {upon} / from news on / as heard upon / upon word at
8. {squandered abroad} / extended abroad / flung about / at risk in foreign waters / ‘scattered recklessly’ (Onions).
Squander in this context does not carry the negative connotation of being ‘wasteful’ but pertains more to a sense of
9. There is no factual accuracy in this description, as no merchant of Venice would have such a varied range of
ventures. This long description serves to show Antonio’s standing as a grand merchant, and also to show that
Shylock is well aware of everything concerning Antonio and his ventures.
10. The original reads {there be land rats and water rats, water thieves and land thieves—I mean pirates.} Pirates
may be a ‘bad’ pun for pier-rats, which would indicate the rats which run about the pier and steal food. In this
emendation the terms land thieves and water thieves have been reversed. With this new order the term pirates is
clearly related to water-thieves. (The pun on pirates could also be made by the following word order: “There be land
rats and land thieves, water rats and water thieves—I mean pirates.” In some productions the term pirates is
pronounced as pie-rats; the meaning and reason for this emphasis is uncertain but it may indicate petty thieves who
steal crumbs (as rats steal the crumbs from pies).
11. is sufficient: has adequate wealth (and means) to cover the debt
12. his means: his business, his ventures, his means of making money
in question: {in supposition} / in doubt / questionable
an argosy: a merchant ship Tripolis: a port in Libya or Lebanon Rialto: merchant exchange in Venice
nonetheless: {notwithstanding} / nevertheless / despite all that
13. {I will bethink me}
14. Shylock already knows Antonio’s store and need not think it over {I will bethink me} to be assured; nor does he
need to discuss anything with Antonio to be assured. As we will see, none of the subsequent conversation with
Antonio lead’s to Shylock’s further assurance as he never once asks Antonio about the state of his ventures (or other
collateral that Antonio may have). Shylock is using this notion of needing to be assured as a rouse whereby he can
speak directly with Antonio both from a position of equals and from the position of superiority, where Antonio needs
his help. Shylock is taking this rare opportunity of engagement to confront Antonio about personal matters—such as
Antonio’s mistreatment of Shylock.
Have you ever heard any imputation° to the contrary? / accusation / charge
Oh, no, no, no, no. What I mean in saying, ‘he is a good man,’ is to have you understand that he
is sufficient +to cover the loan,. Yet his means° are in question.° He hath an argosy° bound for
Tripolis,° another to the Indies. I understand, moreover, from word on7 the Rialto,° he hath a
third at Mexico, a forth for England, and other ventures he hath scattered about.8 9 Yet ships are
but boards, sailors but men. There be land rats and water rats, land thieves and water thieves—I
mean pirates. 10 And then there is the peril of the water, wind, and rocks. The man is nonetheless
sufficient.11 Three thousand ducats—I think I may take his bond.12
Be assured you may.° / With assurance you may
I will be assured I may; and that I may be assured, I will think it over.13 May I speak with
Antonio? 14
— Bassanio
If it please you to° dine with us. / come
Yes, to smell pork, to eat of the swine° which your prophet, the Nazarite, conjured the devil
15. Sometimes this line is staged as an ‘aside,’ rather than a direct comment (and insult) to Bassanio. Reference is to
Jesus of Nazareth who conjured a demon out of two men and cast it into a herd of pigs (Matthew 8:28-33); or to the
story where Jesus cast out unclean spirits from a man named Legion into a herd of pigs (Mark 5:1-13). In both
stories the pigs were driven off a cliff into the sea.
16. Shylock could not be asking this of Bassanio since Bassanio has no knowledge of what is happening on the
Rialto. In a staging, Shylock could look up and see a fellow merchant, and instinctively ask him about news on the
Rialto—and then notice Antonio’s arrival. This, however, would require the scene to be staging in the market, with
additional characters moving on stage. Another option would be to delete this line, which is irrelevant to the action,
and which would not make sense if the scene is staged between Shylock and Bassanio (with no additional characters
on stage).
17. swine: / pigs {habitation} > dwelling place so forth: {following}
18. From his opening bombast (in this revised version) we know that Antonio despises usurers and here, though
necessity we find him thrust into a usurer’s domain. Antonio cannot be pleased with the situation—rather he is
dismayed and taken aback—yet, for the love of his friend, he is willing to endure this unfortunate convergence.
(Without understanding Antonio’s hatred of usury—and now seeing him thrust into the liar of one whose practice he
despises—the scene would fail to hold the tension that was intended by the author, a tension surely felt and
understood by an informed Elizabethan audience.)
19. {How like a fawning publican he looks}
/ How like an over-eager servant he looks / How like an eager inn-keeper he looks / How he looks like an
all too eager innkeeper.
fawning: humble, cowering, accommodating, obsequious
publican: innkeeper, ‘pub’-keeper. Sharing similar roots with: pub, and public.
A fawning publican refers to an obsequious and ‘ever-ready-to-serve’ inn- or bar-keeper. The image here is that
of Antonio, the well-respected ‘royal merchant’ who, in this capacity, looks like a lowly innkeeper so ready to
accommodate the needs of his friend. This image is supported by Shylock’s later description of Antonio as one who
acts in ‘low simplicity.’ There is something about this all-too-willing posture which is alien to Shylock and both
offends and threatens his concept of life. A publican could also be a reference to those who served as tax-collectors
for the Romans [Luke 18:9-14]—and in so doing oppressed the Jews—but this is a more remote possibility. [See
Additional Notes, 1.3.38]
20. / +Ever so eager to be of assistance, / +Ever so willing to help out his friends,
21. / —how he looks
More like a fawning slave, +the way he tries to° / lowly servant, +as he tries to
Accommodate the wantings of his friend.,
22. {I hate him for he is a Christian}
/ I hate his Christian kind° of charity / breed / acts / show
/ I hate his Christian meddling, but more so
into. I will buy with you, sell with you, talk w 15 ith you, walk with you, and so forth°—but I will
not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. [What news on the Rialto? 16] Who is he
comes here? 17
Enter Antonio
It is° Signior Antonio. {This is} / Here comes
jBassanio goes over to Antonio and they converse in private.k 18
—Shylock [aside]
+Here comes the royal merchant,—how much more° / closer / keener
Does he resemble° a fawning innkeeper,° 19 / look like / an obsequious servant
+So eager° in serving the needs of others., 20 21 / Seeking / Ready
How I despise his Christian haughtiness° 22 / charity
/ I hate his feigned Christian goodness, but more
This is a highly controversial line which, as it stands, seems to portray Shylock as a Christian-hater. What
Shylock hates, is not Christians, per se, but something about Antonio’s form of Christianity—perhaps what he sees as
Antonio’s Christian affect —which is here seen as one who is ever-ready to serve and accommodate others—and it is
this form of Christian charity, practiced by Antonio, which undermines Shylock’s business.
Some productions, in trying to put forth a pro-Shylock sentiment, delete this line (and the entire section), and
preserve only the first line, {How like a fawning publican he looks}. When this line about Shylock’s hatred is taken
at face value (and without the conditions offered by Shylock in the later lines of the section) it might suggest that
Shylock hates Antonio for no other reason than that he is a Christian—which is clearly not the case. (Shylock makes
no such negative comment about Bassanio nor any other Christian—nor has reason to.) Shylock hates something
about Antonio’s version and practice of Christianity (especially as it interferes with Shylock’s business), but also
personally, as Antonio rails at Shylock (where the merchants meet) and does whatever he can to undermine him.
Antonio, on the other hand, does not hate Shylock personally, but moreover the institution he represents. [See
Additional Notes, 1.3.39]
23. {But more, for in low simplicity} / But more his simple-minded view, wherein
low simplicity: naivety and ignorance
24. / I hate his Christian pretenses, but more | For that in low simplicity he lends
| Out money gratis and brings down the rate | Of interest for all us here in Venice.
| Out money gratis and thereby brings down | The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
The sense here is that Shylock hates something about Antonio’s version or breed of Christianity, but most
specifically his naive and simple-minded understanding of Christian values, whereby he is quick to loan out money,
without interest (to those in need)—which hurts Shylock’s business by bringing down the rate of interest for the
moneylenders in Venice. So, the primary hatred, it seems, is over money, not values or personality.
25. catch upon the hip: a wrestling term which means to grab hold of or gain advantage over one’s opponent; to be
in a superior position or have one’s opponent at a disadvantage. Having an opponent by the hip, in wrestling,
indicates that you are in a good position to score points by a ‘take down.’
/ If I can once, and gain an advantage / If I can catch him once when he’s off-guard
26. feed fat: indulge in, exploit, gratify, delight in; take full advantage of
Shylock is hoping to find a way to entrap Antonio, to gain an advantage on him, then to use that opportunity to
exploit his long-standing resentment. Feeding fat indicates that Shylock will take delight in, and indulge in, his
revenge against Antonio.
What exactly is Shylock’s plan to ‘catch Antonio upon the hip’ and gain an advantage over him?—so much
so that he (Shylock) may exploit (feed fat) his ancient grudge? Most likely (and not so obviously), Shylock’s
‘advantage’ over Antonio would be in having him sign a bond with humiliating terms. (The idea of Antonio
defaulting on the loan is too long of a shot; and this would not have been part of Shylock’s initial plan.) It seems that
Shylock’s initial intention was to humiliate Antonio, and to put him at a moral disadvantage, which later turned more
sinister when Antonio, unexpectedly, defaulted on his loan.
27. / He hates our sacred nation; and he rails
At me where merchants most do congregate,° / meet to do business
Cursing my contracts° and my well-won thrift, / business
28. {Cursèd be my tribe | If I forgive him}
Shylock—perhaps as a compensation for his own sense of lack—(and this is something we also see later in
the play) is invoking something larger than himself in his vows against Antonio. Here he lays the curse on his tribe
(not himself) should he forgive Antonio. Thus, by brining in his tribe (ND the nation of Jews) Shylock invokes the
position that Antonio’s harsh treatment of him represents the harsh treatment levied by Christians against all Jews.
Shylock links his oppression solely to his Judaism and fails to see (or conveniently refuses to see) that Antonio’s
harsh actions are based upon Shylock’s practice of usury, not his Judaism. Shylock is never able to personally ‘own’
the oppression, nor ever singularly link it to his practice of usury—as he always defends his usury (and Antonio’s
mistreatment of him) in the context of Judaism. One could say that he is playing the ‘religious’ or ‘Jew’ card and
trying to displace the conflict away from its true source, which is his ruinous practice of usury.
But more, for that in° low simplicity,° / for in his / 23 simple ignorance / simple-mindedness
He lends out money gratis and brings down
The rate of interest° here with us in Venice. 24 {usance}
If I can catch him once upon the hip° 25 / at a disadvantage / at my advantage
I will feed fat° the ancient grudge I bear him.26 / exploit / I’ll gratify
He hates our sacred nation; and even
Where merchants most do congregate°, he rails / meet to do business
On me, my contracts,° and my well-earned profit, 27 {bargains} / business {well-won thrift}
Which he calls, usury.° Cursèd be my tribe 28 {interest}
This line could be rendered in a more personal way: ‘Now am I supposed | To just forgive him?’
29. a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe:
Both the terms Hebrew and tribe are somewhat misplaced. Tribe may refer to one of the twelve tribes of Israel,
but Jews did not generally refer to themselves as tribe members. In a more indigenous language, Shylock may have
said, ‘Tubal, a rich man of my congregation.’
Shylock only expresses doubt about having the full sum after he sees Antonio enter. Here he is stalling so that he
might find an opportunity to engage with Antonio. Once Antonio agrees to the terms of the bond, we hear that
Shylock is going to purse the ducats straight [171] which suggests that he had ample store from the beginning and
that his involvement of Tubal was simply a rouse.
30. Shylock knows full well that the bond is for three months, as he has already stated it twice. Here is again staling
for time or, most likely, mindlessly repeating idle words (small talk) to Bassanio as he waits for Antonio to arrive.
31. Shylock’s words are most gracious, generously welcoming of Antonio, and what appear to be Shylock’s true
offer of friendship—which Antonio might now be inclined (or obligated) to accept, as Antonio is in need of
Shylock’s help. Yet, Antonio may see this overtly warm welcome as a usurer’s rouse, a pretense of friendship only
offered to gain advantage. Hence, Antonio neither accepts the welcome nor returns it. Antonio refuses to befriend
a usurer. [See Additional Notes, 1.3.57]
32. / I’ll break a custom to supply the ripe° / ready / pressing
Wants of my friend.
33. Antonio’s first words to Shylock—without even so much as a greeting—are an outright rejection of Shylock and
his business. Antonio is in need of Shylock’s money to help Bassanio yet Antonio wants to make it clear, from the
onset, that he is doing this out of duress, as an exception—and still upholds his harsh opinion of usury. Shylock, of
course, is ready to expose—and use to his advantage—this hypocrisy.
If I forgive him.
—Bassanio Shylock, do you hear?
I am considering° my present store, {debating of} / consid’ring of
And by the near° guess of my memory, / rough
I cannot instantly raise up° the gross° / acquire / obtain // the sum
Of full three thousand ducats. What of that?° / What to do?
Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe, 29
Will furnish me. But wait!° How many months {soft}
Do you desire? 30 [To Antonio] Rest you fair, good signior,
Your worship was the last man in our mouths.° 31 / that we mentioned
Shylock, although° I neither lend nor borrow {albeit}
By taking nor by giving with interest° {of excess}
Yet to supply the ripe° needs° of my friend / ready / pressing / urgent {wants}
I’ll break a custom.32 33 [to Bassanio] Does he know the amount,° {Is he yet possessed}
How much you want?
—Shylock Ay, ay, three thousand ducats.
And for three months.
34. Shylock definitely did not forget that the term of the bond was for three months. He is playing a game of
positioning, perhaps wanting to appear rather nonchalant and not entirely focused on the details of the bond; or he
may want to appear somewhat playful and chummy with Bassanio to gain positioning on Antonio. (How Bassanio
comes to find Shylock in the first place is not known. What is clear is that Antonio, even out of love for Bassanio,
would never has ‘stooped so low’ as to approach Shylock on his own accord.)
35. Abram: Abraham. The Author uses the original name, Abram, which means ‘exalted father’ rather than
Abraham which means, ‘father of many nations,’ because the biblical account he refers to uses the name Abram, not
Abraham. Abram received the name Abraham from God when he was 99 years old.
36. {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 made third in line through the cleverness (and deception) of his mother, Rebecca, who
substituted Jacob (for Esau, her elder son) so that Jacob would received Isaac’s blessing and inheritance (making him
third in line from Abraham) rather than Esau, who rightly deserved it. (This deception is what Shylock calls a ‘wise’
action.) Shylock is thus justifying his deceptive practice of usury by citing a Biblical precedence of deception.
Shylock then goes on to tell how Jacob deceived Laban and thereby prospered. Both stories are taken out of context,
and Shylock is herein using Biblical passages to justify his deceptive practice of usury, which he calls ‘thrift’ and
‘blessing.’ Antonio does not accept this explanation; to the contrary, he is appalled at the way Shylock misquotes,
and abuses scripture in support of his own immoral practices. [See Additional Note, 1.3.71]
37. / He first agreed with Laban that all sheep
Found pied or spotted,° Jacob, for his earnings, / born with streaks or spots
Could keep. What e’er a ewe sees when she mates
I had forgot—three months. [to Bassanio] You told me so. 34
Well then, your bond. And let me see. . . ° But hear you: / and now the rate
Methought° you said you neither lend nor borrow / I thought
On sums that bear interest.° {upon advantage}
—Antonio I never do.° {I never use it}
> engage in such activity
When Jacob grazed° his uncle Laban’s sheep / tended
He then was third in line from Abraham—35
This, his wise mother, had deftly arranged; {wrought in his behalf}
The third possessor—ay, he was the third.° 36 / and so he was.
And what of it°? Did he take interest? {him}
No, not directly—hear what Jacob did:
He first agreed with Laban, that for earnings,° / payment
He could have° all the sheep born marked° or spotted. / He would receive {pied}
‘Tis known,° whatever a ewe sees when mating 37 / Now then
That’s what her newborn will come to resemble.°
Autumn° had come; it was the time for breeding. / The fall
So Jacob peeled off the bark from some sticks
And when the work of generations was
Between these wooly breeders in the act
He put the branches in front of the ewes.
In spring they conceived lambs that were spotted
38. Shylock cites this story in support of Jacob’s wise actions which allowed him to prosper. Antonio says that the
spots were brought about by ‘the hand of heaven’—in accordance with divine dispensation (impelled by Jacob’s
purity and faith). This was done so that Jacob could prosper after having been deceived by Laban.
39. {And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.}
/ Such thrift is seen as a blessing, if men | Gain it through cleverness and not through theft.
40. A line could be added here: +Your story tells of human trickery:, This line would show that Shylock’s version
of the story is based upon that which pertains to human deception, not the hand of God.
41. {Such was a venture, sir, that Jacob served for}
Here Antonio is pointing out that Jacob worked for the sheep, that he earned them from the sweat of his brow
(both in tending the sheep and serving his uncle). The part of the story that Shylock and Antonio shy away
from—including the prelude story where Jacob deceives Isaac and gains his land—is that Jacob used deception to
gain Laban’s sheep.
42. {A thing not in his power to bring to pass | But swayed and fashioned by the hand of heaven.}
a thing: a) his venture, which was based upon the natural reproduction of his sheep.
swayed: determined, directed, shaped
fashioned: brought about, created, produced
the hand of heaven: God’s Will
Such ‘a thing’—i.e., the creation and reproduction of life— is only in the power of God to bring to pass.
As such, the reproduction of money is unnatural and contrary to the natural laws of God, and what God brings to
pass. Thus, Antonio is refuting Shylock’s story (and its justification of his business) on two accounts: a) that Jacob
earned the money by working for it, and b) that the hand of heaven—not Jacob’s own power and skill—allowed
Jacob to prosper through its power by which animals naturally reproduce. Antonio is saying that the reproduction of
money—where money reproduces on its own, through the charging of interest on a loan—is unnatural, Godless, and
cannot be compared to Jacob’s venture. (Some scholars argue that this also goes against Jewish law in that the
money earns interest, or “creates,” on the Sabbath).
43. +For living creatures are sanctioned by God | To breed—and such does not apply to gold.,
+Which allows creatures to naturally breed— | Such laws as these do not apply to money.,
[See Additional Notes, 1.3.90]
44. {Was this inserted to make interest good?}
/ Was this a story to make usury right? / Was this a story in defense (/support) of usury?
was this inserted: was this story told; was this biblical reference inserted into our conversation
interest: Antonio uses the term interest (which means the practice of loaning out money which carries interest)
but he is using it to implicate the practice of usury—a practice which involves loaning out money with interest but,
more villainous, usury often involves a stiff penalty or forfeiture (if the loan is not repaid in time) and also involves
some measure of deception, exploitation, and entrapment. Usury is something far more nefarious than the simple
loaning out money with interest.
45. {Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams?} / Or does your gold and silver breed like sheep?
This relates to the Augustinian argument (previously invoked by Antonio) that the loaning of money which
bears interest is an unnatural act and goes against God’ law since only living things have God’s sanction to
reproduce. Loaning money which bears interest causes barren metal (gold and silver) to breed like living things.
And all the offspring rightly went to Jacob.38
This was the way he thrived, and he was blessed;
And thrift is blessing if men steal it not.39
—Antonio 40
This was a venture, sir, that Jacob served for, 41
A thing not in his power to bring to pass
But swayed and fashioned by the hand of heaven 42
+Which naturally allows all creatures° to breed— / Which allows all creatures to reproduce
The same of which does not apply to money.°, 43 / gold
Was this inserted° to justify usury? 44 / Was this a story / Did you tell this
Or is your gold and wealth° like Jacob’s sheep? 45 / Or are your golden coin
I cannot tell; I make it breed as fast.
46. What was Shylock going to say before he was interrupted? Clearly he is derailed by Antonio’s harsh
comments—or perhaps by some extraneous distraction, such as the knocking over of some money or some paper on
his table. In the next line, Shylock composes himself by stating something obvious and bland {Three thousand
ducats, ‘tis a nice round sum} then he regains his previous line of thought—where he expresses his deep resentment
at the way Antonio has treated him. [See Additional Notes, 1.3.93]
47. witness: accounts, testaments, evidence (to support his evil views)
48. {goodly} > appearing good on the outside
49. Antonio’s harsh words—if spoken directly to Shylock—reflect his true feelings (which he is not able to hold
back) even though such an outburst jeopardizes Bassanio’s chances of getting the loan. To paint Antonio in a more
sensitive light, these words could be spoken as an ‘aside’ to Bassanio.
If Shylock is meant to hear these words it would come as a frontal attack, referring to him as a devil, an evil
soul, a rotten apple, and a villain. Antonio says this unabashedly, with impunity, as if somehow he is entitled to
speak to Shylock in such a way—even when he is in the situation of disadvantage and in need of Shylock’s help.
(Later in the conversation Antonio continues his stance by saying, I am as like to call thee so again, to spit on thee
again, to spurn thee, too. [126-27]) Shylock never speaks to Antonio in this way as he does not feel the same kind
of entitlement or superiority as does Antonio. Even later, when the tables turn and Shylock has full power over
Antonio, he does not attack him with words, nor does he use any disparaging terms. He only refers back to what
Antonio has called him, thou called’st me dog, yet he does not attack Antonio nor call him a dog. What Shylock does
when in a position of power, rather than attack and abuse, is to retreat, to refuse Antonio the right to speak
[3.3.12;13;17]. [See Additional Notes, 1.3.99]
50. / O, how these lies are wrapped in good appearance. / Oh what a good appearance falsehood wears!
51. These lines could be added to reveal Antonio’s discomfort at being in the presence of a usurer—and tangentially
show that his hatred is toward the vile practice of usurers, not Jews (otherwise the line might have read: ‘Could ye
not find a one but this vile Jew?’)
To more forcefully show Antonio’s position, and specifically show that his hatred against Shylock is in regard to
his practice of usury and not his Jewishness, Antonio could praise the Jews while pointing out that Shylock’s actions
are at odds with those of his own people. Thus, the following lines could be added instead:
+Now here is one who serves his own interest,
+And thus befouls the honor of his own people. , / And fouls the righteousness of his own people
But hear° me, signor—46 {note}
—Antonio Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness°47 / that cites the holy books
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly° apple48 rotten at the heart.° / shiny // to the core
O, what a godly° outside falsehood hath! 49 50 {goodly} / tempting
+ [aside] Of all the men in Venice, good Bassanio,,
+Could ye not find a one but this vile usurer? , 51
Three thousand ducats. ‘Tis a good round sum.
Three months from twelve; now,° let me see the rate. . . . {then}
Well, Shylock, shall we be indebted° to you? {beholding} / beholden
Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you berated° me, {have rated}
About my monies° and my usances— / business
Yet° I have borne it with a patient shrug, {still} > always
52. {For suff’rance is the badge of all our tribe}
suff’rance: forbearance, patient endurance (of abuse), long-suffering.
the badge of our tribe: refers to the distinguishing trait of Jews which is their ability to endure the hardship
piled upon them by Christian oppression. It could also refer to the badge, a distinguishing yellow ‘O,’ that Venetian
Jews were compelled to wear. In 1.3, the term tribe, designating the nation of Jews, is used by Shylock three times:
cursèd be my tribe [1.3.48]; a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe [1.3.54]; sufferance is the badge of our tribe [1.3.107].
The term, however is misplaced and it is unlikely that a Jew would refer to the nation of Jew by that term.
53. misbeliever: infidel; one who believes in a mistaken God or path to salvation—as opposed to a ‘disbeliever’
which refers to one who has no belief in God.
54. cut-throat: one who cuts the throat of others. The terms would refer to the usurer who cuts the throat of, or
kills, the livelihood of others—and is therefore likened to a murderer.
55. {Go to, then; you come to me and you say}
go to: an expression of annoyance and disbelief which, in extreme cases, could mean ‘go to hell’ or ‘get lost.’ It
could be more vaguely, and less forcefully, expressed as: ‘come on now,’ ‘you must be kidding,’ or ‘what’s up with
that?’ The forceful expression of ‘go to hell’ (or ‘get lost’) serves to prompt Antonio into anger, into a storm—which
works to Shylock’s advantage—whereas ‘go to, then’ ‘come on now,’ is less prompting in its effect. ‘Spit on
that’—which means to reject something—relates to Antonio’s action of spitting on Shylock (which Shylock cites
later in his complaint).
56. {Over your threshold, monies is your suit.} / Outside your house; now money is your suit.
57. {in a bondman’s key}
bondman’s key: sounding like, with the voice of, in the feeble tone of a serf or servant (bondman).
58. / With a gentle breath, and a humble whisper
For sufferance is the badge° of all my people.° 52 / mark, sign > hallmark {tribe}
You call me misbeliever,53 cut-throat,54 dog,
And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Well then,° it now appears you need my help— / Well, well
To hell with that!° 55 You come to me and say: / Well spit on that
‘Shylock, we wish for° monies.’° You say so— {would have} / need some
You that did void your spit° upon my beard° {rheum} // face
And kick me as you’d spurn a worthless dog° {stranger cur} / ling’ring dog
Out from your doorway.° Now you ask for money: 56 {over your threshold}
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 / dog / mutt
Shall I bend low, and in a servant’s voice,° 57 / lowly tone
With bated breath and whispering° humbleness, 58 / whimpering
Say this: ‘Fair° sir, you spat on me on Wednesday last— / kind
You spurned me such a day. Another time
You called me ‘dog’—and for these courtesies
I’ll lend you thus much monies’?
I am as like° to call thee so again, / And I am wont
59. Antonio’s likely response, being that he is in need of Shylock’s help, is to apologize, pay Shylock the lip-service
he desires. But Antonio refuses to acknowledge his mistreatment of Shylock or apologize for it—even though such
an apology would better his chances to help Bassanio. Antonio is willing to give up his life for Bassanio, but he is
not willing to treat Shylock as an equal nor approve of any manner of usury or usurer.
As part of a staging, Bassanio could intervene (for his own benefit, to insure that the loan is not
jeopardized) and calm Antonio down.
60. Optional lines to add:
+And every usurer as well! You beguile° / deceive
And cozen men of their rightful possessions / out of their livelihood
Leaving them hapless° and in total ruin. / stricken / helpless
You call this ‘thrift,’ though it be none but theft.°, / I say it is thievery
+Your baneful°practice of usury affronts / harmful / sinful / wretched
All that is righteous in the eyes of God.,
These lines could be added here to explain Antonio’s loathsome attitude toward usury (which usually
involves trickery and deceit more so than simply loaning money which carries interest). Antonio’s attitude toward
usury was already made know in the revised opening lines and would not be necessary here (unless the production
wanted to emphasize this point).
This passage indicates the true grievance Antonio has against Shylock—which involves his ruinous
practice of usury, not his Jewishness. However, Shylock is quick to implicate Antonio’s hatred as being that against
Jews (as opposed to a usurers), saying: ‘He hates our sacred nation’[1.3.45]. Obviously Shylock is mistaken in this
regard. Usury was seen as an ‘ungodly’ practice, founded upon deception and exploitation, which often led to the
loss of all one’s wealth and property—and that is why the good Antonio was so adamantly set against it. [See
Additional Notes, 1.3.127]
61. {As to thy friends, for when did friendship take | A breed for barren metal of his friend?}
breed: offspring. Charging interest on a loan (i.e., making money from money, producing ‘offspring’ from
barren metal) was viewed as unnatural (and going against divine law); for money, made out of metal, cannot breed
and multiply (its own kind) like a living thing. Jews, at the time, could not own property and loaning of money, with
interest, was one of the few ways they could earn a profit. Some argue that the charging of a full seven days of
interest (per week) went against the laws of the Sabbath since one’s money was ‘working’ and ‘creating’ on the day
when man was commanded to rest.
62. / —for when did friendship breed | Barren metal +as ‘twere a living thing? | Such a perversion goes against
/ —for when did friendship charge | Interest on barren metal +as if it were | The offspring of a living creature. ‘Tis
| A perversion which fouls divine law., / frustrates / offends
63. {Why look you how you storm} / Why how you storm
The line, as it appears in Q1, is somewhat awkward, as it repeats the term you twice, and contains 6 + 6
iambs (instead of 4 + 6). Both suggest some kind of error in the text or typesetting. The emended contains a
singular reference to you, and is made to fit the standard meter of 5 iambs (instead of 6).
64. {And take no doit | Of usance for my monies}
/ And take no drop | Of profit° for my monies / interest
65. What does it mean: ‘you’ll not hear me’? If could mean: and you will not hear my offer, my proposal (for the
loan). More deeply, it could mean: and you will not hear me, you will not accept me as a person, as an equal, as a
friend. Antonio never ‘sees’ or ‘hears’ Shylock as a person; likewise, when Shylock has power over Antonio, he
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee, too. 59 60
If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not° / don’t lend it
As to thy friend—for when did friendship make° {take}
Profit° on barren metal,61 +breeding it° / Interest //as if it
As if° the offspring of a living creature?, 62 / Just like / would / ‘twere
Nay,° lend it rather to thine enemy {But}
Who, if he breaks, thou may’st with better° face / sterner / rigid
Exact° the penalty. / Demand
—Shylock Look how you storm! 63
I would be friends with you and have your love,° / favor / grace
Forget the shames that you have stained me with,
Supply your present wants, and take no drop° {no doit} / no hint
Of interest° for my monies 64 —and you’ll not hear me. 65 {usance} / profit
refuses to hear him: [Ant: I pray thee, hear me speak. Shy: I’ll have my bond: I will not hear thee speak. 3.3.11-12]
[See Additional Notes, 1.3.137]
66. {This is kind I offer}:
kind: a) kindness, benevolence, b) kinship, friendship, c) something natural (as opposed to something
‘unnatural’—which is Antonio’s objection to charging interest on a loan, which allows barren metal to produce
‘offspring’ of metal.
What is Shylock offering? “This is kind I offer—I am offering to loan you the money on your terms, in
kind (likeness) with your sentiments, and to loan you money (as would a friend) without charging interest. I am
going to offer you that, but you storm and interrupt me, and not even allow me to make such an offer—since you are
assuming that I am your enemy, and not your friend, and that I am going to charge you interest. Now, I am offering
to loan you this money as a friend, without interest, but you will not hear me, you will not allow me to speak.” [See
Additional Notes, 1.3.138]
67. / This is kindness!
Here Bassanio is confirming that such an offer (as this point—without having yet heard the grotesque terms of the
bond) is kind. Some productions present the care-free Bassanio as a skeptic and have him pose the line as a cynical
question or remark.
68. Shylock is here building upon Bassanio’s interpretation of the, ‘kind,’ to mean kindness, even though Shylock
may have intended the term to mean, ‘kinship.’
69. {seal me there | Your single bond} / Your fullest guarantee
single bond: implies a bond that Antonio would singularly guarantee; an unconditional bond.
70. / and, in light-hearted fun
71. / Be such that I may have an equal pound
72. [See Additional Notes, 1.3.148a]
73. This grotesque term closely follows that found in Il Perecone: una libra di carne d’addosso di qualunque luogo
e’ volesse (a pound of flesh from whatever place you wish).
How does Shylock (or the Jew in Il Perecone, or in The Ballad of Gernutus) come to nominate this term of
a pound of flesh?—‘to be cut off and taken from what part of your body pleaseth me.’ And how/why does the
condition come to change?—and come to read, ‘nearest his heart’? {Ay, his breast, | So says the bond, doth it not
noble judge? | ‘Nearest his heart,’ those are the very words. [4.1.249-251]} [See Additional Notes, 1.3.148b]
74. There is likely to be some emotional reaction (on the part of Bassanio) to such a grotesque, alien, and bizarre
condition—especially one that puts Antonio’s life in danger. Hence, to make known this sentiment, two lines have
been added.
75. / These terms are beastly and bizarre What dwells | In a man’s heart to contrive° such a thing?
/ These terms are bizarre and ludicrous. | Ne’er have I heard a thing so ill-conceived.
This is kind I offer. 66
—Bassanio This were° kindness. 67 / is / would be / is
This kindness 68 will I show:
Go with me to a notary, seal me there
Your guarantee,69 and, in a merry sport,° 70 / jest / game
If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Expressed° in the condition, let the forfeit / Set forth
Be designated as an equal pound 71 {Be nominated for} / Be thereby namèd for
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
From° what part of your body pleaseth me.° 72 73 {In} {It pleaseth me}
+—Bassanio 74
This is more beastly than bizarre. Ne’er have
I heard of terms so odd and ill-conceived. ,75
76. {I’ll rather dwell in my necessity} / I’d rather suffer in my present needs
77. {break his day}: miss his payment when it is due (on such and such a day)
78. {Is not so estimable, profitable neither}
/ Has neither worth nor can it bring a profit / Brings neither value nor the same profit / Has but no worth;
one cannot even sell it
79. This argument is, of course, specious. Shylock argues that the pound of flesh has no value—so why would he
take it? Yet, the value gained by taking of a pound of Antonio’s flesh, is in killing Antonio. So, Shylock should
rightfully say, ‘What would I gain from taking the forfeiture, and thereby killing Antonio?’
80. Shylock may be somewhat sincere in what he says here—but the notion of buying Antonio’s friendship, rather
than gaining in through natural means, is misplaced. Below all this talk, however, we sense Shylock’s deceitfulness
and we see him using the ploy of a usurer to somehow entrap Antonio; Shylock himself revealed his intentions when
he expressed a deep desire to ‘catch Antonio upon the hip,’ i.e., gain an advantage over him. Hence, we know that
Shylock has a hidden agenda—to put Antonio at a disadvantage. So, what is Shylock trying to accomplish by having
Antonio sign this bond? The possibility that Antonio would default on the bond is too remote to be part of a viable
plan (and, besides, Shylock is not a gambling man). Why would Shylock hold up 3000 ducats (which could
command a good profit otherwise invested) on something so remote. It is more likely that having Antonio sign such
a bond—with such grotesque and unflattering terms—is Shylock’s agenda, for such a bond debases Antonio and
brings Shylock to an equal or superior status with Antonio (in Shylock’s mind). [See footnote for 1.3.148]
81. {And, for my love, I pray you wrong me not}
/ I pray, don’t wrong me with an evil motive / Please don’t assign to me an evil motive
for my love: for this act of kindness
wrong me not: / blame me not / don’t blame me / > don’t attribute or assign to me some wrong
This last part of Shylock’s speech (or argument) is a clear example of the ‘deceptive art’ employed by usurers:
first he says that a pound of human flesh is worthless, and so he would have no reason to take it; then he contends
I have no doubts;° I’ll seal° to such a bond, {Content in faith} // sign
And say there is much kindness in the Jew.
You shall° not seal to such a bond for me; / must
I’d rather dwell within° my present needs.° 76 / suffer in // in mine own neediness
Why, fear not, man, I will not forfeit it.
Within these two months—that’s a month before
This bond expires—I do expect return° / a profit
Of thrice three times the value of this bond.
O father Abram, how these Christians are:
Their own hard dealings teach them to suspect° / mistrust > be suspicious of
The thoughts of others! [to Bassanio] Pray you, tell me this:
If he should break his day° 77 what should I gain / If he can’t pay on time
By the exaction of° the forfeiture? / By my demanding of
A pound of man’s flesh, taken from a man,
Has neither worth nor can afford° a profit 78 / command
As° flesh of mutton, cow, or goat.79 I say, / Like
To buy his favour, I extend this friendship: 80
If he will take it, so; if not, adieu.
And for this gesture, for this act of kindness,
I pray you, wrong me not with evil motives. 81 82
that he is acting out of love and kindness—and so much so that he does not want his actions to be misinterpreted as
harmful—yet the exact opposite is true: the bond of a pound of flesh (which is humiliating) is worth a lot to Shylock,
and his real intention is not motivated by love (as contended) but by hatred (as clearly revealed by Shylock earlier in
the scene.) [38-49].
82. / If he will take it, so be it; if not, | Adieu. And for this kind and friendly gesture, | I pray, don’t wrong me with
an evil motive.
83. {And I will go and purse the ducats straight}
/ And I’ll go straightaway to purse the ducats,
Previously Shylock stated that he would have to get the ducats from Tubal [55]; here he says that he has the
ducats and will get them straightaway. Obviously his previous mention of needing to get the ducats from Tubal was
part of a rouse.
84. fearful guard: / terribly poor guard / inept hands
The implication here is that Shylock’s inept servant (Launcelet) is not guarding the house, that he is asleep
on the job; but more than that Shylock is going to check on the ‘unthrifty’ Launcelet to make sure he is not wasting
things (and/or eating too much).
85. {Of an unthrifty knave} / Of a do-nothing knave / Of an e’er wasteful knave
unthrifty: wasteful, unproductive, unprofitable, good for nothing; lazy
The term thrift, as is most often used, refers to success and profit. To a lesser degree it means, as it does today,
one who is frugal and careful about his spending. Thus, an unthrifty knave would refer to someone who is
unprofitable, someone who wastes one’s profit.
Bass: ‘I have a mind presages me such thrift’ [1.1.175]; Shy: ‘On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift’
[1.3.47]; Shy: And thrift is blessing if men steal it not’ [1.3.87]. Shy: ‘Fast bind, fast find— | A proverb never stale in
a thrifty mind.’ [2.5.53-54]
knave: fool, imbecile
It is doubtful that Shylock would be commenting to Antonio and Bassanio about his ‘unthrifty knave’ (Launcelet)
nor would Shylock have any real reason to check on his house (left in ‘fearful guard.’) This line comes, however, as
an unflattering introduction to Shylock’s foolish servant, Launcelet, so that when the knave first appears in 2.2 the
audience will have some sense of who he is.
86. By all conceivable reckoning, Shylock has agreed to loan Antonio a substantial sum of money, 3000 ducats,
interest-free, for three months. This money would have been more profitably used by Shylock if he loaned it out to
another party. In this transaction he makes no profit, and the odds that Antonio will break his day (not repay the loan
on time) is next to none. So what is Shylock’s motivation in making this merry bond? What advantage does he
Yes, Shylock, I will seal unto this bond.
Then meet me forthwith° at the notary’s, / right away
Give him direction° for this merry bond; / instructions
And straightaway I’ll go to purse° the ducats, 83 / go collect
See to° my house—left in the bumbling care° 84 / Check on {fearful guard}
Of an unthrifty knave 85—and soon thereafter,° {and presently} / and right away
I’ll be with you.
Exit Shylock
—Antonio Hurry thee,° gentle Jew. {Hie thee} / Go with speed
The Hebrew will turn Christian—he grows kind. 86
87. {I like not fair terms and a villain’s mind}
fair . . . villain: these terms are contrasted, with fair referring to the fairness of Christian values and villain referring
to a Jew. [See Additional Notes, 1.3.176]
88. Possible addition of one line:
I like not fair terms from a villain’s mind / I like not straight terms from a crooked mind.
+Nor have I comfort in the terms we find. ,
The virtue of this added line (though it weakens the overall rhyme) would be to further express Bassanio’s
uneasiness. Bassanio’s scepticism concerning Shylock’s villainy could alternatively be expressed as a concern:
Ant: The Hebrew turns Christian, ‘tis what we find.
Bass: I have no comfort in these terms so kind.
89. / Come now, in this there can be no concern,
A month before the day my ships return.
I like not fair terms from° a villain’s mind. 87 88 {and} / in
Come on, in this there can be no dismay,
My ships come home a month before the day. 89
1. This is a short, filler scene, which helps alternate the action between Venice and Belmont. In deference to time,
many productions delete this scene or merge elements of it with Morocco’s next appearance in 2.7.
2. / Do not disfavor me for my complexion
my complexion: my complexion which is dark. A light complexion was held (be Europeans) to be fair or
beautiful, whereas a dark complexion was thought to be attractive (and the color of the devil). To fit the meter,
complexion is pronounced with four syllables: comPLEXeeON
3. / . . . bestowed by the sun
4. {To whom I am a neighbor and near bred.}
/ Near which I live and near where I was bred / Which all my kin, bred near its heat, do wear.
5. / Bring me a fair creature born in the north / Bring me a man with light and frosty skin,
6. / Who comes from cold and ever-dark regions. / One who was born in the northernmost region
7. {Where Phoebus’s fire scarce thaws the icicles}
Phoebus’s fire: the sun’s heat. Phoebus was god of the sun.
8. {And let us make incision for your love}
9. / Has wrought great fear in the hearts of the valiant / Has prompted many heros to run in fright.
10. / By my love, I swear, it too has been loved
11. {best-regarded} / most respected / most revered
12. It seems the whole of Morocco’s plea is designed to overcome or appease the sure prejudice (and dislike of
those with dark complexions) which he knows Portia possesses. Even though Portia’s opinion of him has no effect
on the outcome of his drawing, he may be testing her, to see if she likes him—for what is the purpose of winning a
woman who cannot stand your sight? Portia’s positive response to Morocco’s plea—which is polite to the point of
being misleading—leads Morocco to believe that she accepts (and even likes) his dark complexion. Thus, with this
‘OK’ he proceeds with his choice.
13. We see that Morocco’s bases himself upon the virtue of his strength and physical attributes. His first reference
is to his outer appearance; thereafter all his references are to his strength and physical prowess: swearing upon his
sword (that slew great rulers and won three battles), he tells how he would outstare and outbrave the most daring
men, defy bears and lions; then he likens himself to Hercules, the strongest man on earth. In this context (dependent
solely upon physical prowess) he does not comprehend the ‘skill’ involved in the lottery and sees it in terms of pure
ACT TWO - Scene One 1 2.1.0 Xxx
Portia’s house in Belmont.
A flourish of cornets. Enter the Prince from Morocco (a dark-skinned Moor dressed in
white), and three or four followers (of similar complexion) with Portia, Nerissa, and
Mislike° me not for my complexion;° 2 / Dislike
This darkened raiment° of the burnished° sun3 {shadowed livery} // burning
Is worn by all who breed° so near° its fire. 4 / who live // beneath
Bring me a man whose skin is light and fair, 5
Born° from the coldest regions of the north, 6
Where the sun’s heat° can scarce thaw an icicle,° 7 / rays / fire // scarcely thaw the ice
And let us make a cut,° at love’s behest, 8 / cut our skin // request
To prove whose blood is reddest—his or mine.
I tell thee, lady,° this aspect° of mine / I say, dear lady // feature
Has brought much fear to brave and valiant men. 9
And by my love, I swear, it too was loved 10
By the most-honored11 virgins of our clime.° / region / climate
I would not change this dark and noble hue,
Except to steal° your thoughts, my gentle queen. 12 13 / know 14
chance, like the roll of a dice.
In terms of the three suitors, Morocco represents the physical dimension and its superior position (in terms
of strength over others). This is the exterior or outermost garment; thus, according to his own disposition, he
chooses the gold chest. Arragon, represents the mind and its superior position (in terms of intellect). This is still
exterior to the true essence or the heart of a man, but more internal than the body. Accordingly, he chooses the silver
casket, which represents the shine of the mind. Bassanio, represents the heart, the innermost being of a man—and
that which is not swayed by outer show—and, accordingly, chooses the lead. Bassanio’s speech, however, belies the
true sentiment of the heart; it appears critical, riddled with discordant images, and it makes not one reference to
Portia (or her attributes) which does not seem consistent with a true-hearted hero. Morocco is true to himself, and
chooses accordingly; Aragon is true to himself, and chooses accordingly. With Bassanio, however, these seems to be
a mismatch between himself (and what we know of him) and his outer presentation (presenting himself as a rich man)
and his choosing the lead casket (and not being prompted by outer show). [See Additional Notes, 3.2.73]
14. to steal your thoughts: to gain access to, or win. your thoughts; to ‘win your affection,’ to have you think highly
of me. (In other words, I would give up my dark appearance, which is my dearest possession, to win your affection).
A literal interpretation might be that Morocco wants to steal Portia’s thoughts (to know what she is thinking) so he
could know which casket to choose—but this is not in keeping with his noble character.
15. soley: The word is somewhat askew in this context. In normal usage, this would read, “I am not exclusively led,”
but in this context would better read, “I am not at all led” in terms of choice. Nothing has a bearing on Portia’s
choice (of a husband) so she is here referring to her personal choice, her affection.
16. {By nice direction of}
/ By that which oft’ persuades / By sights that often sway / By what is pleasing to / By sights that oft’ allure / By
that which captivates / By every fancy of
nice direction: attraction toward what is nice. It is surmised by Morocco that Portia (being a maiden) has the
same sense of beauty as a maiden—which is usually directed toward (in the nice or pleasant direction of) those who
are light-skinned (as opposed to Morocco, who is dark-skinned). However, Portia tells Morocco that she is not
solely swayed by outer appearance (which he assumes to mean that his looks are acceptable to her). Then she refutes
all relevance to this line by adding a caveat: that her opinion bears no value in terms of her choice, nor does it have
any bearing on the outcome of the lottery. Morocco, however, is not so much concerned with winning Portia as a
prize but wants to know (before he chooses) if she finds him attractive—so that if he does wins her, he will have a
wife who loves him (and not someone who despises the way he looks). Clearly Portia dislikes the way he looks—his
dark skin being in such contrast to her light skin—but she does not reveal this. She allows Morocco to interpret her
leading (yet not definitive) remarks in the way which most suits him.
17. {Besides, the lott’ry of my destiny}
/ Besides, the lott’ry of my father’s will / Besides, the lottery that deems my fate
18. / Prevents me from effecting mine own choice / Prevents me from a voluntary choosing / Denies me from the
right of mine own choice
19. {And hedged me by his wit to yield myself}
hedged: hedged me in, restricted me, bound me (by oath)
his wit: his wisdom, his ingenuity (by which this lottery was devised)
to yield myself: to give myself as wife (in way of marriage)—but not necessarily give in way of love
20. {His wife who wins me by that means I told you} / As wife to he who chooses the right casket / As wife who
wins me by the means described
21. {Yourself, renownéd prince, then stood as fair} / Then you, renownéd prince, would stand as fair
then stood as fair: a) stood as favored, worthy; occupied an equally favorable position b) were as appealing,
attractive, c) stood as fair a chance
Portia tells Morocco that he stands as fair (a chance) as any suitor she has looked upon (for her affection).
Morocco ingenuously assumes this as a high complement. What Portia does not tell Morocco is that she has found
all the previous suitors to be deplorable—Morocco, looking like a devil to her, stands equal to the German ‘sponge,’
the French ‘no man,’ the dreadfully sad Count, the self-promoting Neopolitan, and the ill-suited Englishman. In the
instance where fair refers to Morocco’s equal chances of winning her, she is not saying anything either: she is saying
In terms of choice, I am not solely led 15
By that which gratifies° a maiden’s eye. 16 / By what is pleasing to
Besides the contest rendered° by my father 17 / devised / designed
Bars me the right° of voluntary choosing. 18 / Prevents my right
But if my father had not scanted° me, / thwarted / shorted
And hedged° me by his wit° to yield° myself, 19 / bound / forced // will /// give
As wife, to he who chooses° the right casket 20 / whom so chooses / whom doth choose
Then you great prince, would stand as fair a chance 21
that Morocco has as fair (equal) a chance of winning her (and her affection) as any suitor she has thus far looked
22. scimitar: a curved, single-edged sword. In a possible staging, Morocco could draw and flourish his scimitar
(much to the surprise of Portia’s attendants). This would make clear the reference his sword (for those who are not
familiar with the term scimitar.). A blander, yet more recognizable term for scimitar could be Arab sword, faithful
sword, constant sword, etc.
23. {That won three fields of Sultan Suleiman} / That won three battles against Suleiman.
24. {Outbrave the heart most daring on the earth}
25. / And grab the prey from a hungry lion
26. {If Hercules and Lichas play at dice}
Lichas: Hercules’s (somewhat low-minded) servant. Lichas was thrown into the sea by Hercules after he
(Lichas) unwitting brought Hercules a poisoned shirt which killed him (Hercules).
27. / A throw by chance / A random throw / A chancéd toss
28. {So is Alicides beaten by his rage}
Alicides: Hercules
rage: wanton behavior, wild folly, anger. Although Hercules was known to display rage, the notion of him being
defeated by his rage—with respect to the chance drawing of the lottery—does not really fit. Pope emends rage with
page, which is similar to the emendation of rogue (derived from roge.) Both apply to a servant of Hercules, one who
is weaker and a lesser man. Hence, the intended meaning would be that Hercules is beaten by his page or his
rogue— which is possible when the competition is based upon a pure chance throw of the dice, rather than skill.
29. / And so may I, led forth by blinded° luck / simple
30. Add line: +And not the prowess held by mine own hand , +And not the skillful means of mine own hand° , /
endeavors / own effort
31. / And I, now being led by blind fortune, | May miss the prize that lesser ones may win.
32. / And either vacate all your rights to choose
As any comer° I have looked on yet° / suitor // I’ve yet looked upon
For my affection.° / To win my favor
—Morocco Even for that I thank you.
Therefore, I pray you, lead me to the caskets
To try my fortune. By this scimitar 22 / Arab(ian) sword
That slew a Sultan° and a Persian Prince, {Sophy} / Emp’ror / great Shah
That thrice defeated the great Suleiman,° 23 / the Sultan of Turkey
I would o’er-stare the sternest° eyes that look, / harshest
Outbrave the boldest heart that e’er did beat;24
Pluck° the young suckling cubs from the she-bear, / Snatch / grab
Yea, mock° the lion when it° roars for prey, 25 / Defy {he}
To win thee, lady. But alas the while,
If Hercules and his servant play dice, 26
The hand of chance27 decides the better man° / determines the victor / winner
Which may grant victory° to the weaker hand: / fortune / triumph
So is the hero beaten° by his page. 28 {bested}
And so may I, blind fortune° leading me, 29 30 / with mere chance
Miss that which one of lesser worth° attains— 31 {one unworthier may}
And die with° grieving. / from
—Portia You must take your chance,°
And either not attempt to chose at all, 32
Or swear before you choose,° if you choose wrong, / beforehand, that
33. {Never to speak to lady afterward} / Ne’er thereafter to propose to a lady / Never to ask a woman after that
34. / I do accept—now bring me to the caskets / I will accept—bring me unto the caskets
35. / First, make you oath at the chapel. This evening / Make first your solemn vow. Then, after dinner,
To ne’er thereafter ° take a lady’s hand 33 / propose to a lady
By° way of marriage. Therefore, be advised.° {In} / ponder well / be so warned
I need not.° Come, bring me unto my chance.°34 {Nor will not} // the caskets / my choice
First forward to° the altar,° +there to take / go ye to / go unto {temple} / chapel
The solemn oath required., After dinner 35
Your hazard shall be made.
—Morocco Good fortune then,
To make me° blest or curséd’st among men. / To be most
Flourish of cornets. Exeunt
________________________________________________ [Optional Added Scene]
ACT Two, Scene One, A 2.1A
Venice. Enter Shylock and Tubal
Three thousand ducats, with no profit—and to Antonio?
Indeed he loathes me, my means, my presence. He spits upon my face; he calls me usurer, a cutthroat,
a dog. And why? Because I loan money to those who need it. Well, now Antonio is the
one who needs it.
But you are tying up so many ducats?
Let him revile me at the mart. Let him peddle his Christian virtue. Then, how will I respond? I
will politely ask: ‘Antonio, did you not once borrow money from me? Did you not need the
money which I had? Did I not loan you money, gratis, as a friend, which you requested of me?’
What then could he say to that? Would he open his mouth to speak? Would he spit on me
again? Nay. The moment Antonio seals this bond we are equals. He will never again have
anything over me.
And what will come if he forfeits? What then?
Nay, nay, Antonio will not forfeit. Nay, there is no chance that Antonio will forfeit. The only
thing he will forfeit is his Christian arrogance—and he will forfeit that the moment he seals unto
my bond.
But why a pound of flesh? Such terms are strange and most unseemly?
What use are gold and ducats to a dog? Would not a dog prefer a pound of flesh over a case
of ducats? Well then, if he would see me as a dog, then give me something of value—a
pound of flesh.
You are no dog, ay, Shylock take the gold.,
I offered friendship—yet he refused. I offered love, and to forgive his years of abuse—yet he
refused. He would not even hear me. All he offered in kind was to spit on my face and call me
‘dog’ once again. I offered—yet he refused. He wanted to be my enemy, for me to loan him
money on those terms. So you ask, ‘why a pound of flesh? Why something so grotesque?’ I
say, if nothing else then to humiliate him—to debase him as he has debased me. Let him call me
usurer; I will call him harlot.° He has put up his body for money, my money—I bought it. Now
tell me, what could the good Christian say to that?
harlot: / a whore
1. Launcelet’s soliloquy, which provides a comic interlude, may have more significance than immediately realized.
This is the only time a character appears alone on stage (apart from the two exiting lines delivered by Jessica in
2.6.55-6). This is not significant in itself but may echo the larger issue of Shylock’s internal battle with his own
conscience (and his own fiend) with respect to his actions against Antonio. Shylock, tries to resolve his inner turmoil
by making an oath to God that he will have his bond even though his conscience and Jewish sense of righteousness
bids him to do otherwise. Ironically, Shylock makes his oath to God so that he may have the resolver to support the
fiend and go against his conscience. Thus, in the end, both Shylock and Launcelet give into their fiendish side.
Clearly this soliloquy can be seen as a parody on the grand confrontations of the human soul—perhaps
suggesting that no matter what we plan on doing, no matter what we decide, God’s plans are ultimately actuated.
Here we see Launcelet musing over what appears to be a minor decision in the scheme of things and more than likely
moot: no matter what Launcelet decides, he can only ‘go’ if Shylock allows him to go. The moment Launcelet
decides to run (and give into the fiend) he collides with his father, his higher sense of conscience. [See Additional
Notes: 2.2.1]
2. {Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from this Jew my master}
/ will not allow me to run / will serve me jif it allows mek to run / will try an prevent my running
certainly: Launcelet opens the scene with the word, certainly, which tells us that he is certain about his own
uncertainty. Such an ironic certainty is also had by Shylock.
serve: a) permit, allow, b) prevent, not permit, not allow, ‘say nothing against’ In the context of the following
monologue—where Launcelet’s conscience is bidding him to stay while the fiend at his elbow is telling him to
go—the term serve would more likely mean prevent than serve (or allow). (It could also be a error for sever—an
odd form meaning prevent or keep me from—but this is unlikely). Various explanations have been offered as to
what this line might mean, such as: ‘I’m sure I’ll feel guilty if I run from this Jew,’(Crowther); ‘I can run away from
my master the Jew with a clear conscience,’ (Durband); ‘although conscience speaks against it, he will show good
reason why he should go,’ (Brown).
3. / by my good side
4. / get them going
5. {Via!} / Get ye gone!
via: Italian for ‘away’
6. / let bravery enter your mind
7. my conscience, hanging about the neck of my heart: an anatomical mix-up, signifying timidity, ‘a clinging,
affectionate attitude,’ or perhaps a reference to ‘being all chocked up.’
8. honest: in the sense one who is faithful, one who keeps his marriage vows of fidelity.
9. {for indeed my father did something smack, something grow to, he had a kind of taste—well . . . }
/ did something which smacked of the lewd, something gross / did something smack, something gross, it left a bad
taste (in the mouth)—well . . .
smack: pertaining to vice, lecherous, lewd. It also means a) to kiss noisily (verb); b) flavor or trait (noun);
grow to: an expression that generally referred to burnt milk which gets stuck to the bottom of a pan or to that
which has the taste of burnt milk—and by extension it could mean something which has been ruined and/or which
has a bad taste; also something sticky (like milk sticking to the bottom of a pot)—which might carry a lewd reference
to semen. The term could be rendered as: something sticky; something gross (which sounds like grow to);
ACT TWO - Scene Two 2.2.0 xxx
Venice. Enter Launcelet Gobbo, the clown, alone. 1
Certainly my conscience will not permit me to run from this Jew, my master.2 The fiend at mine
elbow 3 tempts me, saying, ‘Gobbo, Launcelet Gobbo, good Launcelet,’ or ‘good Gobbo,’ or
‘good Launcelet Gobbo’—‘use your legs, take the start,4 run away.’ My conscience says, ‘No,
take heed, honorable° Launcelet; take heed honest Gobbo,’—or as aforesaid, ‘honorable
Launcelet Gobbo’—‘do not run; scorn running° with thy heels.’ Well the most courageous fiend
bids me pack° my things. ‘Get going!’5 says the fiend. ‘Away!’ says the fiend. ‘For the sake of
heaven,°’ says the fiend, ‘rouse up a brave mind 6 —and run.’ Well, my conscience, hanging
about the neck of my heart,7 says very wisely to me, ‘My honest friend Launcelet’— being an
honest 8 man’s son, or rather, an honest woman’s son—for indeed my father did something lewd,
something sticky, he had a kind of taste +for women who would . . . ,9—well, my conscience
something which leaves a bad taste; something of bad taste (which means tasting bad and of poor taste, lacking
judgment); rather unsavory; ruinous (as in a dish ruined by burning), etc. Some commentators hold the term to
mean, ‘to grow or get larger,’ implicating a male erection—but such an interpretation is a bit of a stretch and does
not really fit this context.
taste: a) inclination toward; b) enjoyment, relish in; c) funny smell about him; d) taste for woman
The three references in this line (smack, grow to, and taste) all suggest some kind of lechery and untoward sexual
conduct—all of which makes Launcelet the son of a not quite honest man.
10. {God bless the mark}
11. {saving your reverence} / pardon me for saying
12. The line found in the original (“Certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnation; and in my conscience—“) is
uncertain, misplaced, and was likely inserted into the text as an afterthought (by someone other than the Author). In
addition, this unlikely addition weakens (and contradicts) the word play found previous line—which states that the
Jew is a kind of devil and the fiend is the devil himself. The repetition of the word ‘certainly,’ which begins the
soliloquy is also suspect. The term, incarnation is a poor pun for incarnate. All said, the line is weak and suspect
and therefore it has been deleted.
13. {my conscience is but a kind of hard conscience to offer to counsel me to stay with the Jew}
14. will not permit: {will serve} / will not allow honorable: {honest} scorn running: scorn such running
bids me pack: urges me to pack for the sake of heavens: {for the heavens} / for heaven’s sake
command: {commandment}
15. Launcelet’s exit could be staged by his running into his gravel-blind father, who is just entering. His being
stopped by his father could be seen as a symbolic representation of his conscience (superego) stopping him, despite
his ‘final’ decision to follow the fiend’s counsel and run away.
This scene between Launcelet and his father takes up over 75 lines, and then involves Bassanio for another
50 lines, for a total of 125 lines [30-161] yet none of this moves the story. Thus, most productions edit down or even
delete this first portion of the scene. For instance, the entire interaction between Launcelet and his father could be
cut, with the scene opening at line 162. Thus the scene would open with Bassanio instructing Lorenzo (to get things
ready for his voyage) and where Gratziano enters a few lines later. Another way to edit the scene would be to
remove Old Gobbo altogether: such would include Launcelet’s opening monologue [1-30], then have Launcelet exit
the stage, running into one of Bassanio’s men (instead of Old Gobbo). With no actual father present, Launcelot
(unable to muster his own courage to speak directly to Bassanio) could invoke (and play the part of) an imaginary
father to help him; as such, we would see the same kind of split-personality he displayed in the opening of the scene.
[For such a line by line editing of this scene, see Additional Notes 2.2.29]
16. my true begotten father: a mix-up for, ‘my true begotten son.’ Launcelet was begotten by Old Gobbo not the
other way around. The phrase is backwards, yet we clearly understand this to mean that Old Gobbo is Launcelet’s
true father.
says, ‘Launcelet, budge not.’ ‘Budge,’ says the fiend. ‘Budge not,’ says my conscience.
‘Conscience,’ I say, ‘ you counsel well.’ ‘Fiend,’ I say, ‘ you counsel well.’ If I were ruled by
my conscience, I should stay with the Jew, my master, who—God forgive me for saying—10 is a
kind of devil. And, if I were to I run away from the Jew, I should be ruled by the fiend who, with
all due respect,11 is the devil himself.12 My conscience is but a kind of hard conscience which
counsels13 me to stay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more friendly counsel. O fiend, I will
run. My heels are at your command°—I will run. 14
Enter Old Gobbo, gravel-blind, with a basket 15
—Old Gobbo
Master young man, you, I pray you, which is the way to Master Jew’s?
—Launcelet [aside]
O heavens, this is my true-begotten father16 who, being more than sand-blind—high-gravel17.
sand-blind, high-gravel-blind: blindness comes in gradations and Launcelet makes up a some new terms: sand
blind is someone partially blind; gravel-blind is someone midway between sand-blind and stone-blind (total
blindness), high-gravel blind, is somewhere between gravel-blind and stone-blind, which means he can barely see at
18. {I will try confusions with him.}
confusions: Q2 renders this as conclusions which means ‘experiments’—‘I will try experimenting with him (to
see how he reacts.)’ Launcelet, however, seems more intent on playfully confusing his father.
19. Then!: {marry}: The term marry has the force of ‘verily,’ ‘indeed’ and by extension, ‘now listen carefully’ or
‘pay attention,’ etc.
20. {By God’s sonties} / By God’s little saints / Even with God’s favor / Even with God’s help / Even with the
blessings of God
sonties: a) little saints, b) sanctity, blessedness.
21. {Can you tell me whether one Launcelet that dwells with him dwells with him or not?}
/ Can you tell me whether one Launcelet, who is supposed to live with him, lives with him or not?
place: {way} hit: / find
22. {Your worship’s friend and Launcelet, sir.} / My worship, do you know my boy Launcelet, sir?
your worship: honorific title for someone of high standing
your worship’s friend: this could be interpreted as a polite rejection of the title of ‘master’ (when applied to
Launcelet), who is not a master. This resembles the previous line, where Old Gobbo rejects the term ‘master’ when
applied to Launcelet [‘No ‘master,’ sir, but a poor man’s son. [47].] Here, again, he makes the same correction so
that there is no confusion and to insure that the two parties are referring to the same Launcelet—who is not a master.
blind,17— knows me not. I will try confusing him.18
—Old Gobbo
Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is the way to Master Jew’s?
Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but at the next turning after that, turn left.
Then!—+pay careful attention,19 —at the very next turning, don’t turn at all but veer off
indirectly to the Jew’s house.
—Old Gobbo
By the saints of God20 ‘twill be a hard place° to hit.° Can you tell me whether one Launcelet,
who is supposed to live with him, still lives with him or no? 21
Talk you of young Master Launcelet? [aside] Watch me now—I will raise a few tears!° Talk you
of young Master Launcelet? a few tears: {the waters}
—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, in good health.° {well to live}
Well, let his father be what he will, we talk of young Master Launcelet.
—Old Gobbo
Is he your worship’s friend, my Launcelet, sir? 22
23. ergo: Latin term which means, ‘therefore,’ herein used by Launcelet to impress his father with his knowledge
Latin, and also to mock scholars who were wont to overuse the term.
24. {father}
25. {Sisters Three} The three old women of classical mythology who spin, measure, and cut the thread of a person’s
life, thus determining the length of one’s life span.
26. / who measure the length of a man’s life / who determine the length of one’s life
27. {Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post, a staff or a prop?}
cudgel: short branch, club
28. {Do you know me, father?}
29. Inversion of the proverb: ‘It’s a wise child who knows his own father.’
But I pray you, ergo, old man, ergo I beseech y 23 ou, talk you of young Master Launcelet?
—Old Gobbo
Of Launcelet, if it° please your mastership. {ant} / should it
Ergo Master Launcelet. Talk not of Master Launcelet, old man,24 for the young
gentleman—according to his fate and destiny, and various legends which include the three
sisters25—+who measure out and cut the thread of one’s life, 26—and such branches of
learning—is, indeed deceased; or, as you would say in plain terms, gone to heaven.
—Old Gobbo
Mother of God—forbid! The boy was +to be, the staff of my older years, my very prop.
Do I look like a short stick or a post to hold up a sagging hovel? Am I but a staff or a
prop?27—Do you not know me, father?28
—Old Gobbo
Alack the day, I know you not, young gentleman. But I pray you, tell me, is my boy—God rest
his soul—alive or dead?
Do you not know me father?
—Old Gobbo
Alack sir, I am all but blind.° I know you not. {I am sand-blind}
Nay, indeed, even if you had your eyes, you might still fail in knowing me. It is a wise father that
knows his own child.29 Well, old man, I will tell you news of your son. [he kneels] Give me
your blessing. Truth will come to light, just as a crime cannot be hidden for long. A man’s son
may +also hide, but in the end the truth will come out.° / be known
—Old Gobbo
30. / stop all the pretending
31. The action parallels of the same trick played on Isaac by Jacob and his mother (a story referenced by Shylock in
his first meeting with Antonio). In this story, Jacob substituted himself for Esau (Jacob’s older brother) in order to
receive his father’s blessings. Jacob, who was smooth-skinned, placed lamb wool over his face and hands—to ‘feel’
hairy like his brother. When his blind father touched his face, he believed that he was touching Esau (not Jacob) and
thereupon blessed Jacob and bequeathed to him all his land and possessions.
32. {Lord worshiped might he be} / What blessings the Lord has granted!
33. {set up my rest} / go for broke / risk everything / ‘go all in’
Set up my rest is a phrase used in the card game, primero, where a final wager is made and one bets (risks) all he
has. In the modern poker-style game of Texas Hold-em, this would be akin to going all in. Launcelet, speaking in
modern jargon might have said: ‘I decided to go all in and run away.’
Pray you, sir, stand up. I am sure you are not Launcelet, my boy.
Pray you, let’s have no more fooling about it,30 but give me your blessing: I am Launcelet, your
boy that was, your son that is, your child that shall be.
—Old Gobbo
I cannot think you are my son.
I know not what I shall think of that. But I am Launcelet, the Jew’s man, and I am sure Margery,
your wife, is my mother.
—Old Gobbo
Her name is Margery, indeed. I’ll be sworn, if thou be Launcelet, thou are mine own flesh and
Old Gobbo reaches out to feel Launcelet’s face
Launcelet offers the back of his head 31
All praise the Lord,32 what a beard hast thou got! Thou hast got more hair on thy chin than
Dobbin, my cart-horse, has on his tail.
It should seem, then, that Dobbin’s tail grows from long to short:° I am sure he had more hair on
his tail than I have on my face, when I last saw him. {backwards}
—Old Gobbo
Lord, how art thou changed! How dost thou and thy master get along?° I have brought him a
present. How ‘gree you now? {agree}
Well, well, but for mine own part, I have decided to risk it all33 and run away, so I will not rest
34. In Q1 the word play is on the two meanings of rest: ‘I have set up my rest (i.e., risk it all), in deciding to run
away, and I will not rest till I have run some ground.’ Alternatively, a play could be made on the word made (or
taken): ‘I’ve made (taken) my final stance, which is to run away, so I will not rest till I have made (taken) some
35. Add: +I provide him with comsummed° service and for this get but the lowest wages., Consummed, a slip for
consummate, but also with the implication that Launcelet eats a lot.
36. Add: +as he allows me no more than three meals a day.,
37. {You may tell every finger I have with my ribs}
The line is backwards, and should read: ‘You may tell every rib I have with your fingers.’ A more literal
rendering might be: ‘You may count every rib as if it were a finger.’
38. very: true \ veritable count: {tell} / recognize
39. A common staging is one where Launcelet spreads out his fingers on his own rib cage and then guides his
father’s hand to feels his fingers as if they were his exposed ribs.
40. {Give me your present } / Give your present on my behalf
41. {gives rare new liveries} / gives rare new outfits +to his servants, / gives embroidered costumes +to his workers, /
suits his workers with fine new costumes
42. Launcelet seems to be making some heroic claim of ‘making ground, or running to the far ends of the earth’ yet
in Venice, which is a series of island, his ‘end’ would come after a few hundred yards.
43. / What a stroke of luck!
44. In Q1, the line reads: {To him father, for I am a Jew if I serve the Jew any longer.}
for I am a Jew: for I am a villain
This appears as another ex post facto line added to the text—which is also evidenced in 24-25 and 160. As
expected, most of these corrupted (and Jew-disparaging) lines, are added toward the end of a passage, where they
can most easily be ‘slipped into’ the text (without much disruption). However, in virtually all cases, these
‘corrupted emendations’ appear misplaced, gratuitous, and orphaned from the rest of the passage—both in terms of
style and content.
45. Bassanio is busy preparing for his departure to Belmont, which is to take place later that night.
put the new uniforms to making: {put the liveries to making} refers to the uniforms (not yet made) which are
needed for the servants who will be attending Bassanio on his trip to Belmont.
and direct Gratziano: this also refers to Bassanio’s trip—Bassanio seeks to take Gratziano with him to
Belmont, even before Gratziano makes his request to go [2.2.170] [See Additional Notes, 2.2.113]
46. done quickly: {so hasted} at the lasted by: {at the farthest by} no later than direct: {desire} / please have
till I have run some ground. My master’s a 34 very° Jew. Give him a present?—rather give him a
noose!35 I am famished in his service;36 you may count° every rib I have with your fingers. 37 38
+Launcelet guides Old Gobbo’s fingers to the side of his chest;39 Old Gobbo’s fingers fall
down to Launcelet’s pot belly; Launcelet again guides Old Gobbo’s fingers to his ribs, and
they again fall to his belly. Launcelet retreats.,
Father, I am glad you are come. Give your present, for me,40 to one Master Bassanio, who indeed
fashions his servants with fine new uniforms. 41 If I serve not him, I will run as far as God has
made ground. 42
Enter Bassanio, with Leonardo and other followers
O rare fortune! 43 Here comes the man—to him, father, +give your gift to him., 44
—Bassanio [to one of his men]
You may do so, but let it be done quickly that supper be ready at the latest by° five o’clock. See
these letters delivered, put the new uniforms to making, and direct° Gratziano to come anon to
my lodging. 45 46
47. {Gramercy}: lit.: ‘grant mercy’; [God] grant [you] mercy
48. {are scarce cater-cousins}
scarce: (a) scarcely, hardly
cater-cousins: close friends, those who give (or cater) to each other like cousins
49. Error for fructify or certify.
50. Error for pertinent. Seems to be a blend between important and pertinent
Exit Servant
—Launcelet jpushing his fatherk
To him, father.
—Old Gobbo jbowingk
God bless your worship.
Many thanks. Would’st thou 47 want° with me? {aught}
—Old Gobbo
Here’s my son, sir, a poor boy—
—Launcelet jsteps forwardk
Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew’s man that would, sir, as my father shall specify—
jpulls his father in frontk
—Old Gobbo
He hath a great infection,° sir, as one would say, to serve— > affection / desire
—Launcelet jpulls his father awayk
Indeed, the short and the long is, I serve the Jew, and have the desire, as my father shall
specify— jpulls his father in frontk
—Old Gobbo
His master and he—saving your worship’s reverence—are scarce on good terms 48—
—Launcelet jpulls his father awayk
To be brief, the very truth is that the Jew, having done me wrong, doth cause me, as my
father—being, I hope, a respected° man—shall frutify 49 unto you— jpulls his father in frontk
respected: {old} / a man wise with wisdom
—Old Gobbo
I have here a dish of doves that I would bestow° upon your worship, and my suit° is—
bestow: / offer / present suit: / request
—Launcelet jpulls his father awayk
In very brief, the suit is impertinent 50 to myself, as your worship shall know by this honest old
51. {though I say it, though old man, yet poor man, my father} / though I say it, it is though jsaid byk this old yet
poor man, my father.
52. / What would you want of me?
53. Mistake for effect, purpose, or purport
54. Bassanio is referring to an unlikely conversation had between himself and Shylock—which the audience did not
see. Perhaps it came when Bassanio came to borrow money from Shylock and opened the conversation with some
idle chit-chat. Shylock may have casually complained about his ‘unthrifty knave,’ and may have said something to
Bssanio like, ‘if you borrow all this money, maybe you will have enough to employ my servant as your own.’ (Or
perhaps Shylock wanted to pawn off his gormandizing servant to help “eat away” at the money he loaned to
Bassanio, which would hasten the default of the loan). We do not, however, know what Shylock could have said
about Launcelet which would prompt Bassanio to so readily accept him—unless it could be that Shylock, wanting to
get rid of Launcelet, highly recommended his wasteful servant to Bassanio. Shylock mentioned (to Bassanio and
Antonio) that his house was left in the fearful guard | Of an unthrifty knave [1.3.172-73], which was not a flattering
way to describe is servant—and certainly would not prompt Bassanio to say, ‘he hath preferred (recommended)
55. {And has preferred thee, if it be preferment}
Alt: this one line could be replaced with three lines—lines which express that Shylock wanted so much to get rid of
Launcelet that we would pay Bassanio to take the fool.
And recommended you, +and was so kind | To offer me some gold if I would take you., | Tell me, is this a
change that you prefer?
56. / The lowly servant of a poor gentleman
57. The old proverb is: ‘The grace of God is gear enough,’ which comes from the biblical passage: ‘My grace is
sufficient for thee.’ [2 Cor. 12:9]
/ The grace of God is well enough / The grace of God provides enough / The grace of God provides you with all
you need.
58. {The old proverb is very well parted between my master Shylock and you, sir: you have the grace of God, sir,
and he hath enough.}
man; and though I say it, it is though this old man, this poor man,51 my father—
Let one but speak for both. [to Launcelet] What do you want?° 52 {What would you}
To serve you, sir.
—Old Gobbo
That is the very defect53 of the matter, sir.
—Bassanio [to Launcelet]
I know thee well. Thou hast obtained thy suit.° / I shall grant thy request
Shylock, thy master, spoke with me this day, 54
And recommended thee. But why prefer 55
To leave a rich Jew’s service to become
The follower of so poor a gentleman? 56
As the old proverb says, ‘The grace of God provides enough.’ 57 This very well divides my
master Shylock from you, sir: you have the ‘grace of God,’ sir, and he hath ‘enough.’ 58
Thou speakst it well—[to Old Gobbo] Go, father, with thy son.
59. {Give him a livery | More guarded than his fellows.}
guarded: ornamented with braid or trim; fancy, trimmed, ornamental. Why Launcelet gets a uniform ‘more
guarded than his fellows’’ is not clear. Launcelet’s fancy uniform finds likeness to the gold casket which is the most
ornamental in show yet which contains the least inside. The ornamental garment also brings to mind the image of a
‘yellow-guarded coat’ which might be worn by a fool or a jester. We must, however, assume Bassanio’s motives are
generous, and welcoming, and have nothing to do with accentuating Lancelet’s fool-heartedness.
60. / I cannot speak for myself?
This line is delivered with sarcasm. Launcelet is realizing (in a moment of clarity) that he is a fool, and cannot
even get a service job for himself (without the help of his father). This is soon remedied when Launcelet takes to
reading his own palm, and ‘discovers’ that rather than having a simple life (as expected) he is going to be a grand
personage, with 15 wives! In his reading he reinterprets the word simple, imparting it with a new and grandiose
meaning. (A simple man would ordinarily have one wife, but simple, in Launcelet’s new definition of the terms,
means he is going to have a great number of wives).
61. {Go to}: a) a slight expression of disbelief and surprise: come on, what’s this (unexpected thing I see); b) a slight
curse, such as: damn, to hell, go to hell. Launcelet, looking at his palm, could a) be pleasantly surprised about his
good fortune and all the wives and adventure he is going to have, or b) be taken aback and cursing his discovery of a
simple lifeline—which he then refutes. [See Additional Notes, 2.2.153]
Shylock uses the same phrase, in 1.3.112 [Well, now it appears you need my help— | Go to, then].
62. / And in regards to that small matter of wives, [looking down again]—alas, here it says fifteen wives in the very
63. {a leven}: The two-word term suggests the analogy of ‘a dozen’ (or ‘an even dozen’) though most editions
supplant the term with ‘eleven.’ Some editions retain the spelling ‘aleven’ which seems to imply ‘eleven.’
64. {is a simple coming-in}: implies income, perhaps from dowries, but also has the sexual innuendo of entering into
(coming-in) a woman.
65. {and to be in peril of my life with the edge of a feather-bed—here are simple scapes}
the edge of a feather-bed: this implies that he is coming out of a soft-bed with another man’s wife (which puts
his life in peril). This is humorous mix-up of the phrase, ‘the edge of a sword’ becomes ‘edge of a feather-bed.”
66. {I’ll take my leave of the Jew in the twinkling.}
in the twinkling: immediately, without delay, in the blink of an eye, in ‘the twinkling of an eye.’ This line,
along with a few others in the scene [including 24-5, and 108] are amiss in terms of content and tonality—and may
have been later-made additions. This line could be left as is (in its incomplete form), emended (‘in the twinkling of
an eye’), or rectified—preserving the intent of the line, which is that Launcelet intends to take leave of the Jew
without delay.
In this rendering, the term tinkle is used only because is sounds like twinkle. The absurd image used in this
rendering echos (or rather mocks) the hero’s cry, who, having an urgent task to perform, tells his lady that he will not
sleep until the task is accomplished (and he returns). This is the pledge Bassanio makes to Portia right before be
takes his leave from Belmont [3.2.321-24]. Here Launcelet is claiming that he will not urinate until his task is
accomplished. As part of a comic staging, Launcelet could look very restless, needing to go real bad, and hence in a
great hurry to take leave of the Jew and relieve himself.
before I take a tinkle: / before I relieve myself / before I take my tinkling / before I take a piss.
67. let’s go: {in} he may: {doth} palm: {table} and it tells of: {here’s} in the least: {is nothing}
task: {gear} / work / stuff / business / matter
[to Launcelet] Take leave of thy old master; then make way
Unto my house. [To one of his men] Give him a uniform° {livery}
More fancy° than his fellows.° See it done. 59 / braided / trimmed // the others
Father, let’s go.° I cannot get a service job +on my own,?—I have ne’er a tongue in my head!60
[Looking at his palm] Well, if any man in Italy have a fairer palm, which he may° offer to swear
upon the Book, I shall have good fortune. [Looking more closely at the lines] What61—here’s a
simple line of life—and it tells of° a small trifle of wives—alas, fifteen in the least.° 62 A dozen63
widows and nine maids is a simple income—or coming-in—for one man.64 And here it says I
will ‘scape from drowning thrice and elude the peril of a sword—belonging to a man who
catches me on the edge of a featherbed with his wife.65 Well, if Fortune be a woman, she’s a
good wench for this task. Father, come, I’ll take my leave of the Jew before I take a tinkle. 66 67
68. {I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on this} / I pray thee Leonard, attend to this
think on this: a) attend to these matters, b) think carefully about what I am saying
69. Bassanio is preparing to leave for Belmont and is having his provisions stowed on board his ship.
70. {for I do feast tonight}
feast: a) entertain, throw a feast for (my best-esteemed acquaintance); b) eat, party, enjoy myself at a feast (with
my best-esteemed acquaintance)
71. {. . . for I do feast tonight | My best-esteemed acquaintance. Hie thee, go.}
The reference here is singular; Bassanio refers to his best-esteemed acquaintance. This might be interpreted as a
reference to Antonio yet Antonio is his dearest friend not his best-esteemed acquaintance. Odd as it may seem, this
is most likely a reference to Shylock, who is an acquaintance (not a friend) and who is best-esteemed in that he
loaned Bassanio the money which enabled him to make his journey. Thus, Shylock as the best-esteemed
acquaintance will be the honored guest at Bassanio’s celebration.
72. Q1 has ‘Gratiano.’ Signior has been added to complete the meter, and to echo Gratziano’s words.
Exeunt Launcelet and Old Gobbo
—Bassanio [continuing his instructions]
I pray, Leonardo, attend thee to this: 68
When everything is bought and stowed on board° 69 {orderly bestowed}
Return in haste, for I do feast tonight° 70 / entertain
With all my dearest friends.°71 Now hurry, go. / My best-esteemed companions
— Leonardo
My best endeavors shall be done herein.° / I’ll do my utmost to complete the task
Leonardo moves to exit. Enter Gratziano.
Where’s your master?
—Leonardo Yonder, sir, he walks.
Exit Leonardo
Signior Bassanio!
—Bassanio Signior Gratziano! 72
I have a suit for you.° / I have but one request
—Bassanio You have obtained it.° / And I will grant it
73. {You must not deny me. I must go with you to Belmont.}
This line is likely corrupt for the following reasons: a) the iambs are misplaced (with no emphasis on the
fourth syllable) and b) the line contains seven iambs (instead of five). In addition, Gratziano is amiss in making a
demand [you must not deny me] after his request has already been granted. More likely, Gratziano would be
confirming what Bassanio had just granted, with a line such as: ‘Very well then—I’ll go with you to Belmont.’ To
bring this line into the regular iambic verse, some editions add ‘Nay,’ to the beginning: ‘Nay, you must not deny me.
I must go | With you to Belmont.’
Another way to rectify the line (in terms of meter and content) would be to have Bassanio grant Gratziano’s
request once, not twice:
Grat: I have a suit—and you must not say ‘no’°— / deny me
Signior, I must go with you to Belmont.
Bass: Why then you must. But hear thee Gratziano,
74. It is likely that Bassanio knew of Gratziano’s request before he even asked it—and that is why he granted
Gratziano’s suit without even hearing it. This is in accord with the following theory (as previously stated) which
goes as follows: a) Nerissa may have had a chance meeting with Gratziano (where they took a liking to each other
and where Nerissa learned about Bassanio—and where she recalled that Bassanio had already been to Belmont and
caught Portia’s eye); b) Nerissa (in service to Portia) arranged to have a secret meeting with Bassanio, where Nerissa
proposed to him a plan: she told him that if he could win Portia’s love (where Portia falls in love with him, and
would chose him to be her husband) then she (Nerissa) would help him to choose the right casket; c) as part of this
plan—and for her own romantic interests—she told Bassanio to bring Gratziano with him to Belmont. [See
Additional Note, 2.2.171]
75. / Aspects that fit thy manner well enough / Traits that are fitting to thee well enough / Qualities that become you
well enough
76. {And in such eyes as ours appear not faults} / And traits that we do not decry as faults
77. {But where thou art not known} / But where they know you not
78. {Something too liberal. Pray thee, take pain}
Something too liberal: / somewhat too ‘in-your-face’
79. {To allay with some cold drops of modesty}
80. One could expand the previous two line into three:
/ To allay thy exuberant spirit
With a few drops of cooling modesty,
Lest through your wild and raucous° behavior / unruly / froward
81. {I be misconstered}: / I be misconstrued / I find disfavor
82. And lose my hopes: More likely Bassanio should say, ‘and blow my cover’—the cover of pretending to be a
rich and cultured suitor (which Gratziano’s unruly conduct would undermine). According to a fair drawing of the
lottery, if Bassanio was going to chose a casket based solely on his own wit, then none of Gratziano’s actions would
have any effect on the outcome of the lottery nor cause Bassanio to ‘lose his hopes.’ Thus it appears that Bassanio is
pinning his hopes of success on something other than a simple drawing of the lottery. According to our theory
(which states that Bassanio will get help with the lottery, from Nerissa, if he is able to win Portia’s heart), if
Gratziano is too rude, then this might put off Portia—and not reflect the noble character Bassanio is trying to put
forth—and, thus, Bassanio would lose his hopes of Portia falling in love with him. [See Additional Notes, 2.2.181]
Very well: I must go with you to Belmont. 73 74
Why then you must, but hear thee Gratziano:
Thou art too wild, too rude and bold of voice—
Parts that become° thee happily° enough, 75 / Aspects that suit / fittingly
And, to our eyes, do not appear as faults; 76
But where thou art not known,77 why there they look° / these may appear
Somewhat° too overbearing. Thus, take pains 78 {Something} / A tad / A bit
To allay, with some drops of self-control,° 79 {modesty}
Thy bounding° spirit, lest through thy wild behavior 80 {skipping} / leaping
I be disfavored°81 in the place I go° {I be misconstered} // in the eyes of others
And lose° my hopes +of success,. 82 / ruin / dash
—Gratziano Now° hear me: {Signor Bassanio}
83. {If I do not put on a sober habit}
sober habit: a) solemn, serious, funeral-like behavior, b) sober clothing, a sober garb—referring to a sober
exterior look.
84. {Wear prayer-books in my pocket}
85. / Nay, more—while grace is being said, look down
86. {Use all observance of civility} / Observe all manner of good behavior / And use all manner of civility / And
observe all counts of civility / And employ every manner of politeness
87. / So as to please his grandma—trust me never.
88. {Nay, but I bar tonight}
but I bar tonight: a) only if I behave (suppress, stop, bar) myself tonight—which I am not going to do, so
do not judge my actions by my raucous actions tonight. b) Nay, but I bar (refuse to accept any such restrictions)
tonight; I am exempted from any such restrictions tonight.
89. {No, that were a pity}
No, that would be a pity (if you were barred from drinking and having fun tonight)
90. {That purpose merriment. But fare you well} / Who’re set on merriment
/ That want a rousing party. But farewell
If I do not display a staid demeanor,°83 / sober manner
Talk with respect, and swear but now and then,
Hold a prayer-book in my hand,84 look demurely—
Nay, more—while saying grace,° cover mine eyes 85 {while grace is saying}
Thus, with my hat, and sigh, and say, ‘Amen,’
And follow every count of good behavior—° 86 / manner of politeness
Like one well-studied° in a sad expression° / well-versed {sad ostent}
To please his grandma—never trust me more.° 87 / ne’er trust me again
Well, we shall see the way you hold yourself.
Nay, but I drink tonight:88 you shall not judge° me {gauge}
By what we do tonight.
—Bassanio No, t’were a pity.89 /’Twould be a pity
I would entreat you rather to put on
Your boldest suit of mirth; for we have friends
That want some merriment.° But fare you well 90 / a good party
I have some business.
And I must meet° Lorenzo and the rest. {to}
But we will visit you at suppertime.
1. Rowe, who was a foremost Shakespeare commentator, and ‘a practical man of the theatre,’ did not divide 2.2 - 2.6
into separate scenes but played them all as one continuous action.
2. / When things got hellishly drab around here, | You, like a merry devil, came to rob | The taste of tediuousness
with your laughter.
3. Slip for inhibit, but this term might also apply in the sense that he is talking with his tears and that his tears are
telling what his tongue is unable to tell.
4. {If a Christian do not play the knave and get thee} / If a Christian did not fool behind you your father’s back and
beget thee
5. {To be ashamed to be my father’s child}
It is not clear as to why being ‘ashamed to be her father’s child’ is a ‘heinous sin.’ The sin relates to
Jessica’s upcoming actions, whereby she betrays and dishonors her father. Thus, the line has been changed to reflect
this view.
6. {I am not to his manners}
Manners most likely refers to Shylock’s somber and thrifty (or hardened) ways; to his frugal manner. His
spirit is old and thrifty as opposed to Jessica’s which is carefree and youthful. (We see the stark difference in their
manners when Shylock carefully accounts fro every ducat and where Jessica, the moment she comes upon some
money, frivolously spends it.). Manner could also refers to Shylock’s loyalty to his Jewish tradition (and the inner
sacrifice that entails); Jessica is more inclined to pleasure and is quick to abandon her tradition for the hope of a
better, more comfortable, life.
[See Additional Notes, 2.3.19]
7./ If as you promise, if your word be true, | I’ll soon be Christian, and e’er with you.
ACT TWO - Scene Three 1 2.3.0
Shylock’s house. Enter Jessica and Launcelet.
I‘m sorry thou wilt leave my father so.
Our house is hell;° and thou, a merry devil, > hellishly dull
Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness. 2
But fare thee well. There is a ducat for thee.
And Launcelet, 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.
Adieu. Tears exhibit 3 my tongue. Most beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew. If a Christian did not
fool ‘round with your mother and get thee 4 I am much deceived. But adieu. These foolish
drops° do sometimes drown my manly spirit. Adieu. drops: / tears
Exit Launcelet
Farewell, good Launcelet.
Alack, what heinous sin is it in me,
To shun my father and bring him dishonor. 5
But though I am a daughter to his blood,
I am not to his manners.°6 O Lorenzo, / I am not kin to his ways
If thou keep promise I shall end this strife, / O my Lorenzo, soon I’ll end this strife
Become a Christian and thy loving wife. 7
1. Like many other scenes, this scene also opens in media res, in the middle of an ongoing conversation. Here
Lorenzo is discussing the preparation of a plan, which is surely the plan to steal away Jessica later that night.
2. / And return here within an hour’s time
3. This is a poorly conceived plan, as Gratziano notes in the following line. They do not yet know if Shylock is
going to be at the dinner (which they find out from Launcelet later in the scene [16]). The plan might be to slink
away during dinner and then return within an hour to the masque (which would follow dinner). Again, why they plan
to go the dinner in the first place, and why they should return in a disguise, is not known. Perhaps the plan is
tentative and changes with the arrival of Jessica’s letter, which notes that Shylock will be out for the evening.
4. preparation: preparation for stealing away Jessica. As part of this preparation, they must also prepare their
5. {‘Tis vile, unless it may be quaintly ordered} / ‘Tis bound to fail unless it be well-planned
vile: foul, likely to go wrong
quaintly: noticeably; well-, carefully, with consideration
ordered: a) planned, b) carried out
/ ‘Tis bound to fail unless it is clearly planned
6. {And better in my mind not undertook} / And better yet, the plan should be abandoned.
This reference refers to the ill-conceived plan to steal away Jessica, which they are discussing. Salanio, it
seems, is more level-headed than both Lorenzo (who is foolishly acting out of love) and Gratziano, who is, well,
7. {Friend Launcelet, what’s the news?} It is not clear how Lorenzo would know Launcelet, or come to call him
‘friend,’ but we can suspect that his interest in Jessica—and the common method of using servants to deliver
messages back and forth—would make Launcelet his ‘friend.’ Where Lorenzo and the others are meeting (which, we
suspect, is in a private place, since they are discussing secret plans to steal away Jessica) and how Launcelet comes
upon them is unclear. Jessica instructed Launcelet to deliver the message to Lorenzo at dinner: soon at supper shalt
thou see | Lorenzo, who is thy new master’s guest. | Give him this letter; do it secretly. [2.3.5-7]. Here it is four
ACT TWO – Scene Four 2.4.0
Venice. Enter Gratziano, Lorenzo, Salarino, and Salanio 1
Nay, we will slip° away at supper-time,° {slink} / steal // during the feast
Go to my lodging, put on our disguise,
And all return within the hour. 2 3
We have not made good preparation. 4
We have not spoke as yet° of torchbearers. {spoke us yet} / spoken yet
This plan will go afoul if not well-made; 5
And best, I think,° abandoned altogether. 6 / methinks // And better yet
‘Tis now but four o’clock: we have two hours
To get things ready.° {To furnish us} / to run the plan / to finish up
Enter Launcelet with a letter
Launcelet, what’s the news? 7
o’clock, not six o’clock. [See Additional Notes, 2.4.9]
8. {And it shall please you to break up this, shall it seem to signify}
9. I know the hand: refers to Jessica’s beautiful handwriting.
10. / With your permission, sir, I now will leave
11. Jessica’s letter outlines her plan with a ‘go ahead’ for tonight. This confirmation, we must assume, is based upon
Jessica’s belief that her father will accept Bassanio’s invitation for dinner and be away that evening.
12. {Tell gentle Jessica | I will not fail her}
All Launcelet knows is that Lorenzo will not fail Jessica—he knows nothing about what Lorenzo is
referring to, nor anything about Lorenzo ‘coming by’ to Jessica’s house later that evening. However, in the next
scene, when Launcelet is bidding farewell to Shylock, his final words to Jessica are: Mistress, look out at window for
all this: | There will come a Christian by | Will be worth a Jewès eye. [2.5.39-42] As stated, he had no way of
knowing this.
One way to rectify this discrepancy would be to add a line whereby Lorenzo tells Launcelet something of
the plan:
Hold here, take this [gives him a coin]. Tell gentle Jessica,
+We’ll meet as planned,° beneath her balcony—,
I will not fail her.
The discrepancy is slight and need not be rectified; whereas Lorenzo telling the loose-lipped Launcelot of his plan
may be more problematic.
13.What we find is that Lorenzo does fail her, that he comes an hour late [2.6.2]—a delay which, in all likelihood,
would have blown the whole plan. This delay (which he attributes to having had to finish up some business) would
have given Shylock ample time to return from dinner—unless the ‘business’ which caused his delay was to wait at
Bassanio’s until he was sure that Shylock arrived (which meant that the coast was clear).
—Launcelet [handing him the letter]
And shall it please you to break the seal it shall tell you. 8
I know the handwriting° ‘tis a fair hand, {I know the hand, in faith}9
And whiter than the paper ‘tis writ on
Is the fair hand that writ
Love-news, I think. °° {in faith} / It must be love-news
By your leave, sir.10
Where° goest thou? {Whither}
Well sir, to bid my old master the Jew to sup tonight with my new master the Christian. 11
Hold here, take this [gives him a coin]. Tell gentle Jessica,
I will not fail her.12 13 Speak it° privately. / Tell her
Exit Launcelet
14. / Go gentlemen—prepare you for the masque
15. The Q1 text reads:
I will not fail her, speak it privately
Go Gentlemen, will you prepare you for this mask tonight,
I am provided of a Torch-bearer. Exit Clowne.
[See Additional Notes, 2.4.21]
16. {I am provided of a torchbearer}
Masquerade parties were elaborate affairs and sometimes the guests, dressed as dignitaries, would be
accompanied by a torchbearer to announce their entry. Lorenzo’s reference to Jessica as his torchbearer not only
indicates that she will mark his entrance to the masque but that she will illumine his life with love and beauty.
It is clear that Jessica will not be playing the part of Lorenzo’s torchbearer at the masque, and that all
reference to Jessica being a torchbearer is by way of analogy. Jessica and Lorenzo, filled up with gold, are going to
make their way out of town while everyone (including Shylock) is distracted with the colorful event.
17. {Ay, marry, I’ll be gone about it straight}
marry: An exclamation evoking the name of Mary, Jesus’s mother. It is similar to ‘by Mary,’ or ‘by the mother
of God’ and would, by extension, mean: ‘in truth, indeed, surely,’ etc.
18. This plan is contingent upon Shylock being out of the house, which is something they are not yet sure of since
the invitation to dine with Bassanio has not yet been accepted. It seems that Jessica is sure that Shylock will accept
the offer (even though he is hesitant).
19. The next three lines are odd and out of place and have no reason to come out of Lorenzo’s mouth—and these
harsh lines divert, and interfere with, Lorenzo’s loving reverie concerning Jessica. These appear like anti-Semitic
emendations; these emendations make a rude entrance at the end of several scenes or as part of a character’s exiting
[to Salarino and Salanio]
Will you be ready for the masque tonight?° 14 15 / the masquerade?
I’ve got myself a golden torchbearer. 16 / I am provided with
By Mary, I’ll get to it straight away.17 {Ay marry} / With tending / God willing
And so will I.
—Lorenzo Meet me and Gratziano
At Gratziano’s lodging in an hour.° {some hour hence) / one hour hence
‘Tis good we do so.° / We’ll surely do so
Exit Salarino and Salanio
Was not that letter from fair Jessica?
I must needs tell thee all. She hath directed
How I shall take her from her father’s house,
What gold and jewels she is furnished with,° / she will bring with her
What page’s suit she’ll wear for her disguise.° 18 {she hath in readiness}
If e’er the Jew, her father, comes to heaven
It will be for his gentle daughter’s sake;19
lines. Not only are these lines suspect (in this content) they break up the flow of the passage and force their way in as
an inopportune afterthought. Hence, these words do nothing more than drag the dialogue and harm Lorenzo’s
character. As these lines are misplaced—and were likely added by someone other than the author—they have been
deleted. The lines, as found in Q1, read as follows:
{And never dare misfortune cross her foot}° / And may misfortune never cross her path,
{Unless she do it under this excuse:}° / Else it befalls her under this excuse:
{That she° is issue° to a faithless Jew} / daughter
cross her foot: obstruct her path. This refers to the inauspicious omen of tripping over something when on a
journey. Here it could be applied to her ‘journey of life,’ the journey she is about to take as wife of Lorenzo.
Unless she: unless it, unless misfortune. Fate, destiny, and fortune—and in this case ‘misfortune’—were
attributed to a goddess and female in gender. Thus she refers to the goddess of misfortune and not Jessica.
faithless: a) lacking faith in Christ, b) lacking truth, untrustworthy
[See Additional Notes, 2.4.37]
20. As stated in a previous note, this reference to a torchbearer does not mean that Jessica is going to be Lorenzo’s
torchbearer at the masque but, symbolically, that she is going to light his way. We might also assume, by way of
analogy, that part of the light that Jessica will provide is the light (or brightness) of the gold she is going to gild
herself with. Compare this light-giving aspect of Jessica with Portia’s light-giving in 5.1.129.
Come, go with me; [gives Gratziano the letter] peruse this as thou goest.
Fair Jessica shall be my torchbearer. 20
1. {Thou shalt not gormandize} / Thou shall not gluttonize.
A curious combination of a Jewish type commandment, ‘thou shalt not’ and a Christian admonition against
2. {And sleep, and snore, and rend apparel out}
/ And sleep and snore, and wear out all your clothes / And wear out clothes from sitting ‘round all day.
/ And sleep and snore and wear out the bottom | Of pants from sitting on them all day long.
/ And sleep, and wear out the seat of your pants | From all your sitting on them all the day.
rend: this terms usually implies tearing. In this context—where Launcelet sleeps and snores on the job—rend
would imply the wearing out of clothes through sitting on them all day, thinning the fabric—especially at the seat of
one’s pants—making them more prone to tears and rips.
3. { Shy: And sleep and snore and rend apparel out
Why Jessica, I say!
Launce: Why Jessica!
Shy: Who bids thee call? I do not bid thee call.
Launce: Your worship was wont to tell me I could do nothing without bidding.}
ACT TWO – Scene Five 2.5.0
Venice. Enter Shylock and Launcelet
Well, thou shalt° see—thy eyes shall be thy judge— / shall / will
The difference ‘tween° old Shylock and Bassanio. {of}
[calling] Hey° Jessica! Thou shalt not stuff thyself 1 {What}
As thou hast done with me. [calling] Hey° Jessica! {What}
Nor sleep, and snore, and wear out all your pants
From sitting round all day. 2 [calling louder] Hey° Jessica! {Why}
Hey° Jessica! {Why}
—Shylock Who bids thee call? Not I.
I do not bid thee call.
—Launcelet Your worship always
Told me I could do nothing without bidding. 3
Enter Jessica
Have you been calling me?° What is your will? {Call you?}
I am bid forth to supper, Jessica:
Here are my keys. But why then° should I go? {wherefore}
4. {I am not bid for love. They flatter me}.
/ I am not bid for friendship nor for love: | They seek to flatter me—and nothing more.
/ I am not bid for love. They +only seek | To, flatter me, +to soften up the Jew.,
5. It is odd that, having previously said to Bassanio, ‘I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with
you’[1.3.34], Shylock is now going to eat with him. His motivations, therefore, to eat with Bassanio—and go against
his word—must be quite strong. Later he states that he is going ‘in hate’ to try and eat a lot (and therefore bankrupt
the Christian) which is a comical excuse. (And this may be the same reasoning by which he gave his gormandizing
servant to Bassanio). By all indications, however, Shylock is going because Antonio’s closest friend, Bassanio, has
offered him something by way of friendship (whereas, in the past, all he received from Antonio was scorn); Shylock
also wants to be placed on an equal status with the Christians and wants Antonio to see him (Shylock) being
commended by Bassanio.
In terms of anti-Semitism, Bassanio is clearly aloof to it. Bassanio, it seems, is somewhat friendly toward
Shylock (and may even feel a debt of gratitude towards him) enough so to invite him over to his house for dinner that
night. And the uncertain meaning of line 2.2.165 [‘for I do feast tonight | My best-esteemed acquaintance’] could
mean that Bassanio is throwing the feast for Shylock or that Shylock is the guest of honor.
6. / There is something about which is disturbing / There is something amiss, which ruins my peace
7. {For I did dream of money bags tonight}
tonight: last night.
During Elizabethan times, a person’s dreams were thought to portend an opposite occurrence in real life.
Hence, Shylock’s dream of money-bags (bags filled with money) portends its opposite—a loss of money. The
contemporary understanding of dreams holds that the content of person’s dream corresponds to some waking state
occurrence rather than the opposite.
8. To realize the original meaning, an additional line was added.
/ A sign which tells me of some loss to come. / An omen telling me of some great loss
/ And all the bags were empty of their gold.
9. reproach (scolding, blame): error for approach. Shylock understands the term intended (approach) yet responds
in kind to the word reproach.
10. {And they have conspired together}
11. {a masque}
12. Lancelot makes a confused and nonsensical prediction (using various signs and omens) as a way to mock—and
also dismiss the validity of—Shylock’s ill-boding dream. We have the impression that Launcelet is aware of the
upcoming plan, which is contingent upon Shylock attending the feast, and therefore he does his best to get Shylock
to accept the invitation.
I am not bid for love. They flatter me. 4 5
But yet I’ll go in spite,° to feed upon {hate}
The wasteful° Christian. Jessica, my girl, {prodigal}
Care for° my house. I am right loathe to go; {Look to} / Attend / Maintain
There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest° 6 / in my mind
For I did dream of money-bags last night°— 7 {tonight}
+A sign which tells of an upcoming loss.°, 8 / augurs some loss in the future
I beseech you, sir, go. My young master doth expect your reproach.9
As I expect his.° {So do I his}
And they are planning something.10 I will not say you shall see a masquerade party11 but if you
do, then it was not for nothing that° my nose fell a-bleeding on Black° Monday last, at six
o’clock i’th’morning, falling out that year on Ash Wednesday, the fourth year in the afternoon. 12
/ then it must have been because // Easter
13. / And the vile squeals of the wry-necked fife-player
fife: a small, shrill-toned musical instrument resembling a flute and used mainly with drums to make music which
would accompany marching. Fife as well as drum (mentioned in the previous line) could refer to the instrument or
the musician playing the instrument. Hence, drum would be a reference to ‘a drummer’ and fife to ‘a fife-player.’
wry-necked fife: refers to the image of a flute player who twists his neck and hold his head awry (bent to one
side) while playing. McDonnell, however, believes that the squealing of the wry-necked fife might indicate the
sound of the wry neck, a bird with a high-pitched call which writhes its head and neck, though this interpretation is a
stretch. (In current literature, this line is often misquoted as: ‘the vile squeaking of the wry-necked fife.’)
14. {Clamber not you up top the casements then} / Do not arise and look ye out the window // Don’t climb you up to
the windows to look
15. {By Jacob’s staff} This is not a Jewish saying. Jacob’s thrift, however, is a characteristic admired by Shylock,
and Shylock often identifies with this biblical character. A Jacob’s staff referred to a pole which provided a firm
foundation for a compass or astronomical instrument. Thus, “by Jacob’s staff” would mean, “by that which supports
me,” or more loosely, “by my gut feeling.”
16. We find no clear reason as to why Shylock is invited to dinner—unless out of Bassanio’s gratitude for his having
generously loaned him the money, gratis. The feast may be in honor of Shylock. Moreover, we do not know why
Shylock consents to go, especially after having made the point, earlier that day, that he (as a Jew) would not eat with
a Christian. [1.3.9-30] [See Additional Notes, 2.6.38]
17. {Go you before me, sirrah}
sirrah: a low (though not disparaging) term which is often used in reference to a servant. Portia also uses the
term when addressing her servants [1.2.129]
18. Hagar’s offspring: a negative reference to Ishmael, the foolish son of Abrahams’s Egyptian concubine, Hagar.
Hagar (and her son) left Abraham’s house, complaining of his harsh treatment, and later they became outcasts.
[Genesis 21:9-21] [See Additional Note, 2.5.43]
What, there’s a masque?° Hear you me, Jessica, {What, are there masques?} / A masquerade?
Lock up my doors, and when you hear the drum
And the vile squealing of the wry-necked fife, 13
Do not climb you up to the windows then, 14
Nor thrust your head into the public street
To gaze on Christian fools with varnished° faces:° / painted // colored masks
But plug° my house’s ears—I mean my casements;° {stop} // windows
Let not the sound of mindless° fopp’ry° enter {shallow} / folly
My somber house. . . . By Jacob’s staff 15 I swear
I have no mind° of feasting forth° tonight, / I’ve no desire // going out
But I will go.16 [To Launcelet] Go you before me, then, 17
Say I will come.
—Launcelet I will go before, sir.
[aside to Jessica] Mistress, look out the window for all this:
There will come a Christian by / There a Christian will come by,
Will be worth a Jewess eye / Worthy of a Jewess’ eye.
What says that fool of Hagar’s offspring, ha? 18
His words were, ‘farewell mistress’—nothing more.
19. patch: dolt, fool, clown. A term referring to the motley or ‘patchwork’ garb used by professional fools. It might
also refer to someone as worthless as a patch of cloth. The terms is used in other plays in the canon, such as A
Midsummer’s Night Dream and The Comedy of Errors. Shylock’s complaints are not personal attacks, per se: the
brunt of his contempt is directed at Launcelet’s wastefulness (i.e. his laziness and large appetite) which is at odds
with Shylock’s ‘thriftiness.’
20. {Drones hive not with me}
21. {To one that I would have him help waste} / And now to one with whom he can help waste} / Now to the
Christian, so to help him waste
22. This is a mild threat for Jessica to stay put.
23. This common proverb, used from the fifteenth century onwards, means: ‘if you lock things up, then you will be
able to keep hold of them.’ These are Shylock’s last words to his daughter—and they are mistaken. It turns out that
the very opposite is true: He treats his daughter in the same binding way as he would treat his gold or some
possession. [See Additional Notes, 2.6. 54]
24. {Farewell; and if my fortune be not crossed | I have a father, you a daughter lost.}
I have a father: refers to Jessica’s gaining a husband (who will take care of her like a new father); it could also
indicate her gaining a ‘holy Father,’ through her marriage and conversion to Christianity (which involves the loss of
her Jewish father and heritage).
crossed: a possible pun—she is hoping that her fortune be not crossed (i.e., that nothing will cross, thwart, or
come in the way of her plan to marry Lorenzo and become a Christian), yet her fortune is crossed in that she is
converting to Christianity, symbolized by the cross.
The patch°19 is kind enough, but a huge feeder.° / dolt / fool // eater
Snail-slow in working,° and he sleeps by day {profit} > producing anything
More than the wildcat. Drones that do not work
Stay not in my hive.20 Thus I part with him—° / let him go /give him up
Now to the Christian so he can help waste° 21 / with whom he can waste
His borrowed purse.° Well Jessica, go in, / funds / wealth
Perhaps I will return immediately.° 22 / return at once. So now
Do as I bid and° shut doors° after you: {you,} //close up
Fast bind, fast find—
A proverb never stale in a thrifty mind. 23
Farewell, and if my fortune be not crossed,
I have° a husband,° you a daughter lost. 24 / gain {a father}
Exit, opposite door
1. The stage heading in Q1 reads: ‘Enter the maskers, Gratiano and Salerino.’ This stage heading is somewhat
confusing, both in its reference to Salerino (which seems to indicate Salarino and not Salerio) and to ‘the
maskers’—which appears before the character names. Such an anomaly suggests an ad hoc change in the original
text. We can assume that the original heading may have read ‘Enter maskers’ which indicated the entrance of
Gratziano, Salarino, and Salanio. Thus, it is likely that a diligent typesetter, wanting to ‘clarify’ the text, later added
the names of Gratiano and Salerino to the heading. The mistaken spelling of Salarino suggests that this name was
not part of the original heading (but added later). Thus, with this ‘partial’ typesetter addition—the addition of
Salarino and not Salarino and Salanio— most editors assume that Salanio (because he is not specifically listed) is
absent from the scene. This, however, is unlikely since Salarino and Salanio were both part of the original planning
and both, up til now, have always appeared together. The scene, however, remains unaffected by this minor point
and it can be staged with one or both Sals being present. In keeping with the prior action of the play, and the fact
that Salarino and Salanio always appear together, both Salarino and Salanio are included in the scene. [See
Additional Notes, 2.6.0]
2. The lines in Q1 appear as follows:
Gra: Desired us to make stand.
Sal: His hour is almost past.
Gra: And it is a marvel he outdwells his hour.
The first two lines are truncated; and if they are combined they would form a line too long for the standard meter. In
addition, Salarino states that Lorenzo’s hour is ‘almost past’ whereas Gratziano replies that he ‘outdwells his hour.’
The lines could remain as they stand, or they could be combined into one standard line.
Gra: Told us to wait.
Lor: His hour is almost past.° / all but past
Gra: It is a marvel he prolongs° his hour. / outdwells
3. Venus’ pigeons: May refer to the pigeons that draw Venus’s chariot (or carry Venus) though this image is ‘very
odd’ and not consistent with any known mythology. Warburton holds that the original may have read Venus’
widgeons (which refers to a kind of duck and suggests a wayward and silly bird) though such an emendation would
offer no improvement upon the original. Most agree that the subject (the one who seals love’s bond) refers to Venus
and not to the pigeons that draw her. All said, Venus’ pigeons probably refers neither to Venus nor her pigeons but
should be taken as a metaphor for a somewhat inconsistent lover (a pigeon) who is smitten by love (Venus) and who
runs fast to obtain the object of his desire.
/ O ten times faster fly love-stricken youths / Love-smitten younkers run ten times as fast / A wayward lover
runs tens times as fast
4. {To keep obligèd faith unforfeited.}
obligèd: pledged, obligated
Salarino is claiming that lovers are very quick to enter a new bond of love (and make all kinds of
pledges)—rushing in like the doves of Venus—yet are just as quick to break those same vows (when some other love
interest emerges).
/ To keep intact their new-made obligations / To keep intact the vows already made / To keep their faith
ACT TWO – Scene Six 2.6.0
Venice. Enter the maskers, Gratziano, Salarino, and Salanio. 1
This is the window under° which Lorenzo {penthouse under} / balcony by
Desired us to wait.° {make stand}
—Salarino His hour is past.° {is almost past}2
It is° a marvel he out-dwells his hour,° / And ‘tis // that he comes so late
For lovers ever-run before the clock.
O, ten times faster fly the doves of Venus° 3 {Venus’ pigeons fly}
To seal love’s bond new made° than they are wont / To newly seal love’s bond
To keep their well-intentioned vows° intact.° 4 / meaningful promise // unbroken
with vows already made [See Additional Notes, 2.6.7]
5. / With the keen appetite that he sits down? / With the same (/keen) hunger as when he sat down?
6. / The proud vessel / The ship so proud
7. {The scarfed bark puts from her native bay} / The decorated ship leaves from her bay
scarfed: refers to something wrapped or adorned with streaming banners, such as the side of a ship (bark)
decorated with flags and steamers while it makes a glorious departure from her native port.
8. {the strumpet wind} / a good, strong wind
strumpet: refers to something inconsistent, something promising yet unreliable. The terms brings to fore
the metaphor of the Prodigal Son and the prostitutes (strumpets) upon whom he wasted his fortune. Here the
promising wind is quick to bring one’s ship out to sea and, later, it is that same wind which brings the ship to ruin.
9. In Q1 this speech heading is abbreviated as ‘Sal.’ and could indicate either Salarino or Salanio (depending on
which one is listed in the stage heading). Since both characters are present in the scene (which was the likely
intention of the author, though not specifically stated in the stage heading), and since both characters should have
lines, Salanio is given this line. In terms of staging, Gratziano and Salarino might be lounging around, talking about
the pigeons of Venus, while Salanio, who is not talking, first notices—and announces—Lorenzo’s arrival.
10. Such tardiness would put this whole plan in jeopardy since the long delay would give Shylock ample time to
return from dinner before Lorenzo’s arrival. What more pressing affairs could have caused Lorenzo to be so late?
Perhaps the delay was brought about by poor planning and last minute demands or because Lorenzo was waiting at
Bassanio’s feast to make sure Shylock was well situated before he departed.
11. father: future father-in-law.
That ever holds:° Who riseth from a feast / ‘Tis always true
With the keen° hunger of one sitting down? 5 / same
Where is the horse that doth retread° again {untread} / gallop
Another lap° with the unbated fire° {His tedious measures} // same kind of passion
That he did pace the first? All things that are,
Are with more spirit chasèd° than enjoyed. / vigor pursued
How like a young man° or a prodigal {younker}/ young son
The bannered° ship6 leaves from her native bay, 7 / lofty / splendid
Hugged and escorted° by the forceful wind; 8 / embracèd / caresséd
How like the prodigal doth she return
With over-weathered° ribs and raggèd sails, / weather-beaten / a storm-beaten hull
Lean, rent, and beggared by the forceful° wind! {strumpet} / heady / sturdy / ruthless
Enter Lorenzo
—Salanio 9
Here comes Lorenzo—more of this hereafter.
Sweet friends, your patience for° my long delay.° / forgive me for {abode}
Not I, but my affairs have made you wait:10
When you shall please to play the thieves for wives° / a wife-stealer
Then I will watch as long for you. Come here.° {Approach} / ‘Tis here
Here dwells my father11 Jew. [calling] Hey!° Who’s within? {Howe}
Enter Jessica above, dressed as a boy
12. / Lorenzo certainly, my love indeed
13. Stage direction: a) she throws down the chest filled with gold—which is painfully caught or b) she is about to
throw down the chest but is urged by a group of ‘No’s to carry it down instead.
14. exchange: change of appearance (into a boy), transfiguration
15. {pretty} / artful / petty > comedic, ridiculous
16. Cupid, god of love, is often depicted as blind (and unable to see) thus conveying the sense that love is blind, that
it obeys the heart and not outer conditions. Such a Cupid (unable to see Jessica dressed as a boy) would not blush.
17. / To see the way I’ve changed into a boy.
18. Lorenzo is using this image figuratively, as per the imagery enlisted in 2.4.22;39. He is saying, ‘you must be
the one who brings light and radiance into my life; your light must lead my way in the world.’ This is in
contradiction to Jessica’s wish to remain hidden under the cover of night.
19. {They in themselves, good sooth, are too too light} / They are, good heavens, already too light.
(my shames are) . . . too too light: a) much too apparent, evident, in full view; b) immodest, unethical.
Here Jessica is saying that she does not want her shames (her dressing as a boy or more likely her
dishonorable actions with respect to her father) to be further exposed.
The reference to light can also carry the meaning of being unfaithful (such as someone who is light in
keeping her vows) though this is not Jessica’s intended meaning. Later in the play (5.1.129) we hear Portia using the
term light (meaning “unfaithful”) in this sense: Let me give light, but let me know be light: | For a light wife doth
make a heavy husband.
good sooth: good truth. In sooth means, ‘in truth,’ ‘to tell you honestly,’ whereas good sooth is more akin to a
light swearing, such as ‘good heavens,’ ‘good God,’ or ‘by God.’
Who are you? Tell me, for more certainty, / so I am assured /can be sure
Although° I’ll swear that I do know your voice.° {Albeit} > “all be it” / {tongue}
Lorenzo—and thy° love. / your
Lorenzo, surely, and my love indeed—12 {certain}
The one I love so much!° And now who knows {For who love I so much}
But you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours?
Heaven and my thoughts are witness that thou art.
Here, catch this casket—it is worth the pains. 13
I’m glad ‘tis night, so you don’t look on me,
For I am much ashamed of my appearance.° {exchange}14 / new look
But love is blind and lovers cannot see
The pretty15 follies that themselves commit;° / petty // they’re wont to commit
For if they could, Cupid16 himself would blush
To see me thus transformèd to a boy. 17 / transformed into
Come down,° for you must be my torchbearer. 18 {Descend}
What, must I hold a candle° to my shames? / bright flame
They are, good sooth, already too° too light.° 19 / far / much
20. {Why, ‘tis an office° of discovery, love,} / a matter / a function
/ Why, love is best when kept behind close doors.
Jessica is here reflecting some of her father’s manner, desiring to keep things hidden behind closed doors.
21. {Even} To preserve the iambic meter, even would be pronounced as e’en.
22. lowly: Q1 has louely, which is an old spelling of lowly but could also be read as lovely. Lowly does not quite fit,
since the garb of a boy is not lowly: lovely ties in more closely with sweet, and would be said in playful jest,
especially is light of Jessica’s embarrassment.
23. {But come at once}. The line is truncated for no appreciable reason and is likely in error. In Q1, these four
syllables are added to the end of the previous line, thus producing a line with seven iambs (as opposed to five):
{Even in the lovely garnish of a boy, but come at once}. This line could be preserved in its truncated form or
emended with three additional iambs:
/ But come at once +and make no more delays,
24. {For the close night doth play the runaway}
/ The cov’ring night doth quickly run away
close: covering, secretness; darkness of night, which conceals.
play the runaway: is running away, is speeding by, is passing quickly. This is also a reference to Jessica, who is
running away.
25. It seems that someone at Bassanio’s feast is waiting for them. Thus they are urged to hurry in order to make a
clean getaway before arousing suspicion (by their absence at the masque).
stayed for: waited for. The term stay (wait) also appears in 59 (Our masquing mates by this time for us stay)
and 63 (‘Tis nine o’clock: our friends all stay for you). [See Additional Notes, 2.6.48]
26. guild myself: provide myself with more ducats. It also carries the implication of dressing or gilding herself with
more gold, in the same way that an ornament might be gilded with gold. [See Morocco’s choice of the gold casket,
which takes place in the next scene, and which carries the ominous warning he finds on the scroll: Gilded timbers do
worms enfold (2.7. 69)]
Here again we see a conflict in Jessica: she wants to remain hidden (and not hold a candle to her shame);
she wants her affections to remain behind closed doors, yet here she is gilding herself in gold, and putting herself in a
position to be seen. Certainly, though she acts in hiding, everyone is going to hear about her actions—and some
might even see her actions as directly linked to Shylock’s anger and his demand for payment on the bond.
27.{Beshrew me but I love her heartily}
/ Forswear me if she is not my beloved / Reprove me but with all my heart I love her
Beshrew me: A mild swear akin to ‘curse me’ > derived from the injury which comes from the bite of a shrew.
but: if not, if I don’t > “Let me be bitten by a shrew if I don’t love her heartily”
Why, ‘tis love’s nature to remain in hiding,° 20 / concealed
And I° should be concealed.° / I too {obscured}
—Lorenzo So are you, sweet,
E’en 21 in the lovely° garnish° of a boy. / lowly 22 / outfit
But come at once +and tarry you no further,:23
For the cov’ring of night soon runs away°24 / will soon depart
And we are stayed for° at Bassanio’s feast. 25 / And we’re expected
I will make fast the doors, and guild myself 26
With some more ducats, and be with you straight.
Exit above
Now, by my word,° she’s more gentile than Jew. {by my hood} / I do swear
You can berate me if I do not love her 27
For she is wise—if I can be the judge;° {if I can judge of her}
28. / Shall she be carried, always, in my soul.
29. {What, are thou come! On gentlemen, away.}
What, art thou come!: / How beautiful! > How beautifully thou art come!
/ What beauty has come! Gentlemen away
30. on gentlemen away: Q1 has {What, art thou come, on gentleman away} which many editions emend in the
form of a question: ‘What, are thou come? On, gentleman, away!’ But to whom does the term gentleman refer?
(Jessica is disguised as a boy and not a gentleman). F1 has: ‘On gentlemen, away’ which is more likely and more
fitting the scene (and this is a term which could refer to Salarino and Salanio, and it could include Jessica in jest).
Thus we can suspect that the original term may have been gentlemen which may have been changed to gentleman by
a well-meaning typesetter (the same one who ‘corrected’ the stage heading by adding the name Salerino to it). This
likelihood also supports the notion that both Salarino and Salanio are present in this scene.
31. {What, art thou come! On, gentlemen, away | Our masquing mates by this time for us stay.}
/ . . . On gentlemen, away | Let’s go before we cause too much dismay
/ . . . On gentlemen, let’s go | Let us get far before our friend’s e’er know.
masquing mates: fellow party-goers who will be at Bassanio’s masquerade party. The masqing mates may be
waiting for this group to arrive—yet it is unlikely that Lorenzo is going to the ball to meet them. The command ‘on
gentlemen’ is more likely a prompting (along with ‘For the close of night doth play the runaway’) that they make
their getaway before their masquing mates notice they are not at the feast (and go out looking for them). Despite
Lorenzo’s excitement about having a torchbearer (someone to herald his entrance) the masque is the last place they
want to be seen; the plan is to exit the city, under cover of night, while everyone in distracted with the masque.
[See Additional Notes, 2.6.59]
32. In 2.8 Salarino tells Salanio of Bassanio’s departure and so he must have gotten off the gondola and proceeded to
the masque (where he might have been employed as a distraction or to offer an excuse as to Lorenzo’s whereabouts).
Meanwhile Salanio helped Lorenzo and Jessica steal away from Venice (while everyone was busy with the masque).
Lorenzo’s last line, ‘Our masquing mates by this time for us stay,’ should be taken as an indication to make haste,
since ‘by this time’ their masquing mates (friends at the party) are waiting for their arrival and, as the hour grows
late, they might get ancy and go out looking for them, which might draw notice and suspicion. As it turns out,
everyone at the masque became acutely aware that Gratziano (and likely Lorenzo) was missing, because 20 men
were sent out in search of him.
33. The timing of Antonio’s arrival, and his meeting with Gratziano near Shylock’s house, is amiss. Antonio would
not be going out in search of Gratziano with Bassanio’s departure so immanent (for Antonio had already sent out 20
men to find him). Rather, Antonio would be eking out his time with Bassanio. [See Additional Notes, 2.6.60]
And fair she is—if that mine eyes be true;
And true she is—as she hath proved herself;
And therefore, like herself—wise, fair, and true—
Shall she be carried° in my constant° soul.28 {placèd} / faithful / deepest
Enter Jessica
What, beauty art thou!29 Gentlemen, away,30 {What, art thou come!}
Let us make ground° awhile the maskers play. 31 32 / make haste / depart / be gone
Exeunt Lorenzo, Jessica, Salarino, and Salanio
Enter Antonio 33
Who’s there?
Signior Antonio?
34. {where are all the rest?} / where is everyone?
We are not sure whom Antonio is referring to when he says ‘all the rest.’ He might be inquiring about
Lorenzo, Salarino, and Salanio, whom Antonio believed was with Gratziano all this time (and may have made for his
delay) but Antonio, curiously, finds Gratziano all alone.
35. {No masque tonight, the wind is come about.} / No masque for you tonight—the wind has come
no masque: one reading of this could indicate that the masquerade party, planned for that night, has been
cancelled (due to Bassanio’s departure) or that the masque is already over—both scenarios of which are unlikely.
More likely, no masque tonight refers to no masque for Gratziano, as he must set sail immediately. It could also be
played as a literal reference to the mask that Gratziano is wearing (which Antonio pulls off when he says no masque
tonight—thus implying that Gratziano should take off the mask he is wearing, stop his fun and games, and attend to
the task of readying himself for departure.
the wind is come about: the wind has turned favorable (which now allows Bassanio to make a swift departure to
Belmont). From the foregoing action it appears that Bassanio borrows the money from Shylock in the morning,
makes preparations in the afternoon, puts on a feast in the evening, and intends to depart the next day. Yet, the winds
having turned favorable (and Bassanio impatiently wanting to get to Belmont without delay) he decides to depart
immediately—right in the middle of his own feast. Owing to the fact that Portia has many known suitors, and any
delay in Bassanio’s trip to Belmont would diminish his chances of winning here, an immediate departure (the very
same day as he acquires the money) is to be expected. The time frame implicated by the action is, of course, not
consistent with Shylock’s bond, which is for three months; Bassanio hears of the expiration of Shylock’s bond the
very day he arrives in Belmont, which would imply that the bond expired on the very day it was made.
36. {Bassanio presently will go aboard} / Bassanio now awaits aboard his ship / And now Bassanio’s ship will go
37. Antonio says that the wind has come about—which prompts Bassanio to make a hasty departure, right in the
middle of the party he is throwing—yet wind is not a factor in travel to Belmont: throughout the play, people go back
and forth between Venice and Belmont without any need of favorable wind. [See Additional Notes, 2.6.66]
38. Gratziano, the ultimate party man, would have little reason to delight upon hearing that the masque was
cancelled unless there was something greater which he desired, and which could only be found on Belmont.
39. In the Kean production of 1858, Jessica is swept away by Lorenzo and departs in a whirl of carnival figures.
Straight after, Shylock makes an entrance and a slow walk across the stage; he then knocks twice on the door to his
house and there is no answer. A long silence follows and then the curtain falls. Some productions have Shylock
enter his house, and sensing the ill-brood of Jessica’s absence, cries out her name—with no answer.
Fie° Gratziano! Where are all the rest? 34 {Fie, fie} / Damn it
‘Tis nine o’clock; our friends all stay° for you. / wait
No masque tonight, the wind has come about, 35
And now Bassanio is° aboard his ship. 36
I have sent twenty out to seek for you.° 37 / men to look for you.
I’m glad of it:° I seek° no more delight, {I am glad on’t} {desire} / wish
Than to be under sail and gone tonight. 38
Exeunt 39
1. Some editors, following Capell, add the stage direction here to signify Morocco’s entrance. However, Morocco’s
arrival has already been announced, and he is already in residence. Some editors also add jflourish of cornettsk at
the end of the scene, with Morocco’s exit, which is also unlikely.
2. / The first of gold, which offers° this inscription: / presenting / deliv’ring
3. The inscriptions on the caskets, found in the source story, Gesta Romanorum, (1595), are as follows:
Gold: Who so chooseth me shall find what he deserves.
Silver: Who so chooseth me shall find what his nature desires.
Lead: Who so chooseth me shall find what God has disposed for him. [See Additional Notes, 2.7.9]
4. withal: “with all.” ‘I am yours withal’ = I am all yours, all of what is mine is yours
/ If you chose that, then I am wholly yours
ACT TWO - Scene Seven 2.7.0
Portia’s house at Belmont.1
A flourish of cornetts. Enter Portia and the Prince of Morocco, with their attendants
—Portia [to servant]
Go, draw aside the curtains and disclose° {discover} / reveal
The triple° caskets for this noble prince. {several} / choice of
The curtains are drawn aside and three caskets are revealed
Now make your choice.
The Prince examines each one
The first of gold, which° this inscription bears: 2 {who}
‘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 deserves.’
The third, dull lead, with warning all° as blunt: / just
‘Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.’ 3
[to Portia] How shall I know if I do chose the right? ° / right one
The one of them contains my picture, Prince;
If you choose that, then all of mine is yours.° 4 {then I am yours withal}
Some god direct my judgement. Let me see—
I will inspect° th’inscriptions once° again. {survey} {back}
What says this leaden casket?
‘Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.’
Must give, for what? For lead? Hazard° for lead? / Risk all
This casket threatens: Men that° hazard all / who
5. {Do it in hope of fair advantages}
fair advantages: gaining something not fully deserved
/ Do so in hope of quick and feeble gain
6. {A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross}
shows of dross: worthless displays
7. virgin hue: ‘silver is the color of the moon, and Diana, the virgin goddess, is the moon’s goddess.’ (Kittredge)
8. {estimation} / reputation / own repute
9. / If estimated by mine worthiness | I do deserve enough
10. / Would be to lower and debase myself / Would be to weaken and debase my value
11. qualities of breeding: more suggestive of Arabian horses than a royal bloodline. This is an image favored by
Morocco but may be ill-suited for European sentiments.
12. this shrine: a container for the relics (and/or bones) of a saint. Morocco refers to the Portia as a shrine—an
object of worship—but, realizing that a shrine may also refer to a tomb, which contains a dead saint, quickly corrects
himself with a modifier, calling Portia, a ‘mortal breathing saint.’
13. {The Hyrcanian deserts and vasty wilds} / The unrelenting deserts and vast wilds
Q1 = ‘vastie’; F1 = ‘vast.’
Hyrcania: an area south of the Caspian Sea known for its wilderness.
14. {The wat’ry kingdom, whose ambitious head}
ambitious head: / high-reaching waves
15. spits: the image of a wave’s crest spewing water into the air
16. {is no bar} / has no chance / is no barrier
/ cannot slow / cannot stymie | Nor stop
Do so in hope of some untoward advantage.° 5 / unseemly gain / of undeservèd gain
A golden mind stoops not to petty° schemes. 6 / lowly
I’ll neither° give nor hazard all° for lead. {I’ll then nor} {aught}
What says the silver with her virgin° hue? 7 / moonlike
‘Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.’
As much as he deserves. Pause° there Morocco / stay / stop
And weigh thy value with an even° hand. / a steady
If thou be° valued° by thine worthiness,8 {be’st} {rated}
Thou dost deserve enough9—and yet ‘enough’
May not extend so far as to the lady.
And yet to be afraid° of my deserving° {afeared} // fear what I truly deserve
Would be° a weak disabling° of myself. 10 {Were but} // debasing / discredit
‘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°— 11 / In manner // in royal ancestry
But more than these, in love I do deserve.° / deserve her
What if I strayed no further,° but chose here?
Let’s see, once more, this saying ‘graved° in gold: / carved > engraved
‘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 saint.12
The Persian deserts13 and the vasty wilds° / wilderness / barren wilds
Of wide Arabia are as thoroughfares now
For every prince to come and view fair Portia.
The wat’ry kingdom° whose high-reaching wave°14 / raging ocean {ambitious head}
Spits15 in the face of heaven, is no bar° 16 / barrier // cannot block
17. foreign spirits: men of courage and determination (who hail from foreign lands).
18. {As o’er a book to see fair Portia} Two lines, above, replace one line in the original.
/ To glimpse one moment of fair Portia
19. / It is revolting / obscene / repugnant / unthinkable
20. {To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave}
cerecloth: waxed cloth which corpses were wrapped in for burial
obscure: a) dark, distant b) common, undistinguished, forgotten
It is an insult to think that she (her image) could be found in lead, or wrapped in a wax cerecloth, both of which
suggest the status of a commoner—one who gets buried in an obscure or unmarked grave.
21. insculpted upon: engraved upon the surface. This obscure word is found in the English translation of Gesta
Romanorum, the source from which the Author borrowed the casket story: ‘The third vessel was made of lead, full
within of precious stones, and thereupon was insculpt this posey: Who so chooseth me, shall find what God has
disposed for him.’ [See Additional Notes, 2.7.9]
22. / Could e’er be set° in something worse than gold. / Was ever set
There is° a coin in England, stamped in gold, / They have
That bears the figure of a rad’ant angel
But that’s insculped on° the outer surface;° / engraved upon
23. It is the picture of Portia, representing Portia, which lies within.
24. / Here I do choose, deliver me the key | And let my fortune fall as it may be.
/ I will stop here—deliver me the key | Here I do choose, and thrive as I may be.
25. The original reads:
{Stamped in gold, but that’s insculped upon;
But here an angel in a golden bed
Lies all within. Deliver me the key.
Here I do choose, and thrive as I may.}
The word key may have been pronounced kay and thus the intent of the original was for Morocco’s speech to end in
a final rhyme. (This was also the case with Bassanio’s speech before the caskets but not quite with Arragon’s:
Arragon’s last line ends with here, rhyming with Portia’s next line, ending with there.)
To stop these dauntless suitors,° who but leap° {foreign spirits}17 {but they come}
+Across her vast expanse,, as o’er° a brook, / ‘twere
To catch one sight° of the fair Portia.18 / glimpse
One of these three contains her heavenly picture.
Is’t like° that lead contains her? ‘Twere damnation / Could’t be
To think so base a thought. It is° too gross° 19 {were} / It is abhorrent
That she be wrapped in common cerecloth
Like one who’s buried in the obscure grave. 20 / one interred in the forgotten
Or shall I think in silver she’s immured,° / enclosed / contained
Which holds one-tenth the value° of tried° gold? {Being ten time undervalued} / true / pure
O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem
Was set in worse° than gold. They have in England / less > anything less valuable
A coin that bears the figure of an angel
Stamped in gold; but that’s insculpted upon ° 21 22 / engraved upon
The surface—here an angel lies within! 23
Deliver me the key, and straight away
Here do I choose, and prosper as I may. 24 25
There, take it, prince. And if my form lie there,
Then I am yours.
Morocco unlocks the golden casket
26. Q1 reads: Gilded timber do worms infold. To rectify the meter, most editions follow Johnson’s emendation and
change timber to tombs. Rowe, however corrects the meter by replacing timber with wood—which is close in
meaning to the supposed original. Replacing timber with coffin would be a more exact fit, yet disrupt the meter.
Timber refers to a wood coffin, which is gilded on the outside but which decays and becomes enfolded with worms.
A tomb (which is associated with stone and which lies above ground) may be gilded but is not likely to be enfolded
with worms
27. {Cold indeed and labour lost | Then farewell heat, and welcome frost}
Morocco’s first two lines follow the same rhyme scheme as the scroll (which is also the case with the lines
spoken by Arragon and Bassanio after the scroll); his next two lines, however, revert back to the standard iambic
meter. This anomaly produces a rhythmic break between the meter of Morocco’s first rhyming pair and his second.
The four lines could be left as is, with the different meters (8-8-10-10) or one could preserve the meter of the first
two lines, and conform the next two lines to the same meter (8-8-8-8). Or, the first lined pair could conform with the
second, having all four lines in iambic pentameter—yet this would not be consistent with the post-scroll meter found
in Arragon and Bassanio.
28. This is a paraphrased inversion of the old proverb, ‘Farewell, frost’: “Therefore are you so foule, and so,
farewell, frost.” (Lilly’s Mother Bombie); “Farewell, frost, will you needes be gone” (Wapull’s Tyde Taryeth No
Man, 1576)
29. {Portia, adieu, I have too grieved a heart: | To take a tedious leave, thus losers part.}
/ To stay a long good-bye—and thus I part.
30. Some editions add jflourish of cornettsk as part of this stage direction. This direction is not found in any of the
quartos. Morocco has just lost the contest and is leaving in disgrace—hardly the kind of exit one would want to
herald with cornetts. If a flourish of cornetts was added here, it would have to be unconvincing, deflated, and,
comedic—and perhaps quashed in midstream by a sensitive gentleman from Portia’s train.
31. complexion: most notably refers to Morocco’s dark complexion (and Portia’s dislike of it), though it could also
be a ‘politically correct’ reference to Morocco’s manner or disposition (as the term complexion can also have this
meaning, as it does in[3.1.28]).
/ For such good riddance, I have fate to blame, | May all with his vainglory chose the same.
O hell! What have we here?
A hideous skull,° within whose empty eye {A carrion death}
There is a written scroll. I’ll read the writing:
All that glitters° is not gold; {glisters}
Often have your heard that° told. / this
Many a man his life hath sold,
For the° outside° to behold, {But my} / Just the / Only
Gilded tombs° 26 do worms enfold.° / graves {infold}
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in° judgement old, / but > but in
Your answer had not been° inscrolled— / fate would not be so
Fair you well, your suit is cold.
‘Tis cold indeed,° and labor lost. {Cold indeed}
Now° farewell heat and welcome frost. 27 28 {Then}
Portia° I have too grieved a heart / And here
For tedious leave,° and so I part.°29 / For long ‘good-bye’s // thus I depart
Exit with his attendants 30
A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go—
Let all of his complexion choose me so. 31
1. This portion of the text, where the two Sals are talking to each other (and filling in crucial details about the main
characters) shows why two similar characters were added to the text (as part of a later draft). The function of these
two characters has no bearing on the action of the play; their function is to inform the audience with respect to
unseen action involving the main characters. [For an further discussion of the names, See Additional Notes, 2.8.0]
2. Only someone of considerable influence (and in utter desperation) could wake the Duke and summon him from
his house to investigate a minor incident.
3. / That someone saw Lorenzo, and his love | Jessica, fleeing in a gondola.
4. / That they were not aboard Bassanio’s ship
5. so oddly spoke: {so variable} / conflicted / out of whack / disparate / discordant
6. my Christian ducats: this line indicates the confusion between Shylock’s sense of loss in regards to his ducats
and his daughter—both of which are seen as property. This line echoes a line found in Marlow’s play, The Jew of
Malta. [See Additional Note, 2.8.15].
7. two rich and precious stones: Later there is a reference to a diamond purchased in Frankfort for 2000 ducats
[3.1.80] but we do not know what the second stone might be; it could be the turquoise ring, which Shylock
references later, but it is unlikely that he would refer to the ring as a precious stone.
ACT TWO - Scene Eight 2.8.0
Venice. Enter Salarino and Salanio. 1
Why, man, I saw Bassanio under sail,
And Gratziano’s gone along with him. {With him is Gratziano gone along}
I’m sure Lorenzo is not on their ship.° / has not gone with them
The villain Jew with outcries roused° the Duke, {raised} / woke
Who went with him to search Bassanio’s ship. 2
He came too late; the ship was under sail.° / had just left port
But there the Duke was giv’n ° to understand / made
That seen together, in a gondola,
Were young Lorenzo and his amorous love.° 3 / his Jessica
Besides, Antonio assured° the Duke {certified} / well-assured
They were not with Bassanio in his ship. 4
I never heard an outburst° so confused, {a passion}
So strange, outlandish,° and so oddly spoke° 5 {outrageous} / excessive // dissident
As the dog Jew did utter in the streets:
[mimicing] ‘My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!
Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!6
Justice! The law! My ducats and my daughter!
A sealèd bag, two sealèd bags of ducats,
Of double ducats, stol’n from me by my daughter!
And jewels, two stones, two rich and precious stones, 7
Stol’n by my daughter! Justice! Find the girl!
8. / England and France
9. / I thought it might be good Antonio’s ship
10. Thus, Salarino was present at Bassanio’s departure while Salanio was not.
11. {Of his return. He answered, ‘Do not so’}
/ Bassanio told him he’d return with haste. | To which Antonio said, “Do not do so’;
12. {Slumber not business for my sake, Bassanio}
Q1 has the term slumber which Q2, F, and virtually all modern editors emend as slubber.
slubber: to perform with haste and/or with lack of care; sully, spoil, ruin
slubber not business: don’t rush or hurry with your affairs
slumber not business: ‘don’t sleep on the job’; be attentive to the task at hand. In modern English, the term
slumber is readily recognized (and would be understood in the context of Antonio’s statement) whereas the term
slubber is not readily recognized and might bring up amiss associations with slobber or blubber.
13. {But stay the very riping of the time}
14. / Be joyous; let your only° concern be / foremost
She hath the stones upon her, and the ducats!’
Why, all the boys in Venice follow him,
Crying, ‘His stones, his daughter, and his ducats!’
Let good Antonio look to keep° his day.° {look he keep} // forfeit not
Or he shall pay for this.
—Salarino Ay,° well remembered°— {Marry} // By Mary
I conversed° with a Frenchman yesterday {I reasoned} / I’d spoken
Who told me, in the narrow seas that part° / dividing / between
The French and English, there 8 did overturn° {miscarriéd}/ overturnéd // was dashed to pieces
A vessel of our country, fraught with riches.° {richly fraught}
I thought about° Antonio when he told me,9 {upon}
And wished in silence that it were not his.
You’re° best to tell Antonio what you hear;° {You are} / ‘Tis / heard
Yet do it gently, else it° may grieve him. {Yet do not suddenly, for it}
A kinder gentleman treads not° this earth: / man walks not upon
I saw Bassanio and Antonio part.10
Bassanio told him he would make some speed
Of his return. Antonio said, ‘Do not;° 11 / No, no
Rush not your heart° for my sake, Bassanio, 12
But stay until the time has fully ripened.°13 / ripening of time
As for the Jew’s bond which he hath of me,
Let it not enter in your mind or heart:° {of love}
Be joyous° and employ° your chiefest° thoughts 14 {merry} // engage /// highest
15. {To courtship and such fair ostents of love}
fair ostents of love: / fair displays of love / fair showings of love
ostent: a shortened form of ostentation. Ostents, as used here, means to show or display, whereas the term
ostentation carries the meaning of a grand, pompous, or even pretentious display.
16./ As shall arise in your heart when you’re there
At this point, Antonio still believes that Bassanio is going to Belmont in order to win Portia in a
conventional scenario, which would involve wooing and courtship, and ‘fair ostents of love.’ This is the scenario
that was first presented to Antonio in 1.1 and the one he still believes to be true. Antonio has not been told of the true
nature of Bassanio’s hazardous venture which involves a chance drawing of caskets. [See Essays: The Lottery]
17. And then, right there, his eyes abound° with tears / afresh / adorned / aflow // filled / bursting
18. {Turning his face, he put his hand behind him}
This image painted by Salarino suggests that Antonio says ‘good-bye’ to Bassanio and then puts his hand
behind him (Bassanio) in an affectionate, half-embrace. Alternatively, it might indicate that Antonio says ‘good-bye’
to Bassanio, turns his face to go, but wanting one final touch, Antonio (without looking back) puts his hand behind
himself, and reaches back to touch Bassanio. The first image suggests that Antonio half-embraces Bassanio and then
wrings his hand; the second image suggests that Antonio reaches back and wrings Bassanio’s hand.
19. {And with affection wondrous sensible} / And with his love so fully evident
wondrous sensible: amazingly evident (to the senses)
20. {He wrung Bassanio’s hand, and so they parted}
It seems unlikely that this ‘amazingly evident display of affection’ would culminate with a regular handshake,
after such displays as hugging and kissing were over. More likely, it indicates one, last desperate attempt to touch
Bassanio, however so slight, by Antonio. To simplify this image, the handshake was replaced with a kiss.
21. / And even there, among the onlookers,
His eyes were big with tears. Turning his face,
He put his arms around him, then with great
Affection, showing wondrous emotion
22. {I think he only loves the world for him}
/ I think his only love in life is him. / I think Bassanio is the world to him. / I think he liveth only for
23. / And steal the sorrow he doth now embrace
To courtship and° such fair ostents° of love15 / To win her with // displays
As shall most fittingly° become° you there.’ 16 {conveniently} // come to
And then, right there,° his eyes aflow with tears,17 {And even there} / And on the spot
He turned his face and put his arms around him,18
And with affection, so fully displayed,°19 expressed / apparent / evident
He kissed Bassanio’s cheek, and so° they parted. 20 21 / thus
His only love in this world is for him. 22
I pray thee, let us go and find Antonio° {find him out}
To quicken° his embracèd heaviness 23 / lighten
With some delight or other.° / and laughter
—Salarino So we shall.° {Do we so} / Let us go
1. / Quick, quick, draw back the curtain straight away / Quick, I pray, draw the curtain straight away
straight: right away / straight away
2. {And comes to his election presently}
3. / And should you choose the one containing me
4. {Straight shall our nuptial rites be solemnized} / Straight shall we go to church and there be married
5. / You must be gone from hence immediately
6. / To chose the right casket, ne’er in my life
7. {Immediately to leave you and be gone.}
8. / These are the terms to which all men must swear
9. / Who chance to win my less than worthy self / Who chance to win my undeserving self
worthless: insignificant, less than worthy (when compared to the worth of these great suitors). This is a false
show of modesty.
ACT TWO - Scene Nine 2.9.0
Belmont. Enter Nerissa and a Servant
Quickly, I pray thee—draw the curtain straight.° 1 / now
The Prince of Arragon has ta’en his oath
And comes at once to make his choice of caskets. 2
A servant draws back the curtain, revealing the three caskets.
jA flourish of cornetts.k
Enter the Prince of Arragon, Portia, and attendants
Behold, there stand the caskets, noble Prince.
If you chose that wherein my picture’s found,° 3 {I am contained}
Straightaway shall we take° our nuptial vows. 4 / Then straightaway we’ll take
But should you fail, without another word,° / more speech, my lord
My lord, you must depart° from hence at once.° 5 / be gone
I am enjoined° by oath to observe three things: / obliged > obligated, bound
First, never to disclose° to anyone {unfold} / reveal
Which casket ‘twas I chose. Next, if I fail
Of the right casket, never in my life 6
To join° a maid by way of marriage. Lastly, {woo}
If I do fail° in fortune of my choice,
To leave at once° and forever be gone.7 / forthwith
To these injunctions° everyone doth swear 8 / conditions
Who comes to hazard for my worthless° self. 9 / lowly
10. {And so I have addressed me} / And I’ve attended to them / And thus I’ve taken the vows
addressed me: I have addressed (and fulfilled) these injunctions by taking the required vows.
11. / You must have greater value than mere lead
12. Arragon dismisses the lead casket in one line saying, you must look more beautiful before I would risk anything
upon you (‘ You shall look fairer ere I give or hazard’). In other words, he makes his decision based upon looks and
not consideration of the inscription. Then, ironically, the bulk of his speech is dedicated to condemning those who
judge by outer appearance and the ‘fool multitude that choose by show.’
13. / Before I should give or hazard on you
14. Previous two lines replace one line in the original: {You shall look fairer ere I give or hazard}
15. / And yet that ‘many’ may well indicate
16. The original reads: {What many men desire? That ‘many’ may be meant | By the fool multitudes}. The line is
competent enough but contains an additional (and superfluous iamb); it is unlikely that the learned Arragon would
stray from the standard meter where there was no reason to do so. The original most likely would have read: ‘What
many men desire’ may be meant—with Arragon referring back to the last portion of the inscription (‘what many men
desire’) rather than one word (‘many’). In this version, the standard meter has been preserved.
17. / Not seeing past the fondness of their eyes / Not seeing past what attracts their attention
fond eyes: that which is attractive to the eye and which appeals to the outer senses (and thereby lacking true inner
vision and wisdom)
18. {martlet}: a bird, probably referring to the house-martin or swift
19. / Exposing it to hazardous conditions
20. {Even in the force and road of casualty}
/ And well upon the highway to disaster / Which is the road unto harm and casualty / Putting itself in danger and in
harm’s way / E’en at the risk of injury and death / Subject to hazard, danger, and destruction
[See Additional Notes, 2.9.29]
21. / Because I won’t commune / Because I shalln’t conspire
22. {Because I will not jump with common spirits}
jump with: run the same course as, be in agreement with, be associated with, be allied with, etc.
23. / And be so ranked with the barbarous masses / And have me ranked with the ignorant hordes
24. / and to show one’s honor
And so am I obligèd.°10 Fortune now / And thus have I so pledgèd
To my heart’s hope! Gold, silver, and base lead:
‘Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.’ xxx
You must have greater beauty than mere lead 11 12
Ere I should° give or hazard all on you. 13 14 / Before I
What says the golden chest? Ah,° let me see: {Ha}
‘Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.’
What ‘many men desire’ may indicate° 15 16 / may but suggest / may refer to
The foolish multitudes° that choose by show. / ignorant masses
Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach° 17 / than what fond eye teaches
Which pries° not inwardly° but like the martlet 18 / looks / seeks {to the’interior}
Doth build its nest upon the outer wall
Therein exposing it to harsh conditions,19
E’en at the risk° of hazard and disaster. 20 / And in the way
I will not chose what many men desire
Because I will not jump°21 with common sorts,° 22 / move // common souls / commoners
And rank° me with° the barbarous multitudes. 23 / class / stand
Now then, to thee, thou silver treasure-house,
Tell me once more what title° thou dost bear:° / saying // inscription thou bear
‘Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.’
And well said too! For who shall go about° / For what man shall attempt
To cozen° fortune by a show of honor 24 / To cheat one’s / Beguiling
25. {O, that estates, degrees, and offices} / O that position, wealth, and higher office
estates: a) one privilege, one’s position, b) one’s wealth, one’s fortune, what one owns
degrees: rank, position
26. {Were purchased° by the merit of the wearer} / procured
/ Were found upon the worth of those who wear it.
27. / Were not obtained through some corrupted° means; / deceitful
And that true honor were justly bestowed
In accord with the worth of those who wear it.
28. {How many then should cover that stand bare!}
cover: succeed, be covered with the dress of success, wear (cover themselves with) a suit of dignity, b) cover
that: who now
that stand bare: a) those who have nothing, who stand naked (without wealth or honor), b) the bare head of
servants, who do not wear a hat in the presence of their masters.
A) How many then (if rank and position were not derived corruptly) should cover their bare heads—as they do
now—with hats or crowns, to signify their true honor?—none.
B) How many then should keep their hats on (cover their heads) when those of presumed rank passed
by?—everyone. (No one would doff his hat as a sign of respect).
/ All would have covered heads as they pass by / All would keep their hats on as they pass by
C) How many then, would succeed, that now have nothing? How many then, who now stand bare (without
recognition) would be covered with medals (signifying honor)?—a few. [See Additional Notes, 2.9.43]
29. The next six lines are somewhat vague (and the metaphors used are inconsistent) but their intent is clear:
Arragon is saying that those who now have honor are not deserving of it (and that the honor they show was derived
corruptly). Two of the lines, however, could be interpreted more amicably: one could mean that among those who
are low (with bare heads) some are worthy and could wear the hats normally worn by dignitaries (signifying honor);
the other, that among the ‘chaff and ruin’ some are truly honorable—and could be made to appear that way with the
right exterior coating (varnish). For the most part, however, all the lines are emended to reflect Arragon’s view that
those who are currently in the place of honor are undeserving of it, (rather than the more complex image that among
those who are poor and lowly could be found people who are deserving of honor).
In an attempt to rectify the metaphor (and preserve its agricultural references) Bailey (1862) emends the
passage as follows: ‘How much low peasant’s rye would then be screen’d | From the true seed of honor! and how
much seed | Pick’d from the chaff and strewings of the temse | To be new garner’d ! (Temse refers to a kind of
sieve). Bailey notes that the term peasantry is not found in any of Shakespeare’s dramas.
[See Additional Notes, 2.9.48]
30. {How much low peasantry would then be gleaned}
Q reads, ‘how much low peasantry,’ whereas F reads, ‘how much low pleasantry.’
low peasantry: lowliness, low rank or conduct of a peasant
low pleasantry: low remarks of humor; low courteous remarks; lip service, facetiousness
31. {From the true seed of honor} / From so-called ‘noblemen’
32. [See Additional Notes, 2.9.48]
33. {I will assume desert. Give me a key for this}
Without the seal° of merit? Let none presume {stamp} / badge / mark
To wear an undeservèd dignity.° / worthiness
O that one’s status, wealth, and high position 25
Were not derived corruptly;° and that true° honor / by falsehood {clear} / bright
Were rightly earned by those who deem to wear it. 26 27
How many then should be without their crowns!° 28 29 / medals
How many that command would be commanded!
How much low peasantry30 would then be gleaned° / culled // could we extract
From those of noble birth;°31 and how much honor / royal blood
Amply bestowed° upon° our dignitaries / Decorated // Amply awarded to
Would be but varnish? Well, but to my choice: 32
‘Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.’
I will assume what I rightly deserve;
I choose the silver chest. Give me a key, 33
34. {I will assume desert. Give me a key for this, | And instantly unlock my fortunes here}
/ I will assume desert—give me the key | To claim my prize for all the world to see.
/ I will assume desert—the key for this | To instantly unlock my prize of bliss
35. Unlike Morocco’s soliloquy, Arragon makes no mention of Portia, only himself. Morocco mentions both
himself and the lady; Bassanio mentions neither himself nor the lady.
36. Here, as in 2.9.78, Portia’s subsequent line rhymes with Arragon’s previous line. The original reads:
Arr: And instantly unlock my fortunes here. Arr: Patiently to bear my wroth.
Por: Too long a pause for that which you find there. [52] Por: Thus hath the candle singed the moth. [78]
In this emendation (unlike the original) Arragon closes with a rhyming couplet. As such, the triplicate rhyme
added by Portia may not be necessary.
37. Arragon misquotes the inscription which suggests that he is recalling it, not actually reading it.
38. / By your own hand, you have rendered a verdict / By you own choice, O prince, you gave a verdict
39.{To offend and judge are distinct offices | And of opposèd natures.}
Portia is saying: One who offends (Arragon), due to lack of wisdom, cannot be in a position to judge or give
sentence (since this requires wisdom). In other words, an offender is in no position to judge himself; someone
qualified to judge would not have committed the offence in the first place. If Portia is being asked by Arragon to be
the judge (and overrule the verdict), she is politely excusing herself. She does not want to offend Arragon by
personally agreeing with the verdict; nor does she need be in the position of judge since Arragon’s own choice has
already rendered judgement. [See Additional Notes, 2.9.60]
40. / Need I be judge of that? / ‘Tis not my place to judge || And what is here?
/ I need not be the judge of that. || What’s here?
41. {The fire seven times tried this}
tried: refined, purified [See Morocco’s use of the term, 2.7.53]
42. Q1 reads as follows:
The fire seven times tried this
Seven times that judgement is,
To claim° my prize and my fortune to be. 34 35 / And here’s
He opens the silver casket and pauses
Too long a pause for that which you find there.° 36 / you do see / would agree
What’s here? The portrait of a blinking° idiot. / dull-eyed
Presenting me a schedule.° I will read it. / with a scroll
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.’ 37
Did I deserve no more than a fool’s head!
Is that my prize? Are my deserts° no better? > Is what I deserve
By your own hand, O Prince, your choice is made;° 38 / you made your choice
Can° I be judge of that?° 39 40 / Need // I need not be the judge
—Arragon And what is here?
He reads
Five times fire did burn° this;41 42 {try} > purify
That did never choose amiss,
Some there be that shadow’s kiss,
Such have but a shadow’s bliss:
There be fools alive Iwis (I wis)
Silvered o’er, and so was this.
Take what wife you will to bed,
I will ever be your head:
So be gone, you are sped.
43. {That did never choose amiss} / Choose you now another miss / That did never choose iwis
44.{There be fools alive Iwis}
Iwis: certainly, assuredly, for sure; ‘I know,’ ‘I think.’ The capitalization suggests that the original intent was
probably I wis, or I know.
45. {Silvered o’er, and so was this}
silvered o’er: a) Dressed up with the appearance of merit, perhaps donning some silver medals. This reference
specifically implicates Arragon for the very thing he so diligently condemned in others—undeserved worth. b) The
silver or gray hair found on aged persons, who are considered wise (due to age) but who are, indeed, fools.
46. {Take what wife you will to bed}
This line speaks of taking a wife to bed, yet the vow forbids a suitor from ever taking a wife should he
choose the wrong casket. A possible rendering might be: ‘Take your vanished wife to bed.’ Vanished plays on the
words vanity, vanquished. Here a vanished wife refers to a wife that Arragon will never have—as all he will ever
take to bed is the thought of having a wife.
47. {I will ever be your head}
This suggests that ‘I’ (the head of a blinking idiot) will ever be Arragon’s head. (Arragon will always have
the head of an idiot). As an alternative, the line could read: ‘I will e’er be in your head.’ This suggests that thoughts
about losing the lottery (and thoughts about this idiot head) will ever be in Arragon’s mind (and Arragon will ever
come to think of himself as a fool for failing at the lottery).
48. / Sweet adieu—I’ll keep my vow, | Bearing sorrow, then as now. || To your good choice, O prince, I bow
/ And to my fortune I do bow.
/ A moth into the flames—and how!
/ Sweet adieu, my oath I’ll keep | With but patience as I weep || Ay, one more night of restful sleep.
/ Sweet adieu, my life I’ll wait | Patiently to bear my fate || Thank God ‘tis not a moment late.
49. {Sweet, adieu. I’ll keep my oath, | Patiently to bear my wroath.} Por: {Thus hath the candle singed the moath}
wroath: wroth > a variant of ruth (sorrow, grief). Due to the spelling, it is likely that oath and wroath were
meant to form a triplicate rhyme with moath. In modern pronunciation, the rhyme between oath and wroth is lost,
whereas the rhyme between wroth and moth is preserved. Thus, in modern pronunciation Arrgon’s speech is
completed in rhyme by Portia’s following line (wroth-moth). Similarly, at the end of Arragon’s speech before the
caskets [2.9.50-51] there is no ending rhyme (this-here)—yet the rhyme with Arragon’s last line is completed by
Portia’s following line (here-there).
Five times judgement brings a hiss,° / brings abyss / falls amiss,
Now your choice begets a miss;° 43 / That their choice is e’er amiss
Some there be that shadows kiss, / Now they have a
Such have° but a shadow’s bliss. / Claiming / Getting
There be fools we all dismiss, 44
Silvered° o’er, and so was this.45 / Varnished
Take what thought° you will to bed 46 {wife}
I will ever be your head° 47 / e’er be in your head
So be gone, for you are sped.° > dismissed
Still more fool I shall appear,
With° the time I linger here, {By}
With one fool’s head I came to woo,
But I go away with two.
Sweet adieu, I’ve lost my claim, / my suit/fate is lame / I am lost and ne’er the same
Thus I go to° bear my shame. 48 49 / Now to go and
50. {Thus hath the candle singed the moth}
51. deliberate: deliberating, calculating, over-thinking. This term suggests a reliance on the mind as opposed to the
heart. Portia, however, is thankful for this deliberation since it leads such suitors into making the wrong choice.
52. {The ancient saying is no heresy: | Hanging and wiving goes by destiny}
/ The ancient saying is a verity / is a truth I see
/ The ancient saying is not one of° hearsay: | Hanging and wiving go by fate I dear say / found on
/ The ancient saying holds true even now: | Hanging and wiving are fated somehow
53. my lord: Portia is using this term playfully as it would never be used in reference to a messenger. She is playing
on the use of the term my lady, suggesting by her playful, my lord, that she does not hold the rank of a lady. This
line {Where is my lady? || Here my lord}, however, is suspect, both in the messenger’s superfluous question, and
Portia askew response.. Thus, this line could be deleted without any loss.
54. {th’approaching}/ th’arrival / the coming
55. {From whom he bringeth sensible regreets} / From whom he bringeth bounding compliments / From whom he
brings abounding (/abundant) salutations.
sensible: evident to the senses, abundant
regreets: a) salutations, greetings, compliments, b) gifts
Sensible regreets would usually be interpreted as ‘abundant greetings,’ yet with the modifier (‘Gifts of great value’)
the expression would suggest, ‘a lot of gifts’—and gifts of great value.
56. {To wit, besides commends and courteous breath}
to wit: namely, that is to say
/ That is—besides his words of lavish praise— / That is to say—besides great compliments— / That is to
say—besides his courteous words— / To wit (besides abounding compliments) / To wit (besides his courteous
Exit Arragon and his attendants
One more° moth into the flame. 50 / Another / Flies the
O, these high-minded° fools when they do choose, {deliberate}51
They have the wisdom by their wits to lose.
The ancient saying is still true of late: / to date / and straight
Hanging and wiving are compelled by fate.° 52 / obliged by / outcomes of / fortunes of
Come, draw the curtain, Nerissa.
Enter a Messenger
Where is my lady?
Here. What would my lord? ] 53
Madam, there is alighted at your gate
A young Venetian, one who has arrived° {comes before}/ who comes in advance
To indicate° the approach°54 of his lord, {To signify} / Thus announce // th’arrival
From whom he bringeth bounteous° off’rings, 55 / numerous
That is to say° (besides his courteous words) 56 > {To wit}
words and praise)
57. {Yet, I have not seen} / I have not yet seen / As of yet, I’ve not seen
yet: as of yet, heretofore
58. / So promising a harbinger° of love / courier / messenger
59. {To show how costly summer was at hand} / To show how fully summer was at hand
costly: lavish, full, bountiful
60. fore-spurrer: a forerunner who comes on a horse.
61. {Thou spend’st such high-day wit in praising him} / Thou spend’st thy Sunday best in praising him.
high-day: holiday, fit for a high holy day or a Sunday; high-blown, lavish, extravagant
high-day wit: language befitting a special day,
62. The line found in Q1 reads: ‘Bassanio Lord, love if thy will it be.’ Most editors reject this punctuation and
follow the sensible emendation of Rowe, which reads: ‘Bassanio, Lord Love, if thy will it be! The punctuation in Q1
refers the term ‘Lord’ to Bassanio (Lord Bassanio), rather than it being a reference to Cupid (Lord love), who is
mentioned in the previous line. Another possibility is that Nerissa is making a plea to God, the Lord, in hopes of
Bassanio’s arrival: ‘Bassanio, Lord—love if they will it be.’
/ Bassanio! [please] Lord—[let there be] love if thy will it be! / if it’s meant to be!
/ [Please let it be] Bassanio, Lord, [and let there be] love, if they will it be!
/ O Lord, Bassanio—if thy will it be!
/ Bassanio, Lord of Love, I pray it be [See Additional Notes, 2.9.100]
63. The question begged by this line is: How might Nerissa come to know, or even surmise, that Bassanio was a
suitor, and likely to arrive in Belmont?—likely enough for her to wish it. Her delighted mention of Bassanio, and
her plea to Cupid (or God) for it to be Bassanio, tells us that she was not only expecting his arrival but was hoping
for it. (Bassanio’s arrival also portends the arrival of Gratziano, which may what Nerissa was really hoping for).
[See Essays: The Lottery]
Gifts of rich value. ‘Til now,° I’ve not seen57 > As of yet / Up to this time
So hopeful° an ambassador of love. 58 {likely} > promising
A day in spring has never come° so sweet {in April never came}
To show the bounty of summer’s approach 59
As this forerunner° comes before his lord. {fore-spurrer}60
No more, I pray thee. I am half afeared° / afraid
Thou wilt say anon he is some kin to thee ° / he is your cousin
Thou spend’st such lavish wit° in praising him. 61 / your finest wit / such high-blown wit
Come, come, Nerissa, this° I long to see, / for
One from Cupid’s post, come so gracefully.° {mannerly}
—Nerissa [aside]
Bassanio! [wishfully] Lord Love—if thy will it be!° 62 63 / Lord of Love, O let it be!
1. {it lives there unchecked} / Why news is spreading fast
lives: / breeds unchecked: unstopped, uncontradicted
2. {that Antonio hath a ship of rich lading} / that Antonio’s ship, laden with riches
rich lading: rich cargo
3. wrecked: {wrackt}: wracked / strewn about the Goodwin Shoals: {the Goodwins}: the Goodwin Sands, a shoal
off the coast of Kent, England flat: sand bar, sand flat, shoal tall: / proud / great / grand
4. be the news: {as they say}
5. {if my gossip report be an honest woman of her word} / If the rumors are true
This double-positive could be simplified or emended as follows: ‘ if my gossip report be an honest woman / if
my gossip report be a woman of word.
6. {without any slips of prolixity}
prolixity: wordy, verbose, long-winded—tiresome as a result of being too wordy
slips: lapses into, indulgence in
slips of prolixity: without embellishment, without using too many words (or euphemisms to try and cover up the
hoped for truth), etc.
7. crossing the plain highway of talk: deviating from a straight-forward account; ‘beating around the bush.’
8. knapped: chewed on ginger: / ginger snaps title good enough: / merit enough
9. / Come to the end already! What is it? / Come, the full stop. And now, what sayest thou? / Come, the full stop by
now—what sayest thou?
10. The line division in Q1 is amiss. It reads:
Salari. Come, the full stop.
Solanio. Ha, what sayest thou, why the end is, he hath lost a ship.
In this line division, Salanio asks Salarino a question when Salarino is the one seeking information. Hence, Salanio’s
question, ‘Ha, what say’st thou?’ should be assigned to Salarino. In addition, it is clear what Salarino is saying and
so for Salanio to question him is not warranted. In defense of the original line structure, Salanio could be asking the
question to himself, and then answering it, but such a construction is cumbersome and inelegant.
ACT THREE —Scene One 3.1.0
Venice. Enter Salanio and Salarino
Now, what news on the Rialto?
Why yet it lives there unchecked,1 that Antonio hath a ship of rich lading 2 wrecked° 3 on the
narrow seas—the Goodwin Shoals° I think they call the place—a very dangerous flat,° and fatal,
where the carcasses of many a tall° ship lie buried. This be the news4 if my gossip report be a
woman of her word.5
I wish she were as lying a gossip as an old maid who ever knapped° ginger,° +moving her jaw up
and down without a word of truth coming out, or like a one who weeps and has her neighbors
believing that her husband has just died—for the third time! But it is true, without any miss
matching of words6 or crossing the plain highway of talk,7 that the good Antonio, the honest
Antonio—O that I had a title good° enough to keep his name company— 8
Come the full stop anon°—what sayest thou? 9 / by now > already
Why the end is, he hath lost a ship.10
11. See note 27 for a possible way to rectify this scene. If rectified, Salarino and Salanio would exeunt here, lines
19-50 would be deleted, and Shylock would enter alone and deliver his famous speech, ‘Hath not a Jew eyes?’ to the
audience—and not to the disinterested Salarino and Salanio.
12. {Let me say ‘amen’ betimes} / Let me say ‘amen’ while there is still time / before it’s too late
betimes: while there is still time; right now / quickly
13. It seems that Jessica’s flight took place a few weeks ago—this is in accordance with Tubal’s return from Genoa,
which takes place later in the scene. (Genoa, by road, is some 200+ miles from Venice.) Shylock has seen Antonio
many times, and it is likely he would have also seen Salarino and Salanio. Yet, for dramatic consistency, we must
assume that this is the first time that Shylock sees Salanio and Salarino since Jessica’s flight.
14. A fanciful reference to a tailor who made Jessica’s wings; this could also be a reference to the tailor who made
the boy’s clothing that Jessica wore.
15. {she flew withal}
16. {fledge} A fledgling, ready to fly.
17. {leave the dam}: leave the nest. The substitution of nest for dam, which makes the line more understandable,
ruins the word association with the next line where Shylock says, ‘she is damned for it.’
18. In an earlier embodiment of the play, where Salarino alone existed (and had not yet been split into two identical
characters: Salarino and Salanio) all the lines in this scene belonged to Salarino. When Salanio was added, this line
(which has congruity as a single line) was split into two, with the first part remaining with Salarino and the second
part assigned to Salanio. Salanio’s superfluous closing line, [73-73], however, was not part of the original
embodiment (nor originally assigned to Salarino) but was likely added ex post facto (by someone other than the
author) after the final draft was complete. [See Note 41]
19. Here the blame quickly shifts from Salarino and Salanio to Jessica (where it belongs) and then blame changes
into his rage against Christians in general and Antonio in particular. Shylock’s words hereafter, to the two
Sallies—although he is being mocked—is friendly and cordial. He does not attack them in the way they attack him.
I hope° it might prove the end of his losses. 11 {would}
Let me say, ‘amen’ to that,12 lest the devil cross my prayer—for here he comes in the likeness of
a Jew.
Enter Shylock
How now, Shylock—what news among the merchants?
You knew—none so well, none so well as you—of my daughter’s flight. 13
That’s certain. I, for my part, knew the tailor14 that made the wings on which she flew away.15
And Shylock, for his own part, knew the bird was ready to fly16—as it is the nature of all +young
girls, to leave the nest. 17 18 nature: {complexion} / disposition
She is damned for it! 19
20. {Out upon it, old carrion, rebels it at these years.}
out upon it: > Probably refers to something like, ‘damn it,’ ‘to hell with it,’ ‘throw it out,’ ‘useless,’ etc. thus
suggesting something that is ruined or ready to be discarded. This negative sense is in line with the negative term for
the body, referring to it as ‘old carrion’—dead or rotting meat. A similar term (‘out upon her’) is used by Shylock
later in the scene, 113, when referring to his daughter.
old carrion: the body which is corporeal, weak, and subject to aging /
rebels it at these years: it (the body, specifically, the male sexual organ) rebels (does not follow one’s wishes)
when it gets to be this age.
/ Damn this old carrion. It rebels and will no longer rise to the occasion / What to expect from a man of
your years? Surely your flesh is wont to rebel and does not rise when prompted
21. This line is added to explain the sexual nature of Salanio’s previous reference. It could be included as a separate
entry by Salarino (as found above) or tagged to the end of Salanio’s previous line.
22. Salarino talks here in a very familiar tone and he seems to know both Jessica and Shylock well enough to make
such a comparison. Yet his words are acerbic. Shylock, however, does not respond to these cutting words, (nor does
he seem to take offence) as his mind is occupied with other concerns. Shylock opens the scene with an accusatory
tone (against the Sals) but the bulk of his mentality quickly shifts to his daughter and Antonio (with help from the
23. The contrast between red wine and Rhenish (which is a white German wine) is primarily that between something
crude (red wine) and something refined (Rhenish), though there is also the more obvious contrast between the colors
of red and white. Without an understanding of Rhenish this contrast would be lost, especially since Rhenish sounds
a lot like red. To make this distinction clear, the above line could read: ‘between red wine and white,’ or ‘between
crude red wine and fine white Rhenish.’
24. {There I have another bad match} / There I have another thing gone wrong.
This reference is unclear, and we are not certain of how Antonio’s loss at sea represents another bad match.
The first bad match—which Shylock is unwittingly concurring with—is that between Shylock and his daughter, the
second bad match is that between Shylock and Antonio. The bad match refers to Antonio’s inability to pay—but we
are not clear at to why Shylock is calling it bad. (If Shylock was truly delighted in Antonio’s loss, he might call it a
good match rather than a bad one).
25. {a bankrout} > someone whose funds (bank account) has been routed; someone who is bankrupt
26. {a prodigal} / a wasted man.
The term generally refers to one who has carelessly spent or wasted his wealth (by being too liberal in his
spending). Antonio, however, is more careful in his ventures, and so the term may refer to Antonio’s prodigality
with respect to his loaning money to Bassanio (and Bassanio’s wasting of it). Yet, earlier in the scene Shylock
That’s certain, if the devil may be her judge.
My own flesh and blood to rebel!
This useless bag of flesh—it is sure to rebel for a man of your years. 20
You can’t expect it to rise on every occasion.°, 21 / when you want it to
I say my daughter is my flesh and my blood.
There is more difference between thy flesh and hers, than between jet black and ivory; more
between your bloods than there is between red wine and white Rhenish. 22 23 But tell us, do you
hear whether Antonio has had any loss at sea or no?
There I have another bad match.24 A bankrupt,25 a prodigal 26 who dare scarce show his head on
described Antonio’s ventures as, ‘ventures he hath squandered abroad’ [1.3.20-21] and so the term might refer to
Antonio’s overly extended ventures.
27. upon the mart: at the Rialto; where the merchants and traders meet
28. According to theory, Salarino and Salanio were not found in the original draft of the play (nor the second
draft—for in that draft Salarino alone existed) but the pair came about as part of a third draft—whose main function
was to talk about, and give news of, the main characters. Thus, it is likely that Shylock’s famous speech was
originally a monologue, with Shylock making his plea to the audience, rather than two supporters of Antonio (who
would not sympathize with, nor understand, Shylock’s position). Several anomalies in the text support this theory
(that Salarino and Salanio were added as part of a later draft), including a) The stage direction reads: ‘Solanio and
Salarino.’ rather than ‘Enter Salarino and Solanio.’ (as is found in 2.8), and there is no line spacing before this entry
to signify a new scene; b) Shylock’s entry is placed in the position of an character exit, not an entrance and reads,
‘Enter Shylocke’ as opposed to ‘Enter Shylocke.’ c) When a man from Antonio enters to signify the exist of Salarino
and Salanio, the speech heading for ‘Man’ is missing, and there is a misplaced line space before the line, d) the stage
direction, Enter Tuball, is listed twice (instead of once), e) the stage direction reads Exeunt Gentlemen, as opposed
to Exeunt, etc.
Thus, in an earlier draft, this may have been a monologue, with Shylock alone. In a later draft, this was
likely two scenes, with Salarino and Salanio exiting after line 18 [‘I would it might prove the end of his losses.] We
find support for this in the misplaced and anomalous connecting line [19-20], and also in the superfluous and
uninspired dialogue between the Sals and Shylock [21-49], none of which moves the plot, most of which is askew
(especially the part where the Sals are comparing Shylock to his daughter), and all of which seems to be a later
addition. Hence, a restoration of this scene would be to split the scene into two and delete a portion of the middle
section: a) 3.1.1—3.1.18 [keep], with Exeunt of both Sals after line 18; 3.1.19—3.1.50 [delete]. Enter Shylock, and
begin with line 51: ‘He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million. . .’ b) Shylock could begin at line 41, and
reference his speech to Antonio: ‘Antonio has had another loss at sea: Now he is a bankrupt, a prodigal, who dare
scarce show his head on the Rialto . . . He was wont to lend money for a Christian courtesy: let him look to his bond.
And if he forfeit, will I take his flesh? +What’s ask me,what’s that good for? To bait fish withal. If it will feed
nothing else, it will feed my revenge. . . c) Salarino and Salanio could remain on stage, unnoticed, as Shylock gives
his speech. When the speech is over, a Man from Antonio could enter and bid them to leave [3.1.70-72].
Alternatively, Shylock could notice them (when the man enters) and shout out just before they exit: Shy: ‘You knew,
none so well, none so well as you, of my daughter’s flight.’ Exeunt Shy:[to himself] She is damned for it.
(Alternatively: Salarino could make a last retort, saying: ‘That’s certain, if the devil may be her judge.’)
29. / To use for baiting fish. / To use for fishing bait.
30. / dishonored / humiliated
31. {hindered me half a million}: a) hindered me again and again, a half a million times, b) caused me a loss of half a
million ducats in profit
/ hindered me a million times
32. {dimensions} / a body frame / bones > which make up a person’s height
33. {affections, passions}
Affections generally refers to objective desires, things a person likes, things influenced by the senses; passions
refer more to subjective feelings, stirred from the heart.
the Rialto; a beggar that was used to come so smug upon the mart.27 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 bond.
Why, I am sure, if he forfeit thou wilt not take his flesh. What’s that good for?
—Shylock 28
To bait fish withal.29 If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced 30
me, and hindered me half a million times. 31 He hath laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains,
scorned my nation, thwarted my ventures, 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, arms, legs,32
senses, affections, desires?33 +Are we not, 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
34.{what is his humility?}
/ what kindness does he show? > said with sarcasm
/ what does he give (/offer / show) in return?
his humility: his humble response; the kindness and benevolence shown by a Christian
35. villainy: / ill-treatment / vulgarity / obscenity.
The term Jew was often synonymous with villain, and we see this reference in a line by Launcelet: for I am a Jew
[villain] if I serve the Jew any longer. [2.2.108] The villainy that Christians teach Jews, is that they view and treat
Jews as villains; hence, that same villainy (and wretched treatment) that Christians impose on Jews, Shylock, a Jew,
will now impose on a Christian.
36. {execute} / repay unto you/ give in fair return / repay in fullness / give back to
37.{and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction}
/ and it shall go hard, for I will give it to you better than you have given it to me
/ and I will give it hard to you but I will give the better lesson
38. There is a continued reference to Christians, though the object of Shylock’s revenge is Antonio. Antonio is the
one who has mistreated Shylock, and he (Antonio) has become a symbol for Shylock which represents the Christian
mistreatment of Jews. The distortion here is that Shylock’s rage is turned against Antonio only after he learns about
Jessica’s flight—even though Antonio had nothing to do with it nor would Antonio ever condone such a ‘less than
honorable’ action. [See Additional Notes, 3.1.69]
39. to justify: to vindicate / in service of
misplaced and misbegotten: / befuddled and befouled
40. / peddles the ‘Jew card’
41. Optional line to add:
Even more vile than this, you hide the evils of your trade behind the sanctity° of your +Jewish, tradition.
vile: / suspect /telling
sanctity: virtue / nobleness / righteousness
like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrongs a Christian, what kindness
does he return? 34 Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be, by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy 35 you teach me I will return unto you; 36 yet it
shall go harder to you than it has come to me. 37 38
___________________________________________________ [optional added lines]
++ —Salanio
Your words are full of passion words but fail to impress. You say that Christian and Jew are
alike—then you talk of revenge. If we are alike, your plea should be one of forgiveness.
Nay, there is neither Jew nor Christian in your words—there is naught but your own hatred,
misplaced and misbegotten.° 39
Methinks old Shylock peddles his Jewish sufferance 40 better than anyone on the Rialto.
Antonio hates the evils of usury, not Jews—and you, kind sir, are a usurer.
Your rage has defeated your judgement.
— 41
Ay, this revenge you ply with such zeal is not a thing you’ve learned by Christian
example—‘tis your own creation. We’ve heard Antonio speak against usury but not once
42. Optional additional line: “Bear in mind, we speak of good Antonio not about the lesser company he keeps.”
Adding this line would indicate that Antonio is especially good (and never makes a negative comment about Jews)
while suggesting that other Christians, such as Salanio and Salarino, are not so good, and may have made negative
comments about Jews.
43. Q1 reads: {Solanio. Here comes another of the Tribe, a third cannot be matched unless the devil himself turn
Jew.} As mentioned in previous notes, anti-Semitic ‘additions’ to the text are often found at the end of a scene or a
speech (made as a last remark before a character exits); these always appear misplaced or ‘forced’ upon the text.
These ‘add-ons’ smack of having been penned in, ex post facto, by someone other than the author. (See notes xx for
other examples of this anti-Semitic ‘appendaging.’) (Also note, that in this short interaction, a Jew is likened to a
devil three times [19, 31, 73] : thus is seems that someone, lacking in all respects, repeated this same reference here,
yet again.) Here, again, we find a likely case of ‘unauthorized appendaging’ where an unnecessary, inconsistent, and
misplaced anti-Semitic remark is attached as a final exiting remark. Not only is the content suspect, but the textual
anomalies surrounding this entry support the theory that is was added to the text: for instance, there a mistaken
speech heading in the preceding line (attributing the line to Saleri not Salari); the stage direction, Enter Tuball, is
listed twice; and the stage direction reads Exeunt Gentlemen, as opposed to Exeunt.
Saleri. We have been up and down to seek him.
Enter Tuball.
Solanio. Here comes another of the Tribe, a third cannot be
match, unless the devil himself turn Jew. Exuent Gentlemen.
Enter Tuball.
The original entry (before ‘corrections’ and additions were made) may have been thus:
Salari. We have been up and down to seek him out.
Enter Tuball [See Additional Notes, 3.1.73]
44. See previous note: The original entry is likely a corrupted addition to the text and has been deleted. However, a
portion of the original line attributed to Salanio could be emended (and added to the text):
Salanio: Here comes another of the tribe. Let’s quick unto Antonio’s house.
45. Genoa is 200+ miles from Venice.
46. / but there I could not find her
against the Jew or his nation. 42 ,
Enter a Man from Antonio
Gentlemen, my master Antonio is at his house and desires to speak with you both.
We have been up and down to seek him out. 43 44
Exeunt Salarino, Salanio, and Man
Enter Tubal
How now, Tubal. What news from Genoa?45 Hast thou found my daughter?
I often came where I did hear of her, but could not° find her. 46 {cannot}
47. Stage direction: [Shylock motions his hands in different directions, as if casually throwing things away,
indicating a carefree waste of his jewels and ducats]
48. No curse has fallen upon ‘our nation,’—the only curse that has fallen is upon Shylock. What pain is Shylock
feeling for the first time? All the years of being persecuted as a Jew, by his enemies, he could not feel, it could not
penetrate his hardened exterior. But the betrayal of his daughter has penetrated the exterior—but it is more like a
stabbing come from inside his heart which he can now feel. Perhaps it was the combination—the betrayal of his
daughter and the whimsical ruin of his hard-earned money—which caused Shylock, for the first time, to feel the
curse that fell upon his nation. [See Additional Notes, 3.1.81]
49. {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!}
Is Shylock wishing his daughter dead because she has betrayed him or because of the monetary loss she
incurred? Here we see Shylock’s confusion over value—and between his daughter and his ducats. In the court scene
Shylock refuses an offer of 9000 ducats (which was well above the sum stolen by his daughter) so the loss of money
is not the whole of his suffering. Here Shylock is wishing his daughter dead so that he could retrieve his jewels and
ducats from her dead body—which reveals his confusion and misplaced sense of rage. He simply has no way to
understand or express what he is feeling. He is not really wishing his daughter dead, even though he twice makes
this plea. Yet even in this wish there is a mixed message: he wishes that his daughter be dead, but also that she be at
his feet, that she returns to him.
50. Some additional lines could be added to mollify Shylock’s previous words and appease his misplaced rage
wherein he wishes his daughter dead. (Notice that Shylock speaks frankly about wanting his daughter dead but we
never hear him talk with the same directness or sense of entitlement when it comes to Antonio). The added lines
would also better situate the question, ‘No news of them?’ addressing it to Tubal as opposed to Shylock asking the
question to himself:
—Shylock . . . ducats in her coffin. +She’s made me suffer; she has cut me deeper than all mine enemies.
They, I know, are set against me—and their cruelty I can bear—but she was dearer to me than all the
+—Tubal Those who are closest, oft’ cut us the deepest. ,
—Shylock No news of them?
+ —Tubal None. ,
51. Herein Shylock is using the term thief—and expressing his desire for revenge—in reference to his own daughter.
So, we see that Shylock’s response in terms of revenge—even with respect to his own daughter—is a flaw of his own
unplumbed character, and not something he learned from Christian example (as stated by Shylock in his famous
‘Hath not a Jew eyes?’ speech). Here wants Jessica dead—as that is the action he deems to match her crime.
However, Shylock’s own words belie his true feelings—he does not actually want Jessica dead, but that is the only
thing he can say as to express his sadness and misplaced rage. Perhaps the kind of revenge that Shylock actually
seeks is to teach her a lesson, to somehow make Jessica feel the same kind of pain that he feels so that she might
come to know (a regret) the pain she has brought on her father. We can also suspect that Shylock wants to teach
Antonio the same kind of lesson. Neither of these ‘lessons’ involve the actually killing of the other person, though
that is what Shylock has stated in his rage.
According to theory (see note 28), Salarino and Salanio did not appear in the original draft of the play; in
such a case, this scene may have opened with the entrance of Shylock and Tubal, at line 75 (and did not include
Shylock’s famous speech opening with, ‘Hath not a Jew eyes?’ The idea of Shylock seeking revenge against his
daughter is misplaced and, as part of a later embodiment of the play—and expanding upon Shylock’s human need for
revenge—this theme of revenge was then expanded to include Shylock’s revenge against Antonio but also the more
encompassing revenge of the Jew against the Christian. This is also supported in Shylock’s reaction to news of
Antonio’s loss later in the scene. (See note 53)
52. {nor no ill luck stirring but what lights a my shoulders, no sighs but a my breathing, no tears but a my shedding.}
53. wish: {would} feet: {foot} That:{Would} / I wish at my foot: / right here spent: / lost / wasted / expended
my: / mine own ill luck: / misfortune
Why there, there, there, there! 47 A diamond gone, cost me two thousand ducats in Frankfort.
The curse never fell upon our nation till now—I never felt it till now. 48 Two thousand ducats in
that and other precious, precious jewels. I wish° my daughter were dead at my feet° and the
jewels in her ear! That° she were hearsed at my foot° and the ducats in her coffin! 49 50 No news
of them? Why so? And I know not what is spent in the search. Why, thou—loss upon loss. The
thief is gone with so much, and so much +spent°, to find the thief; and no satisfaction, no
revenge; 51 nor no ill-luck stirring but what lights on my shoulders, no sighs but of my°
breathing, no tears but of my° shedding. 52 53
54.{What, what, what, ill luck, ill luck.} / What? What? Ill luck for Antonio?
This line is anomalous and probably a result of some ‘typesetting correction.’ This odd repeating of words
(which is also found in line 96 and line 99) may have resulted from a portion of original line being unreadable (due
to a smudge) and the typesetter, in an attempt to fix it, simply repeated some of the words that were readable. In one
possibility, the original manuscript may have appeared as such:
~~~~~what ~~~~~~ ill luck.
a) typesetter’s rectification: ‘What, what, what, ill luck, ill luck.’
b) present rectification: ‘Tell me what kind of ill luck?’ / What, what kind of ill luck?
All three lines (94, 96, and 99) are suspect, both in content and in their odd repeating of words. One might
argue that since the same kind of repetition appeared three times that it must have been part of the original; or, it
could be, that the original page was smudged in several places and the typesetter rectified all the lines in the same
way (not by omitting words that were smudged but by repeating words from the same line).
55. In this line Shylock seems to hear about Antonio’s ill-luck with surprise, suggesting that he is hearing the news
(and delighting in it) for the first time. Yet earlier in the scene Shylock mentions Antonio’s loses and how he is a
bankrupt and a prodigal. So, there is some obvious repetition. Some commentators believe that this part of the scene
(between Shylock and Tubal) formed the whole of the scene; in a later draft—intending to show Shylock’s
vengefully human side, and also explain some of his reasons for wanting to kill Antonio—the author added
Shylock’s famous speech, ‘Hath not a Jew eyes?’
56. Both the quartos and the folios have ‘hear in Genoa’ {heere in Genowa} which most editors emend as ‘heard in
Genoa?’ They defend this emendation by stating that d and e were easily confused in Elizabethan handwriting,
though they have no answer as to how ea, in heard, would have been mis-typeset as ee, in heere. In addition, the
term heard is used both before [93] and after [101] this line, without error, which makes such a midstream typo even
more unlikely. The line, as it stands in Q1, or as summarily emended, is defective, and we can assume some type
error—most likely an error of omission rather than one of typesetting.
With the emended phrase, ‘Ha, ha, heard in Genoa?’ Shylock is made to repeat what Tubal had previously
said (‘Antonio, as I heard in Genoa’). Thus, the line would mean: ‘Ha, ha, so that is what you heard (about Antonio)
in Genoa?’ However, Tubal’s response is about Jessica—not Antonio—suggesting that Shylock is not oddly
repeating Tubal’s phrase but inquiring about his daughter. Thus, Shylock’s phrase ‘Hear in Genoa?’ could be
emended as, ‘What else did you hear in Genoa?’ or ‘What did you hear about my daughter in Genoa?’ With this
emendation (preserving the word hear and not changing it to heard) Shylock is asking for news about his daughter
and not repeating Tubal’s words about Antonio’s ventures (which is something he already knows).
With respect to the anomalous repetitions of lines 94, 96, and 99 (see note 53) portions of the line may have
been smudged and the typesetter (trying to rectify the line) took to repeating words from the same line (that were
already readable) as opposed to a) omitting the smudged words altogether, or b) trying to fill in the unreadable words
with new ones of his own creation. (We thank thee good typesetter for not trying to do this!)
In trying to rectify the line, one could, a) leave it as it appears in Q1, b) include the typesetter’s rectification
along with an additional one, or c) rectify the line (without relying upon the typesetter’s rectification). Thus:
a) I thank thee good Tubal. Good news, good news! Ha, ha. Hear in Genoa. (or ‘Heard in Genoa’)
Yes, other men have ill luck too. Antonio, as I heard in Genoa—
What? What? Tell me—what kind of ill luck? 54 55
He hath an argosy, cast away, coming from Tripolis.
I have heard the same.° Is it true, is it true? {I thank God, I thank God.}
I spoke with some of the sailors who escaped the wreck.
I thank thee, good Tubal. Good news. What else did you hear in Genoa? 56
b) I thank thee good Tubal. Good news. Good news! Ha, ha—what else did you hear in Genoa?
c) I thank thee good Tubal. Good news. What else did you hear in Genoa?
c) I thank thee good Tubal. What else did you hear in Genoa?
57. {four score ducats} / eighty / one hundred / two hundred / four hundred
The original reads, ‘four score ducats’ (or eighty ducats) and is here replaced with a more familiar and
recognizable amount of ‘eighty ducats.’ The term four score is not a number readily recognized by the modern
audience (and they would have to pause to mentally translate this term into ‘eighty.’) In addition, the term is strongly
associated with the opening of the Gettysburg Address and would direct most audience members to make that
irrelevant association.
Eighty ducats does not represent an amount whereby Shylock would feel as if someone had ‘stick’st a
dagger’ in him. Perhaps the intent of Shylock lamenting over ‘four score’ ducats—and repeating the term twice in
the following line—was meant to show his miserliness (for in the context of a 2000 ducat ring, and the 3000 ducat
bond, such an amount is too small to take up so much attention). One possible emendation would be to ‘up the ante’
and replace ‘four score ducats’ with ‘four hundred ducats’ which is an amount more likely to elicit such a strong
58. in my company: / traveling with me / along with me
59. several of: {divers of} (> from ‘diverse’) / a number of / many of
60. At this point Shylock could direct the conversation back to talk of his daughter as opposed to having Tubal
always directing the subject of conversation toward Antonio Hence, Shylock could finish this line by adding, ‘And
what of my daughter?’ or ‘And is there any more news of my daughter?’
61. Damn her for it: {Out upon her}: Out of this world with her, to hell with her.
62. {Out upon her! Thou torturest me, Tubal.} This is Shylock’s initial response to Tubal. It begins with an attack
on Jessica; then addresses Shylock’s feelings, and then the ring. The order of the lines could be transposed where
Shylock’s initial response is about the ring, then Jessica, then himself
B) Shylock: That was my turquoise ring. I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor. I would not have
given it for a whole jungle of monkeys. Damn her for it. Thou torture me Tubal.
63. {I had it of Leah} / I received it from Lea
Shylock’s wife, Leah, is mentioned by name. Recall the story from Genesis that Shylock told to Antonio,
relating to Jacob attending to Laban’s sheep. [1.3.74-87]: Jacob’s somewhat deceitful actions could have been his
way to get even with Laban, his father-in-law, who had previously tricked Jacob into taking Leah (Laban’s daughter)
as his wife and not Rachel (whom Jacob desired).
Your daughter spent in Genoa, as I heard, one night, eighty ducats.57
Thou stick’st a dagger in me. I shall never see my gold again. Eighty ducats in one sitting!
Eighty ducats!
And, in my company58 to Venice, there came several59 of Antonio’s creditors who swear he
cannot chose but break. break: / go bankrupt / go bust
I am very glad of it. I’ll plague him, I’ll torture him. I am glad of it.60
One of them showed me a ring that he had from your daughter—in exchange for a monkey.
Damn her for it.61 Thou torturest me, Tubal. 62 It was my turquoise. I had it of Leah 63 when I
was a bachelor. I would not have given it for a jungle full° of monkeys.
whole jungle: {wilderness} / whole jungle
64. Tubal, again, is trying to divert Shylock from his grief (over the loss of his daughter) to something Shylock will
be glad of—Antonio’s losses.
65. {Bespeak him a fortnight before}. > Tell the officer to arrest Antonio in a fortnight (when the bond is due) if
Antonio does not pay the full amount due. This securing of an officer in two weeks (when the bond is due) defies the
time frame of the play: Bassanio is now in Belmont with plenty of time to win Portia, return to Venice, and pay off
the debt—as planned—before it is due. (Bassanio set sail for Belmont at the end of 2.6). [See: Essays, Time Warp]
66. This line is somewhat out of place. Shylock’s plan to kill Antonio, to get him out of the way, no longer makes
sense since Antonio is a bankrupt and would no longer have sufficient money to loan out. [See Additional Notes:
67. {Go, Tubal, and meet me at our synagogue. Go, good Tubal; at our synagogue, Tubal.} The likely intention here
is to show the Elizabethan audience that Jews use their synagogue as a place to do business—which is the very thing
that Jesus revolted against. Tubal has just arrived back from a long trip; Shylock had spent a good amount of money
to pay for Tubal’s trip, but he does not know how much the trip cost (And I don’t know what’s spent in the search.
Why, thou—loss upon loss! [86-87]). Hence, Shylock must go and meet with Tubal to work out the finances and
settle the balance for Tubal’s trip (and to give Tubal the fee so that he may secure an officer in two weeks time). But
why Shylock directs Tubal to meet him at the synagogue is unclear, unless there is an open area in front of the
synagogue where it is convenient to meet. Some commentators interpret this meeting at the synagogue to suggest that
Shylock needs Tubal to meet with him at the synagogue so that Shylock can take a vow before God—a vow to kill
Antonio (if he should forfeit). However, there is no support that Shylock needs Tubal in order to take such a vow,
and Shylock’s taking a vow before God (which we hear about in 4.1) has no tangible relationship to Shylock meeting
with Tubal at the synagogue. [See Additional Notes, 3.1.123]
68. This line marks the end of a series of somewhat odd lines, spoken by Shylock, where he needlessly repeats his
words. Such lines include:
What, what, what? Ill luck? Ill luck? [94]
I thank God, I thank God. Is it true? Is it true? [96]
I thank thee good Tubal. Good news, good news! Ha, ha, here in Genoa. [99]
Four score ducats at a sitting! Four score ducats! [104]
I am glad of it. I’ll plague him, I’ll torture him. I am glad of it. [109]
Go Tubal and meet me at out synagogue. Go, good Tubal, at our synagogue, Tubal. [121]
69. For a discussion of Shylock’s emotional state, and how his sadness has been displaced by rage, see Additional
Notes, 3.1.124
But Antonio is certainly undone. 64
Nay, that’s true, that’s very true. Go Tubal, get me° an officer, and give him a two-week notice.65
I will have the heart of him if he forfeit—for were he out of Venice I can do what business I
will.66 Go, Tubal, and meet me at the Rialto. Go, good Tubal; at the Rialto Tubal. 67 68 69
get me: {fee me} / find me / hire me
Exeunt. They go separate ways
1. The theory that Bassanio received some kind of indirect help from Nerissa, in determining the right casket, is
supported by the text. To indicate this to the audience, he and Nerissa could be seen conversing, or conspicuously
together, before the scene opens.
2. {Before you hazard, for in choosing wrong }
3. {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.} / Disfavor counsels not in such a manner.
> My heart is telling me—but (because I am not allowed to show any favoritism) I cannot say that I am speaking
out of love, but (what I want to say) is that I could not bear to lose you—and you know yourself, that love, not hate,
speaks in such a way.
4. / so hear what is unspoken / so hear what I have not said / so hear what I cannot say / so hear the words unspoken /
so hear what’s left unsaid
5. / And yet a maiden’s only voice is thought / A maiden’s thoughts move but not her tongue
> a woman is not allowed to truly speak her mind (but is only allowed to think such thoughts)
6. I am forsworn: I have sworn falsely, I have failed to keep my oath. Forsworn is repeated later in the passage
but at no other place in the text. It is interesting to note that a few lines later [53-62] Portia references a story about
Hercules from Ovid’s Metamorphoses wherein, in the English translation (by Golding) the same word forsworne
appears—and this is the only place in the 15 books of the Metamorphoses that the word is used. The likely
implication is that the author referenced a copy of Golding’s Metamorphoses while composing this portion of the
text (as opposed to simply recalling the story from a past reading).
7. {That I had been forsworn}
8. {Beshrew your eyes}
9. {They have o’erlooked me and divided me}
o’erlooked: a) bewitched, as in being amazed and charmed, b) bewitched, as in altering one’s vision, as in
confusion or with eyes looking but not seeing, c) overlooked me, not seen me as I am
divided me: divided my attention, confused me, divided my sentiments (for I must keep my vows with respect to
my father’s wishes, but I also find myself wanting to break that vow and help you win)
This sentence may refer to the effect that Bassanio’s eyes have on Portia (i.e.,they bewitch and bewilder her) or to
what Bassanio sees with his eyes (i.e., he overlooks and divides Portia in his sight).
a) When looking into your eyes I’m bewitched and confused (as to whom I belong to, for I am lost in your eyes)
b) When looking into your eyes I see beyond the narrow scope of my vow, and I am divided (one part is
obligated to keep my vow and the other part wants to break it)
ACT THREE — Scene Two 3.2.0
Enter Bassanio, Portia, Gratziano, Nerissa, and attendants. 1
—Portia [to Bassanio]
I pray you, tarry.° Pause a day or two > spend some more time
Before you choose, for if your choice is wrong 2
I lose your company. Thus, forbear° awhile. / hold back / remain
There’s° something tells me—and I dare not° say / Now // cannot
It’s love—that I could not endure° to lose you / bear
And you know that indifference° counsels not {hate} / disfavor
In such a way 3 —+so hear° what goes° unsaid. 4, / heed // what’s left
But lest you should not understand me well°— / fully
And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought— 5
I would detain° you here some month or two / I want to keep
Before you venture for me. I could teach you
How to choose right, but then I break my oath,° {I am forsworn}6
And that will° never be—so° you may miss me. {That will I} / thus
But if you do,° you’ll make me wish a sin, > miss me / choose wrong
That I did break my oath.° 7 So blame your eyes;8 / vow
They° have bewitched me and divided° me: 9 That // bewildered / confused
b) Your eyes have overlooked me and see me as two
10. / Puts barriers ‘tween the owners and their rights / Bars us from claiming what we rightly own. / Has people
barred from what they rightly own / Puts walls between an owner and his rights
bars: barriers, obstacles; bars, as in the bars of a prison
11. / And so, though yours, not yours. So make your choice
12. / To offer thee no help. If you choose wrong / To give no help. And so, should you choose wrong
13. And so, though yours, still not yours. Prove it so,
+By your own choice, that I am truly yours.,
+In this, I cannot help. Should you choose wrong, / +And should it be you fate to choose the wrong,
14. / My hopes and dreams go to hell but not I.
15. {I speak too long, but ‘tis to peize the time}
peize: to weigh down, load, burden; hang weights upon
peize the time: add weights to the (pendulum of the) clock so as to make time move more slowly.
piece the time: draw out, elongate, add pieces to the time (as in seconds, minutes, hours, etc.)
Q1 has peize which means, ‘to weigh down, and may refer to the slowing of the clock, which is
accomplished by hanging weights upon the pendulum. It could also refer to the weighing (making more meaningful)
the time. (‘Weigh with deliberation each precious moment.’ — Clarendon). Many editors dismiss this image and
take peize to be a misspelling of peise, meaning to piece, augment, or add to. Piece the time would mean to add
pieces to it, so as to make the time longer. In both cases the meaning is the same: it relates to slowing, prolonging, or
adding to the time. Portia, not confident that Bassanio will choose the right casket—which would force him to leave
at once—wants to enjoy his company for as long as she can.
The image of hanging weight upon the clock to slow down the time, could be depicted more literally:
/ I speak too long; but ‘tis to hang more weight | Upon the clock, in hopes of slowing time,
16. {To ech it and to draw it out in length} / To try and eke it and draw out its length / To draw and eke out every
last moment
ech (eke): to prolong, extend, protract, augment, increase. Often used with out, as in ‘eke out the time.’
17. {For as I am, I live upon the rack} / For I now live as stretched upon the rack
upon the rack: refers to the image of a person being painfully stretched upon the rack (a common instrument of
torture in Medieval times). This method of torture was commonly used to extract confessions from accused
criminals and traitors (those who were accused of treason). The term rack, means ‘to painfully stretch.’ [Antonio
uses this term in 1.1:181-82: Try what my credit can in Venice do; | That shall be racked, even to the utmost.]
Bassanio is saying, ‘For as I am (having to wait until I can make my choice) I feel as if I am being stretched
upon the rack (and cannot bear to be tortured thus a minute longer). stretched upon the rack as a metaphor to signify
his patience being stretched, i.e., his having to wait for Portia. The wait is tortuous and, as such, he cannot wait the
additional month or two which Portia suggests, even though it could increase his chances of winning her. He cannot
even wait another minute and proceeds directly to the caskets. Bassanio’s being stretched may also be in terms of his
finances which are low and at their breaking point.
18. Option: add a line here for clarification: +Like one who’s been stretched to the breaking point.,
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 wicked° times {naughty} / woeful / awful
Put bars° between the owners and their rights. 10 / walls
And so, though yours, still not yours. Make your choice 11
And prove +that I am yours. In this, I’ve sworn
To give no help.° And so, should you choose wrong ,12 13
Let fortune go° to hell for it, not I.14 / My fortune goes
I speak too long; but ‘tis to slow° the time, 15 {pieze / piece} / weigh
To eke° it and to draw it out in length, 16 {ech / etch}
To stay you° from your choice.° / To hold you {election}
—Bassanio Nay, let me choose,
For as I am, I live° upon the rack. 17 18 / I’m stretched
Upon the rack, Bassanio? Then confess
19. Portia is using this light banter—this accusation of treason—to test Bassanio, and to have him ‘confess’ what is
true. Her real question is: Is your love true—is what you show (outwardly) a true reflection of what you feel? (Are
your motivations based on love for me or personal gain?)
Is there some aspect of yourself that goes against, that belies (i.e., is treasonous to) your show of love? In other
words, do your outer actions of apparent love go against what your truly feel inside? Are you putting on the outer
show of loving me yet do not truly love me?
20. {None but that ugly treason of mistrust | Which makes me fear th’enjoying of my love}
What does Bassanio mistrust? And how does such treason make him fearful of the future and uncertain
(mistrusting) whether there will come a time when he can enjoy the fruits and expression of his love (for Portia).
A) Bassanio’s treason could be his mistrust the wisdom of Portia’s father and the lottery he devised—which was
supposed to determine one who truly loves Portia. Bassanio truly loves Portia, and wants to enjoy the fullness of that
love (the same way that Portia wants to enjoy it)—and he mistrusts whether the lottery (which is supposed to
determine one who truly loves Portia) will, in fact, do so. B) Perhaps Bassanio does not trust himself. His love is
true, his love is certain, but his own doubts whether he will be able to rise to the occasion (and choose the right
chest) are in doubt. C) Previously Portia accuses Bassanio of treason (of putting on an outward show of loving her
but not truly loving in his heart). Bassanio’s reply could then be a reference to Portia’s mistrust (of Bassanio’s true
motivations) but this is unlikely, since such a mistrust would not make Bassanio fear the enjoying of his love. [See
Additional Notes, 3.2.29]
21. / None but the dark heresy of mistrust / None but the heresy found in mistrust
22. / +Where I am certain about my love’s truth,
23. / But not about my fortune to enjoy it / Yet still unsure if I’ll enjoy its fruit
24. {Which makes me fear th’enjoying of my love}
25. Bas: ‘Tween snow and fire as there is between treason
And my love.
Portia: Yet, you speak upon the rack
26. {There may as well be amity and life | ‘Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love}
There is as much kinship and similarity between snow and fire (which are opposites) as there is between
treason and my love. In other words, there is no treason mixed with my love—it is pure and singular. There is doubt
as to whether I will ever enjoy that love (because there is some lack of certainty in the outcome of the lottery) but no
doubt as to my love.
27. / Where men compelled do confess anything
Again Portia is teasingly testing Bassanio, saying that his admission of love may not be sincere since he is
like someone who is upon the rack and will make a confession (and say anything) just so he can get off the rack.
Such a confession, forcibly induced, therefore, cannot be trusted and taken as true.
28. promise me life: > promise me that I will have you; promise me that you will end this torture (of being apart
from you). It is unclear what Bassanio is asking of Portia, since she cannot, by her own wits or power, deliver
Bassanio to freedom (i.e. from the torturous death of being separate from her).
What treason there° is mingled with your love?19 / What heresy
None but that ugly treason of mistrust,° 20 21 / unrest
+Where I am sure about my love for you , 22 / the love I hold
Yet still in doubt° if I’ll ever° enjoy it. 23 24 / unsure //I am to
There is more kinship and affinity° / and likeness of kind
‘Tween snow and fire, as° treason and my love.25 26 > as there is between
Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack,
Where men enforcèd do speak° anything. 27 / will say
Promise me life and I’ll confess the truth.28
29. confess and live: an inversion of the proverb, ‘Confess and be hanged (die).’
30. . Q1 reads: {Confesse and loue | had beene the very sum of my confession:}
This playful response to Portia’s previous line may be punctuated as: a) Confess and love (Q1), b)
‘Confess’ and ‘love’, or c) ‘Confess and love’. The passage is sufficiently vague such that neither form of
punctuation is decisive. Putting the entire phrase in quotes links this line to the previous line of ‘confess and live,’
whereas quoting each word separately (‘confess’ and ‘live’) suggests that each word carries an individual meaning
and capacity. It seems that Bassanio is being vague by design, and his words are not meant to be fully understood;
he is, perhaps, making a veiled confession which is not meant to be recognized. [See Note 32]
[See Additional Notes, 3.2.38]
31. / Are yet the only words that I need speak: / Is the sum totaling of my confession
32. To ‘fill-out’ or modify the previous line, an additional line could be added:
+For all I have to confess is my love, / +For all I have are confessions of love,
33. {O happy torment, when my torturer | Doth teach me answers for deliverance:} / Doth teach me answers that
lead to my freedom / lead me to freedom
for deliverance: a) that enables me to get free (of the torture of not having you) by choosing the right casket; b)
that enables me to get free of the rack, of this torturous delay.
Bassanio’s reply to Portia’s ‘Confess and live’ might have also been ‘confess and give’ which would
clearly suggest the lead casket. However, in both cases, Bassanio does not know the inscriptions found on the
caskets, and therefore would not appreciate any clue found in the word confess or give. [See Additional Notes,
3.2.38] [See Essays: The Lottery]
34. The exact meaning of this passage is confusing. Clearly, at some point, Bassanio comes to feel that he has the
key or the answer to his deliverance (to winning Portia) but it remains uncertain how (or from whom) he received
this sense. We might first look to something Portia said which offered Bassanio some kind hint, but we see nothing
in her words—nor anything to give Bassanio this sense of certainty (to having obtained the key). One might fish and
hold that Portia’s admonition to ‘confess’ might be linked to ‘giving’ and direct Bassanio toward the lead casket
(which prompts the suitor to hazard all). Yet any such clue relating to the inscription found on the lead casket would
be lost on Bassanio since he has not yet seen the inscriptions. Another place to look for ‘the key’ would be to
Nerissa (with her being the ‘torturer’ not Portia). As previously stated, our theory is that the ‘key’ or ‘answer’ to
winning the lottery lies with Nerissa: if Bassanio can win Portia’s love, then Nerissa will give him a hint as to which
casket to choose. (Thus, in this context, Bassanio’s ‘confess and love’ may mean that if Portia loves him Nerissa will
confess the casket to choose; of if Portia confesses her love to him, then Nerissa will help him to win his love. Thus,
Portia’s confession of her love is the ‘key’ which delivers Bassanio from ‘torture.’)
In terms of a production, Bassanio could get a knowing nod from Nerissa towards the end of Portia’s
opening speech indicating that he had fulfilled the terms (that Portia loves him) and that he will get help from
Nerissa. (Bassanio may have been told at a previous time that a) he would get some indication from Nerissa that he
had fulfilled his end of the agreement, and b) that he should listen very carefully to the song for ‘a hint.’ If Bassanio
did not fulfill the terms, and proceeded to make a choice without an ‘OK’ from Nerissa, then she would not have the
musicians play a song.) Thus Bassanio’s statement, ‘O happy torment, when my torturer | Doth teach me answers for
my deliverance’ may apply to Nerissa, who has now given him the ‘go ahead’ and will ‘teach him the
answer’—through the words of the song—that will release him of this torturous wait and enable him to win Portia.
Portia’s opening speech is, in no uncertain terms, an admission of her love. As part of the staging, after
every few lines, Bassanio could look over toward Nerissa, asking with his eyes, ‘Is this enough? or ‘Does this not
indicate that she loves me?’ erstwhile hoping to get the nod of approval. Bassanio may want the nod forthwith, while
Nerissa wants to be a little more certain, and thus makes Bassanio wait a little longer. Thus, after getting the nod,
Bassanio moves to make his choice as quickly as possible, feeling the tortured by every second more he must wait.
35. {But let me to my fortune and the caskets}
my fortune: a) my fate, what befalls me (which will be determined by my choice), b) my treasure
The original does not end with a rhyming couplet.
a) / Doth teach me answers where I am set free | Now to the caskets where my fortune be
/ Now to the caskets and my destiny / Now let me to my fortune that awaits me
/ Now to my choice and my fortune to be
b) / Is but the sum of all I have to say | Now to my fortune and the chests, I pray.
/ Now to the caskets and my fortune, away!
c) / ‘Tis but the sum of all I do confess | Now to the caskets and my happiness
Well then, ‘confess and live.’ 29
—Bassanio ‘Confess’ and ‘love’ 30
Is but° the very sum of my confession. 31 32 {Had been}
O happy torment when my torturer
Doth teach° me answers where I am° set free— 33 34 / give // wherein I’m
Now to my choice° and my fortune to be. 35 {the caskets}
d) A possible triplicate rhyme scheme: / Doth teach me answers where I am set free | +Like a kind jailor who
throws me the key, | Now to my choice and my fortune to be
36. If you do love me: The lottery was designed to find Portia a man who would truly love her. Portia has (so far)
been resisting the ‘wisdom’ of her father’s lottery, uncertain that such a device will find one who truly loves
her—and also, uncertain, that it would find one whom she truly loves. But now, not able to intervene or prolong,
Portia surrenders to the fated dispensation of her father’s lottery. Her words, If you do love me, you will find me out
are more likely a hopeful prayer rather than a sanction or confirmation of the efficacy of her father’s lottery.
find me out: find the casket that hold my picture
37. / give him some room / make room, stand back
38. Portia makes a specific mention of Nerissa to ‘stand aloof,’ which indicates that she is in proximity to Bassanio
(which would have to be the case if she were to give him a subtle ‘yes’-nod).
39. This is not a directive to the musicians to play while Bassanio makes his choice but a poetic device. (No music
is actually played while Bassanio makes his choice). The musicians are instructed to play while Bassanio is
contemplating his choice, not while he is actually deliberating on it.
40. {Then if he lose he makes a swan-like end}
/ Then if he loses, he’ll die like a swan / Then if he lose he’ll play a dying swan
a swan-like end: swans were associated with music and were believed to sing a song (a swan-song) before they
died. This belief was also found in Plato, Euripedes, and Aristotle, and commonly held as true during Shakespeare’s
time: “It is said of the learned, that the swan, a little before her death, sings most pleasantly, as prophesied by a secret
instinct her near destiny.” Shepherd’s Calendar (1597). The use of the term swan song— which is based on this
supposition that a swan sings shortly before its death—now refers to the last great thing a person does before dying
or the final work of a person’s life. The term swan song comes from the English translation of the German word
schwanengesang. Here, the image of a swan singing before it dies is replaced by the tragic image of swan sinking to
a watery death while sad music plays in the background.
41. / Whose lullaby attends its sad demise / Which sings while sinking to a watery grave / Which sings a song to
mark its tragic end
42. Let music sound . . .
/ Let music play while he doth make his choice.
Then, should he lose, he will be like a swan,
Who sinks into a watery demise
As the musicians play their final strain
43. / That the comparison may stand more proper,
Mine eyes shall offer a river of tears
To thus provide for his watery death-bed.
44. / A joyous flourish of the bright cornets
45. / And call him sweetly to wed
/ And call him church-wise for his wedding day.
/ And call him toward church on his wedding day
Away then! I am locked in one of them:
If you do love me, you will find me out. 36
Nerissa and the rest, stand all aback.°37 38 {aloof}
Let music sound° while he doth make his choice. 39 / play
Then if he lose he’ll make a swan-like end, 40 / die just like a swan
+Which sings° a song upon its final breath,°, 41 /has // to mark its hapless end
And fades in music. That the metaphor° 42 {Fading in music. That the comparison}
May stand more proper,° my eye shall be the stream° / May be more apt / true // river
And wat’ry death-bed for him.43 He may win—° / Should he win
And what is music then? Then music is
The teeming flourish° of joyous° cornets 44 / fanfare // sparkling
That play to honor a new-crownèd monarch;
Or like the dulcet° sounds at break of day / ambrosial
That creep into° the dreaming bridegroom’s ear / fall upon
And summon° him to marriage.45 Now he goes, / beckon
46. / With no less dignity, but much more love
47. {Than young Alcides when he did redeem}
48. Refers to Hercules’s rescue of the virgin princess Hesione.
[For the complete story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, see Additional Notes, 3.2.56]
with much more love: Hercules did not rescue Hesione out of love but for payment. Portia is bringing up this
story, but then saying that Bassanio (coming with the same grandeur and dignity as Hercules) is coming with much
more love, and trying to win her not as a mercenary, for some material gain, but out of love (something which
Hercules did not have for the virgin princess he set forth to rescue). Hercules’s agreed-upon reward for saving
Hesione was not her hand in marriage but her father’s magical horses.
49. {The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy}
howling: crying out, lamenting, suffering. Only after the virgin princess was offered as a sacrifice to the seamonster
would the ravages and floods afflicting Troy be appeased.
I stand for: I am, I represent
50. [See Additional Notes, 3.2.58]
51. stand for: represent
52. {The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives} / The rest aback are the women of Troy
53. / To the sea-monster by the lamenting
People of Troy. And now, ‘tis I who stand
As sacrifice. And all those around me,
Aghast in wonder,° are the Trojan° wives / horror / marvel
54. with blearèd visages: / with teary visages / with teary faces all / tears upon their cheeks
55. / Who come with blearèd eyes and stainèd cheeks / Who now come forth with tears upon their cheeks
56. {With blearèd visages come forth to view | The issue of th’exploit. Go Hercules.}
57. {Live thou, I live}
The sense is that if Hercules lives—and does not die in his attempt to rescue Hesione—then she will live 9be
rescued). Thus, if Bassanio wins (lives), then Portia will be rescued (and live the life she wants.)
58. / Yet I do view this battle more with fright, | Than you who be in it—he who doth fight.
/ Yet now I look with greater fear in me, | Then you who fight the monster o’the sea.
59. The original stage direction, reads: {A song whilst Bassanio comments on the caskets to himself.}
60. In this stage direction Nerissa bids the musicians to play. This action is in support of the theory that Nerissa has
come to ‘assist’ Bassanio with the lottery (because Portia fall in love with him). Many commentators hold that
Bassanio receives help (on which casket to choose) from the rhyme scheme of the song (where the first three lines of
the song rhyme with lead) and also by the lyrics of the song (which suggest the lead casket—if one is listening
intently for such a clue). However, without Bassanio being ‘tipped off’ to listen carefully to the song, such a hint
would be lost on him.
It is likely that Bassanio was instructed beforehand to listen carefully to the words of the song. To make it
clear that Nerissa is giving Bassanio some kind of ‘hint’—and not actually telling him which casket to choose—she
could be made to whisper a clue to Bassanio, such as: ‘With care, my lord, do listen to the song’ or ‘Pay special heed
to the words of the song.’ Some productions, supporting the view that Bassanio was ‘tipped off’ by the words of the
song, put special emphasis on all the words in the song that rhyme with lead. xxx See Note 60.
With no less grandeur°—but with much more love— 46 {presence} / dignity
Than youthful Hercules when he did rescue° 47 / who goes to rescue
The virgin princess,48 paid in sacrifice° / given as a tribute
By suff’ring° Troy49 to placate Poseidon’s {howling}
Sea monster. I am now the sacrifice. 50 {I stand for sacrifice}51
The rest around me are the Trojan wives,°52 53 / wives of Troy
Who now° approach° with blearèd visages 54 / here // have come
To view the outcome° of this grand exploit.° 55 {issue} / heroic / awesome venture
Go Hercules! 56 If thou live, I will live:57
But here I view with much, much more dismay° / this fight with more dismay
Then thou, the hero,° who doth mak’st the fray. 58 / greater
Nerissa instructs the musicians to play a song.
A song is played while Bassanio mulls over the caskets 59 60
61. {Tell me where is fancy bred,} / Tell me where does loving start,
{Or in the heart, or in the head?} / In the head or in the heart?
{How begot, how nourishèd?} / Does it bind or rend apart?
The three lines of the original verse all end in words that rhyme with lead. This is often cited to support the
argument that Bassanio was directed, by the rhyme-scheme of this song, to choose the lead casket. The words of the
following verses may also provide clues in their warning against the fancy of the eyes, i.e., the gold and silver
caskets—suggesting the choice of lead. As mentioned in the previous note, Bassanio would need a more obvious
clue (such as a clear directive as to where to look for a clue) to then make the connection between the rhyme-scheme
and the lead casket. Nerissa telling Bassanio to listen carefully to the song would be a hint regarding the location of
the hint; Bassanio, intent on the casket—without the hint on where to look for a hint—might miss the song and its
lyrics completely. [See Additional Notes, 3.2.65] [See: Essays, The Lottery, for evidence suggesting that Bassanio
received help with the lottery].
62. {It is engendered in the eyes,}
{With gazing fed, and fancy dies:} / With gazing fed, all fancy dies,
{In the cradle where it lies.}
63. {Let us all ring fancy’s knell.}
Making the song too obvious would give away its hidden hint and so the song must be subtle in its direction
to the lead casket—and subtle enough to be picked up only by someone who had been instructed to listen with care.
One example of lyrics which might make the hint too obvious—leading one to give so to get—would be as follows:
Let the sun of fancy set, | I’ll begin—and you beget, | Ay you will, but not quit yet
Chorus: What you give is what you get.
64. [See Additional Notes, 3.2.72, for facsimile of Q1 original]
Tell me where is fancy bred,
In° the heart or in the head? {Or in} > Either in
How ‘tis born and how ’tis fed? 61 {How begot, how nourishèd?}
Tell me, tell me.° {Reply, reply}
It is engendered in the eyes,° / Dull and heavy in the eyes
With gazing fed all fancy dies° / With more gazing, come more lies
In the cradle, where it lies.° 62 / is where it lies / ‘tis there it dies.
Let us all ring fancy’s knell:63
[spoken] I will begin: [sung] Ding, dong, bell.
Ding, dong, bell, 64 + Ding, dong, bell. ,
65. The soliloquy found in the original is somewhat amiss as it does not resemble the speech of a true romantic hero
nor does it fulfill the comic heroism called for by the scene. Misaligned with the speeches of Morocco and Arragon,
it is filled with discordant images, and does not reflect love, pure-heartedness, or innocence. There is not one
mention of Portia or her attributes.
In a prior draft, this passage was replaced with words and images more fitting of a romantic hero; for even
though Bassanio does not fully embody the virtues of a romantic hero (and often acts quite the opposite) he has the
potential to become such a hero (if not permanently, at least for this one moment). He could be made to rise to the
occasion. In a later draft, the original was preserved, yet emended with some final words which might reflect the true
heart a hero. Bassanio’s speech, which cascades with images about scandal, cowardice, hypocrisy,
criticalness—and vacant of any hint of love—may reflect a subconscious sense of his own duplicity. His speech in
front of the caskets is somewhat out of step with the other speeches delivered by Bassanio in the scene—especially
the one coming after he opens the casket and sees Portia’s picture [115-130]. Thus all his speeches, except for this
one, bear the imprint of a romantic hero; during this treasured first encounter between Bassanio and Portia (which
takes place earlier in the scene), the audience happily suspends all judgement with respect to Bassanio’s wastefulness
and duplicity and enjoys a moment of sublime love between lover and his beloved, between the romantic hero and
his princess. [For a version of this speech, consistent with the heart-set of a romantic hero, see Additional Notes,
66. Orson Wells suggested that Bassanio could have played the parts of both Morocco and Arragon; and after two
wrong choices (the gold and silver caskets), he would then become sure of the contents of the lead casket. Such a
staging, of course, would change the entire nature of Bassanio’s character and put him squarely in the camp of a
cheat and an enterprising money-getter.
67. / Those who are least, display themselves the most / So are the outward shows e’er least themselves / It is the
outward shows be least themselves / So they are least who glisten° themselves most;
68. {The world is still deceived with ornament}
still: always, ever; has always been
ornament: lavish outer display: / appearance / its own beauty / empty dazzle
69. {so simple but assumes} > Too singular and not able to assume (be interpreted as) some mark of virtue
70. {And these assume but valour’s excrement} / And these but display the shows of valor / These cowards but
assume valour’s plumage
valour’s excrement: excrement refers to an outgrowth of hair (as hair was seen as a waste product, something
excreted by the body). This likely refers to outgrowth of hair on the face (i.e., beards) usually associated with men of
valour, mentioned in line 85. It could also refer to the long hair of heros, but this is not supported in the given
[NOTE: The text (and meter) after this point is uncorrected and in rough draft]
—Bassanio [to the gold casket] 65 66
So may the outward shows be least themselves.67 / Those who show most without are least within.
The world is e’er deceived° by ornament.° 68 / ever duped // grand dislpay / outer show
In law, a plea that’s tainted and corrupt
But, being seasoned with a gracious voice,
Obscures the show° of evil. In religion, / sum / heart
What damnèd° act° does not become a blessing, / damning {error}
When some dry scholar° approve it with text,° {sober brow} // scripture
Hiding° gross error° with fair ornament? / Gilding {Hiding the grossness}
There is no vice too simple° to° assume° 69 / single // not able to
Some mark of virtue on its outward parts.
How many cowards, whose hearts would crumble° / are as false / are as flimsy
Like walls° of sand, do wear upon their chin {stayers} / stairs
The beards of Hercules and frowning° Mars, / fearless
Who, inward searched, have livers white as milk? / searched within
And they assume but valour’s outer show° 70 / the outer shows of valor
71. {To entrap the wisest. Therefore, then, thou gaudy gold} {Hard food for Midas, I’ll none of thee}
The first line, as found in Q1 has 13 syllables, and anomalies in the meter; thus most editions rectify the extra
syllable by eliminating ‘then.’ Then, to keep the line in verse, the first two syllables and the fifth and sixth are
elided (combined into one syllable). Hence, the most common rectification would read as follows: T’en trap the
wisest. T’fore thou gaudy gold.
Hard food for Midas: Refers to the legend of King Midas who was granted the wish that everything he touch
turn to gold—which included his food and drink. Thus, gold, which in normal circumstance would have great value,
was in this instance was the hard food (and therefore worthless) which Midas could not eat.
72. / To trap the wisest. Thus, thou gaudy gold,
You’re as worthless to me as hardened food
That none, not even Midas, could hope to eat.
73. / You are none but the stuff of common coin, | E’er passed between the drudging hand of men.
74. The original ends in a two-line rhyme schema:
{Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence:} / Thy plainness moves me more than regal lies,
{And here chose I. May joy be the consequence!} / And here I choose—may heaven be my prize!
The last line of the original [And here chose I. May joy be the consequence!] is herein expanded into five lines
which further explains Bassanio’s reasoning, and heart-set, which lead him to chose the lead casket. Simply stated: a
heart that loves seeks only to give (as demanded by lead) and not to gain or get which would be the motivation
prompting one to chose the gold or silver casket. This stance of love and selfless giving is that of a true romantic
hero—which Bassanio is not—but which he, in this instance, has the potential to be. If Bassanio’s speech truly and
wholly reflected that of a romantic hero (or a flawed hero who, in this moment, rose to the occasion as assumed the
virtue of a hero) it would certainly contain more generous and auspicious images (rather than the harsh and critical
constructions found in the original). For one version of a possible speech, worthy of a romantic hero, (and which
could replace the speech found in the original) see Additional Notes, 3.2.7XX.
75. / as is sanctioned / as sanctionèd / as betokened / as warranted
To render themselves fearful.° Look on beauty {them redoubted}/ them afearéd
And you shall see ‘tis purchased by the weight,
This cream,° when plied upon the face works wonders > makeup / paste / balm
Making them fairest who wear most of it.
So are those crispèd, flowing,° golden locks, {snaky}
Which make such wanton gambols with the wind;
But such pretense of beauty, as we know, / one can see
Is wig-made hair, ta’en from another’s head,° / Comes from a wig, hair from another’s head
The skull of which now lies in some lost grave.
Thus, outer show is but the guiled° shore / tempting / charming
To a most dangerous° sea; the beauteous scarf / threatening / imperilled
That veils a queen’s wretched face;° in a word: / a darkened visage
The seeming truth which cunning times put on
To trap the wise. Therefore, thou gaudy gold / To but entrap the wisest. Therefore, then
You’re as worthless to me as hardened° food / golden
Which greedy Midas could not hope to eat— 71 72
I will have none of thee. [to the silver casket] Nor of thee, silver;
Thou art the pale drudge° of common coin, / Thou art none but the stuff
Passed in exchange between the hands° of men.73 / greed
But thou, thou meager° lead, which rather° threatens, / worthless / barren / herein
And gives no° promise of profit or gain: / Than give a
Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence. 74 / finery / regal lies
+Thus, I seek not to gain, as shown° by gold,, /told / proff’ed / lured
+Nor then to get, as offered° by silver,, / vaunted / proffered / promised
+But e’er° to give, as demanded° by lead., / Only // required / mandated 75
76. / Here, here I choose, when all is finishèd
77. / He who giveth all can ne’er be misled / The heart that gives can never be misled / A heart that giveth can ne’er
be misled
78. Here, here I choose: when all is said and done | A heart that gives all has already won
79. / O heart be mild, allay this love in me.
80. Alt: Replace this line with three lines:
I fear this love’s made a fool-sop° of me. / pansy / milksop
O heart be sparing, temper this delight,
O ration joy, don’t give it such a might.
81. raine: rain down, dole out, give out. in measure: in limited and controlled amounts, as not to flood or
overwhelm. Here there is the play of oppositions, where Portia is calling for rain, which is associated with
abundance, but herein asking that it be given in measure. Rain will also be heard as rein, which would mean control,
hold back, rein in.
82. / In measure rein thy joy, scant this delight!
Thy blessings overflow—appease° their might. / take back
/ I feel too much thy blessings—ease their might.
83. / How all my passions do fleet into air:
First gone is doubt, then rash-embraced despair;
This fear and monstrous jealousy are gone / jeal’sy have left me. // are done
O love, be kind—don’t turn more pleasure on / be moderate, tame thy ecstacy; // thy pleasure shun
In measure rein thy joy, tame this excess;
I feel too much thy blessings—make it less! / I feel thy blessings too great
84. This verse fully ensconces Portia in the comical quality of the play, as now, for the first time, her love is fully
expressed and ‘over the top’—more resembling the fanciful excess of love than anything in real life. [See Additional
Notes, 3.2.113]
85. {For fear I surfeit} The original line is orphaned, does not follow the rhyme-scheme nor meter of the lines which
precede it, and simply repeats the theme mentioned previously. Thus it weakens and flattens the impact of Portia’s
rhyming verse. To fully embody this appendage, this truncated line is emended with a full pair of rhyming lines.
Alternatively, the partial line could simply be deleted.
/ O in the waves of love’s ocean I’m lost: | Beyond all hopes, and ignoring all cost.
/ O, in the heat of love’s fire I’m swelt’ring | Lost in the blessedness° of mine own melting.
86. { What find I here?
Fair Portia’s counterfeit. What demi-god
Hath come so near creation? Move these eyes
Or whither riding on the balls of mine
Seem they in motion?}
+Here, here chose I: when all is done and said,°, / 76 everything is said / all is finishèd
+A heart that giveth all is ne’er misled., 77 78 / A heart that gives all can ne’er be misled
—Portia [aside]
How all the other passions fleet to air,
My° doubtful thoughts and rash-embraced despair; {As} > Such as / These
And shudd’ring° fear, and green-eyed jealousy— / dreaded
O love° be sparing, ease° thy ecstacy. 79 80 / heart {allay}
In measure rein° thy joy; scant° this excess! 81 {raine} / rain / hold // block / stint
Thy blessings overflow°—please make it less. 82 83 {I feel too much thy blessings}
+I fear this fortune is too much for me
I’m lost° in watersB of an endless sea.,° 84 / I drown // oceans {For fear I surfeit.} 85
—Bassanio [opening the leaden casket]
What find I here? A portrait of fair Portia.
What demigod hath come so near creation
To make this image ride upon my eyes
Such that it seems to move and yet moves not? 86 87 88
In the original, Bassanio’s two iamb line (What find I here?) completes Portia’s previous three iamb line (For fear I
surfeit.) Due to the anomalous nature of Portia’s two iamb line (see previous note) it has herein been emended to
fulfill the standard iambic meter, which leaves Bassanio’s two iamb line somewhat truncated. To accommodate this,
one possibility would be to add a pause before or after Bassanio’s words:
a) __ __ __ __ __ __ What find I here? b) What find I here? __ __ __ __ __ __
87. What artist, wielding the skill of a god,
Hath come so near creation? O these eyes—
Do these eyes move or do they ride upon
The balls of mine own eyes and seem to move°? {seem they in motion}
88. What find I here? . . .
Fair Portia’s portrait!° What +artist, possessed°
Of all the powers of a , demigod
What +artist, possessing° / wielding
The spectral powers of a , demigod
Hath come so near creation? What is this?
What demigod hath fashioned such a picture
So near to God’s own creation? And now—
89. { . . . Here are severed lips | Parted with sugar breath. So sweet a bar | Should sunder such sweet friends.}
/ Here find her lips, parted by sugar breath; | So sweet a breath could sunder such sweet friends.
90. faster than: a) more quickly than, b) more securely than (as in ‘bind fast’)
91. undone: {unfurnished} / unfinished a) without finishing the portrait, b) without being able to furnish the second
92.{Doth limp behind the substance} The metaphor of ‘limping behind the substance’ refers to something which
falls short of the real thing (substance), and specifically to a lifeless shadow which follows, or ‘limps behind,’ the
form of a real person. Limp, moreover, implies a defective or imperfect kind of following which is not found in the
term ‘walk behind’ or ‘follow behind.’ Bassanio is here invoking the Neo-platonic theme of opposites highlighted by
the contrasting concepts of substance and shadow. Hence, Bassanio is saying that the ‘substance of my praise (i.e.,
my words) does wrong this shadow (this portrait) in underprizing it (failing to capture its beauty)’—just as this
shadow (picture) falls short of (limps behind) the substance (the real Portia); i.e.,, his words (as eloquent as they are)
do no justice (fall short) in describing the beauty of this portrait, just as this portrait (as wondrous as it is) does no
justice in capturing Portia’s true beauty.
93. continent: contents, container. Continent can also be an oblique reference to the fullness, totality, or grandeur
of my fortune (as in the size of a continent).
94. {Doth limp behind the substance. Here’s the scroll, | The continent and summary of my fortune}
/ Doth limp behind the living form of Portia
/ Falls hopelessly° short of the real Portia. / lifelessly / dreadfully
/ Here’s the scroll, the summ’ry (/summate) of my fortune: [See Additional Notes, 3.2.129]
And here, her gentle° lips lay slightly open / muted / dreamy
Parted with sugar breath. So sweet an air° {a bar} / breath / wisp
Should sunder such sweet friends.89 And in her hair
The painter plays the spider and hath woven
A golden mesh t’entrap the hearts of men
Faster than90 gnats in cobwebs. But her eyes—
How could he see to do them? Having made one,
Methinks its power should steal both his eyes
And leave the work° undone.°91 Yet look how far {itself} // unfinished
The substance° of my praise doth wrong this shadow° / fullness // copy
In underprizing it, just as this copy° {so far this shadow}
Doth limp behind her true form.°92 Here’s the scroll, {the substance}
The continent93 and summ’ry of my fortune: 94
Thou who° choose not by the view, / You that
Chance as fair and choose as true. / Take fair chance and chose quite true
Since this fortune falls to you,
Be content, and seek no new.
95. It is not clear as to when—if ever—Bassanio claims Portia with a loving kiss. Some productions, concurring
with Rowe (a foremost commentator of the early18 century), have Bassanio th claim Portia (with a loving kiss) at the
end of this line (I come by note, to give and to receive) after handing her the note. This timing is doubtful since
(later in the same passage) Bassanio tells of his confusion, his unsureness, and so he would not be in a position to
claim Portia. Others have the loving kiss come after line 148 (Until confirmed, signed, ratified by you)—which is
still somewhat early. The kiss can also come after Portia’s line [167], Myself and what is mine to you and yours | Is
now converted. It can also occur after Portia gives him the ring, in line 174 (And be my vantage to exclaim on you).
In the original there is no stage direction for the kiss, nor any clear pause or indication as to when such a kiss would
be planted. We cannot say for sure that one is even given. We see throughout the play that Bassanio is never able
to ‘claim’ Portia; she is always in charge and never acts as the docile princess eager to be claimed by her gallant
prince—save for a few sentimental lines [108-113] which she is eager to dismiss (Scant this excess—make it less) or
a few stray lines wherein she fully gives herself to Bassanio [149-175] which, however, end with a condition ( Let it
presage the ruin of your love | And be my vantage to exclaim on you.) [See Additional Notes, 3.2.138]
96. To coincide with the words, ‘I come by note,’ Bassanio could offer Portia the scroll.
97. {Like one of two contending in a prize} / Like one who fights and comes to win the prize
98. / Who° thinks he’s done well in the people’s eyes, {That}
99. / Amidst a great applause and thun’drous shout
100. What confirmation does Bassanio seek?—that he has won the lottery (which is apparent) or that he has won the
true fortune of the lottery, i.e., Portia’s love. Bassanio is doubtful (unsure) about the truth of what he sees; he sees
Portia smiling at him (and seemingly pleased with the outcome) but he wants assurance, he wants her to affirm not
only that he has won the lottery (which is apparent) but also that he has indeed won her heart and the fullness of her
love (which is not, in his mind, assured by the lottery). [See Additional Notes, 3.2.148]
101. Bassanio talks only of his confusion—when, in fact, there really should be no confusion at all. In the first
soliloquy, after opening the casket, he describes the picture of Portia (but not her) with glowing words; after reading
the scroll, he talks of his uncertainty; after his uncertainty is pacified, he talks about his joyful bodily confusion—but
not once does he actually speak of Portia, nor her beauty, nor his love for her, nor his assumed state of joy. All his
talk is indirect, metaphorical, speaking of a picture, of winning a fight, of buzzing cheers—but never once of Portia.
Not once, in all his talk, does he even mention her name.
Is this the way a true hero would approach it?—winning without even recognizing it? Being confused and
unsure? Or would a hero take hold of this triumphant moment and use it as a glorified opportunity to now give full
expression to his (previously bridled) love?
102. / I am content and would not dare to wish | That I, myself, be better, yet for you
If you be well-pleased with this, / pleasèd
Hold your fortune for° your bliss, / with
Turn ye toward your loving miss {Turn you where your lady is}
And claim her with a loving kiss. 95
A gentle° scroll! Fair lady, by your leave, / kindly
I come by note, to give and to receive.96
Just like a fighter who obtains the prize,97
Who seems triumphant in the people’s eyes, 98
Hearing applause and the echoing° shout 99 {universal}
Giddy in spirit, yet gazing° in doubt, / ling’ring
Whether those clam’ring cheers° be his or no,° {peals of praise} // not
So, thrice-fair lady, I stand even so,° / on the spot
As doubtful° whether what I see be true, / Still doubting
Until confirmed, signed, ratified by you. 100 101
You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
Such as I am. Though, for myself alone,° / when it comes to me
I would not be so daring° in my wish {ambitious}
To wish myself much better, yet for you102
103. {I would be trebled twenty times myself} / I would have myself tripled twenty times
104. / And friendship might stand high in your account.
105. {A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times}
{More rich, that only to stand high in your account}
The latter line contains two extra syllables (six iambs instead of five). Some editors ‘correct’ the verse by
shifting the extra iamb from the beginning of the second line to the end of the first line. Thus: ‘A thousand times
more fair, ten thousand times more rich | That only to stand high in your account.’ (Such an emendation is made in
the editions by Oxford, Arden, Norton, Longman, Kittredge, etc. but not in Cambridge, Folger, Bevington, etc.)
The transfer of this extra iamb improves the the meter of the second line at the expense of the first line (which now
contains an extra iamb). Moreover, the meter of the second line is not fully restored as this transfer provides the line
with a weak fourth syllable. I suspect the error lies around the term ‘that only to,’ which is awkward and which does
not meaningfully place the line within the context of the sentence. The word ‘account’ is also suspect as this same
word, and its same meaning, appears twice—both here and at the end of the sentence (which ends on line 155).
[See Additional Notes, 3.2.155]
106. An alternative punctuation would yield this rendering:
/ More rich—to stand but high in your account
I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends / I hope that I, in virtue, beauty, friends
Exceed account.
107. { . . . But the full summe of me | Is sume of something: which, to term in gross}
some (or sum): Q1 has sume which can be read as sum or some. Both reading, though differing in nuance, are
essentially the same, both diminutive and somewhat self-deprecating:
Sum of something: implies that the full sum of Portia is only the sum (totality) of something (and not everything);
that her full self is incomplete (i.e., that of an unlessoned girl who still has much to learn)
Some of something: refers to a “portion of a portion”—again something which suggests a lack that Bassanio, as
her new lord, could fill and make whole. [See Additional Notes, 3.2.158]
108. / +That’s yet to reach its fullness., Thus, in sum, / +Has not yet ripened., Thus, to state it fully / Hence, to put it
bluntly / +That’s yet to be completed., Termed more fully
109. {to term in gross} : in sum, to say in full, to tell you the whole story, to tell you (the whole) truth. Gross might
also refer to blunt honesty, and frankness, and could be akin to such an expression as ‘to say in all honesty.’
/ But the full sum of me is but a part | Of something, which, to tell you the whole truth
110. / I’m as a school-girl—untrained, unpracticed
I would be tripled° twenty times myself;° 103 {trebled} / better
A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times
More rich, that I, in beauty, dignity,
Comfort,° and virtue might exceed account. 104 105 106 {livings} / friendship
But the full sum of me is some° of something / part
+That’s yet to be complete., To term more fully:° 107 108 109 / Advised more fully
I’m° an unlessoned girl,° unschooled, unpracticed°; 110 {Is} / unfinished
Happy in this, she is not yet so old
But she may learn; and happier than this,
She is not bred so dull that she can learn;° / and may learn quickly;
Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours, to be directed
As from her lord, her governor, her king.° / master, and her king
Myself and what is mine, to you and yours,° / I give to you,
I now impart.° But now I was the lord {Is now converted} / I hereby transfer
Of this fair mansion,° master of my servants, / of this estate
Queen o’er myself; and even now, yet now,
This house, these servants, and my very self,° {and this same myself}
Are yours, my lord.° I give them with this ring {my lord’s}
She holds up ring
111. {Which when you part from, lose, or give away,}
when: implies an inevitability or an outcome which is expected to happen, whereas if does not imply such
112. {Let it presage the ruin of your love}
113. {And be my vantage to exclaim on you.} / And give me cause to berate you all day.
vantage: just cause, give me cause, advantage (as in having a good reason); my chance, my opportunity.
exclaim: yell, rail, fume, scream, denounce, etc. (ex-claim: give up your claim on me.)
114. [See Additional Note, 3.2.174]
115. / Madam, your words have (but) rendered me speechless / Madam, you have but stolen all my words.
116. {Only my blood speaks to you in my veins}
/ And now what speaks is the blood in my veins / Only the blood in my veins doth now speak;
117. {And there is such confusion in my powers}
powers: a) power of speech; ability to speak or articulate; b) power of intellect and will; ability to match what is
in the mind with the words
/ As great confusion besieges my words / And great confusion sieges all my words / And great confusion
hems my power of speech / As great confusion besieges all my words / As all my powers of speech are confused.
118. {As after some oration fairly spoke | By a beloved prince there doth appear}
/ As after hearing some well-spoken words (/fine oration) | By a beloved prince who doth appear
/ Like buzzing cheers, come from the rousèd masses | When hearing° words from their beloved prince
/ Like ecstatic (/rapturous) applause of the masses
/ Like buzzing cheers among the multitudes° / arising from the masses / that come from pleasèd crowds
/ ‘Tis like the buzzing cheers of pleasèd masses,
119. / The rousèd masses after their beloved | Prince doth appears and give some fine oration.
120. {Where every something being blent together}
121. {Turns to a wild of nothing save of joy} / Turns to a wilderness of un’fied° joy / mingled
122. something: sound, noise, voice, all the cheers
nothing: silence. Where every voice (something) blends together in a barren land (wild) of silence (nothing).
wasteland: {wild}; wilderness, desert, barren region, empty plain
123. {Expressed and not expressed: . . .} This obscure reference generally means that all the cries (of the multitudes)
are expressed as one cry: thus every cry is expressed (as one voice) and unexpressed or unheard (as a singular voice).
[See Additional Notes, 3.2.183]
Which, when you part from, lose, or give away, 111
‘Twill mark° the ruin of your love, I say,°112 / be // I daresay
And give me reason to regret° the day. 113 114 / good reason to rue
She places ring on Bassanio’s finger
Madam, you have bereft me of all words.° 115 / but stolen all my words
All that can speak° is the blood in my veins; 116 / but speaks / speaks now
As there is such confusion in my powers° 117 / speech / words / breath
Much like° the buzzing cheers that issue from {As}
The rousèd° masses after they have heard {pleasèd}
Some fine oration by their sovereign° prince, 118 119 / honored / beloved
Where every sounding, fully blent together, 120
Turns to a wild of nothing save of joy.° 121 122 / nothing but joy
+And now in me, each voice is lost,° each cry, / one
Expressed yet not expressed. 123 When this ring parts
124. {But when this ring | Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence}
/ But when this ring | Parts from this finger, then parts life instead
/ When this ring parts | My finger, then I find an earthen bed
My finger, then . . . / be sure my life has fled / ever my life’s been shed / my life does part instead /
my life has surely fled
125. Previously, when Bassanio is unsure whether he has truly won Portia [141-45], he uses imagery of an crowd
cheering for its champion. Here, when it is confirmed that he has doubtless won his prize, he again invokes the
imagery of a cheering, buzzing crowd, where all the voices can be heard (rather the joy of the voices) rather than any
individual voice. These images are akin and both refer to the impersonal cheering of a crowd—for its champion or
its prince—but none evoke the personal images of love.
Why is it, however, that Bassanio cannot speak? Is he overwhelmed with joy? Why is there such
confusion in his powers, in his ability to articulate how he feels? All these impersonal images may come to sound
like a rouse, where Bassanio is insinuating that he loves Portia, that he is speechless with joy—but where he may be
speechless because he cannot truly tell Portia that he loves her. Never once in all these words does he confirm his
love for Portia (as he asks her to do); rather he only intimates and suggests his love by way of his dazed state. He
talks about the buzzing cheers of the multitudes (where no single voice can be heard) and never do we hear our hero
give words to any singular expression of love. (Again, it is cleverly suggested—and one might leave with the
impression that he loves Portia—but his words never blossom into a true and unmistakably expression of love. His
final words relate to the image of his own death—and something which may take place in the distant future—but
never to his living heart, now. Are these the words of someone in love?—or someone not in love and trying to give
the impression (without actually lying) that he is in love?
126. {O then be bold to say, ‘Bassanio’s dead.’}
127. [See Additional Notes, 3.2.185]
1. {I wish you all the joy that you can wish | For I am sure you can wish none from me.}
> I wish that you obtain all the joy that you wish for yourselves—and in your wishing, I am sure that you
need not include me (and wish something for me) since I have already obtained the fullness of what I (or anyone
else) might wish for me.
2. / Falls short of what I already possess / Is but a thing that I already have / I now possess in the fullest of measure. /
Is short of what I already possess
3. / When your honored selves are ready to take | The vows that seal your faith, I beseech you
4. {Even at that time} / That at such time / E’en at that time
5. {I may be married too}
My finger, know that life does part my stead° 124 125 / instead
O, then be bold° to say, ‘Bassanio’s dead.’ 126 127 / Then be so bold
My lord and lady, it is now our time;
We have stood by and seen our wishes prosper,
Now we cry, ‘Joy°, good joy, my lord and lady!’ {To cry ‘Good joy}
My lord Bassanio and my gentle lady,
I wish you all the joy that one° can wish, {you}/ I
And° I am sure, whate’er you’d wish for me° 1 {For}
+Would fall quite short of what I now possess. , 2 / Is but a thing I already possess.
And when your honours mean to seal with vows° {solemnize} / celebrate
The pledging° of your faith, I do beseech you 3 {bargain}/ contract
Still° at that time,4 I may be wed as well.5 / E’en / That / Please
With all my heart—if thou canst get a wife.
I thank your lordship, you have got me one.
6. {for intermission}: taking a break (from action); inactivity; a rest period (wherein one does not pursue the object
of his love)
You loved; I loved . . . / and to postpone that love / and bearing such delays / to stay the fruits thereof
/ You loved the one and I loved the other— | And neither one could bear the long delay.
/ You loved the one, and I the other—neither | Could you nor I, endure the long delay.
7. {And so did mine too, as the matter falls} / And like as well, as fate would fall, did mine.
8. / You loved the one, and I did love the other; | And neither you, my lord, nor I, could bear | A long delay. Your
fortune stood upon | Your choice, so too, as fate would fall, did mine.
9. / And swore with oaths of love until my roof / And swore until my very roof went dry,
Went dry, until at last—if promise last— With oaths of love, until at last—assuming
I got the promise from this fair one here Her promise last—I got this fair one’s promise
10. / To have her love, provided ‘twas your fate | To win her mistress.
/ To have her love, if so your fortune be | To win her mistress.
/ To have her love, provided that your fortune | Did win her mistress
11. Gratziano must abide by Nerissa’s fateful terms, which are: only if Bassanio chooses the right casket (and wins
Portia) will Gratziano and Nerissa be able to be together. (Gratziano would never impose such absurd terms upon his
own love). Why were such terms imposed by Nerissa? What meaning did they have? Nerissa must have been sure
that Bassanio would win Portia—sure enough to stake her own happiness upon it. And how did she become so sure
of such a fate? [See Additional Note, 3.2.196]
Taking Nerissa’s hand
My° eyes, my lord, can look° as swift as yours: / These / Mine // move
You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid;
You loved, I loved—and lengthy° postponements 6 / long-drawn / undue
No more pertain to you, my lord, than me.
Your fortune stood upon the caskets there,
And, as the matter falls, so too did mine. 7 8
For I did woo until I ran° with sweat, / I poured / beads fell
And swore until my very roof went dry
With oaths of love, until at last—if promise
Doth last—I got the promise of this fair one, 9
To have her love, provided ‘twas your fate° {that your fortune}
To win° her mistress. 10 11 {Achieved} / Brought you
—Portia Is this true, Nerissa?
— Nerissa
Madam, it is, if you stand pleased with it.° {withal}
And do you, Gratziano, speak in truth?° {mean good faith} / speak in faith
In truth,° my lord. {Yes, faith} / Yes, truth / In faith
Our feast shall be much honoured in your marriage.
—Gratziano [to Nerissa]
12. / We’ll play with them a thousand ducat wager
13. stake down: to lay down money (on a table) to cover a bet. The term is similarly used in ‘staking one’s claim.’
14. {No, we shall ne’er win at that sport and stake down} / No, we shall ne’er win that bet with my stake down!
stake down: In the first instance (as used by Nerissa) stake down mean to secure or place down money to cover
a wager; in the second instance, used here, the phrase refers to a male stake, or erection. Gratziano is saying that
they can never win the wager (to have the first boy) with his stake down (as opposed to up). Some productions have
Gratziano play out this bawdy imagery by holding a stick or a stretched piece of fabric in the position of an erection
and then lowering it when he mentions that he cannot win the bet with his stake down.
15. Salerio needs to be introduced here by name and by reference (Venetian) because this is the first time the
audience sees the character. Some editors, for the sake of economy (though in error) combine the two minor
characters of Salerio and Salarino, into a single character (Salerio). However, nothing in the text—nor anywhere
else—supports this kind of compaction. Had Gratziano’s good friend, Salarino, arrived here (as opposed to Salerio,
a messenger) Gratziano would have greeted him more personally, with something like, ‘my good friend Salarino,’ as
opposed to the rather reserved and distant, ‘my old Venetian friend Salerio.’ Neither would Gratziano have
‘located’ Salarino as being ‘from Venice,’ since the audience already knows that Salarino is from Venice, having
seen him several times before. [See Essays: The Sallies: Salarino, Salanio, and Salerio]
16. Salerio, who makes his entrance for the first time, needs an introduction—and so he is identified as a ‘messenger
from Venice’ in the stage direction.
17. / With your permission, my sweet and fair Portia, | I bid my friends welcome. / dulcet / cherubic
18. { . . . By your leave, | I bid my very friends and countrymen, | Sweet Portia, welcome.}
19. / My intention was not to see you here
20. Where along the way could they have met?—the way in question is the 20-mile stretch of land that lies between
Venice and Belmont.
We’ll place a wager° for a thousand ducats 12 {play with them}
That the first boy be ours.
—Nerissa What, and stake down? 13
We will not win that wager with stake down!° 14
But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel?
What, and my old Venetian friend Salerio? 15
Enter Lorenzo and Jessica, with Salerio, a messenger from Venice 16
Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hither;
If that the youth of my new int’rest here
Doth grant me power to bid you welcome. [Portia nods]
[to Portia] Sweet Portia, by your leave I bid, my friends 17
And fellows, welcome. 18
—Portia So do I, my lord.
You° are entirely welcome. {They}
— Lorenzo [to Bassanio]
I thank your honour. For my part, my lord,
My purpose° was not to have seen you here,19 / intent
But having met° Salerio on the way° 20 {But meeting with} // road
He did entreat me past all saying ‘nay’
21. At this point, Bassanio is unaware that Lorenzo (and Jessica) stole away with Shylock’s money (and have since
been on the run). Portia knows nothing about Lorenzo, Jessica, nor anything of the events that have taken place in
Venice. For the sake of drama, we must compress the inevitable time gap: Jessica and Lorenzo stole Shylock’s
money on the night that Bassanio left for Belmont; Bassanio forgoing the offer to tarry ‘a day or two’ immediately
proceeded to his choice. This indicates that Bassanio left Venice no more than about two days ago, while several
weeks of action have passed since Lorenzo and Jessica left Venice. For instance, Tubal went out in search of them
in Genoa (which is some 200 miles distance from Venice). [See: Essays: Time Warp]
22. {And I have reason for it} Salerio does not offer any reason for it (for bringing along Lorenzo) since he could
have delivered the message without any help; in addition, we know why he entreated Lorenzo to come with him to
Belmont ‘past all saying nay.’ But what reasons might he have? It could be that Lorenzo was Bassanio’s good and
that Salerio—who was not such a friend, but only a messenger—was about to deliver some devastating news.
Hence, Salerio thought is would be helpful if Lorenzo, Bassanio’s good friend, were there to help comfort him.
Understanding the gravity of the matter, Salerio may have insisted that Lorenzo come because of Jessica, and
because he thought that she might be able to provide some help or shed some light on the situation (but this might be
crediting Salerio with deep insight into the matter). As it turns out, Jessica’s presence (not Lorenzo’s) proves
crucially important to the situation (and in Portia’s decision ot intervene).
23. {And I have reason for it: Signor Antonio | Commends him to you} / Sends you a message.
commends him to you: A familiar greeting, akin to ‘Sends his regards’ or ‘Asks that you remember him.’
The passage would support Salerio’s previous claim to having a ‘reason,’ if it had more import, such as:
‘Signor Antonio | Sends you an urgent message.’ This import could be imparted by adding the word ‘urgent.’
These extra syllables could be accommodated by deleting the two previous—somewhat superfluous— syllables, ‘for
it,’ or truncating Bassanio’s response (from five syllables to three).
/ And I have cause for it: Antonio sends | And urgent message.
/ And I have reason: for an urgent message | Comes from Antonio.
Sal.: / . . . | Sends you an urgent message. Bas: Ah, but first,
24. For dramatic purposes (and perhaps blinded by love) Bassanio is completely forgetful of the date that the bond
expires: he is asking about how Antonio is doing {how my good friend doth} rather than the fate of the bond. [See
Additional Notes, 3.2.231]
25. {Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind; | Nor well, unless in mind.}
Salerio’s response is vague and elusive at best; Antonio is clearly in a desperate state and Salerio does not
want to be the one to report such bad news. His vague answer means something like: he is not sick in terms of body,
but sick if we are speaking about the state of his mind (i.e., he is worried, distraught, fearful, etc.); he is not well
unless in mind (unless he imagines it to be so; or, unless he is deranged enough to imagine himself to be well).
Clearly he is not well. The wordplay is on the word mind, which in the first instance refers to his mental condition
or state of mind and in the second refers to his imagination or use of mind. Some commentors, unable to make real
sense out of this passage, interpret {unless in mind} to mean: ‘unless his fortitude allows him to suffer his
misfortune’ (Kittredge); ‘unless he is comforted by fortitude’ (Brown)
26. Due to the vagueness of this unimportant passage it has herein been condensed into one line. If one desired to
bring clarity to this response, the lines could be expanded:
/ Not sick, unless we speak about his mind; / Not sick, my lord, in terms of his body;
/ Nor well, unless he imagine it so. / Nor well, if speaking of his mental state.
27. / His note will show the state of his affairs.
To come along with him. 21
—Salerio I did, my lord,
And with good reason: Antonio sends° 22 / good cause: Signor Antonio sends
An urgent message. 23
He gives Bassanio a letter
—Bassanio Ere I ope his letter / But before I read it
I pray you, tell me, how fairs my good friend?° 24 {how my good friend doth?}
— Salerio
Not sick, my lord, but neither is he well. 25 26
His letter there will show you his condition.° 27 {show you his estate}
28. {cheer yon stranger} Jessica, who was previously called ‘infidel’ is here referred to as ‘stranger’—meaning an
outsider, i.e., non-Christian. Thus Gratziano wants to make a special effort to welcome her.
29. hand: > the note or news you carry in your hand
30. that royal merchant: This address is somewhat aloof. Had Salerio been a friend of Antonio (as is Salarino and
Salanio), Gratziano might have said, “How is our good friend, Antonio?” Royal, in this context, is a superlative
meaning, ‘princely,’ ‘grand,’ ‘great,’ etc.
31. {We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece.}
32. Fleece is a pun on fleets: I wish you had won the fleece [fleets] that he has lost, i.e., Antonio has lost all his
fleets, and I wish the fleets that you had won could make up for his losses.
33. / I’m loathe to say it: all his ships are gone
Grat: We are the Jasons: both of us have won / We are the Argonauts, and we have won
The golden fleece.
Sal: O had you won the fleece / I wish you’d won
That he hath lost: jfor all his ships are gone.k / Alas, his ships are gone.
34. {There are some shrewd contents in yon same paper}
/ It seems yon paper holds some cursèd content / carries cursèd news / carries news afoul
shrewd: often interpreted to mean, ‘evil,’ ‘cursed,’ ‘unfortunate,’ ‘harmful, ‘grievous’ etc. but the term is more
likely taken at face value, to mean, ‘clever,’ or ‘crafty’ (or ‘sharp’) in that the words are able to steal away (by some
clever or tricky means) the color from Bassanio’s face. We often see the word ‘Beshrew’ which is mild scold or
35. / Could turn with such resolve / Could move with such extent / Could so completely turn
36. {Could turn so much the constitution}
/ Could turn with such precision,° the nature / dreadfulness
/ Could so fully reverse° the disposition / alter
37. constant man: steady, unwavering, self-controlled
Portia is describing Bassanio as a constant, steadfast, reliable, and steady man. Clearly she is not aware of
Bassanio’s true character—as a irresponsible spendthrift and risk-taker. (But this is something she is going to soon
learn about). Here she is judging him on her idealized and imagined version of him.
38. / Of such a self-controlled man. What, and worse?
Bassanio opens the letter and reads it.
Nerissa cheer our guest,28 [Jessica] entreat° her welcome. {bid} / beseech
Your note,° Salerio. What news from Venice? {hand}29
How is° that royal merchant,30 good Antonio? {doth} / does / goes
I know he will be glad of our success:
Like Jason, we have won the golden fleece. 31
I would you had won the fleece that he hath lost. 32
jI loathe to say,° but all his ships are gone.k 33 / I tell you now
—Portia [seeing Bassanio]
Yon paper must display° some cursèd° content° 34 / dispatch // evil / baleful
To steal the color° from Bassanio’s cheek. / roses
Some dear friend dead?—else nothing in the world
Could turn to such° extent35 the disposition° 36 / full // steady nature
Of so constant a man.° 37 {Of any constant man}
Bassanio looks worse than before
What, worse and worse? 38
With leave° Bassanio, I am half yourself, / O please
And I must freely have the half of all° {anything} / whate’er
39. blotted: marred. Blotted in this context may also suggest words that are also “tear-blotted”—smeared or blotted
by tears (either Antonio’s or Bassanio’s).
40. { . . . all the wealth I had}
{Ran in my veins: I was a gentleman.}
/ Ran in my veins, that I had nothing but° | The social status of a gentleman. / no more than
/ Came from the favored status (/social standing) of my birth, | From my position as a gentleman.
/ Came from the societal benefits of birth / Came from my favorable status of birth
41. In the brief time that they spent together, Bassanio told Portia that the only wealth he had ran in his veins (i.e.
was due to his social standing as a gentleman). yet, in the context of Bassanio’s appearing to have substantial
wealth, Portia would not have taken this humble claim literally. Such a comment would have conveyed the sense
that Bassanio held his true wealth (and thing of most value) to be his bloodline and opposed to outer wealth. (It
could also mean—though unlikely—that the only wealth Bassanio had ran in his veins, i.e., that the only wealth he
considered of value was the love he held for Portia. [See Additional Notes, 3.2.254]
42. / I am indebted much to a dear friend / I borrowed money from my dearest friend / I have indebted myself to a
dear friend
43. / To borrow funds from his dearest enemy.
44. {I have engaged myself to a dear friend, | Engaged my friend to his mere enemy}
mere: worst, fullest; stark, singular, unconditioned
45. A shift of lines could yield the following:
. . . for indeed
To feed my means, jso as to make this journey,k
I bound myself in debt to a dear friend
Who bound himself to a dear enemy.
Here is the letter, lady; the paper
Is but the lifeless body of my friend,
46. A rude and awakening image (of death) in stark contrast to the pristine and anew surroundings of Belmont.
47. Bassanio, having left Venice two days ago, was well aware of the status of Antonio’s ships at that time, and he
was aware that some of Antonio’s ventures had failed and that none of his ships (as of two days ago) had come home
to port. [See Additional Notes, 3.2.265]
That this same paper brings you.
—Bassanio O sweet Portia,
Here are a few of the most dreadful° words, {unpleasant’st} / dreaded
That ever blotted° paper. Gentle lady, 39 / tarnished / stained / ruined
When I did first impart my love to you,
I freely told you all the wealth I had
Came from my bloodline, from my favored status
Of having so been born a gentleman. 40
And what I spoke was true.°41 And yet, dear lady, {And then I told you true}
Rating myself at nothing,° you shall see, / as worthless
How much I was a braggart.° When I said° / overstated {told you}
My state was nothing, I should then have said° {told you}
That I was less° than nothing, for indeed {worse}
I have indebted myself to’a dear friend° 42 {engaged myself to a dear friend}
+And out of love for me, he was enforced°, / generosity for me
To debt° himself to a dear enemy. 43 44 / bind
What have I done? Here is the letter, lady, {To feed my means} / It was for me
The paper is the body of my friend 45
And every word in it a gaping wound
Issuing life-blood.46 But it is true, Salerio,
Hath all his ventures failed? What,° not one hit?° 47 / With // Not one return
From Tripolis, from Mexico, and England,
48. {doth impeach} / doth rebuke / reprimands > calls into question
49. {have all persuaded with him} > have all tried to dissuade him, have all argued with him
50. Portia may suspect that Jessica is Jewish from her appearance and from Gratziano’s former greeting— But who
comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel? [216]—yet she has no way of knowing that she is daughter of the ‘Jew’ whom
Salerio is so loathsomely describing. From this reference, however, it may become clear to that Jessica is related to
the ‘Jew’ in question.
51. {When I was with him I have heard him swear | To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen}
This is an unlikely statement since Shylock began swearing and making oaths to have his bond (and go hard
on Antonio) only after Jessica betrayed him. Thus, she was no longer with him to hear him make such an oath. The
original line clearly states that Shylock’s intention, from the very beginning (before he became enraged by Jessica’s
betrayal) was to have his bond from Antonio (i.e. to kill Antonio). His making a statement to his fellow Jews
confirms that it was said in truth. In this rendition, Shylock does not actually intend to kill Antonio, and his
professions about having taken an oath is a rouse which belies his intended actions. It could also be that Shylock
may not be clear as to what he intends to do (even though he tells others that he is clear—and he may be telling
others as a way to try and convince himself). [See Additional Notes, 3.2.283]
From Lisbon, Africa,° and India— {Barbary}
And not one vessel scape° the dreadful touch / ‘scaped > escaped
Of merchant-marring rocks?
—Salerio Not one, my lord.
Besides, it doth° appear that if he had° / should / should he have
The present money° to discharge° the Jew / full amount // pay off
He would not take it. Never did I know / have I known
A creature that did bear the shape of man
So keen and wolfish to destroy° a man. {confound}
He plies° the Duke at morning and at night / spurs
And calls in doubt48 the freedom of the state
If they deny him justice. Twenty merchants,
The Duke himself, and the magnificoes
Of greatest port have all tried to dissuade° him° 49 / persuade
But none can drive him from the savage° plea {envious} / spiteful / malice
Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond.
—Jessica 50
Before I heard from friends,° that he did swear 51 {When I was with him}
To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen,
That he would rather have Antonio’s flesh
Then twenty times the value of the sum
That he did owe him; and I know, my lord,
If law, the duke, and power stay him not {If law, authority, and power deny not}
It will go hard with° poor Antonio. / on
—Portia [to Bassanio]
Is it your dear friend who is thus in trouble?
The dearest friend to me; the kindest man,
52. {The best-conditioned and unwearied spirit}
53. / Embodies more of ancient Roman honor
54. / Than any who draws breath in Italy.
55. To preserve the meter, the verse could be rectified as follows:
Portia: What sum owes he the Jew?
Bass: Three thousand ducats.
Portia: A mere three thousand ducats—and no more?
56. / I would double the six and triple that | Before . . .
Portia is offering to resolve the issue with a generous show of more and more money. At this point she is
still unaware of, or unconvinced of, Shylock’s resolve to take Antonio’s flesh even after hearing from Salerio
[3.2.270-2] and Jessica [3.2.284-85] that no amount of money would cause ‘the Jew’ to ‘deface’ the bond.
57. / of such kindness and worth / so endearing and true
58. This directive is to prompt the distracted Bassanio (who is, in his heart, already in Venice) to the temple to take
his wedding vows, before he rushes off. Clearly Bassanio’s concern for Antonio has eclipsed all the joy found in his
newly won love and wealth. (There is no indication that rings were ever exchanged as part of this wedding
59. Portia is saying: I will not let you lay by my side with an unquiet soul (a restless and disturbed mind); I will only
let you lay by my side when you can give yourself to me fully, when you can be with me whole-heartedly—without
such concerns, or thoughts, distracting you. She could also be implying thus: You will never be able to lay by my
side with a quiet soul until you settle this matter—so go off to Venice and take care of this.
60. Again, Portia is not fully convinced or aware of Shylock’s true intention, nor aware that the bond cannot be
cured with wealth, even 20 times the wealth, as this is the specific number that Jessica previously mentions, saying,
That he would rather have Antonio’s flesh | Than twenty time the value of the sum | That he did owe him. [3.2.284-
The most benev’lent and unwearied° spirit52 / tireless / giving
In serving others;° and one in whom {in doing courtesies}
The ancient Roman honour more appears 53
Than any man who draws breath in Italia. 54
What sum owes he the Jew?
For me, three thousand ducats.
—Portia What—no more? 55
Pay him six thousand and deface° the bond. / delete / annul
Double six thousand and then triple° that 56 {treble}
Before a friend of this description 57
Shall° lose a hair through° Bassanio’s fault. / Should // through my
First go with me to church, and call me ‘wife,’° / and take your vows
And then away to Venice, to your friend.58
For never shall you lie by Portia’s side
With an unquiet soul.59 You shall have gold
To pay the petty debt twenty times over. 60
When it is paid, bring your friend home with you.
Meantime, my good Nerissa and myself {My maid Nerissa and myself, meantime}
Shall live as maids° and widows. Come, away, / virgins > as if unmarried
61. / To wed me now and leave upon the day!
62. / We’ll live as widows. Come, no more delay | You’ll marry me now and leave the same day!
63. In Q1, the rhyming couplet is as follows:
{Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer,}
{Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear.}
Many commentators are troubled by the closing line feeling that it shows Portia as indelicate and
insensitive. There are several possible interpretations, the foremost being somewhat negative: Portia having paid
dearly for Bassanio (in terms of a high price and hardship) will now love him dearly (i.e. painfully). The wordplay
on dear would also have a positive meaning: the high price she paid for Bassanio was well worth it: as much as she
paid for him (in terms of wealth and sacrifice) that is how much she shall willingly love him: “Since you are dear
bought (paid for with a high price, after much sacrifice) I will love you dear (with the same sacrifice, i.e., I will bear
this pain of waiting for you).”
The dear price was Portia’s having to subject herself (and risk her future happiness) to the uncertain lottery
set up by her father. Thus, having paid such a high price (the risk of her happiness) she will wait for Bassanio again,
to finish up the task at hand an return. Said another way, I have waited so long for love, that I am willing to wait a
little longer. [See Additional Notes, 3.2.311]
64. / Since you have come° at such a heavy° price, {were bought} / were found // tearful / dearly
/ Since I have paid and paid so dear a price / a heavy price
/ I’ll long await your love not once but twice
/ I’ll dearly wait for you, not once but twice
/ Since I have sufferèd° so dear a price / sacrificed / forfeited / fully paid / paid and paid
/ Since you have come at oh so° dear a price / very / much too
/ I’ll thus° await your love not once but twice. / I will
/ You’re worth the suff’ring wait not once but twice
/ You’re worth° the long delay not once but twice / I’ll bear
65. {Portia: But let me hear the letter of your friend.}
/ But let us hear what Antonio has written / But let us hear the good Antonio’s letter
Due to Portia’s double-rhyming couplet (which typically signifies the end of scene—and could fittingly end this
scene) many editors believe that her previous lines originally marked the end of the scene. The following lines,
including Bassanio’s reading of Antonio’s letter, were probable later additions. In support of this, Q1 contains no
speech heading for Bassanio (signifying him to read Antonio’s letter) and several anomalous line spaces have found
their way into the text (before and after Antonio’s letter, and after Bassanio’s closing lines). In standard copy, no
such line spaces would appear. (The additional lines were added, in a later draft, to indicate the urgent nature of the
crisis and give cause for Portia’s intervention.) Hence, to preserve some of the conclusiveness of Portia’s rhyming
couplet, this generic request to hear Antonio’s letter is given to Gratziano—who has, up to this point, remained
curiously silent. [See Additional Notes, 3.2.312]
66. been lost: {miscarried}
67. {use your pleasure} / do as your heart now bids you.
For you shall hence° upon your wedding day. 61 62 / leave > go forth hence
Since you were bought at O so dear a price / at such a heavy price
I’ll bear the wait for love° not once but twice. 63 64 / the weight of love
But let us hear° the letter° from Antonio. 65 / But wait—let’s hear
—Bassanio [reads]
‘Dear Bassanio, my ships have all been lost,66 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, do as
you please.67 If your love does not persuade you to come, let not my letter.’
O love, dispatch all business and be gone!° / betake your vows and then be gone
Since I have your good leave to go away
68. / And now that I have your good leave to part | I will make haste but I’ll make a sad start;
/ Now that I have your good leave to depart / And as I have your permission to part
/ I go in haste, yet with a saddened heart;
69. / E’er bed that beckons, that bed I will spurn / All beds that call, I will solemnly spurn
70. {Since I have your good leave to go away,
I will make haste, but till I come again,
No bed shall e’er be guilty of my stay,
Nor rest be interposed ‘twixt us twain.}
Here Bassanio makes the customary vow of the romantic hero—which is that he will not sleep until the task is
completed and he returns to his beloved. This passage remains a vestige of the fairy tale qualities of a romantic hero
and not a vow one would take at face value. [See Additional Notes, 3.2.324]
71. A comical stage direction could be as follows: Bassanio rushes to make a hasty exit, stage right—toward
Venice—but is caught by the elbow, and swung do-see-do, to stage left by Portia—toward the church.
I will make haste, but I go in dismay 68
All beds that beckon,° I’ll solemnly spurn, 69 / E’er bed that beckons
And slumber ne’er° a wink, til I° return. 70 / And shall not sleep // ere my
Exeunt 71
1. The stage direction of Q1 reads ‘Enter the Jew’ and all speech headings read ‘Jew.’ (The actually reading is ‘Enter
the Iew,’ as I was often replaced J. )
2. The stage direction of Q1 reads:
Enter the Iew, and Salerio, and Anthonio,
and the Iaylor.
The name Salerio in the stage heading (instead of Salarino or Salanio) is likely an error made by the compositor
(or print house editor). The original stage heading may have read: ‘Enter the Iew, Anthonio, and others’—where the
‘others’ was meant to indicate Salarino and Salanio and the Jailor, but not Salerio. (Another anomaly in this stage
direction is that the name of a minor character, Salerio, appears before Anthonio.) Salerio, as we know, is in Belmont
delivering a message to Bassanio and could not be present in this scene (which takes place in Venice). Most editors
rectify this error in the stage heading, by replacing ‘Salerio’ with ‘Salanio’ (or Salanio), assuming that there is a oneto-
one correspondence between Salerio and on of the two other Sals . (Q2 replaces Salerio with Salarino, while F1
has Solanio). Thus, this scene is almost always played with Salanio (alone) or in some cases with Salarino (alone)
but not with both characters present, which is the most likely scenario. In sum, the name of Salerio in the stage
direction is clearly an error but the singular replacement of Salerio with either Salanio or Salarino is not certain; it is
most likely that both Salarino and Salanio appear, and were intended to appear, in this scene [See Additional Notes,
3. In this scene Shylock is dwelling in the newfound sense of power he has over Antonio by not letting Antonio
speak. [See Additional Notes, 3.3.0]
4. good: reference is made to the double meaning of this word: good in the sene of being righteous, and good in the
sense of being sound and firm. A similar play on the word good was made in 1.3.12-17 when Shylock says to
Bassanio, Antonio is a good man—not meaning that he is a man who is good (i.e., who has a good character) but a
man who is sufficient (good to cover the loan).
5. Why, and for what purpose, does Shylock tell Antonio that he has sworn an oath? What does this accomplish for
Shylock? [See Additional Notes, 3.3.5]
6. shall: > a) must, b) will
7. {Thou naughty jailer, thou that art so fond | To come abroad with him at his request.}
naughty: unfit, no good, corrupt, foolish
to come abroad: to walk outside the jail, in the street
[See Additional Notes, 3.3.10]
ACT THREE - Scene Three 3.3
A street outside Shylock’s house.
Enter Shylock,1 Antonio, jSalarino, Salanio, and a Jailer. k 2
—Shylock 3
Jailor, keep your watch.° Tell not me of mercy. {Jailor look to him} / Keep watch on him
This is the fool who lends° out money gratis. {that lent} {F1: that lends} / who loans
Jailor, keep your watch.° {look to him}
—Antonio Hear me yet, good Shylock.
— Shylock
¢ Now I am good? I say,° my bond is good!¦ 4 / Methinks
I’ll have my bond.° Speak not against my bond. / And I’ll have it
I’ve sworn an oath that I will have my bond. 5
You call’dst me ‘dog’ before thou hadst a cause,
But since I am a dog, beware my fangs.
The Duke shall6 grant me justice. I do° wonder, / but
Thou wicked° jailor, why art thou so foolish° {naughty} / corrupt {fond} / stupid
To let him walk about at his request.° 7 / To let the captive walk around like this
8. dull-eyed fool: one who cannot see clearly; one who has the wool pulled over his eyes; one who is hoodwinked;
one who is easily deceived
9. {To Christian intercessors. Follow not} / To interfering Christians. Follow not.
The term interfering resonates with God-fearing.
10. In this short scene, Shylock bids Antonio to speak not four times; and he speaks the words, my bond, six times.
11. The characters of Salanio and Salarino are virtually the same, like two voices of one characters; as such, their
lines are virtually interchangeable. On closer examination, however, we see that Salanio is often given lines which
are more forceful and philosophical in nature than those of Salarino: in 1.1 he waxes philosophical, in 2.4 he
disagrees with the plan to steal Jessica, and here he expresses outright loathing. Salarino and Salanio come as a pair
and often play the role of dual sounding-boards which allow the central characters to express their thoughts. In this
line Salanio is uncharacteristically forceful (and expressive of a definite opinion). His words resemble those spoken
by Salerio in the previous scene: ‘Never did I know | A creature that did bear the shape of a man | So keen and
greedy to confound a man.’ [3.2.272-74]
12. That ever kept with men: a) that every kept the company of men, b) that ever appeared as a man
13. {I’ll follow him no more with these bootless prayers.}
bootless: lit. ‘without boots’; unable to run, i.e., ineffectual, hopeless, unavailing, feckless, ‘going nowhere,’ etc.
/ I’ll follow not with prayers that go nowhere / I’ll follow not with such meaningless pleas / I’ll follow not
with stale and feckless prayers
14. / I know the reason why he seeks my life
15. / And I would loan them funds, without interest
16. / Which delivered them from his forfeitures
17.The original passage (now replaced by six lines) reads as follows:
{I oft delivered from his forfeitures | Many that have at times made moan to me}
18. A more introspective Antonio might have added: ¢Moreover, I have oft-times cursed the man | Railing his
presence at the Rialto, | Spitting upon his face each time I passed.¦
I pray thee, hear me speak.
I’ll have my bond—I will not hear thee speak.
I’ll have my bond—and therefore speak no more. / and not your pleading words
I’ll not be made a soft and dull-eyed fool, 8
To shake my head, relent, and° sigh,° and yield / so meekly, // moan
To Christian meddlers.° Stay there, follow not. 9 {intercessors}
I’ll have no speaking—I will have my bond. 10
Exit Shylock
—Salanio 11
It is the most impenetrable dog° {cur}
That ever kept° with men.12 / stayed
—Antonio Let him alone.
I’ll follow him no more with feckless° prayers. 13 {bootless} / useless
He seeks my life; his reason well I know:°14 / I know well / I well know
+Many a time he would make loans of money / Many a time he would make loans to men
To those who could not pay the sums on time; / Who could not then repay the debt on time
And thus, as forfeit, would lose all their goods ., / And they’d be forced to forfeit all their goods
Such men would come to me and moan their fate,° / bemoaning their fate
And I, compelled, would loan them money, gratis,° 15 / funds, sans int’rest
Which freed them from his brutal° forfeitures. 16 17 18 / crushing / grievous / scathing
[See Additional Notes, 3.3.23]
19. Antonio is telling of the many times that men would borrow money from Shylock, under a contract (which they
likely did not understand—and which served as a kind of entrapment) which contained the condition that if they
could not pay off the debt on such and such a day, then they were required to pay a stiff penalty or forfeiture—which
oft times was more costly than the loan itself, and a penalty which amounted to the loss of their goods and property.
Thus, when men were caught in this predicament they would come and bemoan their fate to Antonio—who, out of
Christian charity, would loan them money, gratis, so that they could pay off the loan and avoid the ruinous forfeiture.
Thus Antonio’s practice of loaning out money in this way ‘robbed’ Shylock of all the extra profit he was eager to
extract from his victims. [See Additional Note, 3.3.24]
20. / Will cast fair doubt on our good claim to justice / Will strip the state of all its claim to justice
21. A singularly weak argument in defense of Venetian law (which is also used by Portia). Venetian law was
unlikely to be so rigid and edicts could be bent (in specific instances) without endangering the fair trade of Venice
nor setting some kind of precedence which would cause irreparable harm—especially in regards to an ‘alien.’ As
stated in the court scene, the word of the Duke, in this instance, was sufficient to dismiss could this case and spare
Antonio’s life (and the Duke was under no edict to follow the letter of the law in such a bizarre case.) Such
adherence to the strict code of Venetian law, however, must be made in order to support the dramatic tension of the
22. bated: abated, reduced, diminished, enfeebled; implying a lose of weight.
23. {These griefs and losses have so baited me | That I shall hardly spare a pound of flesh | Tomorrow to my bloody
24. / Yet one more time before I pay his debt.
25. These two lines found in the original—which contain a death-defying plea to see Bassanio one more time—seem
misplaced and over-the-top but consistent with Antonio’s obsession with Bassanio. Here, his desire to see Bassanio
surpasses even his concern for life. This sentiment, being overweening, tends to weaken Antonio’s character and
even suggests some kind of compulsive pathology.
This act of giving of one’s life for one’s friend—herein demonstrated by Antonio—reflects the greatest love
and highest Christian ideal, for as Jesus said: ‘No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s
friends.’ (John 15:13)
Therefore he hates me. 19 / That’s why / ‘Tis why
—Salarino I am sure the Duke
Will never grant° this forfeiture to hold. / not allow
The Duke cannot deny° the course° of law. / refuse / force > forward movement
For the commercial rights° that traders° have {commodity} {strangers}
With us in Venice— if it be denied— / if ‘tis not upheld
Will much impeach° the justice of the state, 20 / impugn / impair
And such will harm the city, which is port
Of trade to every nation. 21 Therefore, go.
These griefs and losses have so bated° me 22 / weakened
That when my bloody bondsman° calls tomorrow {creditor}
I’ll barely have° a pound of flesh to spare. 23 / I will not have
Well Jailer, on. Pray God° Bassanio come / I pray / Pray good
To see me pay his debt,° and then I care not.° 24 25 / I’m content
1. At this point Portia has decided to go to Venice and intervene on Antonio’s behalf—now believing that such an
intervention is necessary (because neither the justice system of Venice, nor the ducats she has armed Bassanio with,
are sufficient to save Antonio). But upon what information has she come to make this decision? Initially she thought
that her tens of thousands of ducats would be enough to save Antonio—despite Jessica’s statement, ‘That he would
rather have Antonio’s flesh | Than twenty times the value of the sum.’ [3.2.284-85] However, something has since
changed her mind, and now she believes that neither her money nor the justice system of Venice would be sufficient
to save Antonio—and she concludes that she must go to Venice and intervene. Thus, this change in Portia’s opinion
(which resulted in her changing her course of action) could only have come about as a result of her continued (and
more informed) conversation with Jessica. We are not clear on how Portia came to conclude that only her legal
intervention could help Antonio, especially since she had no legal training and was not familiar with the specifics of
the case. We are also not clear as to how she knew that her cousin, Bellario, had been summoned by the Duke to
rule on the case—and was too sick to do so—unless she had received a prior communication from Bellario telling
her of these matters.)
Thus, it is clear that Portia had a change of heart due to her continued conversation with Jessica, who was
intimately knowledgeable about the matter. To indicate this ongoing conversation (which began in 3.2) the two
could be seen entering the scene together (ahead of the others), in conversation—even where Portia could appear to
be asking questions with Jessica answering. [See Additional Notes, 3.4.0]
2. A line to clarify Lorenzo’s reticence has been added here:
a) The sense may be that it is impolite to praise a person in his/her own presence—as this might cause
embarrassment (to those who would be modest) or self-aggrandizement (to those inclined in this direction), or b) that
words spoken in one’s presence are likely to be embellishments (toward positive praise) and therefore may not
reflect the total truth (whereas words spoken when the subject is absent, are more likely to be truthful). In this
instance, it could be that Lorenzo is reiterating that, although his words are spoken in her presence, they are not said
lightly, as hollow praise, but truly reflect his opinion.
a) / +And loathe to offer such excessive praise,
b) / +And you may doubt the truth of what I say,
3. {Madam, although I speak it in your presence | You have a noble and true conceit}
although: even though
/ Although I pause to speak it in your presence | Madam, you have a noble understanding
/ Madam, I pause to say it is your presence, | And yet, you show a noble understanding
/ I hope it’s not too bold of me to say, | Madam, and yet I think you have a true sense
4. {But if you knew to whom you show this honor}
/ But if you knew the one whom you thus honor
5. {How dear a lover of my lord your husband}
/ How dear he’s placèd in your husband’s heart
6. / You’d be more honored by this virtuous work° / kindly act / generous deed
7. / Than from the custom’ry displays of kindness
8. / Your gen’rous nature moves you to perform / Than your good heart obliges you to enact
9.{Than customary bounty can enforce you} / Than from obligèd acts of charity
customary: ususal, regular, standard
bounty: goodness, benevolence, generosity, overflowing kindness, etc.
ACT THREE – Scene 4 1 3.4
Belmont. Enter Portia, Nerissa, Lorenzo, Jessica, and Balthazar, Portia’s servant
Madam, although I speak it in your presence,
+And hesitate° to volunteer° such praise,, 2 / am not wont // offer you
You have a true and noble understanding 3
Of godlike friendship,° which appears most strongly° {amity} // so fully
In bearing, thus, the absence of your lord.
But if you knew the one to whom you honor,° 4 / favor
How true a gentleman you deem to help,° {send relief}
How dear he’s held within° thine husband’s heart 5 / placèd in / placed within
I know you would be prouder of this work 6
Than from the customary° acts° of kindness 7 / usual / common {works} / deeds
That your good° nature moves° you to perform. 8 9 // Your godly nature / prompts
enforce you: prompt, impel, incline you; make you feel
Herein, the original line has been expanded into two. The sense here is that the act of kindness Portia is
performing (in helping Antonio) would be more pleasing to her than from the usual and regular acts of kindness that
she, out of the goodness of her heart, is wont to perform. This action goes above and beyond the normal generosity
(the customary bounty) of her usual charitable acts.
Various editors interpret this line as follows: ‘Than your wonted generosity make you feel’ (Cam); ‘Than
ordinary acts of kindness allow you to feel’ (Appl);‘Than ordinary kindness can make you.’ (Pelican); ‘Than
ordinary acts of kindness can incline you to be’ (Ar); ‘Than your usual acts of benevolence make you perform’ (Ox);
‘Then the usual acts of kindness you are prompted (by your good nature) to perform.’
10. {I never did repent° for doing good} / regret / seek praise
/ I ne’er did pride myself for doing good
11. / Whose souls unite by the same yoke of love
12. {There must be needs a like proportion}
/ There must be needs a likeness of manner / Must share an inclination of like manner
13. / . . . a like proportion of | Characteristics, manner, and of spirit,
/ . . . a like proportion | Of character, sentiment, and of sprit
/ Must share a like proportion of manner | Of character, sentiment, and of spirit
14. / Being my lord’s most true and dearest friend / Being the dearest-most friend of my lord
15. / How little is the price I pay to save | One, so like one, with whom I share a soul
16. {This comes too near the praising of myself}
/ This comes too near to mine own self-endorsement!
/ This near approaches self-praise and conceit
17. / The running and management of my house / The management and care of my estate
18. Here Portia is saying she has made a vow to heaven, when clearly she has not. This white lie gives her an
unsuspecting reason to leave the estate for a few days.
19. a monastery two miles off: This suggests that Belmont is an island, which is close enough to the mainland to be
connected by a bridge, or that it is a peninsula which appears to be an island as one approaches it from the sea.
Lines 3.4.81-84 (where Portia indicates a 20 miles journey by coach, to Padua) and the arrival of other characters, by
I never praised myself° for doing good, 10 {did repent}
And° shall not now; for in such fond companions°— {Nor} {for in companions}
Who do converse and pass° their time together, {waste} / spend
Whose souls do bear an equal° yoke of love— 11 / are joined by the same
There must be needs a like proportion12
Of character,° of manners, and of spirit, 13 {lineaments}
Which makes me think that this Antonio,
Being the dearest comrade°of my lord, 14 {bosom lover}
Must needs be like my lord. If it be so,
How little is the cost I have bestowed° / put forth / tendered
In rescuing° the semblance° of my soul 15 {purchasing} / saving now / likeness
From out the state° of hellish cruelty. / From this affront
This comes too near the° praising of myself 16 / This near approaches
Therefore, no more of it. Hear° other things: / Now
Lorenzo, I commit into° your hands, / transfer unto
The oversight° and° manage of my house 17 {husbandry}
Until my lord’s return. For mine own part,
I have toward heaven breathed a secret vow
To live in prayer and contemplation, 18
Attended only° by Nerissa here, {Only attended}
Until her husband and my lord° return. {lord’s}
There is a monastery two miles off, 19
foot, also suggests that Belmont is connected to the mainland.
20. {Not to deny this imposition} / Not to deny this imposing request
To fulfill the meter, imposition, would be pronounced as: IMpoZIseeOWN
21. Portia’s farewell is directed to Jessica alone. The most likely scenario is that Portia is closer to Jessica, and
perhaps face-to-face with Jessica, holding her at elbow’s length, and mentions her name to indicate a more personal
farewell. Some productions, feeling the need to have Portia and Jessica alone on stage, have Jessica suddenly
running back (as she and Lorenzo are exiting) to bid Portia farewell. Such a staging, however, draws too much
attention to itself and is not necessary.
22. Portia uses the name of her servant, Balthazar, when she comes into court dressed as a man
23. {And use thou all th’endeavour of a man} / And use the fullest of thy manly prowess / And use thou all thy
gainèd skill and power / And use thou all your manly skill and power
24. Portia’s self-made plan to have Bellario provide her with all the books and garments she needs, as well as a
glowing letter of recommendation to appear in Bellario’s stead— is contingent upon: a) her knowing that Bellario
had since been requested, by the Duke, to oversee this very matter in Venice, b) that Bellario was too ill to comply,
and c) her confidence in her ability to school herself in all matters of Venician law so as to credibly rule over the
matter. (And, if she did not live up the heights of Bellario’s recommendation, it would seriously impair Bellario’s
hard-won reputation. So, in her letter, she would have to have convinced Bellario to stake his reputation upon her
And there we will abide. I do desire° you, / ask of / request
Not to deny this sudden° imposition, 20 / curt / rude / brusque
The which my love and some necessity° / more pressing needs
Now lays upon you.
—Lorenzo Madam, with all my heart
I shall obey you in all fair commands.° / you request
My people do already know my wish° {mind}
And will acknowledge° you and Jessica / recognize / accept both
In place of Lord Bassanio and myself.
So fare you well till we shall meet again.
Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on you! ° / happiness all be with you!
—Jessica [turning back toward Portia]
I wish your ladyship all° heart’s content. / you, dear lady, all / your lady every
I thank you for your wish, and am well-pleased
To wish the same for you.° Fare you well, Jessica. 21 {it back on you}
Exeunt Jessica and Lorenzo
Now, Balthazar,22
As I have ever found thee plain and true,° {honest true} / true and honest
So let me find thee still: Take this same letter,
And use thou all thy acumen and skill° 23 {the endeavor of a man}
In speed° to Padua. See thou render° this / haste / giveth
Into the hands of my cousin, Bellario, 24
ability to preside over the matter in his stead). A more likely plan would have been for Portia to visit Bellario, where
they could study the case together, and where she could receive expert legal advice, and where she could convince
him to write the necessary letter to the Duke. Portia making such a journey to Padua would have taken the same
amount of travel time as Balthazar, who was instructed to go to Padua, find Bellario, get the items, and then meet
Portia at the ferry landing (on the mainland) where the ferry leaves for Venice. The best plan (though lacking the
necessary dramatic element) would have been for Portia to go to Padua, tell Bellario of the urgency and personal
nature of the matter, and convince him to intervene, as was originally requested by the Duke.) [See Additional
Notes, 3.4.55]
25. A man of gravid legal acumen / One of Italia’s greatest legal minds / Who commands crucial legal acumen /
Who wields considerable legal skill / Who doth possess the greatest legal mind
26. These emended lines introduce a new scenario whereby Portia intends to visit Bellario, and where they will ‘pour
over the books,’ and where she will furnished with his legal opinion with regards to the case. (Such a scenario would
be consistent with logic, efficiency, and with Bellario’s letter to the Duke, where he says: ‘We turned o’er many
books together,’ and ‘He is furnished with my opinion.’ [4.1.154-55])
In terms of a production, realism at this point is not crucial and the audience can be relied upon to forgive
the gaps in Portia’s plan. Thus, the original lines could be preserved without any appreciable loss. In the original, no
meeting takes place: Balthazar is instructed to pick up various books and garments from Bellario (and a letter of
recommendation) and then meet Portia at the ferry port (traject) where the ferry travels back and forth (‘trades’)
between the mainland and Venice. The original reads as follows:
And look° what notes and garments he doth give thee, / take
Bring them, I pray, with all imagined speed
Unto the traject, to the° common ferry / Unto the landing where the
Which trades to Venice.° Waste no time in words / Departs to Venice
But get thee gone. I shall be there before thee.
27. before they think of us: a) before they think about us (being so busy with their own affairs), b) before the think
of seeing us, before they think they will be going to see us (i.e., upon their return to Belmont)
28. / we’re suitably equipped / we are fully equipped / we are but well-endowed
29. / I’ll bet any amount / I’ll bet thee any sum
30. prettier: more pleasing, more gallant, more manly
+Who is a most learnéd doctor of law.25
He must prepare the books, review the case,
And then instruct me on how to proceed.
We’ll meet this evening., Waste no time in words,
But get thee gone. I shall be there anon. 26
Madam, I go with all availing° speed. {convenient} / available / possible
Come on, Nerissa. I have work in hand
That you have yet to know.° We’ll see our husbands {That you yet know not of}
Before they think of us.27
—Nerissa Shall they see us?
They shall, Nerissa, but in such a manner° {habit} / garb / in such apparel
That they shall think we are but well-equipped° 28 {accomplishèd}
With what° we lack. I’ll hold° thee any wager 29 {that} // make / stake
That when we’re both accoutered° like young men / attired / in raiments of
I’ll prove the more convincing° of the two, {prettier fellow}30 / bolder fellow
31. The brave wearing of one’s dagger (or sword) can be seen as a phallic symbol, and a symbol of one’s manhood.
32. {And speak between the change of man and boy | With a reed voice} Xxx
/ And speak a piping voice that comes between | The change from boy to man; and turn two mincing | Steps to a
manly stride.
33. / They fell to sickness and died of heartbreak
34. And show the piping voice of some younker° / fair youth
Not yet a man; and turn two mincing steps
Into a manly stride; and speak of brawls
Like a fine, bragging youth; and tell quaint lies
How noble ladies sought my manly love
Which, I denying, they° fell sick and died. / Which, when denied, they soon
35. {I could not do withal} I could not do anything about it; I could not help it. Pun on the word do—I could not do
(make love with) them all, thus suggesting that the woman he could not (or would not) make love with, fell sick and
died of heartbreak.
36. {And wish for all that, that I had not killed them}
/ And wish my darling° had not killed them so. / mantrap / beauty / charming
for all that: for having refused them / for all the actions which were beyond my control / “in spite of that — that
I could not prevent their dying.” (Kit)
37. {And twenty of these puny lies I’ll tell}
38. {Above a twelvemonth. I have within my mind} / More than a year ago. I have in mind
above a twelvemonth: a) after one year, b) more than a year ago, above a year
39. These lines uttered by Portia show a total embrace of her assumed role as a man. It is clear that Portia is not
going to carry out any of the manly behavior she brags about, nor would she have any need, nor reason, nor time to
carry out such acts, despite (I have within my mind | A thousand raw tricks of these bragging Jacks | Which I will
practice. [3.4.76-78]) Her staid legal garb, and its corresponding manner, are going to show her more like a
seasoned man—somewhat reserved and asexual—rather than the rowdy youth she is describing. What we see here is
Portia’s willingness to embrace this male role (and come full out of her docile romantic princess mode), which is a
metaphor for her leaving the fairy-tale world of Belmont and coming into the thick of the Venetian world. In this
description, as in 1.2, we see her mocking men and their ways. Portia’s ready acceptance of her male role (even
more so than is required) is in full contrast to Jessica’s embarrassment and ‘shame’ at having to simply dress up as a
boy—and make a clandestine escape.
40. turn to men: Nerissa surmises that as part of the plan that they will “turn into men” (disguise themselves as
men); Portia then plays upon another possible meaning, suggesting that (if she interpreted Nerissa’s meaning ina
lewd way) she might think Nerissa is suggesting that they turn to, or approach, men for sexual satisfaction.
And wear my dagger with the braver grace,° 31 / bolder sway
And speak a vocal pitch° that comes between / reed-like voice / piping voice
The change from boy to man;32 and I will turn
Two mincing° steps into a manly stride, / dainty
And speak of brawls° like a fine, bragging youth; {frays} / fights
And tell concocted° lies, how noble ladies {quaint} / fantastic / ingenious / far-fetchèd
Did seek my love which, upon my denial,° / when it was denied
Led them to grave illness and death by heartbreak—33 34
I could not do them all.°35 Then I’ll repent {do withal} / help it / do otherwise
And wish for all that my charm had not killed them. 36
And I’ll tell twenty of these puny° lies, 37 / empty / brainless
That men shall swear I had dropped out of° school {have discontinued}
Aft’ but one year.° I have within my mind 38 {Above a twelvemonth}
A thousand raw° tricks of these bragging Jacks° boys / youths
Which I will use.° 39 {practice} / put to use
—Nerissa Why, shall we turn to men? 40
Fie, what a question that is!° +Shall we turn / lewd question!
41. / To men to satisfy our needs? Fie, fie!
42. {Fie, what a question’s that? | If thou wert near a lewd interpreter!}
/ Fie, what a question’s that? | We shall not turn to men for carnal favors!
/ Fie, what a question’s that?— +We turn to men | For carnal pleasures?—no, I thinketh not.,
/ Fie, what a lewd question is that! +We turn | To men for carnal pleasures—I think not!,
/ Fie, what a question’s that? | If thou resembled a lewd interpreter | +Methinks you say we turn to men for
pleasures!, [See Additional Notes, 3.4.80]
43. park gate: the gate leading beyond the grounds, beyond the estate surrounding the mansion
To men for carnal pleasures°?—I think not!41 , 42 / satisfaction
But come, I’ll tell thee all of my good plan° {my whole device}
When we are in my coach, which stays° for us / waits
At the main° gate; and therefore haste away,° {park}43
For we must journey° twenty miles today. {measure}/ travel
1. Act 3, Scene 5, as found in the original, is a ‘filler’ scene which provides a light-hearted distraction and some
psychological time which allows the main characters to reach Venice. Nothing is advanced in the scene. (As it now
stands, the dynamic court scene is sandwiched between two, more playful scenes, involving the two lovers and the
fool.) The quality of this scene (especially the first half), moreover, is tiresome and lacking. At the onset of the
scene, Launcelet is oddly confronting and harsh; it is unlikely that he would address Jessica in such a cruel manner
(as they were friends and allies during his term with Shylock) though some have argued that Jessica, now a Christian,
is ‘fair game for Launcelet’s foolery.’ Moreover, Launcelet’s fluency with Homer’s The Odyssey is questionable; his
banter with Lorenzo is dull; and the later conversation between Lorenzo and Jessica is uninspired. Due to the
weakness of the scene, some scholars have doubted its authenticity and most productions simply delete it.
In sum, the scene is lacking and anomalous though a scene is needed here to provide time for the main
characters to reach Venice. Thus, the original 3.5 should be included with trepidation, deleted altogether, or wholly
replaced with another scene. In this emendation, 3.5 is replaced with one involving Shylock. One way to keep a
short scene here would be to import the early portions the 5.1 involving Lorenzo and Jessica. (Specifically, 5.1.1-21
and 5.1.54-109, or some portion thereof, could be included). This importation would help to reduce the length of Act
Five and accomplish the aim of bringing the story to a swift conclusion after its crescendo at the end of the trial
scene. As it now stands, the concluding Act Five is much too long and most productions seek ways to reduce it. It
was a common practice, before 1800, to simply omit Act Five altogether, rather than tax the audience with the tie up
of loose ends after the dramatic close of the court scene. However, such convenient editing is wholly unacceptable.
The filler scene provided here—which replaces the original—can be staged in one of three ways: a) Shylock
appears alone, without any spoken lines, b) Shylock appears alone, then Tubal enters, then a short dialogue between
the two—one which does not reveal Shylock’s motivation, or c) Shylock appears alone, then Tubal enters, then a
dialogue between the two—one which reveals Shylock’s motivation (which is that he does not intend to actually kill
Antonio but to teach him a lesson, to psychologically torture him). Explicitly revealing Shylock’s motivation (i.e.,
not to kill Antonio) tenuously redeems his character: as such, he is not solely motivated by misplaced hatred and selfdefeating
rage but by a more skillful and ‘elevated’ stratagem—that of ‘teaching Antonio a lesson.’ Revealing such a
motivation (which is contrary to the assumed motivation found in the original) holds the risk of changing the vector
(and tension) of the court scene. In the original, the audience is led to believe that Shylock fully intends to kill
Antonio (if he gets the chance). With the introduction of Shylock’s motivation, the audience may not feel any real
threat to Antonio life (which Antonio and everyone else in the play is made to feel it). In addition, when Shylock is
finally defeated, he is defeated before he has a chance to make known his true motivations, and everyone is left with
the false impression that he truly intended to kill Antonio (and would have done it if he were not stopped by Portia’s
wit). This, then, would add another dimension to the defeat of Shylock’s character—his never being able to redeem
himself in the eyes of others. In this scenario, Shylock could not come back and claim he had no intention of killing
Antonio, for in such a position of defeat, no one would believe him. [See Additional Notes, 3.5.0]
2. Previously, when there was an object for its expression, we see Shylock able to express his anger and rage; here,
in isolation, only sadness penetrates, and, for the first time, he feels a deep and alien sense of loss: “The curse never
fell upon our nation till now; I never felt it till now.”
3. To include an element of black humor, Shylock could be made to test the sharpness of his blade on a tomato
(which may or may not be a symbol for the heart). In his first try, he finds the blade to be hopelessly dull and
ACT THREE - Scene Five 1
_______________________________________ [Optional Scene—replaces 3.5 in the original]
Venice. Shylock’s House.
Shylock is alone in his house, feeling an oppressive emptiness from his daughter’s flight and
betrayal. He also feels isolated (from the merchant and Jewish communities) due to his strange
course of action against Antonio (one which is going to bode badly for every Jew in Venice).
Here he is getting ready for the trial; and with no object upon which to express his anger (such
as the presence of Antonio), he is starkly confronted by his own sadness.2 He picks up the bond
and safely places it his breast pocket, perhaps knowing too well that exacting the cruel terms of
his bond will do little to appease this own emptiness. He readies his bag, selecting it with some
reluctance. This is one of the bags he uses to transport money. He goes to the scale, takes it
apart, and places it into the bag. He picks up a one-pound weight, gauges its weight by lifting it
up and down in his hand, and places it in the bag. He goes to his knife collection and ponders
which knife to use; he selects the most ominous-looking one, which is thick and pointed. He
places the knife in his bag. 3 4
squashes the tomato instead of cleanly cutting it. In frustration, he discards the knife and tries another, with equal
lack of success. After a few failures (perhaps the knives are dull because Launcelet is no longer there to sharpen
them) he picks up the first knife again, wipes the knife with a towel, and puts it into his bag. (He will sharpen the
blade on the sole of his shoe at a later time).
One could also add a symbolic element here and have Shylock mistakenly cut himself with one of the
knives as he is distractedly testing it. This notion reflects a line from the ancient Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching,
which states: “He who kills is like he who cuts with the blade of the Great Wood-Carver. Truly, whoever cuts with
the blade of the Great Wood-Carver is likely cut himself.” (Verse 74)
4. The scene could end here (without any words spoken and without the entrance of Tubal). Ending the scene here
would accentuate Shylock’s sense of aloneness. This speechless added scene could be used in a production which
stays true to the original text—such ‘trueness’ allows for additional staging (and deletions of text) but does not
tolerate the addition of any new dialogue. The general rule allows for some archaic words to be modernized and for
a character to say the name of another characters, even if that name does not appear in the text. (For example, some
productions have Shylock call out ‘Jessica, Jessica’ upon his return from Bassanio’s dinner, even though her
name—and this direction to call out her name—does not appear in the original text.)
5. add: ‘—this act of cutting out Antonio’s heart before the Duke and magistrates?’
6. A few lines of explanatory dialogue, relating to the oath that Shylock made, could be inserted here. [See
Additional Notes, 3.5.02]
7. The scene could—and possibly should—end here. The addition of further dialogue reveals Shylock’s
motivation—which is not to kill Antonio but only to psychologically ‘torture’ him. Without this motive explicated,
the audience would assume that Shylock is motivated by blind hatred and revenge and that he fully intends to kill
Antonio when he enters the court.
[See Additional Notes, 3.5.01]
Enter Tubal
Shylock, do you intend to go through with this heinous act? 5
Until the very end.
But you have nothing to gain and all to lose. He’s already broken. He cannot interfere with your
business. And such an act would destroy us in the eyes of Venice; they would have cause to treat
us Jews as a cruel and faithless people.
And do they not already treat us that way? 6
But why go through with this? Just take the principal—or double—and be done with it.
Why does Antonio spit on me? Why do Christians despise us? We are different. We are not
like them—thus, they cannot see us. They choose not to see us. But now they will see. Now
they must look upon the Jew and hear him. I will play this hand til the very end. 7
What end is that?
8. Optional lines which include a reference to Antonio, could be added: +And I will not allow Antonio to speak.
And how will that make a man feel?,
9. The last sentence could be deleted if the intent is to make Shylock’s motivation purely righteous, with no financial
scheming, though the financial intent—coming as an afterthought, and keeping Shylock in the character of a
business—does not undermine his so-called ‘righteous’ intention.
10. This addition of dialogue reveals Shylock’s true motivation: which is to revel in his new position of power, to
psychologically ‘torture’ Antonio (leading Antonio to believe, until the last moment, that he is going to die), to get
back three times what he is owed, and then to let Antonio go free. Without Shylock revealing his exact motivation,
one could surmise one of the following: One: Shylock, deranged by hatred—and the sadness of his daughter’s
betrayal—fully intends to take his revenge upon Antonio and kill him, without moral ambivalence, as is allowed by
the bond (even thought Antonio had nothing to do with Jessica’s flight). Here Shylock is psychopathically certain
about his rights, which he mistakenly views as being lawful and defensible. (As the play now stands, this is the
hateful and depraved course of action which the audience believes Shylock intends to take. With his loathsome and
indefensible intention so apparent, Shylock’s character cannot be redeemed. Despite the numerous and wellintentioned
attempts, made in various productions, to place Shylock in the role of ‘victim,’ such a depraved intention
insures that Shylock remains a heartless villain, beyond the reach of redemption or pity. Two: Shylock is conflicted
and is unsure about what he is going to do, but he is siding with the intention to kill Antonio. One part of him wants
to kill Antonio (‘the fiend at his elbow’) and the other part knows that such an action—though legally within his
rights—is wrong (his conscience). He is enmeshed in a conflict similar to the one played out by his servant
Launcelet in 2.2. In the context of this conflict—where Shylock knows that his conscience may eventually win out
over his fiend—he ‘ups the ante’ and ‘goes past the point of return’ by making a vow his holy Saboath (God of
Hosts) that (his ‘fiend’ will prevail) and that he will kill Antonio. Thus, he enters the court conflicted but with the
irreversible intention (and added motivation, imparted by his vow) to kill Antonio. He might have also needed the
added strength imparted by his vow to overshadow his own conscience when faced with the brutal reality of the
actual deed. Three: Shylock intends to carrying out this ‘strange course of action,’ to the last minute, to teach
Antonio a ‘hard’ lesson—and, as surmised by the Duke—to then let Antonio go.
I will torment him as he has tormented me. I will make him feel as he has made me feel. I will
teach him something he will not soon forget. Perhaps he will have reason to pause next time he
thinks to spit on me +I who held his life in my hands,. They have pleaded with me. They have
asked me to alter my course. It is now I who cannot hear them. I turn a deaf ear to all their
pleas.8 Antonio, the Duke, and all the magnificoes have pleaded with me, yet I will not hear
them. I need not hear them.
Your deeds will handicap the freedom that every Jew affords in Venice. Methinks you carry this
too far.
No, no, not far enough. I’ll make him suffer. I’ll hold him in my grip till the last moment—and
when I see the desperate fear in his eyes, a man made to feel utterly powerless—then I will let
him go and take thrice the principle. ‘Tis my right. ‘Tis a right I have dearly bought—and not
with ducats but with the years I have suffered under his hand. ‘Tis my right. I’ll have my day.
I’ll have Antonio suffer. I’ll have my ducats three times over. 9 10
1. The first three lines of the original play have six iambs (twelve syllables) as opposed to the standard iambic
pentameter (ten syllables)
2. void: > a) heartless, b) without Christian grace
3. / taken great measures° to curb / utmost pains
4. {Out of}
5. {My patience to his fury, and am armed} / His fury with my patience; I am braced
patience: Patience, as used in this context, is somewhat synonymous with forbearance, and suggests to the
Renaissance virtue which is advocated as the best way to meet adversity. [Lear 1.4.240, 2.2. 445]. More deeply, it
refers to faith in God and the short-term corporeal suffering which is often needed to bring about long-term and
divine gain. “The ability to bear misfortune with confidence in the ultimate justice and goodness of God. This is a
Christian notion not to be confused with classical Stoicism.” (Kit).
6. {The very tyranny and rage of his.}
/ The very brunt and tyranny of his rage. / The very tyranny of this man’s rage / The very brunt and
onslaught of his rage / The very despotism of his rage
7. The stage heading in Q1 reads, Enter Shylocke, yet the speech headings shift—with no real
significance—between Jew and Shy.
Iewe (or Iew): [34— I have possessed your grace,64, 66,68,84,88,121,126,138,173]
ACT FOUR — Scene One
Venice. A court of justice. Enter the Duke, the Magnificoes, Antonio, Bassanio, Gratziano,
and others.
What,° is Antonio here? / Well
—Antonio Ready,° so please your grace.1 / I am
I am sorry for thee. Thou art° come to answer° / You’ve // You’ve come against
A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
Incapable of pity—void,2 and empty° / and lacking / without
From any hint° of mercy. {dram}
—Antonio I have heard
Your grace hath ta’en° great pains to modify° 3 / borne {qualify} / mollify
His savage° course, but since he stands unshaken° {rigorous} {obdurate} / unmovèd
And, as° no lawful means can carry° me {that} / since // render / deliver
Beyond 4 his envy’s reach, I do° oppose° / now / doth // pit against
My patience to his fury, and am armed 5 / braced / ready
To suffer, with a quietness of spirit,
The very tyranny and rage of his.° 6 / he portions / he levies
Go one, and° call the Jew into the court. > Someone go,
He’s ready at° the door. He comes, my lord. / standing by
Enter Shylock 7
Shy: [180— On what compulsion must I?,203, 220, 223, 225, 232,243]
Iew (or Jew): [247—‘Tis very true, O wise and upright judge, 249, 253, 256, 259, 292, 298, 301]
Shy: [311— Is that the law?]
Iew: [315— I take this offer then, pay the bond thrice]
Shy: [332— Give me my principal and let me go, 338, 341, 370, 389, 391, 394] Note: the speech heading of line
394—In christening shalt thou have two Godfathers—attributes the line to Shylock {Shy.} which is clearly in
error—the line belongs to Gratziano.
8. > have him stand in such a way that we can clearly see him
9. Though the Duke is partial to Antonio’s plight (as evidenced in the opening lines of the scene) here he is showing
deference to Shylock (and giving him the opportunity to change his position) by asking others to make room for him
and by calling him by his name.
10. {Thou’lt show thy mercy and remorse more strange}
/ This ill-conceived course is even more strange / And yet this course conceived is e’en more strange / Yet
this recourse is even more bizarre / Yet such an ill-bred action is e’en more queer
/ That thou wilt show thy mercy and remorse; | Yet such a course is even more bizarre
11. {Than is thy strange apparent cruelty}
apparent: a) obvious, visible, b) show of, what appears to be
12. / Thou’lt show thy mercy; yet such course is stranger | Than is the strangeness of thy apparent |
/ Yet this conceived course is even more strange | Then is the strangeness of thy apparent |
/ Cruelty. And where you now demand the forfeit,
13. / And looking on his losses with some pity
14. {Enough to press a royal merchant down} / And now do burden a royal merchant
It is odd that the Duke is calling for Shylock to take pity on Antonio and forgive some portion of the principal (in
light of Shylock’s overtly merciless intentions). Having the Duke call on Shylock to forgive the forfeiture (and then
have Antonio pay him back when he was able) would be more likely an appeal. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.28]
15. {And pluck commiseration of his state}
/ Such loss would pluck a strain of pathos, e’en / a requiem of pity / a dirge of remorse
> And bring about some pity (in your heart) as a result of his (unfortunate) condition
16. {From stubborn Turks and Tartars never trained | To offices of tender courtesy}
Turks: generally classed with Jews, infidels, and heretics—i.e., those in need of redemption
Tartars: the brutal and bellicose warriors who made up the hordes of Ghengis Khan
17. {From stubborn Turks and Tartars never trained | To offices of tender courtesy}
/ From stubborn brutes and vicious fighters ne’er | Trained in demeanor that were soft or tender
Make room, and let him stand before our face. . . .8
Shylock, 9 the world thinks—and I think so too—
That thou but leadest° this fashion of thy malice / lead / forward
To the last hour of act° and then, ‘tis thought, / Until the final hour
Thou’lt show thy mercy and remorse; and yet
This ill-conceived° action is e’er more strange° 10 / ill-advisèd / queer / baffling
Than is the strangeness of thy feignéd° cruelty. 11 {apparent} / open / obvious
And where thou now exact’st° the penalty,12 / demand / exact
Which is a pound of this poor merchant’s flesh,
Thou wilt not only lose the forfeiture° / pardon all the fees
But, touched with human° gentleness and love,° {humane} // kindness and compassion
Forgive a portion° of the principal,° {moiety}
And glance° an eye° of pity on his losses 13 {Glancing} / Showing // Shedding a tear
That have, of late, so huddled on his back—
Enough to press a royal merchant down. 14 / burden a royal merchant
And such a loss° should pluck a strain of pathos 15 / A loss so great
From brassy bosoms and rough hearts of flint,
From stubborn° brutes and warriors° never trained 16 / faithless {Turks and Tartars}
In such demeanor that were soft or tender. 17
18. / And by God’s holy army have I sworn
/ And by our trust in God’s holy° army, / righteous
19. {And by our holy Sabaoth have I sworn}
Many commentators have transposed the term found in Q1, Sabaoth—which is a reference to Yahweh
Sabaoth, God of Hosts or God’s armies—into Sabbath (the holy seventh day). Thus, with this change, Shylock is
made to say: And by our holy Sabbath I have sworn. Such a statement makes little sense in this context. It becomes
even more problematic, as Shylock swears upon our holy Sabbath (and the commandment of God which demands
that a Jew keep the Sabbath holy) in order to break another of God’s commandments: “thou shall not kill.” Hence,
Shylock has swore himself into a predicament. What this shows, moreover, is Shylock’s imperfect brand of Judaism
and his foul understanding of his own tradition. Here he making an oath to the God of the Jews as a device to further
his own personal and ungodly aims and defy the commandments of his own God. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.35]
20. {To have the due and forfeit of my bond}.
The contract that usurers entered into usually had two parts: a) the amount due, which is the principle of the
bond, the amount actually loaned out (plus any interest which accrued), plus b) the forfeit or forfeiture, which is the
penalty that must be paid if the amount due is not paid back on time. Usually the forfeit was a person’s land or other
great expense. Here the forfeit is one pound of flesh. Present usury laws in most countries render such contracts
illegal (especially between individuals). These include loan contracts which carry too high an interest rate and/or
contracts which contain some kind of penalty. For instance, the usury rate in New York is 18%, which means that a
loan between individuals cannot carry an interest rate higher than 18%. In New Jersey, the rate is 30%. Hence,
contracts that charge a interest rate above a state’s usury rate is illegal. In most states, the loaning party would lose
all rights to collect interest on such a loan; in New York, such a contract being illegal, would be null and void and
the borrowing party would not be required to pay back any of the money borrowed
21. / If you deny it, let the consequence | Befall° your charter and your city’s freedom
/ defame / debase / debauch / besmirch / destroy
/ If you deny it, let all doubt alight | Upon the charter that grants your city | It’s renown freedom of commerce and
trade.° / It’s reputation of fair trade and commerce.
22. {But say it is my humour; it is answered?}
my humour: my particular, inborn disposition or nature. This refers to the unchanging bent of ones character or
disposition which is determined by the balance of the four main humours or fluids of the body—i.e., blood, phlegm,
clear or yellow bile [choler], and dark bile. Blood is associated with the liver (and a lack thereof produces
cowardice); phlegm with the lungs / brain; yellow bile with the spleen (producing anger or one who is choleric or
splenetic); and dark bile with the gall bladder (producing one who has a gall or choler). [See 3.5.58, for Launcelot’s
use of the term].
Shylock’s point is that a person cannot give reason as to why he has a particular dominance of humour (and
why he acts in a particular way), as that is simply the way he was born—it is his unchangeable nature. Thus, again,
with imperfect logic, Shylock is saying that he is really not responsible for his actions, that he cannot change them,
that he is prompted by his nature. (This goes against the central Jewish doctrine of man’s free choice). Shylock then
goes on to describe—with limited success—the various actions of persons who are inclined toward one particular
humour or the other: those who are sad, fearful, sluggish, etc. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.42]
The term humour can also refer to one’s whim, one’s wish, one’s liking—and this is the way that most
people would hear this line: ‘why do you want the pound of flesh?’ Shylock is asked—and he replies: ‘it is my
humour, it is my whim, it pleases me (and that is the reason).’
We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.
I have informed° your grace of my intention,° {possessed} {of what I purpose}
And by our holy God of Hosts° I’ve sworn 18 19 {Sabaoth}
To have the due° and forfeit of my bond.20 / debt > the amount owed
If you deny it, let disaster fall° {the danger light} / the doubt be cast
Upon your charter and your city’s freedom.21 / fall ‘pon / alight
You’ll ask me why I rather choose to have
A pound° of carrion° flesh than to receive {weight} // lifeless
Three thousand ducats? I’ll not answer that
But say it is my bent°—22 +The way my nature {humour}
Has come to fashion me., Now is it answered?
What if my house be troubled with° a rat / by
And I be pleased to give ten thousand ducats
To have it banned?° Well,° are you answered yet? / killed {What}/ Now
23. / Even before a feast of gaping pig. / A meal so served upon a gaping pig. / When seeing plates of food and
stuffed pig meat.
24. {Some men there are love not a gaping pig}
/ Some men there are dislike to see a pig, | +It’s mouth agape and served upon a platter.,
Refers to someone who is not moved to eat, even when sitting at a feast, where such grand items as a gaping pig—a
pig with its mouth held open by an apple—are served Shylock may be making an oblique reference to himself: he
would not eat (i.e., loves not) the feast of the pork which Christians find so desirable
25. {Some that are mad if they behold a cat} The reference is unclear, but suggests the humor of black bile, which
commonly refers to melancholy but also to one beset by haunting dreams and ‘vain imaginations.’ Thus, the image
of a cat, in this instance, may refer to a person who is mad in terms of false imaginings and superstition—which is
the kind of misplaced fear and superstition he may attribute to harmless alley cats.
26. {And others when the bag-pipes sings i’th’nose | Cannot contain their urine;}
sings i’th’nose: sings in the nose: a) sings its sad song through its nose (horn), b) sings with a nasal type voice or
Bagpipes were known to play mournful tunes. Crying tears (from the eyes) would be the natural response of
most men, whereas peeing in one’s own pants would not. Here, according to one’s humour, Shylock is describing
someone overtaken by fear (so much so that he would pee in his pants out of fright) as opposed to someone besieged
by sadness. Perhaps the confusion is intentional on the part of the playwright, suggesting that Shylock knows the
basic theory of the humours but is confused as to their correct application.
This confusion could be rectified (and Shylock made to appear more apt) by associating the bagpipe with
melancholy, rather that fright; thus, by replacing ‘urine’ with ‘weeping,’ the reference would be to a person besieged
by sadness (and tears) rather than by fright (and urine). Thus, a more cogent reference to the humours would be:
‘And others when the bagpipe sings i’th nose | Cannot contain their weeping.’
27. {For affection}
affection: a) one’s affect; one’s disposition, inherent temperament, or inborn nature; b) affections, such as likes
and desires. [See 3.1.55: ‘Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections,
28. it: one’s emotions, feelings, passions, etc.
29. {Masters of passion, sways it to the mood}
passion: emotions, feelings, sentiments. Generally refers to the full range of emotional responses a person can
have, including but not limited to, passion. The sense here is that one’s nature (one’s humour or inherent
disposition), rules over all his emotions, and sways it (one’s emotions) to the mood (mold, color, structure) of how
one’s nature is so inclined (i.e., to what it likes or loathes). [See Additional Notes, 4.1.49]
Masters of passion: That which rules over our emotions and feelings (passion). ‘Masters’ could also be seen as
a reference to young men, young counterparts of emotions—but this is an unwarranted stretch. Likewise, Masters of
passion is often emended to read, Mistress of passion (Oxford, Norton, Applause, Bevington, Kittredge), suggesting
that affection (interpreted as desires) is the cohort of (the mistress of) our emotions (passion). Interpreting
‘affection’ to mean ‘desire (as opposed to one’s natural inclination or disposition) is problematic since such and
interpretation makes no meaningful connection to the whole of the passage, which is about man’s unchanging nature
(or humour). Thus, affection should relate to one’s humour or inherent nature, as opposed to the more tenuous
interpretation as ‘desires.’
The phrase, as it appears in Q1, Maisters of passion, is problematic and some editors emending it as,
Masters oft passion (Cambridge), or Masters joft k passion (Folger)—neither of which illumine or clarify. (These
emendations, though lacking, are still superior to the mishandled, Mistress of passion). It is likely that the intended
passage was simply: ‘Masters our passion’ which is in keeping with the general idea that our inherent nature or
disposition (affection) rules over (masters) our various feelings and emotions (passion).
30. / . . . ‘Tis one’s own nature | That rules o’er feeling and doth sway our mood | To what it likes or loathes
/ . . . For our own nature, | Ruler of passion, ever sways our mood | To what it likes or loathes.
/ . . . and sways it to move | By what it likes or loathes
/ . . . and affects our mood | To what it likes or loathes
Some men are dull and° not inclined to eat / sluggish,
Even when served a feast of gaping pig.23 24
Some men° go mad if they behold a cat;25 / that
And others, when the bagpipe sings a note,° {sings i’th’nose} / plays a tune
Do wet their pants in fright.26 And thus one’s nature° 27 {For affection}
Rules over feeling° and sways it28 t’the mood° 29 / Rules our emotion // bent / temper
Of what it° likes or loathes. 30 Now, for your answer: it > our nature
As there is no° firm reason to be rendered° / Just as there’s no / given
31. {Why he cannot abide a gaping pig} / cannot endure / cannot stomach
abide: tolerate, bear, be unaffected by, stand the sight of
32. / Why he is superstitious of a cat See Note 18 xx.
33. {Why he a harmless, necessary cat}
necessary: useful, needed to perform the function of catching mice
harmless: refers to an ordinary house cat, as opposed to a ‘harmful’ cat, as might be employed by a witch
34. {Must yield to such inevitable shame | As to offend, himself being offended,}
/ Is forced to bear the shame of wetting his | Own pants, offending others as himself.
35. / There is a long-standing hate and loathing
36. {More than a lodged hatred and a certain loathing | I bear Antonio, that I follow thus | A losing suit against him.
Are you answered?}
losing suit: an unprofitable action where Shylock gains a worthless pound of flesh as as opposed to the usual
monetary gain.
37. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.62]
38. / To excuse thy overflowing° cruelty / over-bounding
/ But mere excuse for thy vengeful cruelty° / boundless / flooding / avid / ardent
39. {Hates any man the thing he would not kill?}
/ Every man kills the thing that would kill him.° / he does hate.
40. {Every offence is not a hate at first} / How can there be such hatred from one offence?
Why one° cannot endure° a gaping pig 31 {he} {abide} / partake
Why one° is crazed to see° a harmless cat,32 33 {he} / fearful of
Why one° who hears the playing° of a bagpipe {he} /song / strains / notes
Must yield to shame by wetting his own pants,34
So can I give no reason, more than° to say,° / but {nor I will not}
There is° a lodged° hate and a certain loathing35 {More than} // staunch / long
I bear Antonio, that I follow° thus° / pursue // this
A losing° suit against him. Are you answered? 36 37 / A gainless // Profitless
This is no answer, thou unfeeling man,
To° excuse the current° of thy cruelty.38 / To thus // o’erflow
I am not bound to please thee with my answer.
Do all men kill the things they do not love?
Do men not want to kill the things they hate? 39
A first offense cannot bestow° such hatred. 40 / amass / afford / a’bring
— Shylock
What, wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?
41. {I pray you think, you question with the Jew}
the Jew: refers specifically to Shylock, and not to Jews in general, else Antonio would have said, ‘you question
with a Jew.’
42. You may as well: Antonio repeats this phrase four times.
43. / And bid the tide to lower its usual height / And bid the high tide not rise with the moon. / And bid the tide
abate its rising waters.
44. {Why he hath made the ewe bleake for the lamb}
bleat: cry loudly. Q1 has bleake, which is likely an error for bleat (or bleat).
45. {As seel to soften that—than which what’s harder?—}
/ To try and soften that which is hardest—
/ To try and soften the hardest thing of all—
46. {His Jewish heart.} / His vacant heart / vacuous heart / faithless heart. / His merciless heart. Thus
This line is somewhat out of place for Antonio, as his contention with Shylock has been over usury, yet here is a
direct attack against Shylock’s Jewishness. Under the circumstances, where Antonio is about to be killed by this
unforgiving enemy, such a slur is not out of place, and may reveal what Antonio believes to the ‘thick-necked’ and
unflinching aspect of Shylock’s character. An normal usurer, having been offered three times the principle owed,
would have taken the offer. Thus, there is something more than mere usurious greed which is entrenching Shylock in
the ‘unprofitable course.’ Antonio, unable to fathom Shylock’s alien course of action, is here linking it to his
Jewishness, since Antonio can find nothing else.
47. / His unforgiving heart. Thus, I beseech you
48. {But with all brief and plain conveniency} / But with all plain and efficient dispatch
49. Shylock is saying that he would refuse an offer of 36,000 ducats. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.86]
I pray you, think,° you argue with a stone.° 41 / Remind yourself {the Jew} / a block
You may as well42 go stand upon the beach
And bid the high tide° bate its usual height; 43 {main flood}
You may as well use question° with the wolf° / long argue
Why he hath killed the lamb and made the ewe cry. 44
You may as well forbid the mountain pines
To wag their high tops and to make no noise
When they are fretted with the gusts of heaven;° / a gust of wind
You may as well do anything most hard
As seek to soften° that which none is harder— 45 / To try an’ soften
His godless° heart.46 Therefore, I do beseech you, 47 / faithless / vengeful
Make no more offers, use no further means,
But with all brief° and plain efficiency° / speed {conveniency} / propriety
Let me have judgement and the Jew his will. 48
—Bassanio [to Shylock]
For thy three thousand ducats, here is six.
If every ducat in six thousand ducats
Were in six parts, and every part a ducat,
I would not draw° them. I would have my bond. 49 / take
How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend’ring° none? / giving
50. / What fate should I dread, having done no wrong? / For what mercy should I hope, doing no wrong? / Why
hope for mercy, having done no wrong?
Here is the blunder of Shylock’s position—he is doing a great wrong. He is holding to the letter of the law
to justify his doing something he knows (by his own conscience and the laws of Judaism) to be wrong. Hence, it is
Shylock’s own feeble consciousness (or greed-infested anger) which does not allow him to understand the truth of
the law—and this is his undoing. His position is untruthful in every respect and violates the spirit of every law: thus
he tries to empower himself by cleaving to the strict letter of the Venetian law—for his own selfish gain—as opposed
to upholding the law of human righteousness. Thus, by his own lack of truth, he is undone.
51. / Many among you have a purchased slave,
52. / You burden with despised and slavish means
53. / Be seasoned with the same viands.’ Your answer
Shall be: ‘The slaves belong to us; +we have
Purchased them.’, So, I answer you the same:
54. / There is no power in the laws of Venice.
55. {Upon my power I may dismiss this court}
upon my power: by virtue of my power, in accord with my power (as Duke)
I may dismiss: a) dismiss the case entirely, b) adjourn the case until such time as Bellario appears. The
legal proceedings of the play corresponds to neither Venetian nor English law of the time.
The Duke states that he has the power to dismiss this case, contrary to the assertions made that the Duke does not
have that power, and must follow the strict letter of the law (and thereby honor the contract) [Antonio: 3.4.26-31;
Portia: 4.1.215-219] . One of the earliest cases in US law involved individual rights, and it was ruled that the state
could not nullify a contract made between individuals—if it did have that power the ( as stated in Chief Justice
Marshall’s opinion) the very institution and fabric of the economic livelihood of the country would be undermined.
[See Additional Notes, 4.1.103]
56. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.105]
57. There is a causality implied here: “I, the Duke, have the power to dismiss this case, unless Bellario comes to
determine it.” Hence, if Bellario does not come, the Duke may dismiss the case (due to its unusual nature). Hence,
Portia’s arrival on behalf of Bellario—and with Bellario’s glowing recommendation—is the very thing that stalls the
Duke and prevents him from dismissing the case. Thus, Portia’s arrival has unwittingly put Antonio’s life in new
jeopardy. As such, it becomes increasingly clear that Portia was fully versed in the law and was well aware that she
could save Antonio before she dared such a bold intervention.
What judgement shall I dread, doing no wrong? 50
You have acquired° many a purchased slave 51 {among you}
Which, like your donkeys° and your dogs and mules, {asses}
You use in abject° and in slavish roles°52 / lowly {parts} / tasks/ chores / functions
Because you bought them. Shall I say to you:
‘Let them be free. Marry them to your heirs.
Why sweat them under burdens?° Let their beds {burthens}
Be made as soft as yours, and let their palates° / mouths / meals
Be seasoned with your spices.’° You will answer: {viands}
The slaves are ours. So do I answer you:53
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. 54
I stand° for judgement.° Answer—shall I have it? / wait // justice
Upon my power I may dismiss this court,° 55 / case
Unless Bellario, a learnéd judge,° {a learned doctor} / a doctor of law
Whom I have sent for to determine this, 56
Come here today. 57
58. / My Lord, there’s waiting outside / My Lord, remains outside
59. / Hold fast man, have courage!
60. wether: weak or castrated ram. From bellwether: a ram with a bell hung round its neck
61. {You cannot be better employed, Bassanio, | Than to live still and write mine epitaph.}
62. sole: Shylock whets his knife on the sole of his shoe or boot
—Salerio My lord, there waits° without 58 {stays}
A messenger with letters from the judge,° {doctor}
New° come from Padua. / Just
Bring us° the letters! Call the messenger! / me
Exit Salerio
Good cheer, Antonio! What man, courage yet.59
The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and all,
Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood.
I am a tainted servant° of the flock, {tainted wether}60 / feeble creature
Meetest° for death. The weakest kind of fruit / Most fit
Drops earliest to the ground—and so let me.
Now then, Bassanio, you are best employed
To live, that you may write° my epitaph. 61 / To stay alive and write
Enter Salerio with Nerissa, dressed as a lawyer’s clerk
Come you from Padua, from Bellario?
From both, my lord. Bellario greets your grace.
She hands him a letter
Shylock sharpens his knife on the sole of his shoe
—Bassanio [to Shylock]
Why dost thou whet° thy knife so earnestly? > sharpen
To cut the forfeiture from that bankrupt° there. {bankrout}
Not on thy sole,62 but on thy soul, harsh Jew,
63. / Thou makest keen thy knife. No metal can
64. hangman’s axe: executioner’s axe. Here the term hangman’s is begrudgingly emended with hoodman’s or
hooded man’s, to clarify the reference to an executioner (who is usually hooded) and who employs a sharp axe,
rather than to a hangman, who is more likely to be associated with a rope rather than an axe. In an alternative
rendering the more precise term, executioner—though long-winded—could be used: ‘No, not the ex’cutioner’s
sharpest axe | Bear half the keenness of thy sharp envy. | Can nothing get through? Can no prayer piece thee?’
/ Not even that of a head-chopper’s axe / Not even the fell axe of a hoodman
65. {To hold the opinion with Pythagoras} / To hold a common tenet with the Greeks / To share the same belief as
ancient Greeks.
Gratziano is referring to the Pythagorean doctrine regarding reincarnation and the transmigration of souls (where
an animal soul could incarnate in a human body), which is heresy to Christians.
66. {Governed a wolf, who hanged for human slaughter}
67. {did his fell soul fleet}
fell: deadly, cruel, savage
fleet: pass on, leave (flee) the body
68. / Inhabited a wolf who was but hanged
For human slaughter. Then,° from the gallows,
His deadly soul did flee and thus infused
Itself in thee whilst thou lay in thy mother’s
Vile and unholy womb; for thy desires / Unhallowed womb; for all thy desires
Are wolvish, blood-thirsty,° and ravenous.
69. [See Additional Notes: 4.1.137]
70. repair: use to good end, put to good use, rectify, set in order
Thou mak’st thy knife keen.63 But no metal can—
No, not the hoodman’s axe°—bear half the keenness {hangman’s axe}64
Of thy sharp envy. Can no prayers pierce° thee? / reach
No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.
O, be thou damned, thou ever-cursèd° dog! {inexecrable}
And for thy life let justice be accused!
Thou almost mak’st me waver in my faith, / sight
And° hold the same opinion as the Greeks 65 {To} > And to
That souls of animals infuse° themselves / instill / install
Into the trunks of men. Thy beastly spirit {currish}/ brutal
Lived in° a wolf who° hanged for killing humans;66 {Governed} / who’s
Then° from the gallows did his° fell soul fleet,67 {Even}/ Thus / its
And whilst thou lay in thy unhallowed womb,° {dam}
Infused itself in thee; for thy desires
Are wolvish, blood-thirsty,° and ravenous. 68 69 {bloody, starved}
Till thou canst rail° the seal from off my bond > remove
Thou but offend’st° thy lungs to speak so loud.° / only harm // with all thy shouting
Repair70 thy wit, young man,° or it will fall {good youth}
To cureless° ruin. I stand here for law. / hopeless
This letter from Ballario doth commend° > recommend
71. {He attendeth here hard by} / He doth eagerly await / He is eagerly awaiting
72. / With courteous intent, go bring him here.
73. Q1 offers no stage direction here; and since no character is designated to read the letter, most productions
simply have the Duke read it. However, it is more likely (and dramatically apt) that a court official read the letter
(which could be Salerio). Had the Duke said, ‘Meantime, I will read Bellario’s letter’ the direction for him to read
would be clear. The reference, however, to the court hearing Bellario’s letter, suggests that it be read by a court
official and not by the Duke.
74. {in loving visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome; his name is Balthazar} In the original, no visitation
was made between Portia and Bellario: Portia’s servant was sent to Bellario, who fetched clothes and books, and
who then gave them to Portia at the port where the ferry traveled to Venice. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.151]
75. This indicates that Bellario reviewed the matter and furnished Portia with his opinion—as opposed to simply
supplying her with the books.
76. [See Additional Note, 4.1.159]
77. {I leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his commendation.}
78. I was very ill: {I am very sick}
arrived: {came}
the case: {the cause} / matter
whose conduct: {whose trial} / evidence of his judgement / your test of him
disclose: {publish} / make known / reveal
worthiness: {commendation}
A young and learnèd scholar° to our court. {doctor} / lawyer
Where is he?
—Nerissa He is waiting here, nearby° 71 / outside
To know your answer, whether you’ll admit° him. / receive
With all my heart. Some three or four of you,
Go give him courteous escort° to this place. 72 {conduct} / passage
Exeunt three or four
Meanwhile,° the court shall hear Bellario’s letter: {Meantime} > In the meantime
The Duke hands the letter to an officer of the court, who reads: 73
‘Your Grace shall understand, that at the receipt of your letter I was very ill,° but at the instant
that your messenger arrived, a young doctor of law from Rome, named Balthazar, was paying me
a kindly visit.74 I acquainted him with the case° in controversy between the Jew and Antonio,
the merchant. We turned o’er many books together. He is furnished with my opinion,75 which is
bettered with his own learning—the greatness of which I cannot enough commend. In response
to your grace’s request, I have importuned him to rule on this matter in my stead.76 I beseech you,
let not his lack of years bring a lack in your revered estimation of him, for I’ve never known so
young a body with so old a head. I leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose conduct° shall,
better than my words, disclose° his worthiness.° 77 78
Enter Portia as Balthazar, Doctor of Law, with others
You hear the learned Bellario, what he writes?
And here, I take it, is the doctor come.° / comes the young doctor
79. / That occupies the question now in court?
80. Portia, being well-informed as to the present matter (and the law governing it), suggests that she met with
Bellario, rather that thoroughly educating herself in all nuance of Venetian law. Yet, such a meeting is not indicated
in the original. Two possibilities thus exist: a) that Balthazar reviewed the matter and took the time to write out an
opinion for Portia, along with his letter of recommendation to the Duke, or b) Portia changed her plans midstream
and decided it would be best to visit Balthazar in person, in Padua.
81. This action demonstrates Portia’s impartiality—rather than being a ploy, a rouse, or some kind of indulgence.
Though Portia is likely to know which is Antonio and which is Shylock—through a difference in appearance and
dress—with this opening question she demonstrates the true impartial qualities of a judge and makes it known that
she is entering into the case without any assumptions, prejudices, or preconceptions. Questioning even that which is
most obvious testifies to her impartiality. In some productions, the courtroom is crowded, and she has reason to ask
this question. In other productions the difference in appearance between Antonio and Shylock is not so obvious and,
thus, she is prompted to ask this question. In other cases the difference is obvious and apparent, and Portia already
knows the answer to her question before she asks.
82. It is possible, that this could be read as part of a stage direction, rather than a directive from the Duke.
83. / Yet, in such rule, the Venetian edicts
84. / Cannot oppose the course you choose to follow
In terms of reason (and the reason as to why Portia intervened in the first place) what possible interest could
Portia have in preserving Venetian law over the life of her husband’s dear friend? Why did she intervene in the first
place?—to uphold Venetian law or bend the law to save Antonio? Surely, at this point, her best course would be to
seek to have the case dismissed, or call on the Duke to dismiss it (as he stated he had the power to do). Her
continued defense of the Venetian law—which bodes against Antonio’s position—apart from purely dramatic
reasons—must be seen as part of her overall stratagem. Rather than trying to deliver Antonio, she is also setting up a
test for Shylock and Bassanio. For Portia to play this card (which goes against her intended position) we must
assume that she is in total control of the case (and its outcome) from the onset. In other words, she is well aware
that she can stop Shylock (at any time), if he does not willingly drop the case against Antonio.
Give me your hand. Come you from old Bellario?
I did,° my lord. / I do / I have
—Duke You’re welcome. Take your place.
Are you acquainted with the grave dispute° {difference} / disagreement
That holds this present question° in the court? 79 / matter / issue
I am informed thoroughly of the case.° 80 / informed with respect to the cause
Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew? 81
Antonio and old Shylock, both step forward.° 82 {stand forth}.
Is your name Shylock?
—Shylock Shylock is my name.
Of a strange nature is the suit you follow
Yet in such ruling,° the Venetian law 83 / matters
Cannot impugn° you as you do proceed. 84 / oppose / o’erturn / dissuade
[to Antonio]
85. within his danger: within his power to harm you; within the reaches of his bond and the danger of its
consequence; within harm’s way.
86. strained: forced, compelled. By the reference to rain, it implies that mercy cannot be ‘squeezed’ out of a
/ The quality of our mercy is such | That it can not be forced. It drops as heaven’s | Gentle rain, falling ‘pon
the earth below. | Thus, it is twice blessed.
87. {It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.} / him who gives and who receives
that takes: the imagery of him that takes is somewhat inferior to that him who receives, as the former suggest a
willful action rather than a passive reception. Taking thus implies the acquisition of some benefit which comes from
personal action (without the need of a giver), whereas receiving implies a benefit bestowed by a giver. One need not
take rain, it falls from the sky freely—all one need do is receive it.
88. / ‘Tis mightiest in the mighty, when rendered
89. Much of Shylock’s action relates to power (or lack thereof): his power before the court (backed by the laws of
Venice), his power over Antonio (whose life he holds in his hands), as well as the previous sense of powerless that
he felt in regard to Antonio’s oppression. Here Portia is telling Shylock that mercy is mightiest in the mightiest—a
lesson which is irrelevant to Shylock station as a dehumanized Jew, but something she hopes will resonate with
Shylock’s legally assigned position of power (which is the power he seemingly has to grant or to take away
Antonio’s life).
90. / +To those found helpless and weak., A monarch / +To those who’re powerless and weak., A king
91. {It becomes | the throned monarch better than his crown.}
The image is that a kingdom is better ruled by mercy than by power; that (a disposition of) mercy makes a king
better fit to rule than the authority vested in him by his crown.
92. temporal: worldly, material, assigned; temporary and passing
Portia is suggesting that the king’s power is temporal, whereas the quality of mercy, which reflects God’s
attributes, is ever-lasting—it is above this sceptered sway. “By the greatest fate a powerful king may rule the earth
for a hundred years; but through the power of love, he may rule the earth forever.” (Adopted from the Tao Te
You stand within his danger,85 do you not?
Ay, so he says.
—Portia Do you confess the bond?
I do.
—Portia Then the Jew must be merciful.
On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.
The quality of mercy is not strained° 86 / forced
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the earth below.° It is twice blessed: {the place beneath}
It blesseth him° who gives and him who gets.°87 / one {takes}
‘Tis mightiest when rendered° by the mighty88 89 / given
+Upon the° weak and hopeless., Thus, a monarch° 90 / To those who’re // For a king
It makes more worthy of a kingdom’s rule / to rule a kingdom
Than all the power vested by his crown. 91
His scepter shows the force of temporal92 power,
93. {The attribute to awe and majesty}
attribute to: a) the claim or entitlement to; b) having the attributes, quality, or character of
/ The given claim° to awe and majesty, / The sanctioned rights
/ That which confers to him reverence and awe /
94. / Wherein he rules the state with fear and dread / Whereby the people are governed by fear
95. {And earthly power doth then show likest God’s}
96. / And earthly power holds (/shows) the most kinship
With God’s, when justice is balanced (/seasoned) with mercy.
97. {And earthly power doth then show likest God’s | When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,}
The use of the term ‘Jew,’ in this instance, is somewhat amiss—along with the entire appeal, which involves
sentiments relating to kingly power, awe, and majesty rather than a Jew who only feels oppression (at the hands of
more powerful Christians). Portia, however, is addressing the position of power which Shylock now hold over
Antonio (likening it to the power which a king has over his subjects) and, at the same time, she is revealing the
poverty of that power (which a king gets by virtue of his crown and which Shylock has obtained through the legal
backing of his bond) when compared to a position in kinship with God, a position of mercy.
98. This is an oblique reference to the doctrine of original sin and the notion that it is impossible to attain salvation
through one’s work alone (i.e. without the grace of God).
99. We in this regard refers to Christians (who recite the Lord’s Prayer) and not to Jews. Though her words are
directed to Shylock, the heart of her appeal resonates with her Christian audience and the sentiments to which they
can relate. Since she has no knowledge of Jews, she must assume that they are like Christians in both manner,
sentiment, and religious bent.
100. {And that same prayer}
This is an overt reference to the Lord’s Prayer. In the previous line Portia says, we do pray for mercy but
the ‘we’ refers to those Christians who recite the Lord’s Prayer—not Jews. Again, Portia’s plea is made from the
vantage of her own world and not from that of Shylock’s. Thus, by citing her all-inclusive Christian stance she is
unwittingly dismissing the value and relevance of Shylock and his non-Christian worldview.
101. The Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed by thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be
done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those
who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the
power, and the glory, for ever and ever.”
102. Some commentators have claimed that Portia’s plea also has a ‘Hebrew resonance’ and that some likeness can
be found in Psalm 143.2 and Ecclus. 28.2 (‘Forgive thy neighbor the hurt that he hath done thee, so shall thy sins be
forgiven thee also, when thou pray.’) This, however, is an ex post facto stretch. Neither of these passages refer to
prayers that are known or recited by Jews. Shylock, moreover, holds himself to be sinless (and not in need of
forgiveness) and so neither passage would register with him. In addition, most Hebrew interpretations—including
that of the very famous passage, ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’—hold the term neighbor to mean one’s Jewish
neighbor. Thus the edict to ‘forgive thy neighbor’ would not apply to Antonio, a Christian.
103. / staunch appeal / stern appeal
104. {To mitigate the justice of thy plea}
105. strict: bound, inflexible, rigid (in that it is bound to follow the letter of the law)
That which commands° both awe and majesty, 93 / evokes
And brings about° the dread and fear of kings; 94 {Wherein doth sit}
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of° God himself. {to}
And earthly power shares kinship with God° 95 / is akin to God
When mercy tempers° justice.96 Therefore, Jew,° 97 {seasons} placates
Though justice be thy plea, consider this:
That in the course of justice none of us
Would° seek° salvation. 98 We do pray for mercy,99 {Should} {see} / find
And that same prayer 100 doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.101 102 I have spoken thus
To mitigate thy rig’rous° plea103 for justice,104 / froward / steadfast / headstrong / wilful
Which, if thou follow, this strict105 court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst° the merchant there. / rule against
106. My deeds upon my head!: Let my own deeds be upon my head; let me bear the consequence (or divine
retribution) of my own deeds (which are blameless). Shylock is saying: I will take responsibility for my own actions
(since my actions are blameless and will not bring about retribution). He mistakenly believes himself and his actions
to be sinless; thus he need not fear retribution nor seek mercy (which pertains to someone who has sinned). Portia
says that mercy falls like gentle rain from heaven: here Shylock is dismissing her plea and says, ‘I don’t care about
heaven’s mercy falling upon me like rain (since I don’t need it)—let my own deeds fall upon my head.’ Shylock,
blinded by hatred, and strictly devoted to the letter of the written law, is unable to see the divine discord of his own
actions. Rather than craving that which God desires, Shylock craves the law which will grant him the unjust penalty
and forfeit of his bond.
107. the penalty and forfeit of my bond > that part of the bond (above and beyond the principal and interest) which
is due if the full sums borrowed are not paid back in time. In this case, the penalty Shylock is demanding—which is
owed according to the terms of the bond— is a pound of Antonio’s flesh.
108. / Let my own deeds now fall upon my head! | I crave the law, the forfeit of my bond.
109. Additional lines (A):
Shy: Here, now, we see the face of good Antonio,
Showing his virtue like a stained-glass window;
But I have only felt the broken glass
Of his abuse, whose shards did rip upon
My humanness and rend my Jewish honor.
Additional lines (B):
Shy: How is a man to feel when he is treated
With cruelty and contempt? With years of insult?
With spitting, cursing, torment, and abuse—
¢As this man, lacking goodness, treated me?,
Is there no law in your book against that?
Por: [looking in book] Not in this book.
Shy: Then where is it written?—
In the same place where one can find your mercy.
110. Later in the scene [224, 231] Portia states that an offer of thrice the sum has been made, whereas here, in Q1
[207] Bassanio only offers twice the sum. Either Portia is mistaken in her recall, she intentionally ups the offer, or
Bassanio offered thrice the sum (and twice is a typo). The discrepancy is rectified by having Bassanio offer thrice
the sum and Portia referring to this same amount.
111. {malice bears down truth} ‘Malice oppresses honesty’ (Johnson)
bears down: overwhelms, overthrows, oppresses, defeats; weighs more than, is more important than
truth: ‘reason,’ ‘honesty,’ ‘righteousness,’ ‘rule of equity,’ etc.
112. / That malice overthrows° truth. I beseech you / vanquishes / overwhelms / overturns
My deeds upon my head!106 I crave° the law,° / seek // demand justice
The penalty and forfeit of my bond.107 108
_______________________________ (optional dialogue) 109
Is he not able to discharge the money?
Yes, here I tender° it for him in the court; / have / offer
Yea, thrice° the sum. If that will not suffice, {twice}110
I will be bound to pay it ten times over,° / more
And put as bond° my hands, my head, my heart. {On forfeit of}
If this will not suffice, it must appear ° / be such
That malice outweighs° truth.111 And I beseech you,112 {bears down} / conquers,
Bend° once the law to your authority. {Wrest} / Sway
To do a great right, do a little wrong,
113. / And curb this devil of his hellish will
114. / This time alone, by your authority, | Wrest once the reigns of law: for a great right | Do but a little wrong, and
curb this devil | From the cruel execution of his will.
115. {Can alter a decree establishéd}
116. Such a defense of Venetian law—over the direct concerns of her husband, and also over what is morally right,
merciful, and fair—are amiss. Why is Portia (who took so many measures to impersonate a doctor of law and
intervene on behalf of Antonio) now taking pains to preserve precedent in Venetian law? What is she offering here
that a normal Venetian judge could not offer?— if not a straight-forward reading of the law. We must assume, by
this strange course, that Portia is ‘playing’ this hand to the end, and that even before entering the court she was aware
of holding a trump card, and being able to stopping Shylock at any time. See footnote for line 176. [See Additional
Note, 4.1.219]
117. Shylock: Portia is still calling him by first name.
118. thrice: In Q1, Bassanio offers twice the sum [207]. This amount was emended to read thrice the sum, in order
to align it with Portia’s statement: Shylock, there’s thrice thy money offered thee. [224] If Bassanio only offered
twice the sum then here, it seems, that Portia is upping the ante, as Shylock has already refused twice the sum. If she
offered the same sum, already refused, it would not be as effective a plea as offering a higher amount. It is possible,
as some have speculated, that either Shakespeare (or Portia) forgot that twice was offered, and herein stated thrice, in
error (with no objection from Bassanio). More likely, the error slipped in as a result of a copyists error.
119. To remind the audience that Shylock’s oath refers to exacting the forfeit of his bond—a reminder which no
mature audience would need—the following line, could be added: +I swore to have the forfeit of my bond.,
And curb° this cruel devil of his will.113 114 / thwart / bar
It must not° be. There is no power in Venice / cannot
That can reverse° an established decree.115 {alter} / turn back / o’erturn
’Twill then be counted as° a precedent, {‘Twill be recorded for}
And many an error,° by the same example,° / many errors // as herein applied
Will rush into the state. It cannot be.° 116 / must not
A Daniel come to judgement, yea, a Daniel!
O wise young judge, how I do honour thee!
I pray you, let me look upon the bond.
—Shylock [eagerly handing it over]
Here ‘tis, most reverend doctor, here it is.
—Portia [accepting the document but not yet reading it]
Shylock,117 there’s thrice the money offered thee. 118
An oath, an oath. I have° an oath in° heaven!119 / I’ve made
Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?—
No, not for Venice.
—Portia [looking over the bond]
Yes,° this bond is forfeit, {Why}
And lawfully, by this, the Jew may claim
120. // your good interpreting / your interpretation
121. There is a break in rhythm here, (as well as between lines 301-02) which could suggest some type of staged
intervention in the ongoing dialogue. In the exchange between Portia and Shylock, the next three lines [244-46] are
essentially vacuous and a bland recap of what we’ve already heard, which suggests a break in the action, or that
Portia is thinking about something else (perhaps what had just been discussed with the Duke). A deletion of these
repetitive lines I snot needed but it might render the exchange more concise and powerful.
As a stage direction, the Duke could call Portia over after Shylock delivers line 243. The staged
conversation between Portia and the Duke could reveal that the Duke is not convinced about her course of action; we
could see Portia assuring the Duke (perhaps with a subtle hand motion) that she has no intention of letting Shylock
carry out the deed, as he intends, and that everything will be OK. Thus, after the silent aside, Portia returns and
repeats what has already been said, with lines 244-46, as a way to regain her bearings and continue the conversation
where she left off. (Portia’s silent aside with the Duke would command our full attention as these are the two most
powerful players on the stage, either of whom can determine Antonio’s fate.) A similar aside between the Duke and
Portia could also take place again, after line 310, where Shylock says, ‘Come, prepare!’ Here the Duke could call
Portia again, feeling that this has gone far enough, and now he wants closure. Thus, after this second aside, Portia is
ready for her coupe de grace, and utters the lines, ‘Tarry a little.’
122. As stated in the previous note, the following five lines are repetitive and could be deleted.
123. / Fully supports the given penalty / Gives full upholding to the penalty / Deems to fulfill the terms of penalty
A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
Nearest the merchant’s heart. [to Shylock] Be merciful:
Take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.
When it is paid according to the tenor.° {tenure} / terms
It doth appear you are a worthy judge;
You know the law, your most learnèd opinion°120 {exposition}
Has been most sound. I charge you by the law,
Whereof° you are a well-deserving° pillar, / Of which // unwavering / unfaltering
Proceed to judgement. By my soul I swear
There is no power in the tongue of man
To alter me. I stay here on° my bond. / stand fast to
Most heartily, do I beseech the court
To give the judgement.
—Portia Why then, thus it is:
You must prepare your bosom for his knife.
O noble judge! O excellent young man!
+The Duke bids Portia to approach him; they talk aside., 121
—Portia 122
For the intent and purpose of the law
Gives° full enforcement of° the penalty 123 / Holds / Bears {Hath full relation to}
Which here appeareth due upon the bond.
124. The calling of Shylock by his name, as opposed to ‘Jew,’ at this stage in the game is somewhat telling. Portia
is still appealing to him on a personal level, giving him yet another opportunity to veer from his intended course and
show mercy—though at this point, by all accounts, she is now disgusted with Shylock’s intransigent and unmerciful
125. {Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge.}
have by: have you come by; have you hired
/ And have you, Shylock, paid for a surgeon / And have you, Shylock, here employed a surgeon?
/ Have you employed a surgeon, on your charge / Have you a surgeon, hired at your expense?
126. / Is that condition listed in the bond? / Is that mentioned in the terms of the bond? / Is that specified in the
written bond?
127. / It is an act of charity and goodness. / It is a righteous action of compassion.
128. Portia, seeing the futility of trying to reason with Shylock—and his showing not one iota of compassion or
mercy—now shifts her position and seeks to actuate her course of action against Shylock. She has given him every
chance to be merciful and charitable—actions that are in line with higher principles—all of which he refused.
129. Here there is a shift in Portia’s attitude towards Shylock; rather than continuing to address him (and continuing
to argue with him) she shifts her attention and focus away from him. Perhaps her sensitivity now gives in to disgust
at what appears to a singular lack of charity and humanity—a sentiment rather alien and abhorrent to Portia. See
previous note.
‘Tis very true, O wise and righteous° judge! {upright}
How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
—Portia [to Antonio]
Therefore, lay bare your bosom.
—Shylock Ah, his breast.
So says the bond; doth it not, noble judge?
‘Nearest his heart’—those are the very words.
‘Tis so. Are scales° here to weigh the flesh? {balance}
—Shylock [opening a bag to reveal them]
I have them ready. +They are in my bag.,
Have you° a surgeon, Shylock, on your charge,° 124 125 / Is there // hired / paid for by you
To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death?
—Shylock [looks at the bond]
Is it so nominated in° the bond? 126 / specified within
It is not so expressed, but what of that°? / it
‘Twere good you do so much out of compassion° 127 128 {for charity}
—Shylock [handing back the bond]
I cannot find it; ‘tis not in the bond. 129
130. Portia calls Shylock by name on many occasions, but herein does not refer to Antonio impersonally as, ‘you,
merchant.’ After the turning point [259]—when Portia gives up hope to try and dissuade Shylock from his inhumane
course—she never again refers to him by name, but as the ‘Jew.’ During the trial, Portia refers to Antonio as ‘the
merchant,’ [260, 296]; after Shylock is thwarted, she calls him by his proper name [369, 374].
131. / I am, by Fortune’s kindness, now released. / I am, by her sweet kindness so delivered.
132. To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow . . .
{An age of poverty—from which ling’ring penance | Of such misery doth she cut me off.}
a) / An age of poverty—and now she saves | Me from the ling’ring penance of such misery.
b) / Long years of aging pain and poverty | The misery from which I am now released.
c) / Long years of poverty, the ling’ring penance | Of which she now so kindly cuts from me.
d) / His final years of pain and poverty: | ‘Tis from the misery of this lingering | Penance, which I am so kindly
released. (/delivered).
133. {Commend me to you honourable wife}
134. {Whether Bassanio had not once a love}
love: a dear friend, friend who loved him
/ Whether Bassanio was not truly loved. / Whether or not Bassanio had been loved.
135. / Have one regret— / Hold one regret— / Regret alone
136. with all my heart: wholeheartedly; with total embrace; implies something done with total love and willingness.
Here Antonio is saying, ‘I’ll pay your debts most willingly, without regret, with love, and wholeheartedly.’
/ I will most willingly give up my life / I will—with all my heart—give up my life
137. {Are not with me esteemed above thy life}
/ Are not with me more dear than is thy life. / Are not so dear to me as is thy life / I do not hold more dearly
You, merchant, 130 have you anything to say?
But little. I am braced° and well-prepared. {armed} / ready
Give me your hand Bassanio, fare you well.
Grieve not that I am fall’n to this for you,
For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom: it is e’er° her way° / ever {still her use}
To let the wretched° man outlive his wealth, / des’late
To view with hollow° eye and wrinkled brow / sunken
His final years of pain and° poverty— / painful
But from the misery of this ling’ring penance
Doth she, +with bitter° kindness,, now release me.131 132 / loving
Speak well of me° unto your honored wife.133
Tell her the story° of Antonio’s end. {process} / events
Say how I loved you, even at my death.° {speak me fair in death}
And when the tale is told, bid her be judge
Whether Bassanio had not once been loved.°134 {a love} / a friend
Regret but you° that you shall lose your friend; {Repent} // Regret one thing—135
And he regrets° not that he pays your debt: {repents}
For if the Jew do cut but deep enough,
I’ll pay it instantly° with all my heart. 136 / willingly
Antonio, I am married to a wife
Who° is as dear to me as life itself; {Which}
But life itself, my wife, and all the world
Are not with me more dear than is° thy life. 137 {esteemed above}
than thy life
138. Gratziano’s plea is a comic relief—his friendly love for Antonio would not give him cause to sacrifice his wife
on Antonio’s behalf. His comment serves to support the theme of his pairing with Bassanio, a theme that was seen
earlier (in the mutual wedding) and which we will see later (with the misplacement of rings). Gratziano’s plea,
though misplaced, also gives Shylock some fodder upon which to comment.
139. {The wish would make else an unquiet house}
unquiet: a) noisy—from all the screaming; b) restless, anxious, troubled
/ Else the wish ‘twould make an unquiet house. / Else the wish would bring yelling in the house
140. Shylock still claims that he has a daughter. He has not disowned her, nor stated, ‘she is dead to me’— which
would usually be the case where a daughter married a Christian (and betrayed her father in doing so).
141. Barrabas: a thief chosen to be released over Jesus. Shylock (after seeing the way that Christians treat their
wives) is saying that he would rather have the lowest of all Jews (a thief) marry his daughter rather than a) a
Christian (even the highest among Christians), or b) a Christian thief such as Lorenzo.
142. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.294]
143. / I pray, proceed to sentence
I would give° all, I’d° sacrifice them all, {lose} / ay,
Here, to this devil, to deliver you.
—Portia [aside]
Your wife would give you little thanks for that,
If she were by° to hear you make the offer. / Were she nearby
I have a wife whom, I declare,° I love. {protest}
I wish° she were in heaven, so she could {would}
Entreat some power to change this dogged° Jew. 138 {currish}
—Nerissa [aside]
‘Tis well you offer it behind her back,
For° such a wish would make a troubled° house. 139 / Else {unquiet} / noisy
These be the Christian husbands. I have a daughter— 140
I’d prefer° any kin° of Barrabas 141 / rather {stock}
Had been° her husband, rather than a Christian. 142 / Would be / To be
We trifle° time. I pray thee, pursue° sentence. 143 / squander / play with
A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine,
The court awards it, and the law doth give it.
Most rightful° judge! / righteous > correct in judgement
And you must cut this flesh from off his breast,
The law allows it, and the court awards it.
144. This line is somewhat haunting in that Shylock is addressing Antonio right before he is about to kill him. A
more haunting line would be one where Shylock calls Antonio by name, in a familiar tone, such as: ‘A learnèd judge.
Come, Antonio, prepare.’
145. No stage direction follows this line in Q1. It reads:
Jew. Most learned Iudge, a sentence, come prepare.
Por. Tarry a little, there is some thing else,
this bond doth give thee heere no iote of blood,
the words expresly are a pound of flesh:
Most productions add staging (for dramatic effect) after Shylock’s says, ‘come prepare.’ We typically see Shylock
take out his knife and approach Antonio, about to cut off his flesh, when Portia suddenly shouts out ‘Tarry a
little!’—which brings a halt to Shylock’s immanent action. It is unlikely that the words, tarry a little, were intended
to stop an action, as they are far too casual and lack the urgency. In Q1 these lingering words are a continuation of
the verbal repartee and are not intended to halt any immanent action. The charge of stop or wait might be more apt a
command to stop or stay an immanent action, if this were the author’s intent. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.301a]
146. Here is an alternative stage direction, which fulfills the premise that Shylock had no intention to kill Antonio,
but only to teach him a ‘hard’ lesson:
Shylock circles around Antonio, menacingly, inspecting his breast. After tormenting Antonio in this way,
prolonging the moment of his power, Shylock turns away, drops his sharpened knife onto a table and (with
his back to the court) walks toward the chest of ducats that is sitting on the floor, ready to take his 900
ducats and depart
[See Additional Notes, 4.1.301b]
147. For the possible insertion of some added lines, see: Additional Notes, 4.1.300
148. There is an energetic break between lines 301 (Most learnéd judge) and 302 (Tarry a little)—as well as
between 242 and 243—which suggests a pause and makes way for some staged action. One staging could be that
Portia is summoned over to confer with the Duke (after 301) though such a displacement of the audience’s attention
would slow the action and cripple the tension. More apt, Portia could watch Shylock’s action with a knowing
smile—knowing that she has the power to stop Shylock whenever she deems it so.
149. / Tarry a little more—there’s something else
tarry a little: hold on, wait a moment, stick around a little more
This casual, lingering line could suggest a) that Portia has just found something in the books, such as a new way to
read the letter of the law—which is very unlikely, or b) that, at this seemingly final moment, she has decided to play
her trump card and bring up a legal argument which would thwart Shylock’s intended course. She could have
brought up this legal argument at any time but—for the sake of Shylock and to test Bassanio—she played her course
to the very end. Such a casual line would come at a moment of pause and not shouted out as a way to urgently stop
some impending action. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.302]
Most learnèd judge! A sentence! [To Antonio] Come, prepare! 144 145
Antonio is strapped to a chair.
Shylock prepares his blade. +Shylock approaches Antonio., 146 147 148
Tarry a little— there is something else.°149 / more
This bond doth gives thee here no drop° of blood: {jot}
The words expressly are,° ‘a pound of flesh.’ / say
Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh,
But in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are, by the laws of Venice, forfeited° {confiscate} / assignéd / hereby sent
Unto the state of Venice.
—Gratziano O upright judge!
150. {O upright Judge | Mark Jew, O learned Judge.}
This is the first of Gratziano’s mocking repetitions of Shylock and his praise of the judge. Gratziano repeats his
counter-attack on the ‘Jew’ in a mantra-like fashion: O upright judge! Mark, Jew. O learnèd judge! [310]; O learnèd
judge! Mark, Jew—a learnèd judge!’ [314]; O Jew! An upright judge, a learnèd judge! [319]; A second Daniel, a
Daniel, Jew! [329]; A Daniel, still I say, a second Daniel! | I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word. [336]
151. In the original two iambs are missing—which could suggest a pause. Some editions place the ‘pause’ after
Portia’s last line [Unto the state of Venice]—which is clearly not indicated in Q1. Other editions place the pause
after Portia’s line [Thyself shall see the act], which is possible, but unlikely.
Por: Unto the State of Venice [pause]
Gra: O upright judge! Mark Jew! O learnèd judge.
Por: Unto the State of Venice.
Gra: O upright judge!
Mark Jew. O learnèd judge!
Shy: Is that the law
Por: Thyself shall see the act. [pause]
There is unlikely to be a pause after Portia renders her judgement, because Gratziano, in jubilation, would call out at
once. Nor would there be a pause after Portia’s words, Thyself shall see the act, because it comes in the middle of a
thought. Most likely the place for a pause would come after Gratziano’s line, Mark Jew. O learnèd judge!, where a
stunned Shylock must collect his thoughts—in the span of two iambs—before giving a reply.
152. This line is fitting, and would be said with surprise, in the case where Shylock’s intention (to kill Antonio) is
thwarted by Portia. In the case where Shylock intentionally spares Antonio (and stops on his own accord), this line
might appear astray. A more likely line would be: ‘Here, I take the offer.’
153. thou shalt have justice: This refers to the same kind of justice previously demanded by Shylock—justice
without mercy, justice according to the strict letter of the law. Herein Portia turns Shylock’s own merciless literalism
against him and out-literalizing him. She repeats this same charge for justice a few lines later, saying: ‘The Jew shall
have all justice’ [317]; ‘He shall have merely justice and the bond.’ [335]. Ironically, Portia is now embodying the
exact position (justice without mercy) that she had previously argued against. Her position now reflects a decidedly
partial position: since Shylock did not grant mercy he does not deserve to receive it. Such a stance, again, is
contrary to God’s all-embracing (non judgmental) mercy which is dispensed without consideration of a person’s
deservedness, earned worthiness, or past actions.
154. Bassanio is freely offering his (and Portia’s) money, even though the case has already turned against Shylock.
Either Bassanio is ignorant and naive (unaware that he can save himself 3000 ducats), impatient and aloof (having no
concern about the 3000 ducats, only that Antonio be delivered without another moment’s delay), or equitable
(feeling that Shylock deserves, at least, the return of his principle; after all, Shylock’s money did help Bassanio a
great deal).
Is Portia being cruel or prudent? Is she seeking to harm Shylock in retribution for his inhumane actions
against Antonio? Or is she refusing to have Bassanio pay the bond (even though he is eager and willing to pay it) as
Hear° Jew. O learnèd judge! 150 151 {Mark}
Is that the law? 152
—Portia Thyself shall see the act.
+’Tis your own deeds that fall° upon your head., / Now your own deeds but fall
For as thou urgest justice, be assured,
Thou shalt have justice more than thou desir’st.° 153 / demanded / requested
— Gratziano
O learnèd judge! Hear,° Jew—‘a learnèd judge!’ {Mark} > ‘mark my words’
I take this offer, then. Pay thrice the bond {Pay the bond thrice}
And let the Christian go.
—Bassanio Here is the money. 154
part of her own financial motivation? Her purpose to save Antonio has already been accomplished; her destruction
of Shylock is something she herself—beyond the call of duty and purpose—has brought to bear.
155. soft, no haste: don’t rush things, there is no need to take any rash actions—hold back and let the matter follow
its course.
156. {Soft! The Jew shall have all justice. Soft, no haste.}
/ Soft, for the Jew shall have only justice / The Jew shall have all justice. Soft, no haste!
The line, as it appears in Q1 and F [Soft, the Jew shall have all justice, soft no haste] is problematic in that it
contains 11 syllables and does not conform to the standard meter, where the 4th syllable is emphatic. To correct this
problem, most editions break the line into two, with one word [Soft!] on the first line, the additional ten syllables on
the second line:
Por: Soft!
The Jew shall have all justice. Soft, no haste.
157. / As that which makes it high or low in weight | By the
158. a scruple: a very small weight, equal to 1/24 oz.
159. {But in the estimation of a hair}
/ But in the measure equal to a hair / Upon the measured difference of a hair / By but the distance
(/measure) of a single hair
estimation: refers to some measure or value, either a) the distance that the indicator of the scale moves (if
the balance indicator of the scales move by a distance of a hair, in either direction) or b) the weight of one hair (if
one side weighs a hair more than the other).
160. / Of but one twentieth part of an ounce— | Nay, if the scales do tip upon the weight | Of but a single hair, then
thou will die | And all thy goods will go unto the state.
161. {A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew}
162. on the hip: Refers to a wrestling term where one opponent has the other by the hip, and thus commands a
position of advantage. It could also be stated: ‘Now I have the better of you,’ ‘Now I have the advantage’ or, more
literally, ‘Now I’ve got hold of you’ or ‘Now I’ve got a grip on you.’ The same expression was used by Shylock
when first referring to Antonio [1.3.43-44] : ‘If I can catch him once upon the hip | I will feed fat the ancient grudge
I bear him.’—‘If I can, but once, grab hold of him . . .’
—Portia [raising her hand]
Soft,° he shall have all justice. Soft, no haste—155 156 / Wait / No
He shall have nothing but the penalty.
O Jew! An upright judge, a learnèd judge!
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 / But a just
Or less than a just pound, be it by° so much {but}
As makes it light or heavy by the weight° 157 {in the substance}
Or the division of a twentieth part
Of one poor scruple°—nay, if the scales do turn° / gram / ounce158 // tip / move
But in° the measure° of a single hair, 159 / Upon // distance / burden
Thou diest,° and all thy goods will be taken.° 160 / You’ll die {are confiscate} / are forfeited
A second Daniel. Here, O Jew, a Daniel!161
Now, infidel, I have thee in my grip.° {on the hip}162
163. {I have it ready for thee. Here it is}. Bassanio offers Shylock the money—and again Portia denies this offer.
For Bassanio the matter is over, the fate of the 3000 ducats is unimportant (in light of Antonio being saved).
Bassanio is not at all focused on Shylock nor interested in his fate, nor in Venetian justice, nor is he concerned with
some legal maneuver to get out of paying Shylock—his only interest is Antonio [See Additional Notes, 4.1.333]
164. Portia is addressing Bassanio’s offer, not Shylock. And, despite her husband’s wishes, she is over-riding his
generous and merciful offer. She, on the other hand is now protracting the case; it seems she has a new agenda—to
destroy Shylock as opposed to simply saving Antonio (who is already saved). [See Additional Notes, 4.1.335]
165. Shylock likened Portia’s judgement (when it sided with him) to that of Daniel. Here, when the tables have
turned against him, Gratziano uses that same praise, calling Portia a Daniel. Daniel, like Portia, was a youth with
the wisdom of an elder. He was so renowned for wisdom and knowledge that his name became a proverb among the
Babylonians, ‘As wise as Daniel’ [Ezek. 28.3]. In the Book of Daniel [2.26], Daniel is named Baltassar (Hebrew:
Belshazzar). Portia enters the court under the name Balthasar (or Balthazar).
166. When Shylock is thwarted from getting the penalty of the bond (which is a pound of flesh), he accepts the prior
offer of thrice the principal. When this seems unlikely, he accepts defeat, and is ready to be done with the matter:
thus, asking for the minimum amount he can expect, which is the return of his principle, the money he loaned out.
Yet Portia refuses even this, and Shylock replies in disbelief.
167. / Which thou must take at thine own peril, Jew.
168. After Portia provides her superior position, Shylock markedly retreats. Rather than being defiant he gives no
defense at all (and later we seem he as being even more sheepish when he, without protest or an appeal, meekly
voices the words, I am content, after being stripped of his faith and his wealth. To appease the abrupt reversal of his
demeanor, the following lines could be added:
+And who works now to do the devil’s bidding?—
‘Tis not a thief who comes by cover of night
But one who walks in the full light of day,
And hides beneath the ripe pretense of justice., / Beneath the cozen pretenses of justice.
169. {Why then, the devil give him good of it!}
> Why then, the devil has made good of it—has done some good work here.
Why doth the Jew pause? Take thy forfeiture.
Give me my principle,° and let me go. / the sum I’m owed
I have it ready for thee—here it is. 163
—Portia [to Bassanio]
He hath refused it in the open court.° > publicly
He shall have only° justice and his bond. 164 {merely}
A Daniel! Still say I, a second Daniel! 165
I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.
Shall I not have even° my principle?166 {have barely}
Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture,
To be so taken at thy peril, Jew. 167
—Shylock 168
Well then, the devil has made good of it!° 169 / has found his defender / cohort
/ Why then, the devil’s work has well been done! / Well then, to hell with you and all your justice! / Why
then, I’m done—and to hell with it all!
170. {I’ll stay no longer question}
question: to argue, to debate the case.
Here Shylock gives up, accepts defeat, and accepts the lost his principle—and now, in a position of weakness, he
is trying to make a quick exit (before some other surprise emerges.) But alas, he again hears the ominous words,
Tarry, Jew.
171. The Authorship Question revolves around the question, ‘Who wrote the plays attributed to ‘William
Shakespeare’?’ There is a question with respect to authorship since there is no evidence that William Shakespeare,
the actor, actually wrote the plays—and much to suggest that he did not—other than the fact that his name (or some
embodiment of it) appears upon most of the plays contained in the canon. The basis of the argument that William
Shakespeare, the actor, did not (or could) write the plays that bear his name (and that the name ‘William
Shakespeare’ was a pen name for someone else—perhaps someone of high standing who did not want his or her
name associated with the plays—is as follows: a) Shakespeare, the actor, did no have the means nor the wherewithal
to write the plays, b) there is no evidence of any manuscript, nor any portion thereof, written in the hand of
Shakespeare (nor anyone else for that matter), c) that he lacked a university education, and moreover was without
access to the source material used for most of the plays (which could only have been secured through a university
library), and d) that he could not read Italian—as many of his plays’s source materials, including the major source
for this play, were written in Italian and not available in English during Shakespeare’s time.
I bring up the Authorship Question here, because in my mind, the change in the original text, by the author,
in this very place, may offer a clue as to the true author. In the source novella, (Il Perecone) upon which the story of
The Merchant of Venice is based, the Jewish usurer is defeated by the wits of the female judge, the merchant is
saved, and the Jew leaves the court with nothing, not even his principal. Here, the author radically departs from the
source story, and adds additional proceedings, whereby the Jew is not only defeated but destroyed—both in terms of
his wealth and his Judaism. The forced conversion of Shylock was something not found in the source story, and
something added by the author. This ‘resolution’ may offer some fodder in terms of the Authorship Question.
For mine own part, I am of the opine—which comes after much review and my own insights—that Mary
Sidney Herbert was the true author of the plays, and that William Shakespeare (an actor in the company of Lord
Chamberlain, and known to Mary Sidney) loaned his name to the canon of plays that she did not want her highstanding
name associated with. Such anonymity would also give her more freedom to truly express herself and her
ideas—most of which were in support of the superiority of women. Even in this play, all the men need the help of a
woman, who can only accomplish her task (and be taken seriously) when in the guise of a man. [See Additional
Note, 4.1.342]
172. Shylock is held to be an alien, and not a citizen.
173. alien: refers to foreigners and non-Venetians. Jews, at the time, were not allowed to own property in Venice
and were therefore held as ‘aliens.’
174. / The party ‘gainst whom he hath so contrived
175. {Of the Duke only ‘gainst all other voice}
/ So granted by the Duke, whose word is final / Of the good Duke, who has the final word / Of the
Duke—and his word’s above all others / Of the Duke’s favor, ‘bove all other voices
/ And the offender’s life lies in what mercy | Is bestowed by the Duke
I’ll stay to argue no more.° 170 {I’ll stay no longer question}
—Portia Tarry, Jew,
The law hath yet another hold on you. 171
It is enacted° in the laws of Venice, / here written
If it be proved against a foreigner,° 172 {an alien}173
That by direct, or indirect, attempts,
He seek the life of any citizen,
The party ‘gainst the which he doth conspire 174 {contrive} /thus has plotted
Shall seize° one half° his goods; the other half / get // come by half
Comes° to the private° coffer° of the state, / Goes {privy} // treasury
And the offender’s life lies in the mercy
So granted by the Duke, whose word is final.° 175
And now you stand in this predicament. ° / very position
176. / For it appears, as all those here have witnessed
177. {In which predicament I say thou stand’st; | For it appears by manifest proceeding}
/ And this predicament is one in which
Thou stand. For it appears, by these proceedings° / by your own actions / all we’ve witnessed
/ And this predicament, I say, is one | In which thou stand. As everyone has witnessed
/ And this, I say, is the predicament | In which thou stand. For it has so appeared, | By the proceedings,
witnessed here by all
178. {The danger formerly by me rehearsed}
/ The penalty that I have erstwhile stated / The punishment of which I have just stated
179. Again, we see that Portia’s actions—aiming to harm Shylock—go beyond the call of what was needed to free
Antonio. We can only surmise that her intention changed midstream after she encountered Shylock, a person whose
demeanor, vengefulness, and complete lack of mercy was alien and offensive to Portia’s human sentiments. As
such, she found herself newly motivated—after she had delivered Antonio—to now try and destroy or diminish this
abhorrent person.
180. As part of the staging, Gratziano could run over to ‘help’ Shylock get down on his knees.
181. For some dialogue which could be included here, see Additional Notes: 4.1.363
182. / Lest humbleness reduce it to a fine.
183. / Ay, only the portion° the state is owed / that for which
184. Here Portia is revealing her position. Why is Portia making sure that Antonio be given half of Shylock’s
money? What is her agenda in assuring this outcome? Why not have the Duke forgive the whole amount—both the
state’s and Antonio’s—or simply drive both “unto a fine”? Why is Portia laboring to get Antonio half of Shylock’s
money? [See Additional Notes, 4.1.335] 4.1.369 ???
185. Original passage—which is replaced herein—reads:
Nay, take my life and all! Pardon not that!
You take my house when you do take the prop
That doth sustain my house; you take my life
For it appears, by all that has transpired,° 176 177 / occurred / that’s taken place
That indirectly, and directly, too,° / That both directly, and indirectly
Thou hast contrived against the very life
Of the defendant,° and thou hast incurred / this same merchant
The penalty, by me, formerly stated.°178 / erstwhile described
Down, therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke. 179
—Gratziano 180
Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself!
And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
Thou hast not sums enough to buy the rope.° {not left the value of the cord}
Therefore, thou must be hanged at the state’s charge. 181
That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit,
I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it.
For half thy wealth—it is Antonio’s; / As for thy wealth, one half goes to Antonio.
The other half comes° to the general state, / goes
Which humbleness may drive unto° a fine.182 / lesson to
Ay, for the state, and for what it is owed,183 184 {Ay, for the state, not for Antonio}
+Still half the Jew’s wealth goes unto Antonio.°, / the merchant
When you do take the means whereby I live.
house: in the first instance, it is used in the biblical sense of one’s ancestral lineage or the ‘the house of
Abraham’; in the second instance it refers to Shylock’s house (or symbolically, his life) and the wealth (prop) which
sustains or supports it.
186. / And kill me now, right where I stand.
187. The emended passage was derived from Marlow’s, The Jew of Malta, and echos the sentiment found in
Shakespeare’s original. It is possible that Shakespeare fashioned Shylock’s lines after those of Marlow’s Barabas,
who uttered these lines after losing all his money:
Bar: Why I esteem the injury far less,
To take the lives of miserable men,
Than be the causers of their misery;
You have my wealth, the labor of my life,
The comfort of mine age, my children’s hope;
And there ne’er distinguish of the wrong.
188. This plea is somewhat imprecise since all of Shylock’s wealth had not been taken—only half. (In Marlow’s
play, Barabas makes such a plea after all his wealth is taken). Shylock is still a rich man and able to sustain his
house. What kind of mercy is Antonio being asked to show? Shylock has already managed to retain half his wealth
(less a small fine). Is Antonio being asked to forgive his deserved half or a portion thereof? If so, will Shylock pay
nothing for his crime of attempted murder? In all fairness, he needs to suffer some loss, to pay in some way for his
crime—and perhaps the loss he suffers (as in all previous versions of the story) is the loss of his principle, which in
this case is the large sum of 3000 ducats. In the end, Antonio’s ‘show of mercy,’ called upon by the Duke, delivers
Shylock to a much worse position than he was in before Antonio was called on to show his mercy. Before, Shylock
lost his principle and half his wealth; after, Shylock lost his principle, half his money was put into a trust, and he was
forced to convert to Christianity—which deprived him of his faith, his lifestyle, his livelihood, (usury), and the
support of his fellow Jews.
189. Shylock’s plea may have softened Portia, who a few moments before was quick to make certain that the Duke’s
forgiveness only extended so far as the state, and not Antonio. Here, her very questioning of Antonio for mercy,
prompts a merciful response; she just as easily could have held to her previous position, assigned half the wealth to
Antonio (without asking him for mercy—as the Duke’s forgiveness of half the penalty was merciful enough), and
dismiss the court. As it turns out, this request of Antonio to show mercy—wherein his brand of mercy was Shylock’s
forced conversion to Christianity (as found in the original play)—was a grave punishment for Shylock. Thus, it
would have been better for Shylock had no such request of Antonio been made—and had he not made such a
heartened plea to the court. (As mentioned, only half his wealth had been taken, but he was his plea seemed as
though all his wealth had been taken).
190. For additional lines, see Additional Notes, 4.1.379
191. Antonio is ‘content’ and agrees with the Duke’s show of mercy, that the state forgives the fine for one half of
Shylock’s wealth—under the condition that Antonio gets the other have to use in trust.
+‘Tis more esteemed° that° you take a man’s life / preferred / fitting
Than cast him into hellish poverty.
You take° my wealth, the labor of my life, / have
The comfort of mine age, my children’s hope—
Nay, rather show° your Christian charity, / Rather show me
And kill me now. ° , / Nay, sho 186 187 188 w your Christian mercy—kill me now!
What mercy can you render him, Antonio? 189
A noose, for free°—and nothing else, for God’s sake! 190 {A halter, gratis.}
So please my lord, the Duke, to hear the state° {and all the court}
Forgive° the fine for one half of his goods. {To quit} / to drop
I am content with that,191 so long as he
Will let me use the other half in trust
192. {I am content, so he will let me have | The other half in use, to render it | Upon his death, unto the gentleman}
/ I am content with that, so long as I | Can use the other half in trust, and give it | Upon his death . . .
/ The other half I am hereby content | To use in trust, and then to render it | Upon his death . . .
193. {That lately stole his daughter}
The original line is short, containing three iambs as opposed to five.
/ That, as of late, did steal away his daughter.
194. Antonio has provided a meager ‘favour’ to Shylock: instead of taking half his wealth he is going to have the
money put into a trust (which Antonio manages). This arrangement is set up by Antonio to preserve the principal, so
that Lorenzo (and Jessica) will have some assured wealth when Shylock dies. The benefit afforded to Shylock with
this arrangement—which is unclear—would be if Shylock were the beneficiary of any profit gained from the
management of the trust. Hence, the most favorable arrangement set up by Antonio would be as follows: Shylock
would put up half his money in trust, Antonio would manage the money, Shylock would gain whatever profit was
made, and Lorenzo and Jessica would receive the principal upon Shylock’s death.
195. The original line reads: ‘He presently become a Christian.’ This forced conversion of Shylock is the most
controversial and problematic line in the play. Such a conversion was not found in any of the source stories used by
Shakespeare (such as the plays major source, Il Perecone). In those versions the Jewish money-lender is foiled, the
bond is forfeit, the merchant is saved, and the Jew loses his principal—and he storms out of court in defeat. The
conversion of Shylock is wholly Shakespeare’s addition—and rather than ‘the Jew’ storming out of court, he leaves
an enfeebled and broken man. Some productions use this destructive ending to further present Shylock as a victim,
while some productions chose to delete this controversial line altogether. The primary reason I have deleted it—and
replaced it with a sanction barring Shylock from the practice of usury—is that the line as it now stands is
unnecessary, confusing, and diminishes the character of both Antonio and Shylock. This forced conversion would
likely be interpreted—certainly from a Jewish point of view—as a brutal and vengeful act by Antonio, which was
probably the opposite of his charitable, yet partial, intention. All of Antonio’s actions, thus far, have been
identifiably noble and generous—and displays of Christian charity: this line, however, is not likely to be interpreted
as such. The line also diminishes Shylock who does not argue with such a directive; rather he leaves the stage
broken and stripped of all dignity. Some productions, wishing to show Shylock as a character more sinned against
than sinning, may use this conversion as a way to bring pity to the plight of Shylock and thus try to appease the anti-
Semitic sentiment of the play. Such a course does not allow us the reveal the vengeful and self-defeating psyche of
Shylock’s character—which has nothing whatsoever to do with his Jewishness.
In this rectification, I have made it clear that the whole of Antonio’s dispute with Shylock is founded upon
his usury, not his Jewishness. Thus, Antonio’s forcing Shylock to convert to Christianity obscures and displaces the
real issue, as it is now presented as a difference between Christianity and Judaism (rather than Antonio’s Christian
ideal verses the morally bereft practice of usury). One could assume that Shylock’s obsession with revenge, and the
self-destruction which follows, came about by his usurious mindset (one of greed, deception, and other virtue-less
qualities), or perhaps a character flaw—or an exaggerated reaction to his own feelings of oppression—rather than
anything involving his Jewishness. In fact, he labors to entertains these notions—which defy his inherent Jewish
sense of righteousness—despite his Jewishness, in defiance of his Jewish nature. (In other words, his Jewish soul
causes him to know that his actions are wrong, but his flawed understanding of Judaism, and his injured soul, causes
him to go against his own faith and what he knows to be right. So conflicted is he, that he must resort to extreme
measures in order to keep his illicit course, such as swearing to God that he will kill Antonio.)
In the end, Antonio’s intention with this conversion may be merciful—and may be intended to show his
mercy—at least to a Christian audience. He may be trying to save Shylock’s hell-bound Jewish soul, for Shylock’s
own good—even if he has to do this by force. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.383] [For further discussion on
Shylock’s forced conversion see Appendix.
196. A production that preserves Shylock’s conversion, could have him voice a few lines of protest rather than the
presenting—as in the original—a stark implosion of his character and an uncharacteristically sheepish acceptance of
his fate. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.382]
197. {Here in the court, of all he dies possessed} / Here in the court, which leaves all owned at death / In court, that
all he owns at death will go / Here in the court, all he owns at his death,
To give, upon his death, unto the Christian 192 Xxx
Who, as of late,° did steal away° his daughter.193 / recently
And two conditions more:° that for this favour°194 {Two things provided more} / kindness
He presently forswear° all acts of usury.° 195 / renounce {become a Christian} 196
+That he may garner a more Christian kindness.°, / cultivate a Christian kindness
The other, that he do record a gift,
Which leaves, upon his death, all his possession,197
Unto his son Lorenzo, and his daughter.
198. Portia is still calling Shylock ‘Jew.’ Though, in the original, where he must convert to Christianity, we see that
the ‘conversion’ is merely a glossing over; Shylock will, at heart and in secret—and in the eyes of all
Christians—remain a Jew. Even his daughter, who married a Christian, and willingly converted to Christianity, is
still regarded by her fellow Christians as an ‘infidel’ [3.2.216]—a Jew masquerading as a Christian.
199. At this point, Shylock is portrayed as a broken man—having been stripped of half his wealth and forced
(without a fight) to convert to Christianity. Here he utters a feckless and feeble, I am content, simply mouthing back
Portia’s own words, without any hint of protest. It may be that Shylock’s quick acceptance may be a result of
calculation rather than total defeat: he may be wanting to protect the money he has left and avoid opening himself up
to, yet unknown, further harm. His words, I am content, surely belies his true position—he is not content. He might
be thinking: ‘I am content to say ‘I am content.’ But as for the Christian duplicity—cheating me of my earned
wealth, I am very far from being content.’
200. In productions where Shylock is a ‘broken man,’ he is not well—and because he is not well, and feeling
sickly—he desires to leave the court. In productions where Shylock is still intact, this is clearly a rouse to get
himself out of the court and removed from harm’s way. I am not feeling well is decidedly a cliché excuse, which
cannot be taken at face value. Like the mouthed words, I am content, Shylock’s I am not well is not likely to express
his true state.
201. In the original, where Shylock is converted to Christianity, Gratziano refers to the ‘mercy’ of Shylock’s
upcoming baptism:
{In christ’ning shalt thou have two godfathers.
Had I been the judge, thou shouldst have had ten more—
To bring thee to the gallows, not the font.}
An emended version of this passage might read as follows:
/ In christening° shalt thou have two godfathers. / baptism
Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more—
To make a jury which, finding you guilty,
‘Twould bring thee to the gallows, not the font.
Gratziano is saying: Besides the two godfathers (who will accompany you at baptism) I, being judge, would
have rather asked for ten more men, to make up a jury of twelve men, who would then find you guilty of the charge
and bring you to the gallows (to be hanged) instead of to the font (to be baptized).
He shall do this or else I do recant / withdraw / retract
The pardon that I just° pronouncèd here. {late} // The pardon I of late
Art thou contented Jew? 198 What dost thou say?
I am content. 199
—Portia [to Nerissa] Clerk, write° a deed of gift. {draw} > draw up / write up
I pray you, give me leave to go from hence.
I am not well. 200 Send the deed after me,
And I will sign it.
—Duke Get thee gone,° but do it. / You may go
—Gratziano [to Shylock]
Had I been judge, thou would not walk from court:
I would have found twelve men to make a jury
Who, upon finding you guilty, would drag
You by the feet straightway° unto the gallows. 201 / a-straight / away / direct
202. Shylock’s exit determines the amount of sympathy the audience has for him. He could glumly walk out of the
court, leaving behind his bag. He could be jeered at as he walks out. Or, more brutally, Gratziano could literally
grab Shylock ‘by the hip,’ wrestle him to the ground, and then (along with several helpers) drag him out of court by
his feet. (When tackled to the ground, Shylock drops his bag. It could be empted and mockingly placed over his
head. Then the faceless Shylock is dragged out of court.).
203. / Antonio, give your fullest gratitude | To this man; thinks me you’re much in his debt.
204. / Have, by the wisdom you’ve shown us this day, | Been spared of grievous penalties; in lieu / Whereof, three
thousand ducats owed the Jew,
205. {We freely cope your courteous pains withal}
/ We freely offer you for all your pains. / We freely give to you for all your pains.
cope: match, give in exchange for
206. / O’er and above,° in both love and in service / Far and beyond
207. / We stand forever indebted to you / We stand here now forever in your debt
208. {And stand indebted, over and above | In love and service to you evermore.}
Exit Shylock 202
—Duke [to Portia]
Sir, I entreat you with me home for dinner.
I humbly do request° your grace of° pardon. {desire} / graceful
I must away this night toward Padua,
And it is best° I presently set forth.° {meet} / fitting I set forth at once
I am sorry that your leisure serves you not.
Antonio, fully thank° this gentleman° {gratify} // thank wholeheartedly this man
For, in my mind, you are much in his debt.° 203 {much bound to him}
Exeunt Duke and his attendants
—Bassanio [to Portia]
Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend
Have, by your wisdom, been this day delivered° {acquitted} / relieved
From grievous penalties, in lieu whereof,
Three thousand ducats, due unto the Jew, 204
We freely give° for all your courteous° pains. 205 / We give to you // gracious
Yet, over and above, in love and service,206
We stand forevermore within your debt.° 207 208 / indebted to you evermore
—Portia [refusing]
He is well-paid who° is well-satisfied, {that}
And I, in helping you,° am satisfied, {delivering you}
And therein do account myself well-paid.
209. {My mind was never yet more mercenary}
/ My mind was never bent on compensation / hope of payment / on recompense
210. know me: a) recognize me, b) make love with me.
This word is found in a biblical context, as in ‘Adam knew Eve.’ Portia is saying, ‘I pray (hope) you know
me in a different way (as husband and wife) when we meet again.’ She might also be saying: ‘ I pray (hope) you
make love with me when we meet again’—as you failed to do so on our wedding night.”
211. Some productions have Bassanio run after Portia, and these lines are delivered without Antonio being
immediately present. Other productions have the dialogue continues with Antonio present.
212. / Dear sir, please wait, I must insist again—
213. {Not to deny me, and to pardon me.}
214. Many editions add the stage direction, jto Antoniok , indicating that Antonio is present and that Portia is
requesting of him his gloves. This is possible, however, it is likely that Portia requests the gloves from Bassanio, as
Antonio may not be sporting a pair of gloves at this time. If Bassanio is wearing gloves, then Portia’s request would
be apt, because the removal of Bassanio’s gloves would then reveal his ring. This is the real intention of why Portia
would ask for Bassanio’s gloves—so she can see, and then ask for, his ring. [See Additional Notes, 4.1.422]
215. for your love: A customary politeness, which, in the usual sense would mean, ‘as a token of your love,’ or ‘as
a sign of your affection and/or gratitude.’
take this ring: A more forceful position than, ‘I’ll accept this ring.’ Take is used here in contrast to give:
Portia’s initial statement, which placed the ring on Bassanio’s finger—and the giving of herself and all she owned to
him—was I give them with this ring. [3.2.171]. She is here playing the one who gives and the one who takes—as
opposed to the more docile figure who would receive.
216. I’ll take no more: Here she light-heartedly suggests to Bassanio that he need not be afraid, she will not take
his hand, just the ring. Ironically, Bassanio later thinks to cut off his own hand (and say he lost the ring in a fight) in
order to avert Portia’s rage at him for giving away the ring. [5.1.177-78].
217. in love: in kindness. It could mean, ‘you, in the name of love.’ This statement carries an ironic overtone, for
Bassanio in giving away the ring in love to the doctor, is symbolically giving away his love for Portia (who gave him
the ring).
218. / This ring good sir?—Alas it is a trifle.
It ne’er did cross° my mind to ask for payment. 209 / never crossed
[to Bassanio] I pray you ‘know’ me when we meet again. 210
I wish you well, and so I take my leave.
—Bassanio 211
Dear sir, perforce° I must beseech° you further—212 { of force} {attempt} / now urge
Take some remembrance of us as a tribute,
Not as fee. Grant me two things, I pray you:
Not to deny me this kind-hearted° offer / a sincere and kind
And here to pardon me for such insistence.° 213 / persistence // being so bold
You press me far,° and therefore I will yield: / hard / deep
Give me your gloves, I’ll wear them for your sake. 214 / to oblige you
And for your love, I’ll take this ring from you. 215
[he draws back his hand]
Do not draw back your hand—I’ll take no more. 216
And you, in love, shall not deny me this! 217
This ring, good sir, alas it is° a trifle. 218 / is but
I will not shame myself to give you this.
219. This ring has more upon it than its value / This ring holds something more than outer value
220. {And find it out by proclamation}
/ And find it through a public advertisement / And go in search of it both near and far
Bassanio offers to find the most valuable ring in Venice by way of proclamation (making an announcement or
distributing a printed advertisement). This offer suggests the great lengths that Bassanio is willing to go through in
order to find another ring (a much more valuable ring), even to suggest the image of Bassanio standing in a public
square, yelling out (by proclamation) that he seeks to buy the most valuable ring in Venice.
221. > You are liberal (only) in what you offer but not in what you actually give (once the offer is accepted).
222. / You answer me now as you would a beggar
223. / By that excuse, a man may save his gift.
224. / And if your wife be not wrought° with madness / tinged / struck
225. / Should she know how well I deserved this ring
226. {She would not hold out enemy for ever}
hold out enemy: hold you as an enemy; hate you; be angry with you
/ She would not be your enemy forever / She’d not be angry at you forever / She would not hold a long
grudge against you
227. My Lord: a formal term which appeals to Bassanio’s newfound status—and refers to his being lord over his
house and his wife. A more likely expression may have been, ‘My dear Bassanio.’
I will have nothing else, but only this;
And now, methinks, I have a wish for it.° {I have a mind to it} / I am quite fond of it
There’s more depends on this than on the value.219
The dearest° ring in Venice will I give you; > most expensive
And find it out by searching through the city.° 220 {by a public announcement}
Only for this, I pray you, pardon me.
I see, sir, you are liberal° in offers.221 / generous
You taught° me first to beg and now methinks / urged
You teach me how a beggar should° be answered. 222 / must
Good sir, this ring was given me by my wife.
And when she put it on she made me vow
That I would° neither° sell, nor give, nor lose it. {should} / never
That ‘scuse° serves° many men to save their gifts. 223 / ploy // helps
And if your wife be not a madwoman, 224
And know how well I have deserved this ring,225
She would not bear you enmity° forever 226 {hold out enemy}/ hold her angriness
For giving it to me. Well, peace be with you!
Exeunt Portia and Nerissa
My Lord Bassanio, let him have the ring. 227
228. {Be valued ‘gainst your wife’s commandment}
/ Be weighed against the vow you made your wife / the promise made to your wife
229. Oftentimes a rhyming couplet is used to mark the close of a scene. However, in this most significant scene, the
original provides no such couplet. To emphasize closure of the scene, a rhyming couplet has been added. Q1 reads
as follows:{Come, you and I will go thither presently.
And in the morning, early, we will both
Fly toward Belmont. Come, Antonio. }
230. / And in the morning, early we will go
And fly° to Belmont. Come, Antonio. / Flying / Away / Onward
/ When morning comes, to Belmont we will fly,
Without a care, together, you and I.
231. / Come my Antonio, all the world is right; / all is now set right / everything’s alright
Now let us cheer with friends into the night.
And in the morning, early, will we go
Flying to Belmont, bereft of all woe. / with no care to show.
/ Come, you and I have finishèd° this plight, / are over with / are finished with
Now let us cheer with friends into° the night. / all through
Unto your house, let’s go, without delay
And fly to Belmont ‘pon the break of day.
Let his deservings° and my love for you° {withal} / in all
Be valued ‘gainst° the vow made to° your wife. 228 / weighed against
—Bassanio [gives the ring to Gratziano]
Go, Gratziano, run and overtake him.
Give him the ring, and bring him, if thou canst,° / and bid him dine with us
Unto Antonio’s house. Away! Make haste!
Exit Gratziano
Come now dear friend,° it seems the world is right, / my dearest one
‘Tis time we° cheer and laugh into night;° / Now let us // all through the night
When morning comes,° to Belmont we will go, / And when dawn breaks
In bliss and freedom°—come Antonio. 229 230 231 / In blessed freedom
1. Of course, Portia, who was called in to settle the matter between Shylock and Antonio, would not be involved in
the tedious administration of drafting the deed of gifts nor would she be sent to Shylock’s house to have it signed by
him—especially not after she brought him to ruin. In addition, the fact that Portia has no legal experience would be
revealed had she anything to do with the drafting of Shylock’s deed of gift. All the more unlikely that Portia would
be involved with the drafting and execution of the deed of gift, since she was not of Venice and she was keen on
returning to Padua. Yet, despite the unlikelihood of the scene, it is needed to allow time for Nerissa to obtain her
ring from Gratziano, and also allow her time to get hold of the deed of gift to give to Lorenzo.
2. / Inquire directions unto the Jew’s house / Have someone show you the way to the Jew’s house
3. {Inquire the Jew’s house out, give him the deed | And let him sign it. We’ll away tonight.}
4. {Fair sir, you are well o’erta’en} o’erta’en: overtaken. Q1: ore-tane
Some editors feel that this line was truncated so that Gratziano had a chance to regain his breath, after a
chase. The pause, however, is not warranted, and the shortened line (along with the awkward contraction,
‘o’erta’en, —may be a result of an unreadable portion of text. Since this truncated line add no appreciable meaning
to the iambic pentameter has been restored.
/ Fair sir, I have at last, caught up with you. / Fair sir, I’ve come upon you at last. Hence,
5. The subject of Portia’s negation (‘that cannot be’) is unclear: it could refer to her disbelief that Bassanio gave up
his ring and/or to the impossibility of her joining Bassanio for dinner (though, if this be her intent, then the response
‘I cannot’ would bring more clarity. (The Duke had already entreated her to join him for dinner—which she humbly
pardoned herself [397-400] so there would be no way for her accept Bassanio’s invitation. Obviously Bassanio did
not near the Duke’s prior invitation nor Portia’s reply).
The most likely playing of this line is for Portia to speak the words in disbelief (to others or bemuseingly to
herself)—it referring to Bassanio having given up his ring. But then she catches herself, pauses, and qualifies her
previous line as a reference to her not being able to meet Bassanio for dinner. In the original, the reference of ‘that
cannot be’ is uncertain, though it later seems to refer to the dinner invitation. In the rectification, a clarifying line has
been added to make her intent more explicit— and to support the staging which is suggested above.
ACT FOUR - Scene 2
A street in Venice. Enter Portia and Nerissa, still in disguise 1
Inquire the way unto the Jew’s abode, 2 / Find out
And have him sign the deed. We’ll then away 3 / We’ll leave tonight
And be at home a day before our husbands.
This deed will be a blessing° to Lorenzo. {well welcome}
Enter Gratziano
Fair sir, at last, I have ov’rtaken you.° 4 / I have caught up with you
My Lord Bassanio, upon more advice,° / reflection > consideration
Hath sent you here this ring, and doth entreat / request
Your company at dinner.
That cannot be . . . 5
+For we must leave for Padua tonight.°, / at once
But I accept his ring° most thankfully, {His ring I do accept}
And so° I pray you tell him. Furthermore, / thus
I pray you show my youth old Shylock’s house.
That I will do.
—Nerissa [to Portia] Sir, I would° speak with you? / may I
[aside] I’ll see if I can get my husband’s ring,
Which I did make him swear to keep forever.
—Portia [to Nerissa]
Thou mayst,° I’m sure. And then we’ll have much° swearing° / You shall {old} / all
That they did give the rings away to men.
But we’ll outstare° them and outswear them too. {outface}
Away! Make haste! Thou know’st where I will tarry.° / wait / be
—Nerissa [to Gratziano]
Come, good sir, will you show me to this house?
1. As it stands, Act Five is much too long, and most productions seek ways to reduce it.. (Before 1900 (xxx) it was
common practice to simply delete the whole of Act Five—an overly-aggressive maneuver which leaves too much of
the play ‘hanging.’ This, however, was favored to leaving the audience burdened and dissipated by an overly
protracted Act Five.)
One way to reduce the length of Act Five is to export the whole of Lorenzo’s and Jessica’s dialogue, and
have it replace 3.5. (Specifically, 5.1.1-21 and 5.1.54-110, could be exported). As such, the scene would open at
5.1.88 with the entrance of Portia and Nerissa. To further shorten Act Five, the scene could open at 5.1.110, with the
entrance of Lorenzo and Jessica, from one side, and Portia and Nerissa from the other:
Lor: Is that dear Portia? Lady, welcome home!
Por: We have been praying for our husband’s welfare
Which speed we hope the better for our words.
Has my husband returned?
Lor: Madam, not yet:
But there is come a messenger before
To signify their coming.
Por: Lorenzo, Jessica—quickly go in
Give order to my servants that they take
No note at all of our being absent hence.
In this reduction of Act Five Lorenzo and Jessica would exit after line 122 [Lor: ‘We are no telltales,
madam, fear not’] and re-enter after 288 [Por: How now Lorenzo?]. The action of having Lorenzo and Jessica exit
(to inform the servants) accomplishes two things: a) it resolves the anomaly of line 117 where Portia instructs
Nerissa to ‘give order’ to the servants but, because Nerissa is involved in the following action, she cannot leave the
stage to accomplish this task; and b) it allows Lorenzo and Jessica to leave the stage and not dissipate the action by
their presence (for none of the following dialogue, over 150 lines of it, [123-287] involve Lorenzo and Jessica. The
pair’s later re-entrance (a few minutes later) could come after 288, as Portia ask, ‘How now Lorenzo?’ which is a
perfect greeting for a character’s entrance upon the stage. In addition, the resolution involving the misgiven rings
contains repetitions, and could be reduced: a) delete 32 lines: 192-217 and 229-233 and 235, or b) delete 11 lines:
2. / Methinks the Trojan prince Troilus did mount
The city walls, and sighed his soul toward
The Grecian tents below, where his beloved
Cressida lay that night.
3. Every verse in this night game begins with ‘In such a night’ rather than ‘On such a night.’
ACT FIVE - Scene One 1
Portia’s house in Belmont. A garden. Moonlight.
The moon shines bright. On° such a night as this, {In}
When the sweet° wind did gently kiss the trees— / soft
And they did make no noise. On such a night
Did young° prince Troilus mount° the Trojan walls / climb
And sighed his soul toward the Grecian tents,
Where Cressid lay that night. / 2 Where his beloved lay / Where his Cressida lay
—Jessica On° such a night, {In}3
Did Thisbe go to meet with Pyramus;° / her beloved
But saw the lion’s shadow ere his frame° {himself}
And ran away in fright.° {And ran away dismayed}
—Lorenzo On such a night,
Queen Dido stood upon the wild shore° {wild sea banks}
4. {Stood Dido with a willow in her hand | Upon the wild sea banks and waft her love | To come again to
/ Stood the forsaken queen Dido upon | The wild shore wafting her love to return,
/ Stood queen Dido, with willow in her hand, | Upon the wild sea banks, and waft her love
/ Upon the banks of a billowing sea | Stood the forsaken queen Dido, wafting | Her beloved to return.
5. An additional line, concerning the legend, could be added: + But alas, | Aeneus ne’er returned.,
6. An additional line could be added: +Yet Jason still left her for Creon’s daughter.,
7. It is revealing that the lovers, shown together for the first time, only cite stories and legends which tell of betrayal,
abandonment, and tragedy—all ending in death. Thus, the outer appearance of harmony belies the underlying
turmoil of the two lovers. Perhaps the author has used this game of free-association as a way to reveal some of this
unspoken, yet looming, inner conflict.
It is interesting to note that the portions of the legends recalled by these two lovers tell only of the romanticized
aspects—such as the images of the legends that take place under the full moon. Yet, when the full scope of these
stories are revealed, we see that they all end in tragedy. Outwardly, Lorenzo and Jessica are surrounded by the lush
gardens of Belmont, christened by the moonlight—which allows them the luxury of a borrowed moment. Soon they
must give up this moon lite world and face the harsh reality of their situation. [See Additional Notes, 5.1.13] [See
Appendix: “Night Game” for summaries of the four legends].
8. unthrift love: a) a poor or wasteful lover, or love, (such as Lorenzo) or b) a wasteful, carefree (or extravagant)
kind of love that is unconcerned with wealth; a love with spends now and is not concerned with the future.
9. {and he forgave it her}
10. out-night: outplay you (in mention of all these things that the night reminds us of)
11. / I would outplay you at this night game—but | Listen, I hear the stepping of a man.
With a willow in hand,° wafting her love 4 / Holding a willow, and
To come again to Carthage. 5
—Jessica On such a night,
Medea gathered the enchanted herbs
That renewed° life to Jason’s dying father. 6 7 / did bring
—Lorenzo On such a night,
Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew,
And with a poor lover,° did run from Venice {an unthrift love} / wasteful love 8
As far as Belmont. {As far as Belmont}
—Jessica Yes, on such a night,
Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well,
Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
And not a one was true.° {And ne’er a true one}
—Lorenzo On such a night,
Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
Slander her love—and he forgave her for it. 9 / but then she was forgiven.
I would outplay° you did nobody come, {out-night}10
But hark, I hear the stepping° of a man.11 {footing} / footsteps
Enter Stephano, a messenger
12. This line has five iambs which, when combined with the next line (of one iamb), creates a line of six iambs. To
rectify this, one iamb could be removed. Hence: / Who comes in silence of the night? / Who comes to break the
night’s silence? / Who comes so fast to break the silence?
13. The original seems to have a stray iamb, which suggests that the phrase, ‘a friend,’ was mistakenly repeated by
Lorenzo. Q1 reads as follows:
Mess: A friend!
Lor: A friend, what friend? Your name I pray you friend?
Mess: A friend!
Lor: What friend? Your name I pray you friend?
14. {She doth stray about | By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays}
15. {Sola! Wo ha, ho! Sola, sola!}
Some commentators hold that this is an imitation of a post horn and that Launcelet is mouthing this tune to
announce the arrival of himself, as a postman or courier (‘a post’), who has come to deliver a message. Sola is used
as a hunting cry in Love’s Labor Lost and Launcelet could be imitating this cry or bleating out the sound of a hunting
horn. Wo ha, ho is used as a falconer’s call. What we have here, then, is another case of Launcelet’s mis-mashing.
Consistent with the fool’s with mocking and irreverent tone—found amply in 3.5, and also in the next few lines— it
Who comes so fast in silence of the night?12
A friend.
—Lorenzo What friend? Your name, I pray you, friend? 13
Stephano is my name, and I bring word:
My mistress will, before the break of day,
Be here at Belmont. She doth pause nearby° {stray about} / stop beside
The holy crosses where° she kneels and prays 14 / Each holy cross, and there
For happy wedlock hours.
—Lorenzo Who comes with her?
None but a holy hermit and her maid.
I pray you, is my master yet returned?
He is not, and we have not heard from him.
But go we in,° I pray thee, Jessica / But let’s go in
And, with respect and love,° let us prepare {ceremoniously} / with good graciousness
Some welcome for the mistress of the house.
Trumpet sound, made by Launcelet, is heard offstage.
Enter Launcelet
Da-doo! Da-doo! Wo ha ho! Do-ta-da-do-ta-da-doooo! 15
may be that Launcelet is parodying a tucket, which is a distinct trumpet signature played to announce the arrival of
royalty or a very important person. Indeed, later in the scene we find Bassanio—who is hardly royalty—being
announced with a tucket [5.1.122] and perhaps Launcelet, knowing about Bassanio’s newfangled tucket (which may
be see as a pretentious self-assignment of status), is here mocking it (and all like him) with his own, self-styled
tucket. It could also be that he is using this new tucket to mockingly announce Lorenzo, who is temporarily acting in
stead of Bassanio, as master of the house.
In this rectification, Launcelet mouths a more familiar tone, which most people would recognize as a
trumpet melody which announces someone’s arrival. More effective than mouthing the entry found in the original
(sola!) or in this rectification (da-doo!) would be for Launcelet to form a mouthpiece with his fingers and actually
blow out the sound of a mock trumpet—playing ‘da-doo’ and speaking ‘wa ha ho.’
16. {Sola, did you see M. Lorenzo, & M. Lorenzo sola, sola}— Q1
Most editions treat the ampersand as a misprint for question mark, which is suspect—since there is also a
comma—but a justifiable reading since this line is in the form of a question. ‘M.’ is also an abbreviation for Master
(or Mistress) and most editions fill out the ‘M. Lorenzo’ to read ‘Master Lorenzo.’
Various forms of punctuation are: ‘Sola! Did you see Master Lorenzo? Master Lorenzo, sola, sola.’
(Oxford, Cambridge, Arden, Folger); ‘Sola! Did you see Master Lorenzo? [Calls.] Master Lorenzo! Sola! Sola!’
(Arden); ‘Sola! Did you see Master Lorenzo and Mistress Lorenzo? Sola, sola!’ (Norton, Signet)
17. {Leave hollowing man, here.}
hollering (Oxford, Applause); holloaing (Cambridge, Kittredge Norton, Pelican, Signet); holloing
leave hollowing: a) leave hollering—stop hollering, b) leave halloaing—stop making hunting calls
18. {Sola! Where, where?}
In the previous line, a second iamb was added (instead of ‘here’ it reads, ‘here I am’); thus, in this line, one
iamb has been removed 45(‘sola’) to preserve the meter.
19. Launcelet continues with his mocking: he clearly knows the whereabouts of Lorenzo but continues to ignore
him. This could be a metaphor for Lorenzo’s low status and wealth (which no one can see). Launcelet’s mockery
continues in the next line when he is delivering a message to Lorenzo yet referring to him in the third person, as
though he were not there: Tell him there’s a post come from my master.
20. Q1 reads, {My master will be here ere morning, sweet soul.} Most editions transpose the last iamb (‘sweet
soul’) which is decidedly out of place here, to Lorenzo’s next line, which not only fits the context, but completes the
—Lorenzo Who calls?
—Launcelet Da-doo! Did you see Master Lorenzo? [calling] Master Lorenzo! Da-doo, Dadoo!
—Lorenzo Leave° hollering° man: I am here! 17 /Stop {halloaing}
—Launcelet Where? Where? 18 19
—Lorenzo Here!
Tell him there’s a messenger° come from my master, with his mouth° full of good news. My
master will be here before the morning. 20 messenger: {post} mouth: {horn}
Sweet soul, let’s in° and there await° their coming. {expect}
And yet no matter—why should we go in?
My friend Stephano, please announce,° I pray you, {signify}/ please tell them
Within the house, their mistress is at hand,° / soon approaches / is nearby
21. / And have the players fill the air with music.
22. touches: notes produced by the fingers touching the strings of an instrument, especially a harp
23. patens: small dishes or plates, often made of gold, used in Holy Communion. F2 emends patens with patterns,
which is in keeping with the imagery of harmony—especially since constellations were thought to reflect the patterns
of human life—but less precise. Herein pattern is used, not because it is more apt, but because it is more readily
understood than patens.
24. / There, in his motion, sings as would an angel / Sings in his motion like a blessed angel / There, in his motion,
like an angel sings / His motion plays like the song of an angel / His motion sings with the voice of an angel / His
motion sounds as does an angel sing
25. {There’s not the smallest orb which thouh behold’st | But in his motion like an angel sings}
/ There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st | That, in his motion, sings not like an angel
26. {Still choiring to the young-eyed cherubins} Q1: still quiring
still choiring: eternally singing, always singing in perfect harmony.
cherubins: This is an irregular plural form, which, along with cherubims, was used up til the mid seventeenth
century. (The common plural for cherub is cherubim). Young-eyed cherubins refers to their sight being everyoung—
eternally clear-sighted, but also it could refer to a child’s sight which is ever-innocent, accepting, and nonjudgmental.
Being young-eyed could also refer to cherubim who appear as young-eyed, as beautiful children (with
wings), which is the way they were often represented in Renaissance art. [See Additional Notes, 5.1.62]
27. Even the motion of the smallest orb,
Is part of a grand symphony, his motion
Plays a song which none but an angel sings, / Plays notes which only an angel could sing.
In a choir of heavenly voices.
28. Lorenzo is saying that we cannot hear the ‘music of the spheres’—which resonates with our immortal soul—
because our soul is entombed in this gross body which, through its senses, is not keen or refined enough to hear the
divine music.
29. This philosophical (and lovely) exposition is impersonal and neither speaks of nor reflects any feelings of love
he might have for Jessica. Such a discourse does not compare in sentiment to the single line: ‘If music be the food of
love, play on.’
30. Diana is the goddess of the moon. Lorenzo is asking the musicians to play so as to coax out Diana (the moon)
and have her come out from behind a cloud.
31. An additional line could be added to clarify the reference to Diana, as goddess of the moon: +And let her shining
face alight the sky, / + Let her illumine the sky with her face. ,
And bring musicians° forth into the air. 21 {your music} / some music
Exit Stephano
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon the bank.
Here we will sit and let the sounds° of music / strains
Creep in our ears. Soft stillness and the night / Let
Become the touches of sweet harmony.22
Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor° of heaven° / vault // the nighted sky
Is thick inlaid with patterns° of bright gold. {patens}23
In but° the smallest orb° which thou behold’st / Even // star / light
There sounds° the heavenly voice of an angel 24 25 / plays / shines
In the e’erlasting° choir of cherubim. 26 27 / eternal / unending
Such harmony is in immortal souls,
But whilst this earthly body° of decay {muddy vesture}
Doth grossly close it in,° we cannot hear it. 28 29 / cover it
Enter musicians
[to the musicians]
Come ho, and wake Diana° with a hymn; 30 31 / the moonlight
32. touches: / strains / chords > notes played by the fingers touching, or plucking, a string
33. mistress ear: Q1 does not use an apostrophe to imply the possessive form (i.e., mistress’s) since it is understood
to be possessive, and since the extra syllable would corrupt the meter.
34. sweet: soft, gentle, pleasing, soothing, melodious, etc.
35. [See Additional Notes, 5.1.69]
36. Jessica says that she is never merry when hearing sweet music, which suggests that even the most sublime and
beautiful exterior circumstances cannot bring joy to Jessica (whose mind is occupied and besieged with turmoil).
We might interpret her use of the term never however, to mean ‘lately,’ thus indicating that something is now
disturbing her, so much so, that even sweet music cannot allay it. Similar to the mix-matched response that Antonio
receives in regard to his inner sadness (Your mind is tossing on the ocean) Jessica receives the same kind of reply
from Lorenzo: (For do but note a wild and wanton herd | Or race of youthful and unhandled colts | Fetching mad
bounds). Lorenzo’s winded exposition (that follows this line) is lost on Jessica—neither music nor Lorenzo’s reply
about the calming effect of music, has any calming or joyful effect on her.
37. {The reason is, your spirits are attentive}
38. / cannot delight | In all the beauty that embraces you.
39. {The reason is your spirits are attentive}
/ The reason is you’re too concerned with° every / involved with / engrossed in
Thought and emotion. Sweet, just let them be;
spirits: mindstuff, awareness, consciousness; the senses, faculties of perception, the mind and its
thoughts/emotions. Hence, Lorenzo is saying that Jessica’s spirits (thoughts) are attentive to her inner state (i.e.,
distress) and therefore cannot hear the outer music. In other words, she is too pre-occupied with her own thoughts
and state of mind to enjoy and appreciate the beauty around her. Her spirit (awareness, attention) too focused upon,
occupied by (attentive to) her thoughts, concerns, troubles, etc.
40. The whole of Lorenzo’s discourse is filled with discordant and accusative images—ironic when speaking about
the beauty of music and far less harmonious than his prior words. After Jessica’s statement that she is never merry
when she hears sweet music, Lorenzo does not inquire as to the reason why she feels this way, nor tries to comfort
her, but continues with his philosophical waxing. In response to Lorenzo, we hear no reply from Jessica, nor do we
ever hear her speak again (except as part of a group command given by Portia [119-121]). Thus, the last entry
regarding Lorenzo and Jessica remains one of stark division, with Jessica’s last words being: I am never merry when
I hear sweat music. We see that Shylock’s last line in the original is equally as feeble [I pray you, give me leave to
go from hence; | I am not well. send the deed after me, |And I will sign it.].
In deference to brevity and aesthetics, the whole of Lorenzo’s passage (or major portions thereof) could be
deleted. The close of the scene between the two lovers might have an ominous sense if it simply ended with Jessica’s
last line, I am never merry when I hear sweet music [69]. In this rectification, the dialogue is made to end on a softer
tone with four, somewhat appeasing, lines offered by Lorenzo. The original text (of 18 lines) most of which are
harsh, accusatory, and ill-rubbing have been deleted from this version. [See Additional Notes, 5.1.71, for Lorenzo’s
full discourse].
With° sweetest touches 32 reach° your mistress’ ear,33 {pierce}
And draw° her home with music. / guide
Music plays
I’m° never merry when I hear sweet34 music. 35 36 {I am}
The reason is your mind is too engrossed° 37 / distracted
+With all your° thoughts and it cannot enjoy / every
The peace and beauty that° embraces you.38, 39 / The wonderment that now
+All you need do is listen with your heart. ,
________________________________________________ [Lines Deleted] 40
Enter Portia and Nerissa, approaching
41. {Nothing is good, I see, without respect}
respect: a) context, comparison to something else, b) appreciation
Portia is saying: Things are made good by context; one can appreciate the goodness of a things when they
are set in the right context. Hence, the music sounds better in the context of night (which is still) as opposed to day
(which is filled with noise and activity). [See Additional Note, 5.1.99]
42. {How many things by season seasoned are}
/ How many things by season are delivered° / inspired / uplifted
—Portia [looking toward the house]
That light we see is burning in my hall—
How far that little candle throws its beams! {his}
So shines a good deed in a wicked° world. {naughty} / darkened
When the moon shone, we did° not see the candle. / could
So doth the greater glory dim the lesser.° {less}
A substitute shines brightly as a king
Until the king arrives° and then his status° {be by} / returns // state / rank
Empties itself, as doth an inland brook,
Into the vaster ocean.° Music. Listen!° {main of waters}/ endless ocean {hark}
Music plays.
It is your music, madam, from the house.
Nothing is good without a proper context:° 41 / setting
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.° / in the night
Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.
The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark,
When neither one is heard;° and yet, I think, {attended}
The nightingale, if she should sing by day—
When every goose is cackling—° would be thought {honking} / bird is crowing
No better a musician than the wren.
How many things, by proper setting, rise° 42 / set are lifted
43. / All things, by right occasion, realize° / come upon / discover
Their highest place and find their true perfection.
/ How many things by their appointed season
Are thus delivered to their true perfection.
/ All things, by season,° are delivered to / setting / context
Their rightful place and to their true perfection.
44. {To their right praise and true perfection.}
/ To their right place and to their true perfection!
45. {Peace, how the moon sleeps with Endymion}
/ Peace, how the moon sleeps behind a dark cloud / Peace, how the moon sleeps with her youthful shepherd
Q1 reads: {Peace, how the moone sleepes with Endimion}. Many editions (such as Oxford, Cambridge,
Bevingto, etc.) punctuate the verse as: Peace ho! The moon sleeps with Endymion. Peace, ho! would indicate a
surprise (such as ‘Oh look!’ or ‘Wait now!). The scene can be staged in two ways: a) Portia makes a reference to
the moon in the sky, saying, ‘Peace, the moon is still behind a cloud’ or b) Portia makes a reference to Lorenzo and
Jessica (who are asleep) likening the two to Diana (the moon) and Endymion (who, according to myth, sleep
together). The later staging, is adopted by many editions—so much so that an extra stage direction, indicating that
Portia sees Lorenzo and Jessica, is sometimes added to the text. (It could also be that two are not asleep, but resting
in each other’s arms). This staging, though clever, is unlikely since Lorenzo and Jessica are eagerly awaiting the
near arrival of Portia and would not fall asleep at this time (nor would Portia refer to them as sleeping if they were
merely resting together). The more likely staging is that Portia is referring to the moon, still behind a
cloud—perhaps indicating an uneasy darkness as she arrives back home—and Lorenzo (attentively awaiting her
arrival) overhears her comments. Most editions indicate that the music ceases when Portia arrives home. The
Oxford Edition (Halio) emends Portia’s lines as follows:
To their right place and true perfection!
jShe sees Lorenzo and Jessicak
Peace ho! jMusic ceasesk The moos sleeps with Endymion
And would not be awakened.
In Greek legend, Endymion was a young shepherd who lived on Mount Latmos. Enamored by his beauty, Selene
(Diana), the goddess of the moon, put him to sleep forever, in a cave, so she could visit him whenever it pleased her.
Portia is saying that moon—now hidden behind a cloud—has gone into a cave to sleep with Endymion. [See
Additional Note, 5.1.109]
46. {Which speed, we hope, the better for our words.} / That their endeavor may be quick and prosperous
which speed: a) who succeed, who prosper, b) who quickly come to a beneficial result
Unto their rightful° praise and true perfection. 43 44 / To their right
Peace—how the moon sleeps with her secret love / in a darkened cave 45
And would not be awakened.
Light fades as the moon passes behind a cloud
Music stops
That is the voice
Of Portia, else I am much deceivéd.° / mistaken
He knows me as the blind man knows the cuckoo—
By the bad voice.
—Lorenzo Dear lady, welcome home!
We have been praying for our husbands, who
Prosper, we hope, the better for our words. 46 47
we hope, the better for our words: whose success, we hope, has been supported by our prayers
47. / We have been praying for our husbands’ welfare | And hope they prosper the more by our words.
/ We have been praying for our husbands’ welfare | That they have quick and prosperous results | Which, we
do hope, has been aided° by our words. / bettered / helped
48. {Give order to my servants that they take | No note at all of our being absent hence}
49. A tucket is a distinctive ‘signature tune’ played on a trumpet to announce the arrival of those of high or royal
standing. The tucket we hear is to signify the arrival of Bassanio. It is not likely that any of the parties have yet
heard this tucket but, by inference, and by knowing of Bassanio’s immanent arrival, they surmise that it is Bassanio’s
50. {We are no tell-tales, madam, fear you not}
51. {‘Tis a day | Such as the day is when the sun is hed}.
52. It is telling that after hearing Bassanio’s tucket the only words Portia states—which serve as her announcement
of him—is a reference to the night, which looks like daylight sick, as pale as a day when the sun is hid. Perhaps the
metaphor is in reference to herself, as the sun, and to her own shining, which (upon her new master’s return) will be
obscured, like a dull cloud obscuring the bright sun. (In the next line, Bassanio unwittingly extends this analogy by
likening Portia to the sun).
One could interpret Portia’s ‘talk about the weather’ in a more innocuous way: she abruptly changes the
subject to talk about something banal, chit-chat as it were, as a way to hide her expectancy and appear somewhat coy
and nonchalant about Bassanio’s immanent arrival. [See Additional Notes, 5.1.126]
53. {We should hold day with the Antipodes}
Antipodes: (lit. ‘opposite feet’); those who walk on the opposite side of the globe.
Have° they returned? {Are}
—Lorenzo Madam, they are not yet.
But there has come a messenger, before,
To tell of their arrival.° {to signify their coming}
—Portia Go, Nerissa,
Give order to my servants to say nothing,
To take no note° of our being absent hence,° 48 / To speak no word // our recent absence
Nor you Lorenzo—Jessica, nor you.
A tucket sounds 49
Your husband is at hand, I hear his trumpet.
Fear not, madam, we will not say a thing.°50 / our hearts and mouths are sealed
The cloud passes and the moon shines again
This night methinks is but the daylight sick.° / a sickly day
It looks a little paler, like a day
Wherein the sun is hidden° by a cloud. 51 52 / darkened
Enter Bassanio, Antonio, Gratziano, and their followers
—Bassanio [overhearing Portia]
Our night would share the day with all who tread° / walk / stand / live
Upon the other side of the planet 53
/ We should hold day with those who live in China | If you ‘d walk ‘round in absence of the sun.
54. {If you would walk in absence of the sun} / If you would walk when sunlight was not shining
walk: A metaphor for the sun’s apparent journey, or walk, through the sky, which brings about night and day.
Herein Portia is likened to the brightness of the sun and her walking to the sun’s movement. Thus, she brings
illumination, or daylight, even when the sun is absent (i.e. during the night). Notice the complete opposite sentiment
in Portia’s first comments about Bassanio—as daylight sick—and Bassanio comments about Portia, as the lightgiving
sun. ‘If you would always walk in the night, it would be day with us, as it now is on the other side of the
globe.’ (Malone)
55. / We should hold day with those who live upon | The other side of the planet, if you | Would walk around in
placement of the sun // Our day would be the same with those who live | Upon the globe’s other side, should you
walk | Around in placement of the brilliant sun. // Our night would share the day with all who tread | Upon the other
side of the globe, should | You walk around like the luminous sun
56. be light: be unchaste; be unfaithful in the keeping of one’s vows. Light in this context is in contrast to heavy.
In terms of weight, light implies free, whereas heavy implies a physical weight, or a heavy chain, which keeps a
women in place. Light (meaning a happy and carefree disposition) is in contrast to heavy (meaning sad and
depressed). Here, be light refers to Portia being unfaithful which would cause Bassanio to be heavy (sad). The
implication is that Bassanio should not do anything to make Portia light, unchaste.
57. / For when a wife is light in keeping vows | She makes herself a heavy-hearted husband.
58. {For a light wife doth make a heavy husband} This terse line—which contains both opposing words—is more
poetic than the two-line rendering above, yet may not sufficiently convey the intended contract between light and
heavy, which in normal instance refers to opposite measures of weight but herein refers to human states—a light wife
(unfaithful) and a heavy (husband) one’s whose is burdened or weighed down with grief.
59. {But God sort all}
God works everything out according to His plan; God will work it all out, put everything in order, make things
right. Portia is adding this ex post facto caveat—an escape clause—which commands the power to contradict her
previous statement about her never making Bassanio a heavy husband—a husband who is sad over her being
unfaithful to him. She is saying:, ‘I will never be unfaithful but . . .’ Herein she is setting the stage for the next
confrontation, where she claims to have slept with the doctor in order to get back the ring which Bassanio gave away.
60. This is an impersonal and distant welcome. We notice that Portia never truly welcomes Bassanio, nor does she
even address him, except when she is ‘exclaiming on him’ for having given away her ring. Her last words spoken to
Bassanio are: I had it of him. Pardon me, Bassanio, | For this ring the doctor lay with me. [258-259]. Even when
there is a perfect cue for her to speak—and respond to Bassanio’s question [280] to confirm her loyalty (just as
Nerrisa responds to Gratziano)—she says nothing.
61. {You should, in all sense, be much bound to him} / You should, in every sense, be bound to him
in all sense: in every sense, in every way, in all respects, with good reason
Should you° walk ‘round in lieu o’th shining sun.° 54 55 / If you’d
Let me give light but let me not be light:56
For when a wife is light° in keeping vows / Because a wife who’s light . . . Doth
It makest for° a heavy-hearted husband—° 57 58 / brings about / a husband’s heavy-heart
And never shall Bassanio be for me.° / my lord be so for me
But God wills° all!°59 You are welcome home, my lord. 60 {sort} > orders, ordains
I thank you, madam. Give welcome to my friend.
This is the man, this is Antonio,
To whom I am so infinitely bound.
Gratziano and Nerissa converse on their own
You should, in all sense,° be much bound to him 61 / good sense / reason
62. In Bassanio’s previous line, bound is used to mean indebted. Bound, as used here can mean: a) bound in debt,
b) bound in word or pledge, c) physically bound or imprisoned, or d) bound in friendship.
63. {No more than I am well acquitted of} / And from such bounds I have been fully freed
64. {Sir, you are very welcome to our house.}
65. {Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy} / Thus, I need not waste breath on courtesies
/ Thus I’ll skip over° this long-winded welcome
/ Thus I’ll make short of / Therefore I’ll spare you / Therefore I’ll shorten
66. Gratziano swears by yonder moon, which is fickle and inconsistent, and which, at this point in the play, has been
obscured by clouds.
67. / Since you, my love, take it so much to heart
68. {Would he were gelt that had it, for my part | Since you do take it love, so much to heart}
gelt: gelded or castrated; also a play on gelt, money.
/ Would he who has the ring have his endowment | Cut off, for all I care—since you, my love, | Are so upset over this
little thing. // Would he who has the ring have but his manly | Portions lopped off, for all I care, since you, | My love,
are taking this so much to heart. // Would he who has the ring be castrated | +For all I care—and that is what I say,,|
Since you do take it, love, so much to heart.
69. / That she gave me, whose trite inscription was,
70. {For all the world like cutler’s poetry | Upon a knife, ‘Love me, and leave me not.’}
/ By all account, like a butcher’s attempt | At poetry, with dull words that be scribbled | Upon a
knife—‘Love me and leave me not.’
/ By all accounts, like a knife-maker’s poem— | Some posy scribbled upon a cheap knife | With the fine
words: ‘Love me, and leave me not.’
/ Naught but a cutler’s try at poetry, | With fetching° words, as: ‘Love me, don’t leave me.’ / sapless / tired
It was common for a trite motto to be inscribed on knife blades, and such a motto, or posy, was put on the
blade by the cutler or knife-maker (not a poet). Gratziano is here trying to lessen the value of Nerissa’s ring by
saying its inscription was trite and written with the same skill as that of an knife-maker—like the kind of cliché
For, as I hear, he was much bound for you. 62
The bounds of which I’m well-acquitted of. 63
We are most honored, sir, to have you here. 64
Yet it must show° in other ways than words; {It must appear}
Thus I’ll make short of° this long-winded welcome.° {Therefore 65 I’ll scant} {breathing courtesy}
—Gratziano [to Nerissa]
By yonder moon I swear you do me wrong. 66
In faith,° I gave it to the judge’s clerk— / In truth
And I would have his manly parts cut off
Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.67 68
A quarrel, ho, already! What about?° {What’s the matter?}
About a hoop° of gold, a paltry° ring / band // petty
That she did give me, whose lett’ring was,° 69 {posey} / motto
For all to see,° like cutler’s poetry, {for all the world} / by all accounts
+The kind of words that one would find scribbled ,
Upon a knife: ‘Love me and leave me not.’ 70
inscriptions he would on his knife. The irony is that Gratziano’s words, which are often crude and unpoetic, is now
placing some kind of value on poetry.
71. Q1: No, God’s my judge F: But well I know
72. {Gave it a judge’s clerk! No, God’s my judge, | The clerk will ne’er wear hair on’s face that had it}
73. {You were to blame, I must be plain with you}
74. {That the world masters. Now in faith, Gratziano}
75. / Your callous act does bring your wife much grief / Your blund’ring act is cause for all her grief.
76. {And ‘twere to me I should be mad at it}
‘twere to me: if it were up to me (to react in the same situation); if this were done to me
Why talk you of the wording° or the value?— {poesy} / motto
You swore to me when I gave it to you° / I presented it
That you would wear it till the° hour of death, / thy
And that it should° lie with you in your grave. / would
Though not for me,° yet for your vehement oaths, > on my account
You should have been more careful° and have keep it. {been respective} / had more reverence
You gave it to a judge’s clerk? A man?
But well I know71—that ‘clerk’ is yet a woman / No, God’s my judge
And she will ne’er grow hair upon her face.72
He will, an if he live to be a man.
Ay, if a woman live to be a man.
Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,
A kind of boy, a little scrubbèd boy,° / scrub-brushed little boy
No higher° than thyself, the judge’s clerk, / taller
A prating boy, who begged it as a fee.
I could not, for my heart, deny it him. / hold him from it / stay his request
— Portia
I must be plain° with you: you are to blame, 73 / frank
To part so slightly° with your wife’s first gift— / eas’ly / lightly
A thing placed° on with oaths upon your finger, {stuck}
And so riveted, 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 all the world could muster. Gratziano,° 74 / could give. Now Gratziano
You give your wife too unkind a cause for grief. 75
An ‘twere to me,° I would be fuming mad. 76 / If it were me
/ Had you done this to me, I’d be fuming / And were it me, I would be fuming mad. / If this were done to
me I’d be incensed (/indignant / outraged) / If you did this to me, I’d be incensed
77./ Yet your man, too, did give away his ring
78. / Who was deserving of it; then his clerk,
79. / And man nor master would take nothing else
80. / And ever gone is the truth from your heart / And e’er so void of all truth is your false heart / And so your
heart, too, is bereft of truth
81. / By heaven, I swear, I’ll ne’er lay° with you / bed / sleep
82. /And gone from your false heart, is all semblance
Of truth! I swear, I’ll ne’er come to your bed
Until I see the ring!
83. Most modern editions set the previous two lines in the standard iambic pentameter, which suggests no significant
pause in the dialogue. Q1 sets the verse as four half lines (6-4-6-4 syllables) whereas F1 sets it with two half lines
and one full line. (6-10-4 syllables). Q1 could be read with our without a pause in the dialogue, whereas the F1
setting demands two pauses:
Q1 Until I see the ring! F1 Until I see the Ring.
Ner. Nor I in yours Ner. Nor I in yours, til I again see mine.
Till I again see mine! Bas. Sweet Portia,
Bass. Sweet Portia If you did know . . .
If you did know . . .
—Bassanio [aside]
Why, I were best to sunder° my left hand,° / cut off {cut my left hand off}
And swear I lost the ring defending it.
My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away 77
Unto the judge who begged it, and indeed
Deserved it too; and then the boy, his clerk 78
Who° took some pains in writing, he begged mine— {That}
And neither man nor master would take aught°79
But the two rings.
—Portia What ring gave you, my lord?
Not that, I hope, which you received from me.
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.
Even so void is your false heart of truth 80
By heaven, I will ne’er come to° your bed 81 {in}
Until I see the ring! 82
—Nerissa Nor I in yours
Till I again see mine.
—Bassanio Sweet Portia,83
84. / When nothing would be had except the ring
85. {What man is there so unreasonable—
If you had pleased to have defended it if you had any desire to defend it (hold onto it)
With any terms of zeal—wanted the modesty lacked the modesty
To urge the thing° held as a ceremony?} insist on having something
> with but ceremonial value
86. What man is there so lacking in reason°— / bereft of all reason
Had you been pleased in so defending it° / If you had only desired (/wished) to defend it
With any kind of zeal—would so insist
On the thing with such sentimental value?
[See Additional Notes, 5.1.206]
87. /I keep on hearing praise of this good judge
88.{Nerissa teaches me what to believe:} / Nerissa, teaches me the right lesson:
89. {I’ll die for’t, but some woman had the ring!}
90. In a production where Shylock willingly puts down the knife (and it is made clear to the audience that he never
intended to kill Antonio) one might say that the civil doctor did not actually save Antonio’s life—but this is not what
Bassanio believes: he believes that the doctor’s intervention, and his long words used to try and dissuade Shylock, is
what convinced Shylock to forgive Antonio in the end. Thus, by this account, the doctor did save his friend’s life.
If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
And would realize° for what I gave the ring, {conceive} // And think upon
And how unwillingly I left the ring,
When naught would be accepted but the ring, 84
You would abate° the strength of your displeasure. / appease // brunt
If you had known the virtue° of the ring, / value
Or half her worthiness who gave the ring,
Or your own honor to keep safe° the ring, {contain}
You would not then have parted with the ring—
And it appears, you were not even pleased° / willing / bent / ‘clined / prompted
To defend it with any kind° of zeal. {terms} / show
What man is there so lacking in all reason,° {so much unreasonable}
So wont of modesty, as to demand° / so as to urge
A thing made sacred by a ceremony? 85 86
+I hear the praises° of this worthy judge 87 / much praise
But now methinks° there is no judge at all!, / But seems the case
Nerissa, teaches me the right idea°: 88 {what to believe}
I’ll bet my life, some woman has° the ring. 89 {had} > was given
No, by mine honor, madam, by my soul,
No woman has° it, but a civil lawyer° {had} > was given {doctor}
Who did refuse three thousand ducats from me,
And begged the ring, the which I did deny him,
And suffered him to go away displeased—
Even he who had saved° the very life {held up} / upheld
Of my dear friend.90 What should I say, sweet lady?
I was enforced to send it after him.
91. / I was o’ertaken by shame, feeling that
92. {I was beset with shame and courtesy}
/ I was o’ertaken by a deepened shame / I was beset with guilt and obligation / I was beset with disgrace and
decorum / I was beset with feelings of disgrace | +And a deep sense that I should give the ring,
shame: a sense of dishonor, disgrace
courtesy: a sense of moral obligation, feeling that giving the ring was the right thing to do.
93. / And I could not let such ingratitude | Besmear my honor. Pardon me, good lady,
94. Giving away Portia’s ring, at the request of Antonio, shows Bassanio’s loyalty to Antonio above Portia.
Moreover, it reveals Bassanio’s weakness of character, and his inability to keep his own word nor honor his own
vows (which is consistent with his irresponsible and care-free character) He says he broke the vow to Portia to
uphold his honor and show his gratitude (and because he was enforced)—thus showing that he holds these selfconcerned
promptings greater than Portia and the vow he made to her. How is Portia to feel about such an act?
What does it tell her about her new lord and master?
95. {For by these blessed candles of the night} / For by these stars, whose light doth bless the heavens
This oath—to the stars of the night sky—carries with it the same irony as Gratziano’s swearing by yonder
moon: both the light of the moon, and the stars (on this night) are inconsistent, being regularly covered up by the
clouds. The stars, as well, are soon to fade as morning is swift approaching.
96. / That I give the ring to the worthy doctor.
97. he: Portia now accepts Bassanio’s statement that he gave the ring to a man, but here she shifts her game, saying
that she, too, will give herself to this man.
98. know him: have sexual relations with him. Compare Portia’s parting words to Bassanio in the previous scene
[4.1.415]: ‘I pray you, know me when we meet again.’
99. Argus: Argus Panoptes, the all-seeing, hundred-eyed giant who was set to guard Io, daughter of the river god,
Inachus. (Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.622-77). Also compare the India myth of Malini, whose beauty was so great that
Lord Shiva sprouted eyes on every side of his head so he could look at her even when she walked around him.
100. Lie not a night away from home. Like Argus, | +With all his hundred eyes, you watch o’er me.,
101. by mine honor, which is yet mine own:
a) by my chastity (virginity) which is still intact, still unbroken, still mine own (having not been taken by
anyone as of yet). b) by my vows, which have not been broken. This is in contrast to Bassanio’s honor which is not
his own, as he has given it away when he broke his vow to keep the ring.
Portia’s reference to honour, is a continuation of Bassanio’s previous claim: No, by my honour, madam, by
my soul, | No woman had it, but a civil doctor. [209])
I was beset° by shame, and felt moreover91 / besieged
To give the ring was the right thing to do. 92
My honour would not let ingratitude
So much besmear it. 93 Pardon me, good lady, 94
For by these blesséd candles of the night° 95 / stars that stud the night
Had you been there I think you would have begged
The ring of° me to give the worthy doctor.96 / from
Let not that doctor e’er come near my house.
Since he 97 hath got the jewel that I do love,° {that I loved}
And that° which you did swear to keep for me. / The one
I will become as generous° as you.° {liberal} / giving, as were you
I’ll not deny him anything I have—° / hold back anything he desires
No, not my body, nor my husband’s° bed. / marital
‘Know’98 him I shall, I am well° sure of it.° / quite // I shall in every way
Lie not a night from° home. Watch me like Argus, 99 > away from
+Who guarded Io with a hundred eyes., 100
If you do not, if I be left alone,
Now, by mine honour, which is still° mine own,° 101 {yet} // intact / unbroken
102. / I’ll share a bed with that worthy doctor.
103. / Sir, grieve not—you are not the cause of this.
104. {Sir, grieve not you, you are welcome notwithstanding}
/ Sir, grieve not you°—you’re welcome nonetheless. / Grieve not dear sir
105. / And with these many friend as faithful° witness,
106. {Mark you but that!}
107. {In both my eyes he doubly sees himself}
/ In mine two eyes he sees himself as double / He sees himself but doubly (/as two-faced), one in each eye
108. / Each eye reflects but one of two positions / Each eye reflects his double-facedness
109. / In one eye, swears he, by his first of self; | In the second eye, swears he, by the second— // In each one eye a
self he swears upon | He breaks the first and now he makes a second—
110. {In each eye one. Swear by your double self}
swear: and now you swear (upon the reliability of your two-faced self)
111. {And there’s an oath of credit}
This line is spoken with sarcasm. Portia is saying that Bassanio oath is not something she can rely on.
of credit: a) that which can be believed; something credible, something of value, something which has backing,
something that can be relied upon—said with sarcasm to imply the opposite. b) something which lacks value, which
is not there, such as credit on a loan. Thus: ‘Now there’s an oath of credit, not an oath that has actual value’—and
oath that appears credible but which has no real backing. This may also refer to Bassanio’s previous show (when he
came to Belmont) as a rich man—which was due to his having borrowing money on credit rather than having the
actual wealth he was outwardly showing. (Such previous actions suggests the two-faced nature of Bassanio, where he
presented himself with one face yet had another.)
I’ll have the doctor° for my bedfellow. 102 / lawyer
And I his clerk. Therefore, be well-adviséd / So take this as fair warning
If° you do leave me to mine own protection. {How}
Do as you will.° Let not me catch him, then, {Well, do you so}
For if I do, I’ll break° the young clerk’s pen. {mar} / ruin
I am th’unhappy subject° of these quarrels. / the bitter // cause of this contention
Sir, grieve not—none of this is caused by° you.103 104 / brought by / over
Portia, forgive me this enforcèd wrong;
And in the witness° of these many friends 105 {hearing}
I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
Wherein I see myself—
—Portia Hear you but that?°106 / Take heed of that! / Amen to that!
In both my° eyes he doubly sees himself !°107 / In mine two
In each eye one version of self is seen 108 / Each eye reflects but one of two pretenses
And then he swears upon his double self— 109 110 / And so his swearing be but two-faced
Now° there’s an oath to count on!° 111 {And} // bank on
112. Portia does not hear Bassanio. Later, she does not even answer his direct questions [280]. This ‘not hearing’ is
a clear sign of having power over that person, who you are not required to hear, listen to, nor even respond to.
Shylock expressed this same kind of power (which he had over Antonio) by not hearing him, by not responding to
him. Antonio says, Hear me yet, good Shylock [3.3.3] and I pray thee, hear me speak [3.3.11], yet Shylock’s only
reply is: I will not hear thee speak [3.3.12], I’ll have no speaking. [3.3.17]. Portia, of course, cannot say ‘I will not
hear you speak’—all she can do to express her power is not respond.
113. { . . . that your lord | Will never more break faith advisedly}
/ That he will ne’er wittingly break his vow / That, with intention, he will ne’er break his vow / That
wittingly he will ne’er break his vow / That he will never wittingly break faith
114. / And were it not for he who has the ring,
My life withal, would have be lost. And now
I dare be bound again, my soul upon
The forfeit, that your good husband, Bassanio,
Will never wittingly break faith with you.
/ Will ne’er wittingly break the vow he’s made
115. Here Portia is testing Bassanio—and ‘playing him like a fiddle.’ As with Shylock, she plays from the position
of advantage, of being ‘one up,’ i.e., knowing the outcome before she even begins. Here (as in the trial scene) she
escalates the confrontation: First she accuses Bassanio of giving the ring to a woman; then she accepts that he gave
the ring to a man (the doctor); then she says that she will be as liberal (and giving of herself) to the doctor as was
Bassanio (for no other reason other than that he hath got the jewel that I loved); and finally (in the next passage) she
says that she already gave herself to the doctor—a tormenting lie that must have made Bassanio’s heart sink. The
significant outcome of her orchestration is in securing Antonio as surety for Bassanio’s vow to her. (Remember that
he broke his vow to her in favor of Antonio’s request). Now, with Antonio as his bondsman, Bassanio cannot break
his vow to Portia over anything involving Antonio. Further, this could be seen as a kind of second wedding, where
Antonio is symbolically giving away Bassanio, as a father might give away a dear son to his new bride. [See
Additional Notes, 5.1.255]
—Bassanio Nay, but hear me.° 112
Pardon this fault and, by my soul I swear,
I never more will break an oath with thee.
I once did lend° my body for his welfare° / loan {thy wealth}
Which, but for him who won° your husband’s ring, {that had} / has / got > received
My life withal, would have be lost.° I dare / I would have paid for with my life
Be bound again, my soul upon the forfeit,
That he will never knowingly° breath faith. 113 114 / wittingly
Then you shall be his bondsman.° {surety}
She takes the ring from her finger
Give him this,
And bid him keep it better than the other.° 115 / first
—Antonio [giving the ring to Bassanio]
Here, Lord Bassanio—swear to keep this ring.
By heaven it is° the same I gave the doctor! / ‘tis
116. {I had it of him. Pardon Bassanio}
Portia is echoing Bassanio and using his words against him. In 247-48 Bassanio asks for Portia’s pardon in
regards to his giving away the ring, saying: Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear | I never more will break an
oath with thee. Here she uses the same plea and asks him to pardon her for laying with the doctor (in order to get
back the ring that he gave away). It seems that Portia assigns a similar value to Bassanio’s vow (to keep the ring) as
she does to her own vow of chastity.
117. / But for this ring, I made love with the doctor
Portia telling Bassanio that she ‘lay’ with the doctor is a somewhat brutal claim—and perhaps, in her mind,
deservedly so. (This is mitigated by the fact that she only lets him squirm for a few seconds.) However, the affront
of this line could be assuaged by bringing in less certain image (which would then be dispelled before it was
realized). Hence, Porta could say: ‘Yes, that same doctor was with me last night,’ or ‘Yes, that same doctor visited
me last night.’ Nerissa’s echo reply (instead of, ‘In lieu of this last night did lie with me’) could be: ‘Was here last
night and visited with me.’
118. {Why this is like the mending of highways | In summer where the ways are fair enough}
/ In summer, when the roads need no such fixing
The insinuation with this metaphor—comparing Nerissa to a road—is that the road is being (or has been) dug up
and is therefore ruined in the sense that it cannot be traveled upon. Nerissa has been ruined by her sleeping with the
clerk and now Gratziano cannot travel upon that road (because it is unfit for use).
119./ And thus, the highway is not fit for use / Which makes the highway ruined for good use / And it but the
highway for use / And, in the meantime, are ruined for use / And they’re then ruined for fair travel and use
120. The following two lines, which could be added, help clarify Gratziano’s previous metaphor:
+Why the best fruit has been given away | Before we even had the chance to eat it!,
121. {What, we are cuckolds ere we have deserved it?} / We are betrayed before our wedding night! / Why we got
shafted ‘fore our wedding night!
// The fruit’s gone rancid ere it could be eaten / The fruit’s gone rancid before we could eat it! / The fruit’s been
plucked and no longer worth eating.
122. {Speak not so grossly. You are all amazed}
123. These two lines replace the following lines found in the original [268-69]:
{Here is a letter. Read it at your leisure. | It comes from Padua, from Bellario.} The line, ‘And here is a
letter which explains it all’ is emended to Portia’s speech a few lines later. This would then indicate that Portia
wrote the letter, not Bellario.
There seems to be no reason as to why (or when, or for whom, or for what purpose) Bellario would write
such a letter—and no reason as to why Portia would need to produce it. Portia’s simple telling of the story, and how
she was the doctor, would clear up all doubt, and she needn’t produce—nor go to the trouble of producing—any
supportive documentation. [See Additional Notes, 5.1.267]
I had it of him.° Pardon me, Bassanio,116 / I got it from him
But for this ring, the doctor lay with me.° 117 / I lay with the young doctor.
And pardon me, my gentle Gratziano,
For that same scrubbèd boy, the doctor’s clerk,
In lieu of° this [showing the ring] last night did lie with me. / In ‘change for / In hock for
Why this is like the mending of highways
In summer, when no such repair is needed —118
+Which makes the road all rough and ruined° for use., 119 120 / spoiled
You have cheated us,° ere we have deserved it!121 {What, we are cuckolds}
Speak not so grossly° —there is much confusion: 122 / crudely
+We were with you in Venice the whole time;
There never was a doctor nor his clerk., 123
Thus you shall find that I was the doctor,
124. As mentioned in the previous note, the production of any explanatory letter, by Portia, is not needed. To
preserve the triplicate delivery of letters, however, this delivery could be included. If one prefers a more likely
scenario—where Portia simply explains everything in person, rather than deliver a letter—then this line could be
replaced with the following: +And soon I will explain | The whole thing to you,.
125. {. . . Unseal this letter soon. | There you shall find three of your argosies | Are richly come to harbor suddenly.}
126. Portia coming upon the news of Antonio’s argosies coming to port before Antonio stands out as an anomaly.
She must have come upon this news while on the road from Venice to Belmont. [See Additional Notes, 5.1.277]
127. {You shall not know by what strange accident} / You shall not know by what coincidence
you shall not know: you would not believe, you’d never guess
strange accident: coincidence, unlikely circumstance
128. Replace last three lines with two:
/ Have richly come to port. You shall not know° / you’d never guess
How strange it was I chanced upon this letter.
129. Portia never answers this question. When Gratziano asks the same question of Nerissa, she immediately
reassures him with a positive response.
130. In 280, Bassanio asks Portia a direct question; in 281, Gratziano asks Nerissa a direct question; in 282-283,
Nerrisa responds to Gratziano’s question; here Portia could answer, to complete the symmetry, but does not. It is
Bassanio who offers his own reassuring reply. In all, Portia does not give one reassuring word to Bassanio upon his
arrival in Belmont.
Nerissa there my clerk. Lorenzo here
Shall witness, I set forth as soon as you,
And have just° now returned. I have not yet / even
Entered my house. +And here is a letter [takes out a letter]
Explaining it all.,124 Antonio, for you
I have much better news than you expect: [takes out a letter]
Unseal this letter soon, there you shall find
That suddenly, three of your argosies
Have come to port, their° hulls amassed with° riches. 125 126 / with / replete / abound with
You’d not° believe the circumstance by which 127 / You won’t
I chanced upon this letter° 128 {I chancèd on}
—Antonio [reading the letter] I am speechless!° {dumb}
—Bassanio [to Portia]
Were you the doctor, and I knew you not? 129
—Gratziano [to Nerissa]
Were you the clerk who came and cheated on me?° {that is to make me cuckold}
Ay, but the clerk who never means to do it / who’d ne’er do such a thing
Unless, through life, he turns into a man.° {Unless he live until he be a man}
—Bassanio 130
Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow.
When I am absent, then lie with my wife.
Sweet lady, you have given me life and living,
131. {Are safely come to road}
come to road: found a safe harbor, come to dry land
132. One might expect that an address made in front of Jessica would be: ‘from Jessica’s father’ or ‘from old
Shylock’ rather than ‘from the rich Jew.’ (Shylock has converted to Christianity but is still considered—as is
Jessica—a Jew.)
133. {After his death, of all he dies possessed of}
/Who grants you all his possessions ‘pon death
/ Whom, upon death, bequeaths° you all he owns. / doth leaves
134. manna: heavenly food which was dropped upon the Israelites in the desert and which sustained them. The
notion of a sudden and unexpected ‘gift from heaven’ is implied in the term.
“And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing,
as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna:
for they knew not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.”
(KJV, Exodus 16:14-15)
135. / You drop a heav’nly manna in the way / You drop gifts from heaven in the way of | Starvèd people / You drop
heavenly manna to people | Starving below.
136. The reference to manna is not exact, since the deed of gift gives Lorenzo and Jessica nothing to sustain them.
It is a deed of gift when Shylock dies, which could be 20+ years in the future. So, Lorenzo and Jessica receive but a
promise for something which does not relieve their present now. (They are starved because they have wasted all the
money that they stole from Shylock. Even now, there is no mention, nor one word of protest spoken from a
Christian, regarding the wasteful and morally bankrupt actions of Jessica and Lorenzo.)
137. It is almost morning The fairy tale is about to end. No sunset—none but a gloomy sunrise. Here also the
roles of prince and princess are reversed: the prince is now shown to be anything but a prince; and the princes,
showing her strong, independent spirit, and superiority over her lord, is hardly a princess in need of rescue. The
couples do not ride off into the sunset, to a future of everlasting peace and bliss; they enter into the morning, with the
pairs somewhat distant and estranged.
138. {With these events at full}
139. / So you can probe us with all your questions / And charge us there with your cross-examining
For here I read for certain that my ships
Have safely come to port.131
—Portia And° now, Lorenzo!° {How} {?}
My clerk hath some good comforts, too, for you.
Ay, and I’ll give them him without a fee. [she hands him the will]
Here° do I give to you and Jessica {There}
A special deed of gift, from the good° Jew,132 {rich}
Who wills you all he owns upon his death. 133
Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way 134
Of starving people. 135 136
—Portia [looking at the sky] It is almost morning, 137
And yet I am sure you are not satisfied
With an account so brief.° 138 Let us go in / scarce
And charge° us there with cross-examination,° 139 / probe {upon inter’gatories}
And we will answer all things faithfully.° / truthfully
Let it be so. The first line of questioning° {the first inter’gatories}
140. {Whether till the next night she had rather stay
{Or go to bed now, being two hours to day
141. {But were the day come, I should wish it night
{Till I were couching with the doctor’s clerk
142. This bawdy punning is commonly found at the end of a romantic comedies. Herein the term ring is usually
taken as a reference to ‘vulva’ and Gratziano’s ‘sore keeping’ of it—well we need not comment on that!
That my Nerissa shall be sworn on is:
Would you prefer on the next night to lay
Or go to bed now, with two hours till day?140
But were the day come, I should wish it night
Till I were laying° in my clerk’s delight.141 {couching} / rolling
And while I live, I’ll fear no other thing—
So sore as keeping safe° Nerissa’s ring. 142 / But the sore keeping of
Exeunt. Couples first, then Antonio
_________________________________________________________ [Optional Added Scene]
ACT SIX - Scene One
Venice, in front of Shylock’s House.
Enter Shylock and Tubal, then Messenger from opposite direction
We still have time to make another trade.
Yes, one more trade. [to Messenger] How now, what be the news?
I bring a letter from your only daughter.
—Messenger Yes, from Jessica your daughter.
She is my daughter but am I her father?
That is the name she called you by. She said:
‘Would you please give this letter to my father?’
Her father? That is what she said? What else?
I think you’ll find the answer in her letter.
Messenger hands Shylock the letter and exits
A ship come home to port. What does she say?
He tries to open the letter but his hands are too shaky. He hands it to Tubal, who opens the
letter and glances over it.
—Tubal [glancing at letter]
She’s here in Venice and she wants to see you.
‘Tis but good news my friend, ‘tis all good news.
Surely, methinks, before ol’ Shylock dies,
143. In a prior draft, Jessica’s letter was read aloud by Tubal. The contemplated letter read as follows: ‘Dear father,
I hope it is in your heart to forgive me. I know my brash and uncaring actions have brought you countless tears and
grief. You are the one who has given me life—how can I now ask for more? But ask I do. I ask that you forgive
me—and forgive me you must. Accept me, you must. Love me as I am, you must. This is the vow a father makes to
his daughter the first time he looks into her eyes. And this is a vow you have made, and have kept, and which I now
ask you to keep again. When I am in Venice again, I hope to see you. I hope that you will accept me; that you have
it in your heart to greet me as my father; as I hope, once again, to greet you as your daughter. The night is now upon
me, the stars begin to shine, and I must go. Love Jessica.’
He’ll find a smile in his daughter’s eyes. 143
Tubal lifts up Shylock’s turquoise ring and returns it to him with the letter
—Shylock [holding the ring, glancing off]
When comes the end, our treasures are but dust
Fortunes do give but they take as they must;
My life, my deeds, and my ducats suffice,° / are lost
I’ve gained some comfort, at too high a price.° / cost
And now my friend, I must bid you good-bye,
‘Tis not a sight° to see ‘ol Shylock° cry. / a scene / so good // an old man
Tubal exits; Shylock exits to his house

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Himanshu Shrivastava
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Santosh Shrivastava
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