The Merchant of Venice

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Flourish of cornets. Enter Portia with Morocco and

both their trains


Go, draw aside the curtains and discover
discover (v.) 1 reveal, show, make known See Topics: Frequency count

The several caskets to this noble Prince.
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count

Now make your choice.


The first, of gold, who this inscription bears,

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;

This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt,
dull (adj.) 1 dead, lifeless, sluggish, inactive

Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.
hazard (v.) 2 expose to risk, take one's chance [of]

How shall I know if I do choose the right?


The one of them contains my picture, Prince.

If you choose that, then I am yours withal.


Some god direct my judgement! Let me see:

I will survey th' inscriptions back again.

What says this leaden casket?

Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.

Must give, for what? For lead! Hazard for lead?

This casket threatens; men that hazard all

Do it in hope of fair advantages.
advantage (n.) 3 benefit, gain, advancement, profit

A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross;
show (n.) 1 appearance, exhibition, display

I'll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead.
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count

What says the silver with her virgin hue?

Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.

As much as he deserves? Pause there, Morocco,

And weigh thy value with an even hand.

If thou be'st rated by thy estimation,
estimation (n.) 1 esteem, respect, reputation
rate (v.) 2 reckon, estimate, appraise

Thou dost deserve enough and yet enough

May not extend so far as to the lady,

And yet to be afeard of my deserving
afeard (adj.) afraid, frightened, scared See Topics: Frequency count

Were but a weak disabling of myself.
disabling (n.) disparagement, detraction, belittling

As much as I deserve? Why that's the lady!

I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes,

In graces, and in qualities of breeding;

But more than these, in love I do deserve.

What if I strayed no farther, but chose here?

Let's see once more this saying graved in gold:
graved (adj.) 1 graven, 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.

The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
vasty (adj.) vast, immense, spacious
wild (n.) wilderness, waste land

Of wide Arabia are as throughfares now
throughfare (n.) thoroughfare

For princes to come view fair Portia.

The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head
head (n.) 7 surface, surge, swell

Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar
bar (n.) 1 obstruction, barrier, obstacle

To stop the foreign spirits, but they come

As o'er a brook to see fair Portia.

One of these three contains her heavenly picture.

Is't like that lead contains her? 'Twere damnation
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count

To think so base a thought; it were too gross
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy See Topics: Frequency count
gross (adj.) 6 bad, inferior, poor

To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave.
cerecloth (n.) waxed winding-sheet, shroud
rib (v.) enclose [as if with ribs]

Or shall I think in silver she's immured,
immured (adj.) walled up, enclosed, confined

Being ten times undervalued to tried gold?

O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem

Was set in worse than gold. They have in England

A coin that bears the figure of an angel

Stamped in gold – but that's insculped upon;
insculp (v.) carve, engrave

But here an angel in a golden bed

Lies all within. Deliver me the key.
deliver (v.) 4 hand over, convey, commit to the keeping [of someone]

Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may!


There, take it, Prince, and if my form lie there,
form (n.) 1 image, likeness, shape

Then I am yours.

He opens the golden casket


                         O hell! What have we here?

A carrion Death, within whose empty eye
carrion (adj.) 1 loathsome, vile, disgusting, corrupting
carrion (adj.) 3 lean as carrion, skeleton-like; or: putrefying
death (n.) skull, memento mori

There is a written scroll. I'll read the writing.

All that glitters is not gold;

Often have you heard that told.

Many a man his life hath sold

But my outside to behold.

Gilded tombs do worms infold.
infold (v.) enfold, wrap up, conceal

Had you been as wise as bold,

Young in limbs, in judgement old,

Your answer had not been inscrolled.
inscroll (v.) enter on a scroll, inscribe

Fare you well, your suit is cold.
cold (adj.) 5 ineffective, unattended to, coldly received
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship

Cold indeed, and labour lost.

Then farewell heat, and welcome frost.

Portia, adieu, I have too grieved a heart

To take a tedious leave. Thus losers part.
part (v.) 1 depart [from], leave, quit

Exit with his train. Flourish of cornets


A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go.
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

Let all of his complexion choose me so.
complexion (n.) 1 appearance, look, colouring


  Previous scene     Next scene