The Merchant of Venice

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Bassanio, Portia, Gratiano, Nerissa, and all

their trains


I pray you tarry, pause a day or two
tarry (v.) 1 stay, remain, linger

Before you hazard, for in choosing wrong
hazard (v.) 2 expose to risk, take one's chance [of]

I lose your company. Therefore forbear awhile.
forbear (v.) 3 control oneself, have patience [for]

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.
quality (n.) 1 nature, disposition, character

But lest you should not understand me well –

And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought –

I would detain you here some month or two

Before you venture for me. I could teach you

How to choose right, but then I am forsworn.
forswear (v), past forms forsworn, forswore 1 swear falsely, perjure [oneself], break one's word See Topics: Frequency count

So will I never be. So may you miss me.

But if you do, you'll make me wish a sin,

That I had been forsworn. Beshrew your eyes!
beshrew, 'shrew (v.) 1 curse, devil take, evil befall See Topics: Frequency count

They have o'erlooked me and divided me;
overlook (v.) 4 bewitch, subject to magic

One half of me is yours, the other half yours,

Mine own I would say; but if mine then yours,

And so all yours. O these naughty times
naughty (adj.) 1 wicked, evil, vile

Put bars between the owners and their rights.
bar (n.) 3 objection, impediment

And so, though yours, not yours. Prove it so,

Let fortune go to hell for it, not I.

I speak too long, but 'tis to piece the time,
peise (v.) 1 weigh down, burden, load
piece (v.) 4 prolong, extend, drag out

To eke it and to draw it out in length,
eke, eke out (v.) add to, increase, supplement

To stay you from election.
election (n.) choice, preference
stay (v.) 10 dissuade, stop, prevent


                         Let me choose,

For as I am, I live upon the rack.
rack (n.) 4 machine of torture which stretches the limbs


Upon the rack, Bassanio? Then confess

What treason there is mingled with your love.


None but that ugly treason of mistrust

Which makes me fear th' enjoying of my love.
fear (v.) 2 fear for, worry about, be anxious about

There may as well be amity and life

'Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love.


Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack,

Where men enforced do speak anything.


Promise me life and I'll confess the truth.


Well then, confess and live.


                         Confess and love

Had been the very sum of my confession.

O happy torment, when my torturer

Doth teach me answers for deliverance.

But let me to my fortune and the caskets.


Away then, I am locked in one of them;

If you do love me, you will find me out.

Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof.
aloof (adv.) a short distance away, to one side See Topics: Stage directions

Let music sound while he doth make his choice,

Then if he lose he makes a swanlike end,

Fading in music. That the comparison

May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream

And watery deathbed for him. He may win,

And what is music then? Then music is

Even as the flourish when true subjects bow

To a new-crowned monarch. Such it is

As are those dulcet sounds in break of day

That creep into the dreaming bridegroom's ear

And summon him to marriage. Now he goes,

With no less presence but with much more love
presence (n.) 5 appearance, bearing, demeanour

Than young Alcides when he did redeem

The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy

To the sea monster. I stand for sacrifice;

The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives,

With bleared visages come forth to view
bleared (adj.) blear-eyed, tear-dimmed
visage (n.) 1 face, countenance See Topics: Frequency count

The issue of th' exploit. Go, Hercules;
issue (n.) 2 outcome, result, consequence(s) See Topics: Frequency count

Live thou, I live. With much, much more dismay

I view the fight than thou that mak'st the fray.

A song the whilst Bassanio comments on the caskets to


Tell me where is fancy bred,
fancy (n.) 1 love, amorousness, infatuation

Or in the heart, or in the head?

How begot, how nourished?
beget (v.), past form begot 2 produce, engender, give rise to

Reply, reply.

It is engendered in the eyes,

With gazing fed, and fancy dies

In the cradle where it lies.

Let us all ring fancy's knell.

I'll begin it – Ding, dong, bell.


Ding, dong, bell.


So may the outward shows be least themselves.
outward (adj.) 1 external, surface, superficial
show (n.) 1 appearance, exhibition, display

The world is still deceived with ornament.
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
tainted (adj.) 2 corrupted, dishonourable, depraved

But being seasoned with a gracious voice,
gracious (adj.) 9 delightful, lovely, charming
voice (n.) 3 authoritative opinion, judgement

Obscures the show of evil? In religion,

What damned error but some sober brow
brow (n.) 1 appearance, aspect, countenance See Topics: Frequency count
sober (adj.) 1 sedate, staid, demure, grave

Will bless it and approve it with a text,
approve (v.) 1 prove, confirm, corroborate, substantiate

Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
grossness (n.) 1 flagrant nature, obviousness, enormity

There is no vice so simple but assumes
simple (adj.) 6 basic, minimal, small

Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.

How many cowards whose hearts are all as false
false (adj.) 3 sham, spurious, not genuine, artificial

As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins

The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars,

Who inward searched, have livers white as milk,
liver (n.) 1 part of the body thought to be at the seat of the passions [especially sexual desire]

And these assume but valour's excrement
excrement (n.) outgrowth [of hair]

To render them redoubted. Look on beauty,
redoubted (adj.) feared, dreaded, revered

And you shall see 'tis purchased by the weight,

Which therein works a miracle in nature,

Making them lightest that wear most of it.

So are those crisped snaky golden locks,
crisped (adj.) stiffly curled
snaky (adj.) twisting, winding, sinuous; also: deceitful

Which make such wanton gambols with the wind
wanton (adj.) 2 casual, gentle

Upon supposed fairness, often known

To be the dowry of a second head,

The skull that bred them in the sepulchre.

Thus ornament is but the guiled shore
guiled (adj.) treacherous, deceiving, full of guile

To a most dangerous sea, the beauteous scarf

Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word,
Indian (adj.) dark-complexioned, dark-haired

The seeming truth which cunning times put on
seeming (adj.) apparent, convincing in appearance

To entrap the wisest. Therefore thou gaudy gold,

Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee;

Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
drudge (n.) slave, serf, lackey

'Tween man and man. But thou, thou meagre lead

Which rather threaten'st than dost promise aught,
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count

Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence,

And here choose I. Joy be the consequence!


fleet (v.) 1 turn, pass, change

How all the other passions fleet to air:

As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced despair,

And shudd'ring fear, and green-eyed jealousy.

O love, be moderate, allay thy ecstasy,
allay (v.) 1 subside, abate, diminish, quell

In measure rain thy joy, scant this excess,
scant (v.) 1 neglect, stint, withhold

I feel too much thy blessing, make it less

For fear I surfeit.


(opening the leaden casket)
surfeit (v.) 2 become sick through having too much

                         What find I here?

Fair Portia's counterfeit! What demigod
counterfeit (n.) 3 likeness, portrait, image

Hath come so near creation? Move these eyes?

Or whether, riding on the balls of mine,

Seem they in motion? Here are severed lips
severed (adj.) parted, opened

Parted with sugar breath; so sweet a bar
bar (n.) 1 obstruction, barrier, obstacle

Should sunder such sweet friends. Here in her hairs
sunder (v.) 1 separate, split up, part

The painter plays the spider, and hath woven

A golden mesh t' entrap the hearts of men

Faster than gnats in cobwebs. But her eyes,

How could he see to do them? Having made one,

Methinks it should have power to steal both his
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

And leave itself unfurnished. Yet look how far
unfurnished (adj.) 3 unfinished, defective

The substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow
shadow (n.) 1 image, likeness, portrait, semblance

In underprizing it, so far this shadow

Doth limp behind the substance. Here's the scroll,
substance (n.) 1 real thing, genuine article

The continent and summary of my fortune:
continent (n.) 1 embodiment, summation, digest

You that choose not by the view

Chance as fair, and choose as true.

Since this fortune falls to you,

Be content and seek no new.
content (adj.) 2 contented, patient, accepting, undisturbed

If you be well pleased with this

And hold your fortune for your bliss,

Turn you where your lady is,

And claim her with a loving kiss.

A gentle scroll. Fair lady, by your leave.
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

I come by note, to give and to receive.
note (n.) 10 bill, invoice, account

Like one of two contending in a prize,
contend (v.) 2 compete, vie, rival

That thinks he hath done well in people's eyes,

Hearing applause and universal shout,

Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt
giddy (adj.) 6 swaying, quaking, dizzying
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

Whether those pearls of praise be his or no,

So, thrice-fair lady, stand I even so,

As doubtful whether what I see be true,

Until confirmed, signed, ratified by you.


You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,

Such as I am. Though for myself alone

I would not be ambitious in my wish

To wish myself much better, yet for you

I would be trebled twenty times myself,

A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times

More rich, that only to stand high in your account,

I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends,
living (n.) possessions, means of support, livelihood

Exceed account; but the full sum of me

Is sum of something, which to term in gross,
gross (n.) overall total, whole amount

Is an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpractised,

Happy in this, she is not yet so old

But she may learn; happier than this,

She is not bred so dull but she can learn;

Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit

Commits itself to yours to be directed,
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind

As from her lord, her governor, her king.

Myself and what is mine to you and yours

Is now converted. But now I was the lord

Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,

Queen o'er myself; and even now, but now,

This house, these servants, and this same myself

Are yours, my lord's. I give them with this ring,

Which when you part from, lose, or give away,

Let it presage the ruin of your love
presage (v.) 1 signify, indicate

And be my vantage to exclaim on you.
exclaim on / upon (v.) accuse, blame, denounce [loudly]
vantage (n.) 1 right moment, suitable opportunity


Madam, you have bereft me of all words,
bereave (v.) 1 take away [from], deprive, deny, rob

Only my blood speaks to you in my veins,

And there is such confusion in my powers
confusion (n.) 3 disturbance, distraction, agitation [of the mind]
power (n.) 8 faculty, function, ability

As after some oration fairly spoke

By a beloved prince, there doth appear

Among the buzzing pleased multitude,

Where every something being blent together
blent (adj.) blended, mixed, applied [as of painting]

Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy
wild (n.) wilderness, waste land

Expressed and not expressed. But when this ring

Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence,

O then be bold to say Bassanio's dead.


My lord and lady, it is now our time,

That have stood by and seen our wishes prosper,

To cry good joy, good joy, my lord and lady!


My lord Bassanio, and my gentle lady,
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count

I wish you all the joy that you can wish,

For I am sure you can wish none from me;

And when your honours mean to solemnize

The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you

Even at that time I may be married too.


With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.


I thank your lordship, you have got me one.

My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours:

You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid.

You loved, I loved; for intermission
intermission (n.) 2 respite, pause, rest

No more pertains to me, my lord, than you.

Your fortune stood upon the caskets there,

And so did mine too, as the matter falls;

For wooing here until I sweat again,

And swearing till my very roof was dry

With oaths of love, at last, if promise last,

I got a promise of this fair one here

To have her love, provided that your fortune

Achieved her mistress.


                         Is this true, Nerissa?


Madam, it is, so you stand pleased withal.


And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?


Yes, faith, my lord.


Our feast shall be much honoured in your marriage.


We'll play with them, the first boy for a thousand



What, and stake down?


No, we shall ne'er win at that sport, and stake
sport (n.) 3 sexual recreation, intercourse, amorous dalliance


But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel!

What, and my old Venetian friend Salerio!

Enter Lorenzo, Jessica, and Salerio, a messenger from



Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hither,

If that the youth of my new interest here

Have power to bid you welcome. By your leave,

I bid my very friends and countrymen,
very (adj.) 1 [intensifying] thorough-going, absolute

Sweet Portia, welcome.


                         So do I, my lord.

They are entirely welcome.
entirely (adv.) sincerely, heartily


I thank your honour. For my part, my lord,

My purpose was not to have seen you here,
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

But meeting with Salerio by the way,

He did entreat me past all saying nay

To come with him along.


                         I did, my lord,

And I have reason for it. Signor Antonio

Commends him to you.

He gives Bassanio a letter
commend (v.) 1 convey greetings, present kind regards See Topics: Frequency count
ope (v.) open See Topics: Frequency count


                         Ere I ope his letter,

I pray you tell me how my good friend doth.


Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind,

Nor well unless in mind. His letter there

Will show you his estate.
estate (n.) 1 state, situation, circumstances

Bassanio opens the letter
stranger (n.) foreigner, alien, outsider


Nerissa, cheer yond stranger; bid her welcome.

Your hand, Salerio. What's the news from Venice?

How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio?
royal merchant merchant prince

I know he will be glad of our success;

We are the Jasons, we have won the Fleece.


I would you had won the fleece that he hath lost.


There are some shrewd contents in yond same paper
shrewd (adj.) 7 ominous, telling; or: bitter, vexatious

That steals the colour from Bassanio's cheek:

Some dear friend dead, else nothing in the world

Could turn so much the constitution
constitution (n.) 1 disposition, temperament, mood
turn (v.) 1 change, transform, alter

Of any constant man. What, worse and worse?
constant (adj.) 2 settled, resolved, decided

With leave, Bassanio, I am half yourself,

And I must freely have the half of anything

That this same paper brings you.


                         O sweet Portia,

Here are a few of the unpleasant'st words

That ever blotted paper! Gentle lady,
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind

When I did first impart my love to you,

I freely told you all the wealth I had

Ran in my veins – I was a gentleman –

And then I told you true; and yet, dear lady,

Rating myself at nothing, you shall see

How much I was a braggart. When I told you

My state was nothing, I should then have told you
state (n.) 11 estate, property, wealth, means

That I was worse than nothing; for indeed

I have engaged myself to a dear friend,

Engaged my friend to his mere enemy,
engage (v.) 1 pledge, give the guarantee of
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count

To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady;

The paper as the body of my friend,

And every word in it a gaping wound

Issuing life-blood. But is it true, Salerio?

Have all his ventures failed? What, not one hit?

From Tripolis, from Mexico and England,

From Lisbon, Barbary, and India,

And not one vessel scape the dreadful touch
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid See Topics: Frequency count

Of merchant-marring rocks?
merchant-marring (adj.) capable of damaging a merchant-ship


                         Not one, my lord.

Besides, it should appear that if he had

The present money to discharge the Jew,
discharge (v.) 8 pay, reimburse, settle with

He would not take it. Never did I know

A creature that did bear the shape of man

So keen and greedy to confound a man.
confound (v.) 1 destroy, overthrow, ruin

He plies the Duke at morning and at night,

And doth impeach the freedom of the state
impeach (v.) 2 discredit, disparage, call into question

If they deny him justice. Twenty merchants,

The Duke himself, and the magnificoes
magnifico (n.) Venetian leader

Of greatest port have all persuaded with him,
persuade (v.) 2 plead, entreat
port (n.) 3 station, position, dignity

But none can drive him from the envious plea
envious (adj.) malicious, spiteful, vindictive, full of enmity See Topics: Frequency count
plea (n.) 1 claim, argument, issue

Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond.


When I was with him, I have heard him swear

To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen,

That he would rather have Antonio's flesh

Than twenty times the value of the sum

That he did owe him, and I know, my lord,

If law, authority, and power deny not,
power (n.) 3 authority, government

It will go hard with poor Antonio.


Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble?


The dearest friend to me, the kindest man,

The best-conditioned and unwearied spirit
best-conditioned (adj.) best-natured, of finest character

In doing courtesies, and one in whom

The ancient Roman honour more appears

Than any that draws breath in Italy.


What sum owes he the Jew?


For me, three thousand ducats.


                         What, no more?

Pay him six thousand, and deface the bond.
deface (v.) 2 [heraldry] efface, obliterate, blot out

Double six thousand and then treble that,

Before a friend of this description

Shall lose a hair through Bassanio's fault.

First go with me to church and call me wife,

And then away to Venice to your friend!

For never shall you lie by Portia's side

With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold

To pay the petty debt twenty times over.

When it is paid, bring your true friend along.

My maid Nerissa and myself meantime

Will live as maids and widows. Come away,

For you shall hence upon your wedding day.

Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer;
cheer (n.) 4 face, look, expression

Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear.

But let me hear the letter of your friend.


Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried,
miscarry (v.) 2 come to harm, be lost, be destroyed

my creditors grow cruel, my estate is very low, my bond
estate (n.) 1 state, situation, circumstances

to the Jew is forfeit. And since in paying it, it is impossible

I should live, all debts are cleared between you and I if I

might but see you at my death. Notwithstanding, use your

pleasure. If your love do not persuade you to come, let not

my letter.


O love, dispatch all business and be gone.
dispatch, despatch (v.) 1 deal with promptly, settle, get [something] done quickly


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 interposer 'twixt us twain.


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