The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare
The Merchant of Venice
William Shakespeare
2:23 h Novels Lvl 9.76
The Merchant of Venice is a 16th-century play written by William Shakespeare in which a merchant in Venice named Antonio defaults on a large loan provided by a Jewish moneylender, Shylock. It is believed to have been written between 1596 and 1599. Although classified as a comedy in the First Folio and sharing certain aspects with Shakespeare's other romantic comedies, the play is most remembered for its dramatic scenes, and it is best known for Shylock and his famous "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech on humanity. Also notable is Portia's speech about "the quality of mercy".

The Merchant of Venice

by
William Shakespeare


Dramatis Personæ

THE DUKE OF VENICE
THE PRINCE OF MOROCCO, suitor to Portia
THE PRINCE OF ARRAGON, suitor to Portia
ANTONIO, a merchant of Venice
BASSANIO, his friend, suitor to Portia
GRATIANO, friend to Antonio and Bassanio
SOLANIO, friend to Antonio and Bassanio
SALARINO, friend to Antonio and Bassanio
LORENZO, in love with Jessica
SHYLOCK, a rich Jew
TUBAL, a Jew, his friend
LAUNCELET GOBBO, a clown, servant to Shylock
OLD GOBBO, father to Launcelet
LEONARDO, servant to Bassanio
BALTHAZAR, servant to Portia
STEPHANO, servant to Portia
SALERIO, a messenger from Venice
PORTIA, a rich heiress
NERISSA, her waiting-woman
JESSICA, daughter to Shylock
Magnificoes of Venice, Officers of the Court of Justice, a Gaoler, Servants and other Attendants

Scene: Partly at Venice, and Partly at Belmont, the Seat of Portia on the Continent


Act I

Scene I
Venice. A Street

Enter Antonio, Salarino and Solanio.

ANTONIO.
In sooth I know not why I am so sad,
It wearies me. you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn.
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.

SALARINO.
Your mind is tossing on the ocean,
There where your argosies, with portly sail
Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,
Or as it were the pageants of the sea,
Do overpeer the petty traffickers
That curtsy to them, do them reverence,
As they fly by them with their woven wings.

SOLANIO.
Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
The better part of my affections would
Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
Plucking the grass to know where sits the wind,
Peering in maps for ports, and piers and roads;
And every object that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
Would make me sad.

SALARINO.
My wind cooling my broth
Would blow me to an ague when I thought
What harm a wind too great might do at sea.
I should not see the sandy hour-glass run
But I should think of shallows and of flats,
And see my wealthy Andrew dock’d in sand,
Vailing her high top lower than her ribs
To kiss her burial. Should I go to church
And see the holy edifice of stone
And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,
Which, touching but my gentle vessel’s side,
Would scatter all her spices on the stream,
Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks,
And, in a word, but even now worth this,
And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
To think on this, and shall I lack the thought
That such a thing bechanc’d would make me sad?
But tell not me, I know Antonio
Is sad to think upon his merchandise.

ANTONIO.
Believe me, no. I thank my fortune for it,
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
Upon the fortune of this present year.
Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.

SALARINO.
Why then you are in love.

ANTONIO.
Fie, fie!

SALARINO.
Not in love neither? Then let us say you are sad
Because you are not merry; and ’twere as easy
For you to laugh and leap and say you are merry
Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Janus,
Nature hath fram’d strange fellows in her time:
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes,
And laugh like parrots at a bagpiper.
And other of such vinegar aspect
That they’ll not show their teeth in way of smile
Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.

Enter Bassanio, Lorenzo and Gratiano.

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