The Merchant of Venice

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

ARRAGON

What’s here? The portrait of a blinking idiot
Presenting me a schedule! I will read it.—
55How much unlike art thou to Portia!
How much unlike my hopes and my deservings!
“Who chooseth me shall have as much as he deserves”!
Did I deserve no more than a fool’s head?
Is that my prize? Are my deserts no better?

ARRAGON

What’s this? A picture of an idiot holding a scroll up for me to read! I’ll read it.—It looks so unlike Portia! This outcome isn’t what I hoped for, or what I deserve. “The one who chooses me will get what he deserves”! Didn’t I deserve anything more than a fool’s head? Is this my prize? Don’t I deserve more than this?

PORTIA

60To offend and judge are distinct offices
And of opposèd natures.

PORTIA

Judging what you deserve is one thing. Offending you is something very different, so I’ll keep my mouth shut.

ARRAGON

    What is here?
(reads)
“The fire seven times tried this,
Seven times tried that judgment is,
65That did never choose amiss.
Some there be that shadows kiss.
Such have but a shadow’s bliss.
There be fools alive, iwis,
Silvered o'er—and so was this.
70Take what wife you will to bed,
I will ever be your head.
So be gone. You are sped.
Still more fool I shall appear”
By the time I linger here.
75With one fool’s head I came to woo,
But I go away with two.—
Sweet, adieu. I’ll keep my oath
Patiently to bear my wroth.”

ARRAGON

What does this say?
(he reads)
“This box was tested in the fire seven times.
The person who never makes a wrong choice
Has wisdom that will stand the test.
Some people kiss shadows.
They only feel the shadow of joy.
There are fools out there
With silver hair and silver coins.
This choice was as foolish as they are.
Take whatever wife you want to bed with you,
You’ll have a fool’s head forever.
So go away. You’re done here.”
The longer I stay, the more foolish I look. I came here with a fool’s head on my shoulders and now I’m leaving with two.—Goodbye, sweet lady. I’ll keep my oath and patiently suffer through my anger.
Exeunt ARRAGON and his train
He exits with his train.