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The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare
No Fear Act 3 Scene 2
No Fear Act 3 Scene 2 Page 2

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BASSANIO

None but that ugly treason of mistrust
Which makes me fear th' enjoying of my love.
30There may as well be amity and life
'Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love.

BASSANIO

The only treason I’m guilty of is worrying that I’m never going to get to enjoy you. Treason has nothing at all to do with my love. They’re as opposite as hot and cold.

PORTIA

Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack
Where men enforcèd do speak anything.

PORTIA

Hmmm, I’m not sure I believe what you’re saying. Men under torture will confess anything.

BASSANIO

Promise me life, and I’ll confess the truth.

BASSANIO

Promise me you’ll let me live, and I’ll confess the truth.

PORTIA

35Well then, confess and live.

PORTIA

All right then, confess and live.

BASSANIO

    “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.

BASSANIO

“Confess and love” is more like it. Oh, torture’s fun when my torturer tells me what I have to say to go free! But let me try my luck on the boxes.

PORTIA

40Away, 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.
Let music sound while he doth make his choice.
Then if he lose he makes a swanlike end,
45Fading 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
50To a new-crownèd 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.

PORTIA

Go ahead, then. I’m locked in one of them. If you really love me, you’ll find me.—Nerissa and the rest of you, get away from him. Play some music while he chooses. Then if he loses, it’ll be his swan song, music before the end. And since swans need water to swim in, I’ll cry him a river when he loses. But on the other hand, he may win. What music should we play then? If he wins, the music should be like the majestic trumpets that blare when subjects bow to a newly crowned monarch. It’s the sweet sounds at daybreak that the dreaming bridegroom hears on his wedding morning, calling him to the church.