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The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 1

page Act 4 Scene 1 Page 4

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You may as well forbid the mountain pines
To wag their high tops and to make no noise
When they are fretten with the gusts of heaven.
You may as well do anything most hard,
80As seek to soften that—than which what’s harder?—
His Jewish heart. Therefore I do beseech you
Make no more offers, use no farther means,
But with all brief and plain conveniency
Let me have judgment and the Jew his will.
You might as well tell the pine trees on the mountain to stop waving their treetops when the storms blow through them. You might as well do the impossible rather than try to soften his Jewish heart. It’s the hardest thing imaginable. Therefore I’m begging you, don’t make any more offers, don’t look for other ways to stop him. Just let me receive my punishment, and let the Jew take his penalty.

BASSANIO

85 (to SHYLOCK) For thy three thousand ducats here is six.

BASSANIO

(to SHYLOCK) Instead of your three thousand ducats, here are six thousand.

SHYLOCK

If every ducat in six thousand ducats
Were in six parts, and every part a ducat,
I would not draw them. I would have my bond.

SHYLOCK

If you offered me six times that, I wouldn’t accept it. I would choose to take my penalty.

DUKE

How shalt thou hope for mercy, rendering none?

DUKE

How can you ever hope for mercy for yourself, when you don’t give any now?

SHYLOCK

90What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong?
You have among you many a purchased slave,
Which—like your asses and your dogs and mules—
You use in abject and in slavish parts
Because you bought them. Shall I say to you,
95“Let them be free! Marry them to your heirs!
Why sweat they under burdens? Let their beds
Be made as soft as yours and let their palates
Be seasoned with such viands”? You will answer,
“The slaves are ours.” So do I answer you.
100The pound of flesh which I demand of him
Is dearly bought. 'Tis mine and I will have it.
If you deny me, fie upon your law—
There is no force in the decrees of Venice.
I stand for judgment. Answer, shall I have it?

SHYLOCK

Why should I be afraid of your judgment when I haven’t done anything wrong? Many of you own slaves, which—like your donkeys and dogs and mules—you use to perform awful jobs just because you bought them. Should I say to you, “Set them free! Let them marry your children! Why are you making them work so hard? Let their beds be as soft as yours, and let them eat the same food as you”? No, you’d answer, “The slaves are ours.” And that’s just how I’m answering you. The pound of flesh that I want from him was very expensive. It’s mine and I’m going to get it. If you refuse me, the laws of Venice have no validity. I await justice. So answer me. Will I get it?