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The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 1

page Act 4 Scene 1 Page 6

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SHYLOCK

To cut the forfeiture from that bankrupt there.

SHYLOCK

To cut my penalty from that bankrupt man over there.

GRATIANO

125Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew,
Thou makest thy knife keen. But no metal can—
No, not the hangman’s axe—bear half the keenness
Of thy sharp envy. Can no prayers pierce thee?

GRATIANO

You’re sharpening that knife not on your sole but on your soul, you cruel Jew. No metal—not even the executioner’s axe—could ever be half as sharp as your hatred. Can’t any prayers reach your heart?

SHYLOCK

No, none that thou hast wit enough to make.

SHYLOCK

No, none that you’re smart enough to make.

GRATIANO

130O, be thou damned, inexecrable dog,
And for thy life let justice be accused!
Thou almost makest me waver in my faith
To hold opinion with Pythagoras
That souls of animals infuse themselves
135Into the trunks of men. Thy currish spirit
Governed a wolf who, hanged for human slaughter,
Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet,
And whilst thou layest in thy unhallowed dam
Infused itself in thee, for thy desires
140Are wolvish, bloody, starved, and ravenous.

GRATIANO

Oh, you’re going to hell, you disgusting dog. Killing you would be justice. You almost make me forget that I’m a Christian. You make me want to agree with the philosopher Pythagoras that animal souls are reincarnated in human bodies. Your vicious dog soul used to belong to a wolf that was killed for slaughtering humans. When he died, his cruel soul passed out of his body and went into yours while you were lying in your unholy mother’s womb. That’s why your desires are wolfish, bloody, and ravenous.

SHYLOCK

Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond,
Thou but offend’st thy lungs to speak so loud.
Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall
To cureless ruin. I stand here for law.

SHYLOCK

Unless your taunts can undo the signature on my contract, you’re just wearing out your lungs by speaking so loud. Be quiet, boy, or you’ll lose your mind. I stand here with the law on my side.

DUKE

145This letter from Bellario doth commend
A young and learnèd doctor to our court.
Where is he?

DUKE

This letter from Bellario introduces us to a young and well-educated legal expert. Where is he?

NERISSA

   He attendeth here hard by
To know your answer whether you’ll admit him.

NERISSA

He’s waiting nearby to find out if you’ll invite him in.