The Merchant of Venice

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

DUKE

Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.

DUKE

Antonio and Shylock, both of you come forward.

PORTIA

165Is your name Shylock?

PORTIA

Is your name Shylock?

SHYLOCK

    Shylock is my name.

SHYLOCK

Shylock is my name.

PORTIA

Of a strange nature is the suit you follow,
Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.—
(to ANTONIO) You stand within his danger, do you not?

PORTIA

Your case is most unusual, though the Venetian law can’t stop you from proceeding.—(to ANTONIO) He has a claim on you, correct?

ANTONIO

170Ay, so he says.

ANTONIO

Yes, so he says.

PORTIA

   Do you confess the bond?

PORTIA

Do you acknowledge the contract?

ANTONIO

I do.

ANTONIO

Yes, I do.

PORTIA

  Then must the Jew be merciful.

PORTIA

Then the Jew must show you mercy.

SHYLOCK

On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.

SHYLOCK

Why do I have to do that? Tell me.

PORTIA

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
175Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
180The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings,
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings.
It is an attribute to God himself.
185And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,

PORTIA

No one shows mercy because he has to. It just happens, the way gentle rain drops on the ground. Mercy is a double blessing. It blesses the one who gives it and the one who receives it. It’s strongest in the strongest people. It looks better in a king than his own crown looks on him. The king’s scepter represents his earthly power, the symbol of majesty, the focus of royal authority. But mercy is higher than the scepter. It’s enthroned in the hearts of kings, a quality of God himself. Kingly power seems most like God’s power when the king mixes mercy with justice. So although justice is your plea, Jew, consider this.