The Merchant of Venice

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 1

page Act 4 Scene 1 Page 13

Original Text

Modern Text

SHYLOCK

These be the Christian husbands. I have a daughter.
Would any of the stock of Barabbas
Had been her husband rather than a Christian!—
We trifle time. I pray thee, pursue sentence.

SHYLOCK

That’s what you get for marrying Christian husbands. I have a daughter. I wish she’d married any one of

Barabbas’s

In the Bible, Barabbas is a thief who is set free at the same time that Jesus is condemned to death.

Barabbas’s
descendants instead of a Christian!—We’re wasting time. Please, deliver the sentence.

PORTIA

290A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine.
The court awards it, and the law doth give it.

PORTIA

A pound of this merchant’s flesh is yours. The court awards it and the law authorizes it.

SHYLOCK

Most rightful judge!

SHYLOCK

What a righteous judge!

PORTIA

And you must cut this flesh from off his breast.
The law allows it, and the court awards it.

PORTIA

And you have to cut this flesh from his chest. The law allows it, and the court awards it.

SHYLOCK

295Most learnèd judge, a sentence! Come, prepare.

SHYLOCK

What a wise judge! Come on, get ready.

PORTIA

Tarry a little. There is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood.
The words expressly are “a pound of flesh.”
Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh,
300But in the cutting it if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are by the laws of Venice confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.

PORTIA

But wait a moment. There’s something else. This contract doesn’t give you any blood at all. The words expressly specify “a pound of flesh.” So take your penalty of a pound of flesh, but if you shed one drop of Christian blood when you cut it, the state of Venice will confiscate your land and property under Venetian law.

GRATIANO

O upright judge!—Mark, Jew.—O learnèd judge!

GRATIANO

Oh, what an upright judge!—Pay attention, Jew.—Oh, what a smart judge!

SHYLOCK

305Is that the law?

SHYLOCK

Is that the law?

PORTIA

Thyself shalt see the act.
For as thou urgest justice, be assured
Thou shalt have justice more than thou desirest.

PORTIA

You can see for yourself. You asked for justice, so rest assured you’ll get more justice than you bargained for.