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The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 1

page Act 4 Scene 1 Page 15

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PORTIA

330He hath refused it in the open court.
He shall have merely justice and his bond.

PORTIA

No, he refused it publicly, in open court. He will have only justice and his penalty.

GRATIANO

A Daniel, still say I, a second Daniel!—
I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.

GRATIANO

A Daniel, I keep saying it! A second Daniel!—Thank you, Jew, for teaching me that word.

SHYLOCK

Shall I not have barely my principal?

SHYLOCK

I won’t even get the original three thousand ducats back?

PORTIA

335Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture
To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.

PORTIA

You can’t have anything but the penalty, to be taken at your peril, Jew.

SHYLOCK

Why then, the devil give him good of it!
I’ll stay no longer question.

SHYLOCK

Well, then, I hope he chokes on it! I’m not staying here to argue anymore.

PORTIA

    Tarry, Jew.
The law hath yet another hold on you.
340It is enacted in the laws of Venice,
If it be proved against an alien
That by direct or indirect attempts
He seek the life of any citizen,
The party 'gainst the which he doth contrive
345Shall seize one half his goods. The other half
Comes to the privy coffer of the state,
And the offender’s life lies in the mercy
Of the Duke only 'gainst all other voice.
In which predicament I say thou stand’st,
350For it appears by manifest proceeding
That indirectly—and directly too—
Thou hast contrived against the very life
Of the defendant, and thou hast incurred
The danger formerly by me rehearsed.
355Down, therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke.

PORTIA

Wait a minute, Jew. The law has another hold on you. The laws of Venice state that if a foreign resident directly or indirectly attempts to kill any citizen, the person he tried to kill will receive one half of the foreigner’s goods. The other half goes to the state. Whether the offending person lives or dies is up to the duke—there’s no one else to appeal to. In your predicament you’ve earned that punishment, because you’ve clearly contrived indirectly—and directly too—to take the life of the defendant. So get down on your knees and beg mercy from the duke.