The Merchant of Venice

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

GRATIANO

Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself,
And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
Thou hast not left the value of a cord.
Therefore thou must be hanged at the state’s charge.

GRATIANO

Beg to be allowed to hang yourself! But if you’ve handed over all your wealth to the state, you don’t even have enough money left to buy a rope. So you’ll be hanged at the state’s expense.

DUKE

360That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit,
I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it.
For half thy wealth, it is Antonio’s.
The other half comes to the general state,
Which humbleness may drive unto a fine.

DUKE

I want you to see the difference between us, so I pardon you even before you ask for a pardon. Half of your wealth goes to Antonio. The other half goes to the state. However, if you show a proper humility, I may reduce this penalty to a fine.

PORTIA

365Ay, for the state, not for Antonio.

PORTIA

Yes, the state’s half can be reduced, but not Antonio’s.

SHYLOCK

Nay, take my life and all. Pardon not that.
You take my house when you do take the prop
That doth sustain my house. You take my life
When you do take the means whereby I live.

SHYLOCK

No, go ahead and take my life. Don’t pardon that. You take my house away when you take the money I need for upkeep. You take my life when you take away my means of making a living.

PORTIA

370What mercy can you render him, Antonio?

PORTIA

What mercy can you show him, Antonio?

GRATIANO

A halter gratis, nothing else, for God’s sake.

GRATIANO

A hangman’s rope free of charge. Nothing else, for God’s sake!

ANTONIO

So please my lord the duke and all the court,
To quit the fine for one half of his goods
I am content, so he will let me have
375The other half in use to render it
Upon his death unto the gentleman
That lately stole his daughter.
Two things provided more: that for this favor
He presently become a Christian;
380The other, that he do record a gift
Here in the court, of all he dies possessed,
Unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter.

ANTONIO

If the duke and his court agree to set aside the fine for one half of his property, I’m happy, as long as he lets me have the other half in trust, to give it to the gentleman who recently stole his daughter. I only ask two more things. First, Shylock must immediately become a Christian. Second, he must make a will here in this court that leaves all his property to his son-in-law Lorenzo and his daughter when he dies.