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The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare
No Fear Act 1 Scene 2
No Fear Act 1 Scene 2 Page 4

Original Text

Modern Text

NERISSA

How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony’s nephew?

NERISSA

How did you like the young German, the duke of Saxony’s nephew?

PORTIA

Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober, and most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk. When he is best he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst he is little better than a beast. And the worst fall that ever fell, I hope I shall make shift to go without him.

PORTIA

He’s pretty awful in the morning when he’s sobering up, and even worse in the afternoon when he’s drunk. At his best he’s a little less than a man, and at his worst he’s little more than an animal. If we got married and he tragically met his demise, I’m sure I could find a way to go on without him.

NERISSA

If he should offer to choose and choose the right casket, you should refuse to perform your father’s will if you should refuse to accept him.

NERISSA

If he offers to play the game and chooses the right box, but then you reject him, you’ll be disobeying your father’s last wishes.

PORTIA

Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee, set a deep glass of rhenish wine on the contrary casket, for if the devil be within and that temptation without, I know he will choose it. I will do any thing, Nerissa, ere I’ll be married to a sponge.

PORTIA

I know. So please put a nice big glass of white wine on the wrong box. I know he’ll get tempted and choose that one. I’ll do anything rather than marry a drunk, Nerissa.

NERISSA

You need not fear, lady, the having any of these lords. They have acquainted me with their determinations, which is indeed to return to their home and to trouble you with no more suit unless you may be won by some other sort than your father’s imposition depending on the caskets.

NERISSA

You don’t have to worry about any of these lords, my lady. They’ve all told me what they want, which is to go back home and give up on you—unless there was some other way to win you than your father’s pick-the-box test.

PORTIA

95If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as chaste as Diana unless I be obtained by the manner of my father’s will. I am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable, for there is not one among them but I dote on his very absence. And I pray God grant them a fair departure.

PORTIA

I’ll die an old maid unless I can be won according to the rules set by my father’s will. I’m glad these suitors are sensible enough to stay away. The only thing I like about them is that they’re not there. I wish them all safe trips home.

NERISSA

100Do you not remember, lady, in your father’s time a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither in company of the Marquess of Montferrat?

NERISSA

Do you remember a Venetian scholar and soldier who accompanied the marquess of Montferrat here once when your father was still alive?