The Merchant of Venice (Folger Shakespeare Library)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
In The Merchant of Venice, the path to marriage is hazardous. To win Portia, Bassanio must pass a test prescribed by her father’s will, choosing correctly among three caskets or chests. If he fails, he may never marry at all.
Bassanio and Portia also face a magnificent villain, the moneylender Shylock. In creating Shylock, Shakespeare seems to have shared in a widespread prejudice against Jews. Shylock would have been regarded as a villain because he was a Jew. Yet he gives such powerful expression to his alienation due to the hatred around him that, in many productions, he emerges as the hero.
Portia is most remembered for her disguise as a lawyer, Balthazar, especially the speech in which she urges Shylock to show mercy that “droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.”
The authoritative edition of The Merchant of Venice from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:
-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
-Newly revised explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play
-Scene-by-scene plot summaries
-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases
-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language
-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play
-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books
-An up-to-date annotated guide to further reading
Essay by Alexander Leggatt
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit Folger.edu.
stillness96 entertain, With purpose to be drest97 in an opinion98 90 Of wisdom, gravity,99 profound conceit,100 As who should101 say, I am sir an oracle, And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark. O my Antonio, I do know of these That therefore only are reputed wise 95 For saying102 nothing, when I am very sure If they should speak would almost damn those ears Which, hearing them, would call their103 brothers fools. I’ll tell thee more of this another time. But fish not with this
itself unfurnished.96Yet look how far The substance97 of my praise doth wrong this shadow In underprizing98 it, so far99 this shadow100 Doth limp behind101 the substance.102 ( picks up paper) Here’s 130 the scroll, The continent103 and summary of my fortune. You that choose not by the view104 Chance105 as fair, and choose as true.106 Since this fortune falls to you, Be content, and seek no new.107 135 If you be well pleased with this, And hold your fortune for108 your bliss, Turn you
Gratiano Duke What, is Antonio here? Antonio Ready, so please your Grace! Duke I am sorry for thee, thou art come to answer A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch, Uncapable of pity, void,1 and empty 5 From any dram2 of mercy. Antonio I have heard Your Grace hath ta’en great pains to qualify3 His rigorous course. But since he stands obdurate,4 And that no lawful means can carry me Out of his envy’s5 reach, I do oppose6 10 1 blank, empty (“ungraced”)* 2 any dram ϭ the least
)77 “Your Grace shall understand, that at the 150 receipt of your letter I am78 very sick, but in the instant that your messenger came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor79 of Rome, his name is Balthasar. I acquainted him with the cause80 in controversy between the Jew and Antonio the merchant.We turned o’er81 many books 155 together. He is furnished with my opinion, which bettered82 with his own learning (the greatness whereof I cannot enough commend), comes83 with him at my
“the Jew as irredeemable alien and the Jew as bogeyman . . . coexisted at deep linguistic and psychological levels.”5 As John Gross puts the matter, “Nothing can alter the fact that, seen through the eyes of the other characters, Shylock is a deeply threatening figure, and that the threat he poses is of a pe-culiarly primitive kind.” 6 We need to add that what “the eyes of the other characters” truly means, here, is “Elizabethan England,” the citizens of which were of course the intended and the