Hi! Your homework this week is to read Act II through Act III Scene 2 of The Merchant of Venice, watch my videotaped lectures below, and then post a comment about the assigned reading at the bottom of this page. The speeches that I refer to in my lectures are printed below each video. At the bottom of this page, below all of the videos, I give you some simple study questions to help you formulate a post. The study questions follow up on things I say in my lectures, so you may want to watch the videos first. Leave your post in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Noteworthy speeches in Merchant II.1-6:
Morocco to Portia, 2.1.1: Mislike me not for my complexion, The shadowed livery of the burnished sun, To whom I am a neighbor and near bred. Bring me the fairest creature northward born, Where Phoebus' faire scarce thaws the icicles, And let us make incision for your love To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine. I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine Hath feared the valiant. By my love I swear The best-regarded virgins of our clime Have loved it too. I would not change this hue, Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen. Portia's reply, 2.1.13: In terms of choice I am not solely led By nice direction of a maiden's eyes. Besides, the lott'ry of my destiny Bars e the right of voluntary choosing. But if my father had not scanted me, And hedged me by his wit to yield myself His wife who wins me by that means I told you, Yourself, renowned prince, then stood as fair As any comer I ahve looked on yet For my affection. Jessica at 2.3.15: Farewell, good Lancelot. Alack, what heinous sin is it in me To be ashamed to be my father's child. But though I am a daughter to his blood, I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo, If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife, Become a Christian and thy loving wife! Jessica at 2.6.33: Here, catch this casket; it is worth the pains. I am glad 'tis night, you do not look on me, For I am much ashamed of my exchange. But love is blind, and lovers cannot see The pretty follies that themselves commit; For if they could, Cupid himself would blush To see me thus transformed to a boy.
Noteworthy speeches in Merchant 2.7-9:
Morocco making his choice, 2.7.13: Some god direct my judgment! Let me see: I will survey th'inscriptions back again. What says this leaden casket? "Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath." Must give -- for what? for lead? Hazard for lead? This casket threatens; men that hazard all Do it in hope of fair advantages. A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross; I'll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead. What says the silver with her virgin hue> "Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves." As much as he deserves? Pause there, Morocco, And weigh thy value with an even hand: If thou be'st rated by thy estimation, Thou dost deserve enough; and yet enough May not extend so far as to the lady; And yet to be afeard of my deserving Were but a weak disabling of myself. As much as I deserve? Why that's the lady. I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes, In graces, and in qualities of breeding; But more than these, in love I do deserve. What if I strayed no farther, but chose here? Let's see once more this saying graved in gold: "Who chooseth meshall gain what many men desire." Why that's the lady! All the world desires her; From the four corners of the earth thy come To kiss this shrine, this mortal breathing saint. The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds Of wide Arabia are as thoroughfares now For princes to come view fair Portia. The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar To stop the foreign spirits, but they come As o'er a brook to see fair Portia. One of these three contains her heavenly picture. Is't like that lead contains her? 'Twere damnation To think so base a thought; it were too gross To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave. Or shall I think in silver she's immured, Being ten times undervalued to tried gold? O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem Was set in worse than gold. They have in England A coin that bears the figure of an angel Stamped in gold; but that's insculped upon: But here an angel in a golden bed Lies all within. Deliver me the key. Here do I choose, and thrive as I may. It doesn't go well for Morocco, 2.7.62: O hell! What have we here? A carrion death, within whose empty eye There is a written scroll! I'll read the writing. "All that glisters is not gold; Often have you heard that told. Many a man his life hath sold But my outside to behold. Gilded tombs do worms infold. Had you been as wise as bold, Young in limbs, in judgment old, Your answer had not been inscrolled. Fare you well, your suit is cold." Cold indeed, and labor lost. Then farewell heat, and welcome frost! Portia, adieu. I have too grieved a heart To take a tedious leave. Thus losers part. Portia speaks once he's out of earshot, 2.8.78: A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go. Let all of his complexion choose me so. Solanio tells of Shylock's reaction to Jessica's flight, 2.8.11: I never heard a passion so confused, So strange, outrageous, and so variable As the dog Jew did utter int he streets: "My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter! Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats! Justice! The law! My ducats and my daughter! A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats, Of double ducats, stolen from me by my daughter! And jewels -- two stones, two rich and precious stones, Stolen by my daughter! Justice! Find the girl! She hath the stones upon her, and the ducats! Salarino describes Antonio and Bassanio's mutual affection, 2.8.35: A kinder gentleman treads not the earth. I saw Bassanio and Antonio part: Bassanio told him he would make some speed Of his return; he answered, "Do not so. Slubber not business for my sake, Bassanio, But stay the very riping of the time; And for the Jew's bond which he hath of me, Let it not enter in your mind of love. Be merry, and employ your chiefest thoughts To courtship and such fair ostents of love As shall conveniently become you there." And even there, his eye being big with tears, Turning his face, he put his hand behind him, And with affection wondrous sensible He wrung Bassanio's hand; and so they parted. Aaragon chooses the silver casket, 2.9.18: And so have I addressed me. Fortune now To my heart's hope! Gold, silver, and base lead. "Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath." You shall look fairer ere I give or hazard. What says the golden chest? Ha, let me see: "Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire." What many men desire -- that "many" may be meant By the fool multitude that choose by show, Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach, Which pries not to th'inferior, but like the martlet Builds in the weather on the outward wall, Even in the force and road of casualty. I will not choose what many men desire, Because I will not jump with common spirits And rank me with the barbarous multitudes. Why then, to thee, thou silver treasure house: "Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves." And well said too, for who shall go about To cozen fortune, and be honorable Without the stamp of merit? Let none presume To wear an undeserved dignity. O that estates, degrees, and offices Were not derived corruptly, and that clear honor Were purchased by the merit of the wearer! How many then should cover that stand bare, How many be commanded that command; How much low peasantry would then be gleaned From the true seed of honor, and how much honor Picked from the chaff and ruin of the times To be new varnished. Well, but to my choice. "Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves." I will assume desert. Give me a key for this, And instantly unlock my fortunes here. He finds a fool's head, 1.9.53: What's here? The portrait of a blinking idiot Presenting me a schedule! I will read it. How much unlike art thou to Portia! How much unlike my hopes and my deservings! "Who chooseth me shall have as much as he deserves." Did I deserve no more than a fool's head? Is that my prize? Are my deserts no better? ... What is here? "The fire seven times tried this; Seven times tried that judgment is That did never choose amiss. Some there be that shadows kiss; Such have but a shadow's bliss. There be fools alive iwis, Silvered o'er, and so was this. Take what wife you will to bed, I will ever be your head. So be gone, you are sped."
Noteworthy speeches in Merchant 3.1-2:
Shylock is furious, 3.1.49: ...If it [Antonio's flesh] will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies -- and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? -- fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject ot the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why revenge! The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. A glimpse of a young Shylock in love, 3.1.109: TUBAL One of them showed me a ring that he hand of your duaghter for a monkey. SHYLOCK Out upon her! Thou torturest me, Tubal. It was my turquoise; I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor. I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys. Music plays (sung by Portia?) while Bassanio makes his choice, 3.2.63. Notice the first verses rhyme with "lead": Tell me where is fancy bred, Or in the heart, or in the head? How begot, how nourished? reply, reply. It is engendered in the eye, With gazing fed, and fancy dies In the cradle where it lies. Let us all ring fancy's knell. I'll begin it -- Ding, dong, bell. Bassanio makes his choice, 3.2.73: So may the outward shows be least themselves; The world is still deceived with ornament. In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt But being seasoned with a gracious voice, Obscures the show of evil? In religion, What damned error but some sober brow Will bless it and approve it with a text, Hiding the grossness with fair ornament? There is no vice so simple but assumes Some mark of virtue on his outward parts. How many cowards whose hearts are all as false As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars, Who inward searched, have livers white as milk! And these assume but valor's excrement To render them redoubted. Look on beauty, And you shall see 'tis purchased by the weight, Which therein works a miracle in nature, Making them lightest that wear most of it. So are those crisped snaky golden locks, Which maketh such wanton gambols with the wind Upon supposed fairness, often known To be the dowry of a second head, The skull that bred them in the sepulcher. Thus ornament is but the guiled shore To a most dangerous sea, the beauteous scarf Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word, The seeming truth which cunning times put on To entrap the wisest. Therefore then, thou gaudy gold, Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee; Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge 'Tween man and man. But thou, thou meager lead Which rather threaten'st than doest promise aught, Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence; And here choose I. Joy be the consequence! Portia offers to marry Bassanio, 3.2.149: You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand, Such as I am. Though for myself alone I would not be ambitious in my wish To wish myself much better, yet for you I would be trebled twenty times myself, A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times More rich, that only to stand high in your account, I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends, Exceed account. But the full sum of me Is sum of something -- which to term in gross Is an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpracticed; Happy in this, she is not yet so old But she may learn; happer than this, She is not bred so dull but she can learn; Happiest of all, is that her gentle spirit Commits itself to yours to be directed, As from her lord, her governor, her king. Myself and what is mine to you and yours Is now converted. But now I was the lord Of this fair mansion, master of my servants, Queen o'er myself; and even now, but now, This house, these servants, and this same myself Are yours, my lord's. I give them with this ring, Which when you part from, lose, or give away, Let it presage the ruin of your love And be my vantage to exclaim on you.
Write a comment on The Merchant of Venice Act 2-Act 3, sc. 2 and post it in the comments section below. Be sure to quote the text of the play at least once in your post. Consider answering any of the following study questions:
1. As I note in my lectures, every Shakespearean comedy unfolds in two contrasting worlds: there’s always a primary world, usually a very urban city, where the main characters live and where their hopes are crushed by parental authority, draconian laws, and restrictive social norms, and then a magical secondary world where the characters travel to be freed and transformed. In The Merchant of Venice, the primary world is Venice and the secondary world is Belmont. What does Shakespeare do to distinguish Belmont from Venice? How is Belmont rendered an environment suitable for the characters’ transformation?
2. Last week we observed that money dominates the figurative language of this play. Does the way that money is used in the language of Merchant evolve or change at all over the course of the play, or does it stay constant?
3. Shylock plays many different roles in this play: villain, victim, anti-Semitic stereotype, critic of that stereotype, satirist of Christianity and Christians, devout Jew, secular merchant, domineering father, emasculated man, friend, widower. Can you comment on a passage of the play where Shylock’s many dimensions are displayed in a particularly interesting manner?
4. Do you have your own take on the subplot of the three caskets?
I encourage you to reply to your classmates’ posts if you want to. Also, feel free to ask questions that I can answer when we meet over Zoom.