Hath not a Jew eyes?
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 to the same diseases,
heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd 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, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the
rest, we will resemble you in that.
After a Christian has eloped with his daughter, and after the pair have made off with a portion of his ducats, Shylock confronts two other taunting Christians. When they've finished mocking him, they ask whether Shylock seriously intends to take a pound of Antonio's flesh if the merchant defaults on his loan [see POUND OF FLESH]. Shylock affirms that he is indeed serious, especially given his recent indignities at the hands of Christians. "Hath not a Jew eyes?" he asks rhetorically; Jews suffer, bleed, and die just like Christians do, and are just as susceptible to the urge for revenge. The Christians of the play universally assume that they're a nobler species than Jews, but Shylock insists that they're no more pure than Jews and Jews no less human than Christians. There's no little pathos in Shylock's speeches, even though his main purpose in the play is to be villainous. Both Shylock and the Christians have lessons to learn, before this play is over, about humaneness and humility.