The Merchant of Venice Quotes in Context
by William Shakespeare

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"A Daniel Come To Judgment"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: When the debt became due, Antonio, a Venetian merchant, could not pay the 3000 ducats he had borrowed from Shylock to lend to his friend Bassanio so that he could woo and wed the rich heiress Portia. For his bond, Antonio had pledged to Shylock, who secretly hates him, a pound of flesh. The case is brought before the duke. Portia hears of it, and, disguised as a lawyer named Balthazar, she comes to court to defend Antonio. She gives her famous "Quality of mercy" speech but fails to move Shylock to mercy. He insists that the law must run its course. Bassanio, who does not recognize his wife, insists that since he can pay twice or ten times the sum of the debt, the court should "wrest once the law to [its] authority." But Portia urges, instead, that "there is no law in Venice / Can alter a decree established." Shylock, thinking he will be revenged on Antonio, congratulates Portia, likening her to Daniel, who was a judge in the Apocryphal book of Susannah.

SHYLOCKA Daniel come to judgement. Yea a Daniel.O wise young judge how I do honour thee.But Shylock's approval of Portia is quickly destroyed, because she rules that Shylock may have his pound of flesh but nothing else.PORTIA. . .This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood,The words expressly are a pound of flesh.. . .But in the cutting it, if thou dost shedOne drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goodsAre by the laws of Venice confiscate. . .

"A Harmless Necessary Cat"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Antonio's friend, Bassanio, seems to have lost heavily in commercial investments, and Antonio goes to the rich and usurious Jew, Shylock, to borrow enough money to save his friend. Shylock, pretending a jest, persuades Antonio to pledge a pound of his flesh nearest his heart as surety for the loan. When Antonio's investments seem to miscarry, Shylock appears to demand his due, and when the case comes up in the court of justice, the Duke, as judge, instructs Shylock to show mercy to Antonio. The Jew insists that he have his due and refuses to explain his cruelty:

SHYLOCK. . .You'll ask me why I rather choose to haveA weight of carrion flesh, than to receiveThree thousand ducats. I'll not answer that,But say it is my humour; is it answered?What if my house be troubled with a rat,And I be pleased to give ten thousand ducatsTo have it baned. What, are you answered yet?Some men there are love not a gaping pig;Some that are mad if they behold a cat;And others when the bagpipe sings i' th' nose,Cannot contain their urine; for affection,Mistress of passion, sways it to the moodOf what it likes or loathes. Now for your answer.As there is no firm reason to be renderedWhy he cannot abide a gaping pig;Why he–a harmless necessary cat;Why he–a woollen bag-pipe; but of forceMust yield to such inevitable shame,As to offend himself being offended;So can I give no reason, nor I will not,More than a lodged hate, and a certain loathingI bear Antonio, that I follow thusA losing suit against him. Are you answered?

"A Light Wife Doth Make A Heavy Husband"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In the early action of the play Antonio, the merchant, borrows money from Shylock, the usurious Jew, in order to save his friend Bassanio, whose ships are long overdue and feared lost. Shylock, pretending a jest, persuades Antonio to pledge the pound of flesh nearest his heart as surety for the loan. Antonio's investments also seem to fail, and Shylock brings his claim to court in order to collect his pound of flesh. At the trial Antonio is saved by a brilliant young lawyer who is, unknown to the men, the girl both have wooed and Bassanio has won, Portia, in disguise. After the trial Portia hurries home, where she meets Lorenzo and Jessica and swears them to secrecy concerning her part in the trial. Bassanio, Antonio, and several of their friends follow close behind:

LORENZOYour husband is at hand, I hear his trumpet.We are no tell-tales madam, fear you not.PORTIAThis night methinks is but the daylight sick;It looks a little paler: 'tis a day,Such as the day is when the sun is hid.Enter BASSANIO, ANTONIO, GRATIANO, and...

(The entire section is 4,831 words.)