List iconThe Merchant of Venice:
Act 1, scene 1
List icon

The Merchant of Venice
Act 1, scene 1



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Antonio, the merchant in The Merchant of Venice, secures a loan from Shylock for his friend Bassanio, who seeks to court…

Act 1, scene 1

Antonio, a Venetian merchant, has invested all his wealth in trading expeditions. Bassanio, his friend and kinsman, asks him for…

Act 1, scene 2

At Portia’s estate of Belmont, Portia and Nerissa talk over Portia’s frustration at being unable to choose her own husband….

Act 1, scene 3

In Venice Bassanio goes to Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, to borrow, in Antonio’s name, 3,000 ducats. Shylock hates Antonio but…

Act 2, scene 1

At Belmont the Prince of Morocco greets Portia, who tells him the terms of the contest: if he chooses the…

Act 2, scene 2

In Venice Shylock’s servant, Lancelet Gobbo, debates whether he should find a new master. Lancelet’s father comes in search of…

Act 2, scene 3

Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, says good-bye to Lancelet and gives him a letter for Lorenzo, a friend of Bassanio. In a…

Act 2, scene 4

Lorenzo, Gratiano, Solanio, and Salarino try to arrange a masque for Bassanio’s dinner that night. Lancelet brings Lorenzo Jessica’s letter…

Act 2, scene 5

Lancelet brings Shylock an invitation to dinner at Bassanio’s. Shylock grudgingly accepts and commands Jessica to guard their house carefully….

Act 2, scene 6

Gratiano and Salarino wait for Lorenzo near Shylock’s house. As soon as Lorenzo arrives, he calls Jessica, who throws him…

Act 2, scene 7

At Belmont the Prince of Morocco attempts to choose the right chest and win Portia. He picks the gold one…

Act 2, scene 8

In Venice Solanio and Salarino discuss the latest news: Shylock’s torment over the loss of his daughter and the treasures…

Act 2, scene 9

At Belmont the Prince of Arragon attempts to win Portia by choosing the silver chest, but finds in it the…

Act 3, scene 1

In Venice Solanio and Salarino have learned that the Italian ship wrecked in the English Channel was Antonio’s. Shylock enters…

Act 3, scene 2

Portia advises Bassanio to postpone choosing for fear he should make the wrong choice. Bassanio declares himself unable to live…

Act 3, scene 3

Antonio seeks out Shylock in an effort to get the moneylender to listen to him. But Shylock insists that the…

Act 3, scene 4

Portia entrusts the management of her household to Lorenzo and pretends to leave with Nerissa for a house of an…

Act 3, scene 5

Lancelet, the clown, makes jokes at the expense of Jessica and then Lorenzo. Jessica praises Portia and jokes with Lorenzo.

Act 4, scene 1

In court at Venice, Shylock demands that the terms of his bond be fulfilled. Portia enters as a doctor of…

Act 4, scene 2

Gratiano gives the disguised Portia Bassanio’s ring. Nerissa decides to try to obtain from Gratiano the ring that she had…

Act 5, scene 1

Portia and Nerissa return to Belmont. When Bassanio and Gratiano also return, bringing Antonio with them, Portia and Nerissa “discover”…

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Scene 1
Enter Antonio, Salarino, and Solanio.

 In sooth I know not why I am so sad.
 It wearies me, you say it wearies you.
 But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
 What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
5 I am to learn.
 And such a want-wit sadness makes of me
 That I have much ado to know myself.
 Your mind is tossing on the ocean,
 There where your argosies with portly sail
10 (Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,
 Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea)
 Do overpeer the petty traffickers
 That curtsy to them, do them reverence,
 As they fly by them with their woven wings.
15 Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
 The better part of my affections would
 Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
 Plucking the grass to know where sits the wind,
 Piring in maps for ports and piers and roads;
20 And every object that might make me fear

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
 Would make me sad.
SALARINO  My wind cooling my broth
 Would blow me to an ague when I thought
25 What harm a wind too great might do at sea.
 I should not see the sandy hourglass run
 But I should think of shallows and of flats,
 And see my wealthy Andrew docked in sand,
 Vailing her high top lower than her ribs
30 To kiss her burial. Should I go to church
 And see the holy edifice of stone
 And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,
 Which, touching but my gentle vessel’s side,
 Would scatter all her spices on the stream,
35 Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks,
 And, in a word, but even now worth this
 And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
 To think on this, and shall I lack the thought
 That such a thing bechanced would make me sad?
40 But tell not me: I know Antonio
 Is sad to think upon his merchandise.
 Believe me, no. I thank my fortune for it,
 My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
 Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
45 Upon the fortune of this present year:
 Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.
 Why then you are in love.
ANTONIO  Fie, fie!
 Not in love neither? Then let us say you are sad
50 Because you are not merry; and ’twere as easy
 For you to laugh and leap, and say you are merry
 Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time:
55 Some that will evermore peep through their eyes
 And laugh like parrots at a bagpiper,
 And other of such vinegar aspect
 That they’ll not show their teeth in way of smile
 Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.

Enter Bassanio, Lorenzo, and Gratiano.

60 Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,
 Gratiano, and Lorenzo. Fare you well.
 We leave you now with better company.
 I would have stayed till I had made you merry,
 If worthier friends had not prevented me.
65 Your worth is very dear in my regard.
 I take it your own business calls on you,
 And you embrace th’ occasion to depart.
 Good morrow, my good lords.
 Good signiors both, when shall we laugh? Say,
70 when?
 You grow exceeding strange. Must it be so?
 We’ll make our leisures to attend on yours.
Salarino and Solanio exit.
 My Lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio,
 We two will leave you. But at dinner time
75 I pray you have in mind where we must meet.
 I will not fail you.
 You look not well, Signior Antonio.
 You have too much respect upon the world.

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 1

 They lose it that do buy it with much care.
80 Believe me, you are marvelously changed.
 I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano,
 A stage where every man must play a part,
 And mine a sad one.
GRATIANO  Let me play the fool.
85 With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
 And let my liver rather heat with wine
 Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
 Why should a man whose blood is warm within
 Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
90 Sleep when he wakes? And creep into the jaundice
 By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio
 (I love thee, and ’tis my love that speaks):
 There are a sort of men whose visages
 Do cream and mantle like a standing pond
95 And do a willful stillness entertain
 With purpose to be dressed in an opinion
 Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
 As who should say “I am Sir Oracle,
 And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark.”
100 O my Antonio, I do know of these
 That therefore only are reputed wise
 For saying nothing, when, I am very sure,
 If they should speak, would almost damn those ears
 Which, hearing them, would call their brothers
105 fools.
 I’ll tell thee more of this another time.
 But fish not with this melancholy bait
 For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.—
 Come, good Lorenzo.—Fare you well a while.
110 I’ll end my exhortation after dinner.
 Well, we will leave you then till dinner time.
 I must be one of these same dumb wise men,
 For Gratiano never lets me speak.

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Well, keep me company but two years more,
115 Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own
 Fare you well. I’ll grow a talker for this gear.
 Thanks, i’ faith, for silence is only commendable
 In a neat’s tongue dried and a maid not vendible.
Gratiano and Lorenzo exit.
ANTONIO 120Is that anything now?
BASSANIO Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing,
 more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as
 two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you
 shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you
125 have them, they are not worth the search.
 Well, tell me now what lady is the same
 To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
 That you today promised to tell me of?
 ’Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
130 How much I have disabled mine estate
 By something showing a more swelling port
 Than my faint means would grant continuance.
 Nor do I now make moan to be abridged
 From such a noble rate. But my chief care
135 Is to come fairly off from the great debts
 Wherein my time, something too prodigal,
 Hath left me gaged. To you, Antonio,
 I owe the most in money and in love,
 And from your love I have a warranty
140 To unburden all my plots and purposes
 How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
 I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 1

 And if it stand, as you yourself still do,
 Within the eye of honor, be assured
145 My purse, my person, my extremest means
 Lie all unlocked to your occasions.
 In my school days, when I had lost one shaft,
 I shot his fellow of the selfsame flight
 The selfsame way with more advisèd watch
150 To find the other forth; and by adventuring both
 I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof
 Because what follows is pure innocence.
 I owe you much, and, like a willful youth,
 That which I owe is lost. But if you please
155 To shoot another arrow that self way
 Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
 As I will watch the aim, or to find both
 Or bring your latter hazard back again,
 And thankfully rest debtor for the first.
160 You know me well, and herein spend but time
 To wind about my love with circumstance;
 And out of doubt you do me now more wrong
 In making question of my uttermost
 Than if you had made waste of all I have.
165 Then do but say to me what I should do
 That in your knowledge may by me be done,
 And I am prest unto it. Therefore speak.
 In Belmont is a lady richly left,
 And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
170 Of wondrous virtues. Sometimes from her eyes
 I did receive fair speechless messages.
 Her name is Portia, nothing undervalued
 To Cato’s daughter, Brutus’ Portia.
 Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
175 For the four winds blow in from every coast

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 1. SC. 2

 Renownèd suitors, and her sunny locks
 Hang on her temples like a golden fleece,
 Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos’ strond,
 And many Jasons come in quest of her.
180 O my Antonio, had I but the means
 To hold a rival place with one of them,
 I have a mind presages me such thrift
 That I should questionless be fortunate!
 Thou know’st that all my fortunes are at sea;
185 Neither have I money nor commodity
 To raise a present sum. Therefore go forth:
 Try what my credit can in Venice do;
 That shall be racked even to the uttermost
 To furnish thee to Belmont to fair Portia.
190 Go presently inquire, and so will I,
 Where money is, and I no question make
 To have it of my trust, or for my sake.
They exit.