List iconThe Merchant of Venice:
Act 3, scene 2
List icon

The Merchant of Venice
Act 3, scene 2



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”…

Include links to:

Quill icon
Scene 2
Enter Bassanio, Portia, and all their trains, Gratiano,

 I pray you tarry, pause a day or two
 Before you hazard, for in choosing wrong
 I lose your company; therefore forbear a while.
 There’s something tells me (but it is not love)
5 I would not lose you, and you know yourself
 Hate counsels not in such a quality.
 But lest you should not understand me well
 (And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought)
 I would detain you here some month or two
10 Before you venture for me. I could teach you
 How to choose right, but then I am forsworn.
 So will I never be. So may you miss me.
 But if you do, you’ll make me wish a sin,
 That I had been forsworn. Beshrew your eyes,
15 They have o’erlooked me and divided me.
 One half of me is yours, the other half yours—
 Mine own, I would say—but if mine, then yours,
 And so all yours. O, these naughty times
 Puts bars between the owners and their rights!
20 And so though yours, not yours. Prove it so,
 Let Fortune go to hell for it, not I.
 I speak too long, but ’tis to peize the time,
 To eche it, and to draw it out in length,
 To stay you from election.

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

BASSANIO 25 Let me choose,
 For as I am, I live upon the rack.
 Upon the rack, Bassanio? Then confess
 What treason there is mingled with your love.
 None but that ugly treason of mistrust,
30 Which makes me fear th’ enjoying of my love.
 There may as well be amity and life
 ’Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love.
 Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack
 Where men enforcèd do speak anything.
35 Promise me life and I’ll confess the truth.
 Well, then, confess and live.
BASSANIO  “Confess and love”
 Had been the very sum of my confession.
 O happy torment, when my torturer
40 Doth teach me answers for deliverance!
 But let me to my fortune and the caskets.
 Away, then. I am locked in one of them.
 If you do love me, you will find me out.—
 Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof.
45 Let music sound while he doth make his choice.
 Then if he lose he makes a swanlike end,
 Fading in music. That the comparison
 May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream
 And wat’ry deathbed for him. He may win,
50 And what is music then? Then music is
 Even as the flourish when true subjects bow
 To a new-crownèd monarch. Such it is
 As are those dulcet sounds in break of day
 That creep into the dreaming bridegroom’s ear
55 And summon him to marriage. Now he goes,

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

 With no less presence but with much more love
 Than young Alcides when he did redeem
 The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy
 To the sea-monster. I stand for sacrifice;
60 The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives,
 With blearèd visages, come forth to view
 The issue of th’ exploit. Go, Hercules!
 Live thou, I live. With much much more dismay
 I view the fight than thou that mak’st the fray.

A song the whilst Bassanio comments on
the caskets to himself.

 65 Tell me where is fancy bred,
 Or in the heart, or in the head?
 How begot, how nourishèd?
  Reply, reply.
 It is engendered in the eye,
70 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.

ALL  Ding, dong, bell.
75 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,
80 What damnèd 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.
85 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,

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

 Who inward searched have livers white as milk,
 And these assume but valor’s excrement
90 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 crispèd snaky golden locks,
95 Which maketh such wanton gambols with the wind
 Upon supposèd fairness, often known
 To be the dowry of a second head,
 The skull that bred them in the sepulcher.
 Thus ornament is but the guilèd shore
100 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
105 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 dost promise aught,
 Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence,
110 And here choose I. Joy be the consequence!
Bassanio is given a key.
PORTIA, aside 
 How all the other passions fleet to air,
 As doubtful thoughts and rash embraced despair,
 And shudd’ring fear, and green-eyed jealousy!
 O love, be moderate, allay thy ecstasy,
115 In measure rain thy joy, scant this excess!
 I feel too much thy blessing. Make it less,
 For fear I surfeit.
Bassanio opens the lead casket.
BASSANIO  What find I here?
 Fair Portia’s counterfeit! What demigod
120 Hath come so near creation? Move these eyes?

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

 Or whether, riding on the balls of mine,
 Seem they in motion? Here are severed lips
 Parted with sugar breath; so sweet a bar
 Should sunder such sweet friends. Here in her hairs
125 The painter plays the spider, and hath woven
 A golden mesh t’ entrap the hearts of men
 Faster than gnats in cobwebs. But her eyes!
 How could he see to do them? Having made one,
 Methinks it should have power to steal both his
130 And leave itself unfurnished. Yet look how far
 The substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow
 In underprizing it, so far this shadow
 Doth limp behind the substance. Here’s the scroll,
 The continent and summary of my fortune.
He reads the scroll.
135 You that choose not by the view
 Chance as fair and choose as true.
 Since this fortune falls to you,
 Be content and seek no new.
 If you be well pleased with this
140 And hold your fortune for your bliss,
 Turn you where your lady is,
 And claim her with a loving kiss.

 A gentle scroll! Fair lady, by your leave,
 I come by note to give and to receive.
145 Like one of two contending in a prize
 That thinks he hath done well in people’s eyes,
 Hearing applause and universal shout,
 Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt
 Whether those peals of praise be his or no,
150 So, thrice-fair lady, stand I even so,
 As doubtful whether what I see be true,
 Until confirmed, signed, ratified by you.
 You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
 Such as I am. Though for myself alone

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

155 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
160 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
165 But she may learn; happier 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.
170 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
175 Are yours, my lord’s. I give them with this ring,
Handing him a 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.
 Madam, you have bereft me of all words.
180 Only my blood speaks to you in my veins,
 And there is such confusion in my powers
 As after some oration fairly spoke
 By a belovèd prince there doth appear
 Among the buzzing pleasèd multitude,
185 Where every something being blent together
 Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy
 Expressed and not expressed. But when this ring
 Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence.
 O, then be bold to say Bassanio’s dead!

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

190 My lord and lady, it is now our time,
 That have stood by and seen our wishes prosper,
 To cry “Good joy, good joy, my lord and lady!”
 My Lord Bassanio, and my gentle lady,
 I wish you all the joy that you can wish,
195 For I am sure you can wish none from me.
 And when your honors mean to solemnize
 The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you
 Even at that time I may be married too.
 With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.
200 I thank your Lordship, you have got me one.
 My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours:
 You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid.
 You loved, I loved; for intermission
 No more pertains to me, my lord, than you.
205 Your fortune stood upon the caskets there,
 And so did mine, too, as the matter falls.
 For wooing here until I sweat again,
 And swearing till my very roof was dry
 With oaths of love, at last (if promise last)
210 I got a promise of this fair one here
 To have her love, provided that your fortune
 Achieved her mistress.
PORTIA  Is this true, Nerissa?
 Madam, it is, so you stand pleased withal.
215 And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?
GRATIANO Yes, faith, my lord.
 Our feast shall be much honored in your marriage.
GRATIANO We’ll play with them the first boy for a
 thousand ducats.

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

NERISSA 220What, and stake down?
GRATIANO No, we shall ne’er win at that sport and
 stake down.

Enter Lorenzo, Jessica, and Salerio, a messenger
from Venice.

 But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel?
 What, and my old Venetian friend Salerio?
225 Lorenzo and Salerio, welcome hither—
 If that the youth of my new int’rest here
 Have power to bid you welcome. To Portia. By
 your leave,
 I bid my very friends and countrymen,
230 Sweet Portia, welcome.
 So do I, my lord. They are entirely welcome.
LORENZO, to Bassanio 
 I thank your Honor. For my part, my lord,
 My purpose was not to have seen you here,
 But meeting with Salerio by the way,
235 He did entreat me past all saying nay
 To come with him along.
SALERIO  I did, my lord,
 And I have reason for it.Handing him a paper.
 Signior Antonio
240 Commends him to you.
BASSANIO  Ere I ope his letter,
 I pray you tell me how my good friend doth.
 Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind,
 Nor well, unless in mind. His letter there
245 Will show you his estate.
Bassanio opens the letter.
 Nerissa, cheer yond stranger, bid her welcome.—
 Your hand, Salerio. What’s the news from Venice?

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

 How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio?
 I know he will be glad of our success.
250 We are the Jasons, we have won the Fleece.
 I would you had won the fleece that he hath lost.
 There are some shrewd contents in yond same
 That steals the color from Bassanio’s cheek.
255 Some dear friend dead, else nothing in the world
 Could turn so much the constitution
 Of any constant man. What, worse and worse?—
 With leave, Bassanio, I am half yourself,
 And I must freely have the half of anything
260 That this same paper brings you.
BASSANIO  O sweet Portia,
 Here are a few of the unpleasant’st words
 That ever blotted paper. Gentle lady,
 When I did first impart my love to you,
265 I freely told you all the wealth I had
 Ran in my veins: I was a gentleman.
 And then I told you true; and yet, dear lady,
 Rating myself at nothing, you shall see
 How much I was a braggart. When I told you
270 My state was nothing, I should then have told you
 That I was worse than nothing; for indeed
 I have engaged myself to a dear friend,
 Engaged my friend to his mere enemy
 To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady,
275 The paper as the body of my friend,
 And every word in it a gaping wound
 Issuing life blood.—But is it true, Salerio?
 Hath all his ventures failed? What, not one hit?
 From Tripolis, from Mexico and England,
280 From Lisbon, Barbary, and India,
 And not one vessel ’scape the dreadful touch
 Of merchant-marring rocks?

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 2

SALERIO  Not one, my lord.
 Besides, it should appear that if he had
285 The present money to discharge the Jew,
 He would not take it. Never did I know
 A creature that did bear the shape of man
 So keen and greedy to confound a man.
 He plies the Duke at morning and at night,
290 And doth impeach the freedom of the state
 If they deny him justice. Twenty merchants,
 The Duke himself, and the magnificoes
 Of greatest port have all persuaded with him,
 But none can drive him from the envious plea
295 Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond.
 When I was with him, I have heard him swear
 To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen,
 That he would rather have Antonio’s flesh
 Than twenty times the value of the sum
300 That he did owe him. And I know, my lord,
 If law, authority, and power deny not,
 It will go hard with poor Antonio.
 Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble?
 The dearest friend to me, the kindest man,
305 The best conditioned and unwearied spirit
 In doing courtesies, and one in whom
 The ancient Roman honor more appears
 Than any that draws breath in Italy.
PORTIA What sum owes he the Jew?
310 For me, three thousand ducats.
PORTIA  What, no more?
 Pay him six thousand and deface the bond.
 Double six thousand and then treble that,
 Before a friend of this description
315 Shall lose a hair through Bassanio’s fault.

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 3

 First go with me to church and call me wife,
 And then away to Venice to your friend!
 For never shall you lie by Portia’s side
 With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold
320 To pay the petty debt twenty times over.
 When it is paid, bring your true friend along.
 My maid Nerissa and myself meantime
 Will live as maids and widows. Come, away,
 For you shall hence upon your wedding day.
325 Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer;
 Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear.
 But let me hear the letter of your friend.
 Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried, my
 creditors grow cruel, my estate is very low, my bond to
330 the Jew is forfeit, and since in paying it, it is impossible
 I should live, all debts are cleared between you and I if
 I might but see you at my death. Notwithstanding, use
 your pleasure. If your love do not persuade you to
 come, let not my letter.

335 O love, dispatch all business and begone!
 Since I have your good leave to go away,
 I will make haste. But till I come again,
 No bed shall e’er be guilty of my stay,
 Nor rest be interposer ’twixt us twain.
They exit.