List iconThe Merchant of Venice:
Act 3, scene 4
List icon

The Merchant of Venice
Act 3, scene 4



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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Quill icon
Scene 4
Enter Portia, Nerissa, Lorenzo, Jessica, and Balthazar,
a man of Portia’s.

 Madam, although I speak it in your presence,
 You have a noble and a true conceit
 Of godlike amity, which appears most strongly
 In bearing thus the absence of your lord.
5 But if you knew to whom you show this honor,
 How true a gentleman you send relief,
 How dear a lover of my lord your husband,
 I know you would be prouder of the work
 Than customary bounty can enforce you.
10 I never did repent for doing good,
 Nor shall not now; for in companions
 That do converse and waste the time together,
 Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love,
 There must be needs a like proportion
15 Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit;
 Which makes me think that this Antonio,
 Being the bosom lover of my lord,
 Must needs be like my lord. If it be so,
 How little is the cost I have bestowed
20 In purchasing the semblance of my soul
 From out the state of hellish cruelty!

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 4

 This comes too near the praising of myself;
 Therefore no more of it. Hear other things:
 Lorenzo, I commit into your hands
25 The husbandry and manage of my house
 Until my lord’s return. For mine own part,
 I have toward heaven breathed a secret vow
 To live in prayer and contemplation,
 Only attended by Nerissa here,
30 Until her husband and my lord’s return.
 There is a monastery two miles off,
 And there we will abide. I do desire you
 Not to deny this imposition,
 The which my love and some necessity
35 Now lays upon you.
LORENZO  Madam, with all my heart.
 I shall obey you in all fair commands.
 My people do already know my mind
 And will acknowledge you and Jessica
40 In place of Lord Bassanio and myself.
 So fare you well till we shall meet again.
 Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on you!
 I wish your Ladyship all heart’s content.
 I thank you for your wish, and am well pleased
45 To wish it back on you. Fare you well, Jessica.
Lorenzo and Jessica exit.
 Now, Balthazar,
 As I have ever found thee honest true,
 So let me find thee still: take this same letter,
 And use thou all th’ endeavor of a man
50 In speed to Padua. See thou render this
 Into my cousin’s hands, Doctor Bellario.
She gives him a paper.

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 4

 And look what notes and garments he doth give
 Bring them, I pray thee, with imagined speed
55 Unto the traject, to the common ferry
 Which trades to Venice. Waste no time in words,
 But get thee gone. I shall be there before thee.
 Madam, I go with all convenient speed.He exits.
 Come on, Nerissa, I have work in hand
60 That you yet know not of. We’ll see our husbands
 Before they think of us.
NERISSA  Shall they see us?
 They shall, Nerissa, but in such a habit
 That they shall think we are accomplishèd
65 With that we lack. I’ll hold thee any wager,
 When we are both accoutered like young men,
 I’ll prove the prettier fellow of the two,
 And wear my dagger with the braver grace,
 And speak between the change of man and boy
70 With a reed voice, and turn two mincing steps
 Into a manly stride, and speak of frays
 Like a fine bragging youth, and tell quaint lies
 How honorable ladies sought my love,
 Which I denying, they fell sick and died—
75 I could not do withal!—then I’ll repent,
 And wish, for all that, that I had not killed them.
 And twenty of these puny lies I’ll tell,
 That men shall swear I have discontinued school
 Above a twelvemonth. I have within my mind
80 A thousand raw tricks of these bragging jacks
 Which I will practice.
NERISSA  Why, shall we turn to men?
PORTIA Fie, what a question’s that,
 If thou wert near a lewd interpreter!

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 3. SC. 5

85 But come, I’ll tell thee all my whole device
 When I am in my coach, which stays for us
 At the park gate; and therefore haste away,
 For we must measure twenty miles today.
They exit.