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PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

The Merchant of Venice Scenes


Scene 5

Venice. Before Shylock’s house.

(Shylock; Launcelot; Jessica)

Shylock bids a grumpy farewell to Launcelot as he prepares to leave for dinner at Bassanio’s, predicting that the servant will not find life so easy with another master. He is uneasy and does not particularly wish to go to the meal. Still, he gives Jessica his keys and tells her to bar herself up against the possibility of seeing revelers pass by. He leaves. (50 lines)

Enter Shylock the Jew and his man that was, the Clown Launcelot.

SHY.

Well, thou shalt see, thy eyes shall be thy judge,

The difference of old Shylock and Bassanio.—

What, Jessica!—Thou shalt not gurmandize,

As thou hast done with me—What, Jessica!—

And sleep and snore, and rend apparel out—

Why, Jessica, I say!

LAUN.

Why, Jessica!

SHY.

Who bids thee call? I do not bid thee call.

LAUN.

Your worship was wont to tell me I could do nothing without bidding.

Enter Jessica.

JES.

Call you? What is your will?

SHY.

I am bid forth to supper, Jessica.

There are my keys. But wherefore should I go?

I am not bid for love, they flatter me,

But yet I’ll go in hate, to feed upon

The prodigal Christian. Jessica, my girl,

Look to my house. I am right loath to go;

There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest,

For I did dream of money-bags tonight.

LAUN.

I beseech you, sir, go. My young master doth expect your reproach.

SHY.

So do I his.

LAUN.

And they have conspir’d together. I will not say you shall see a masque, but if you do, then it was not for nothing that my nose fell a-bleeding on Black Monday last at six a’ clock i’ th’ morning, falling out that year on Ash We’n’sday was four year in th’ afternoon.

SHY.

What, are there masques? Hear you me, Jessica:

Lock up my doors, and when you hear the drum

And the vile squealing of the wry-neck’d fife,

Clamber not you up to the casements then,

Nor thrust your head into the public street

To gaze on Christian fools with varnish’d faces;

But stop my house’s ears, I mean my casements;

Let not the sound of shallow fopp’ry enter

My sober house. By Jacob’s staff I swear

I have no mind of feasting forth tonight;

But I will go. Go you before me, sirrah,

Say I will come.

LAUN.

I will go before, sir. Mistress, look out at window for all this—

There will come a Christian by,

Will be worth a Jewess’ eye.

Exit.

SHY.

What says that fool of Hagar’s offspring, ha?

JES.

His words were “Farewell, mistress!”—nothing else.

SHY.

The patch is kind enough, but a huge feeder,

Snail-slow in profit, and he sleeps by day

More than the wild-cat. Drones hive not with me,

Therefore I part with him, and part with him

To one that I would have him help to waste

His borrowed purse. Well, Jessica, go in,

Perhaps I will return immediately.

Do as I bid you, shut doors after you;

Fast bind, fast find—

A proverb never stale in thrifty mind.

Exit.

JES.

Farewell, and if my fortune be not cross’d,

I have a father, you a daughter, lost.

Exit.

 

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