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The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice Translation Act 2, Scene 7

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Flourish cornets. Enter PORTIA with the Prince of MOROCCO, and both their trains

PORTIA

[to servant[ Go draw aside the curtains and discoverThe several caskets to this noble prince.— [A curtain is drawn showing a gold, silver, and lead casket] [to MOROCCO] Now make your choice.

PORTIA

[To a servant] Go open the curtains and reveal the caskets to this noble prince.

[The servant opens a curtain revealing three caskets: a gold one, a silver one, and a lead one.]

 [To MOROCCO] Now choose one of the caskets.

MOROCCO

The first, of gold, who this inscription bears: “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.” The second, silver, which this promise carries: “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.” This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt: “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.” How shall I know if I do choose the right?

MOROCCO

The first one, made of gold, has this inscription: "He who chooses me will get what many men desire." The second one, made of silver, has this promise written on it: "He who chooses me will get as much as he deserves." The third one, made of dull lead, has this blunt warning: "He who chooses me must give up and risk all that he has." How will I know if I choose the right casket?

PORTIA

The one of them contains my picture, Prince.If you choose that, then I am yours withal.

PORTIA

One of them has my picture inside, Prince. If you choose that one then I am yours.

MOROCCO

Some god direct my judgment! Let me see. I will survey th' inscriptions back again. What says this leaden casket? “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.” Must give—for what? For lead? Hazard for lead? This casket threatens . Men that hazard all Do it in hope of fair advantages. A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross. I’ll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead. What says the silver with her virgin hue? “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.” “As much as he deserves!”—pause there, Morocco, And weigh thy value with an even hand. If thou beest rated by thy estimation, Thou dost deserve enough, and yet enough May not extend so far as to the lady, And yet to be afeard of my deserving Were but a weak disabling of myself. As much as I deserve! Why, that’s the lady. I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes, In graces, and in qualities of breeding. But more than these, in love I do deserve. What if I strayed no further, but chose here? Let’s see once more this saying graved in gold, “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.” Why, that’s the lady. All the world desires her. From the four corners of the earth they come To kiss this shrine, this mortal breathing saint. The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds Of wide Arabia are as thoroughfares now For princes to come view fair Portia. The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar To stop the foreign spirits, but they come As o'er a brook to see fair Portia. One of these three contains her heavenly picture. Is ’t like that lead contains her? 'Twere damnation To think so base a thought. It were too gross To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave. Or shall I think in silver she’s immured, Being ten times undervalued to tried gold? O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem Was set in worse than gold. They have in England A coin that bears the figure of an angel Stamped in gold, but that’s insculped upon. But here an angel in a golden bed Lies all within.— Deliver me the key. Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may!

MOROCCO

May some god help me make my choice! Let's see. I will look over the inscriptions again. What does the lead casket say? "He who chooses me must give up and risk all that he has." Must give up for what? For some lead? Risk everything for lead? This casket's inscription doesn't bode well. If I am going to risk everything, it must be in hope of a big reward. A golden mind doesn't stoop to trash. I won't risk or give up anything for lead, then. What does the silver one, with its pure hue, say? "He who chooses me will get as much as he deserves." As much as he deserves! I need to think this over for a second, and consider how much I deserve. If I were to judge myself, I'd say that I deserve quite a bit, but quite a bit might not be enough to merit the lady. But I do myself a disservice in underestimating what I deserve. I deserve her by my noble birth and my wealth, by my good graces and good breeding. But even more than this, I deserve her because of my love for her. What if I didn't consider the other caskets and chose this one? Let's see the saying engraved on the gold one more time. "He who chooses me will get what many men desire." Well, that's the lady. The whole world desires her. They come from the four corners of the earth to kiss her, this living saint. The deserts of the Middle East and the vast wilds of Arabia are practically highways now for princes to come see beautiful Portia. The kingdom of the ocean, whose waves rise to touch heaven itself, cannot stop the foreign suitors from coming. They cross the sea as if it is a little stream to see beautiful Portia. One of these three caskets contains her heavenly picture. Is it likely that ugly lead would contain her? I'd be damned if I thought such a horrible thought. It would be too terrible to enclose her beauty in such a casket. Or is she in the silver one, worth ten times less than gold? What a sinful thought! Such a rich gem as she is has never been set in anything worse than gold. In England there's a gold coin that's stamped with the figure of an angel, but that's just engraved on top of it. Here, an angel lies within a golden bed. Give me the key. I choose this one, and hope that my choice will bring me joy!

PORTIA

[giving MOROCCO a key] There, take it, Prince. And if my form lie thereThen I am yours.

PORTIA

[Giving MOROCCO a key] There, take it, Prince. And if my picture is within, then I am yours.

MOROCCO opens the golden casket

MOROCCO

O hell, what have we here? A carrion death, within whose empty eye There is a written scroll. I’ll read the writing. [reads] “All that glisters is not gold— Often have you heard that told. Many a man his life hath sold But my outside to behold. Gilded tombs do worms enfold. Had you been as wise as bold, Young in limbs, in judgment old, Your answer had not been inscrolled. Fare you well. Your suit is cold— Cold, indeed, and labor lost.” Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost! Portia, adieu. I have too grieved a heart To take a tedious leave. Thus losers part.

MOROCCO

Oh hell, what is this? A skull, and inside the eye socket is a scroll. I'll read what's written on it.

[He reads aloud] "All that glitters is not gold—you have often heard this saying. Many a man has given up his life just to see my outside. But golden tombs contain nothing but worms. If you had been as wise as you were bold, with the strength of youth in your body but the good judgment of old age in your mind, you wouldn't have chosen this casket. Fare well. Your attempt to get Portia is unsuccessful and all wasted effort." Now, goodbye passion and hello cold solitude. Portia, goodbye. My heart is too sad to take long in leaving. This is how losers depart.

Exit MOROCCO with his train

PORTIA

A gentle riddance.—Draw the curtains, go.—Let all of his complexion choose me so.

PORTIA

Good riddance. Close the curtains back up. I hope everyone of his complexion will choose that cask.

Exeunt

The merchant of venice
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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.