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The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

 Table of Contents


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The Merchant of Venice Race Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton Shakespeare edition.

Quote #4

You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
'Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last,
You spurn'd me such a day; another time
You call'd me dog; and for these courtesies
I'll lend you thus much moneys'?
I am as like to call thee so again,
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too. (1.3.17)

Yikes! When Shylock points out that Antonio has treated him like garbage, Antonio is unapologetic and insists that his racist behavior will never change, not even if Shylock lends him money.  When we read passages like this, we wonder whether Antonio's abuse of Shylock  is at least partially to blame for our "villain's" treacherous behavior later in the play.  

Quote #5

He hath disgraced me, and
hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction. (3.1.6)

This is probably the most famous passage in the entire play. When Shylock asks "if you prick us do we not bleed?" he insists on the fact that Jews and Christians share a common humanity. Here, Shylock also exposes the hypocrisy of the Christian characters who are always talking about Christian love and mercy but then go out of their way to alienate Shylock because he's Jewish and different. This is powerful stuff, but we should also point out that, elsewhere in the play, Shylock himself tends to emphasize the differences between Jews and Christians. (See 1.3.8 for evidence of this.)

Psst. Click here to check out our favorite performance of this speech, by actor Al Pacino.

Quote #6

If it please you to dine with us.
Yes, to smell pork, to eat of the habitation which your
prophet, the Nazarite, conjured the devil into!
I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you,
and so following, but I will not eat with you, drink with you,
nor pray with you. (1.3.8)

Here we receive a lesson in how not to turn down a multi-faith dinner invitation. Shylock reveals here that he can be just as bigoted as Antonio when he refuses to eat, drink, or pray with men who don't share his religious identity. 

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