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The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

  

by William Shakespeare

 Table of Contents

The Merchant of Venice Race Quotes

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

Quote #4

SHYLOCK
You call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog,
And spet upon my Jewish gaberdine,
[...]
'Fair sir, you spet on me on Wednesday
   last,
You spurned me such a day; another time
You called me dog; and for these courtesies
I'll lend you thus much moneys'?
ANTONIO
I am as like to call thee so again,
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too. (1.3.121-122; 135-141)

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

SHYLOCK
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. (3.1.53-72)

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

BASSANIO
If it please you to dine with us.
SHYLOCK
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. (1.3.132-138)

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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