Act II - Scene VI

Enter the maskers, Gratiano and Salerio.

This is the pent-house, under which Lorenzo
Desir'd us to make stand.
His hour is almost past.
And it is marvel he out-dwells his hour,
For lovers ever run before the clock.(5)
O, ten times faster Venus' pigeons fly
To seal love's bonds new-made, than they are wont
To keep obliged faith unforfeited!
That ever holds: who riseth from a feast
With that keen appetite that he sits down?(10)
Where is the horse that doth untread again,
His tedious measures with the unbated fire,
That he did pace them first? All things that are,
Are with more spirit chased than enjoy'd.
How like a younger, or a prodigal,(15)
The scarfed bark puts from her native bay,
Hugg'd and embraced by the strumpet wind!

Enter Lorenzo.

How like a prodigal doth she return;
With over-weather'd ribs, and ragged sails,
Lean, rent, and beggar'd by the strumpet wind!(20)
Here comes Lorenzo;—more of this hereafter.
Sweet friends, your patience for my long abode:
Not I, but my affairs, have made you wait:
When you shall please to play the thieves for wives,
I'll watch as long for you then.—Approach;(25)
Here dwells my father Jew.—Ho! who's within?

[Enter] Jessica above.

Who are you? Tell me, for more certainty,
Albeit I'll swear that I do know your tongue.
Lorenzo, and thy love.
Lorenzo, certain; and my love, indeed;(30)
For who love I so much? And now, who knows
But you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours?
Heaven, and thy thoughts, are witness that thou
Here, catch this casket; it is worth the pains.(35)
I am glad 'tis night, you do not look on me,
For I am much asham'd of my exchange:
But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit;
For if they could, Cupid himself would blush,(40)
To see me thus transformed to a boy.
Descend, for you must be my torchbearer.
What, must I hold a candle to my shames?
They in themselves, good-sooth, are too-too light.
Why, 'tis an office of discovery, love;(45)
And I should be obscur'd.
So are you, sweet,
Even in the lovely garnish of a boy.
But come at once;
For the close night doth play the run-away,(50)
And we are stay'd for at Bassanio's feast.
I will make fast the doors, and gild myself
With some more ducats, and be with you straight.

[Exit above]

Now, by my hood, a Gentile and no Jew.
Beshrew me, but I love her heartily:(55)
For she is wise, if I can judge of her;
And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true;
And true she is, as she hath prov'd herself;
And therefore, like herself, wise, fair, and true,
Shall she be placed in my constant soul.(60)

Enter Jessica, [below].

What, art thou come?—On, gentlemen, away;
Our masquing mates by this time for us stay.

Exit [with Jessica and Salerio]

Enter Antonio

Who's there?
Signior Antonio!
Fie, fie, Gratiano! where are all the rest?(65)
'Tis nine o'clock, our friends all stay for you:
No masque to-night, the wind is come about;
Bassanio presently will go aboard:
I have sent twenty out to seek for you.
I am glad on't; I desire no more delight,(70)
Than to be under sail and gone to-night.



  1. Notice that all of Lorenzo's compliments or reasons why he loves Jessica are mediated by this "if." This suggests that Lorenzo is not sure, but instead doubts his judgement and his eyes. His final compliment, that she has "proved herself true," is contradicted by the very action of running away with him: she has proved herself untrue to Shylock. This list of things he loves about her are undermined by the language that he uses to describe his love.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. "Beshrew" was a colloquial way to say, "curse me." In this line, Lorenzo states that he loves Jessica against his better judgement.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Notice how many times money and appearance come up in this scene. Unlike the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet in which the characters spend their time expressing ardent love for one another, these two lovers seem to be focused on anything but the other person. Jessica's constant mentioning of money could suggest that she fears Lorenzo is only interested in the money she brings to the marriage.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Much of this play explores the theme of outward appearance vs. internal content. From the caskets that are outwardly beautiful but inwardly grotesque, to the Christians with outward claims of piety and inward desires for wealth, gender reversal is yet another instance in which something is not as it appears to be.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Notice that unlike Portia's caskets, from which suitors must choose lead instead of gold or silver, Jessica chooses a casket full of gold and silver to throw to Lorenzo. In Jessica's case, the money is what makes Lorenzo's labors "worth the pains." In Portia's case, Portia is the prize that men get for their pains.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. By this, Salerio means that new lovers move faster than married lovers since new lovers have not yet sealed their bond. Notice the language of monetary transaction used to describe love here.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. Venus is the Roman goddess of love. In mythology she drives a chariot pulled by doves. Calling the birds that pull her chariot "pigeons" makes a joke out of the mythological story.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff