Act III - Scene V

[the same]

Enter Clown [Launcelot] and Jessica.

Yes, truly;—for, look you, the sins of the father
are to be laid upon the children; therefore, I promise you
I fear you. I was always plain with you, and so now I
speak my agitation of the matter: therefore, be of good
chee; for, truly, I think you are damned. There is but one(5)
hope in it that can do you any good; and that is but a kind
of bastard hope neither.
And what hope is that, I pray thee?
Marry, you may partly hope that your father got
you not, that you are not the Jew's daughter.(10)
That were a kind of bastard hope, indeed; so, the sins
of my mother should be visited upon me.
Truly then I fear you are damned both by father
and mother: thus when I shun Scylla, your father, I fall
into Charybdis, your mother: well, you are gone both(15)
I shall be saved by my husband; he hath made me a
Truly, the more to blame he: we were Christians
enow before; e'en as many as could well live, one by(20)
another: This making Christians will raise the price of
hogs; if we grow all to be pork-eaters we shall not shortly
have a rasher on the coals for money.

[Enter Lorenzo.]

I'll tell my husband, Launcelot, what you say; here
he comes.(25)
I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Launcelot, if you
thus get my wife into corners.
Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo. Launcelot and I
are out: He tells me flatly, there is no mercy for me in heaven,
because I am a Jew's daughter: and he says, you are no good(30)
member of the commonwealth; for in converting Jews to
Christians, you raise the price of pork.
I shall answer that better to the commonwealth, than
you can the getting up of the negro's belly; the Moor is with
child by you, Launcelot.(35)
It is much, that the Moor should be more than
reason: but if she be less than an honest woman, she is,
indeed more than I took her for.
How every fool can play upon the word! I think the
best grace of wit will shortly turn into silence; and discourse(40)
grow commendable in none only but parrots.—Go in,
sirrah; bid them prepare for dinner.
That is done, sir; they have all stomachs.
Goodly Lord, what a wit-snapper are you! then bid
them prepare dinner.(45)
That is done too, sir: only, cover is the word.
Will you cover, then, sir?
Not so, sir, neither; I know my duty.
Yet more quarrelling with occasion! Wilt thou show
the whole wealth of thy wit in an instant? I pray thee,(50)
understand a plain man in his plain meaning; go to thy fellows; bid
them cover the table, serve in the meat, and we will come
in to dinner.
For the table, sir, it shall be served in; for the meat,
sir, it shall be covered; for your coming into dinner, sir, why,(55)
let it be as humours and conceits shall govern.

Exit Clown.

O dear discretion, how his words are suited!
The fool hath planted in his memory
An army of good words; and I do know
A many fools, that stand in better place,(60)
Garnish'd like him, that for a tricksy word
Defy the matter. How cheer'st thou, Jessica?
And now, good sweet, say thy opinion;—
How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio's wife?
Past all expressing. It is very meet,(65)
The Lord Bassanio live an upright life;
For, having such a blessing in his lady,
He finds the joys of heaven here on earth;
And, if on earth he do not mean it, then
In reason he should never come to heaven.(70)
Why, if two gods should play some heavenly match,
And on the wager lay two earthly women,
And Portia one, there must be something else
Pawn'd with the other; for the poor rude world
Hath not her fellow.(75)
Even such a husband
Hast thou of me, as she is for a wife.
Nay, but ask my opinion too of that.
I will anon; first, let us go to dinner.
Nay, let me praise you, while I have a stomach.(80)
No, pray thee, let it serve for table-talk;
Then, howso'er thou speak'st, 'mong other things
I shall digest it.
Well, I'll set you forth.



  1. Shakespeare uses "— is the word" multiple times throughout his plays. Launcelot's use of it here is the earliest example. It's frequency suggests that Shakespeare based this saying off a proverb that was popular at his time. However, it could also be something that he invented which he grew fond of an used often.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. By this Launcelot means that with more Christians, there will be more people eating pork, since Jews who keep kosher do not eat pork.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. In the Christian tradition, it is believed that all who accept Jesus as their lord and savior are absolved of their past sins and saved. Launcelot seems to miss this important tenant of his own faith when he tells Jessica that she is condemned.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Scylla was a sea monster in Greek mythology that lived in a narrow channel of water. His counterpart, Charybdis the whirlpool, resided in the same narrow passage. Adventurers would have to carefully navigate between the pair in order to return home safely.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. "Bastard" means debased or impure, but it also means a child of illegitimate parents. This double meaning hints at Launcelot's only solution to Jessica's "damnation": if she is not actually Shylock's daughter but an illegitimate bastard.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff