Act V


Enter Lorenzo and Jessica.

The moon shines bright:—in such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,
And they did make no noise,—in such a night,
Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls,
And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents,(5)
Where Cressid lay that night.
In such a night,
Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew,
And saw the lion's shadow ere himself,
And ran dismay'd away.(10)
In such a night,
Stood Dido, with a willow in her hand,
Upon the wild sea-banks, and waft her love
To come again to Carthage.
In such a night,(15)
Medea gather'd the enchanted herbs
That did renew old Æson.
In such a night,
Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew,
And with an unthrift love did run from Venice,(20)
As far as Belmont.
In such a night,
Did young Lorenzo swear he lov'd her well;
Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
And ne'er a true one.(25)
In such a night,
Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
Slander her love, and he forgave it her.
I would out-night you, did no body come;
But, hark, I hear the footing of a man.(30)

Enter Messenger [Stephano].

Who comes so fast in silence of the night?
A friend.
A friend? what friend? your name, I pray you,
Stephano is my name; and I bring word(35)
My mistress will before the break of day
Be here at Belmont; she doth stray about
By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
For happy wedlock hours.
Who comes with her?(40)
None, but a holy hermit, and her maid.
I pray you, is my master yet return'd?
He is not, nor we have not heard from him.—
But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica,
And ceremoniously let us prepare(45)
Some welcome for the mistress of the house.

[Enter Launcelot]

Sola, sola! wo ha, ho! sola, sola!
Who calls?
Sola! did you see Master Lorenzo, and Mistress
Lorenzo? sola, sola!(50)
Leave hollaing, man; here.
Sola! Where? where?
Tell him there's a post come from my master,
with his horn full of good news; my master will be here(55)
ere morning.
Sweet soul, let's in, and there expect their coming;
And yet no matter:—why should we go in?
My friend Stephano, signify, I pray you,
Within the house, your mistress is at hand:(60)
And bring your music forth into the air.
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears; soft stillness, and the night,
Become the touches of sweet harmony.(65)
Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold.
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st,
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins:(70)
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.—
Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn;
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,(75)
And draw her home with music. Play music.
I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
The reason is, your spirits are attentive:
For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,(80)
Fetching mad bounds, bellowing, and neighing loud,
Which is the hot condition of their blood,
If they but hear, perchance, a trumpet sound,
Or any air of music touch their ears,
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,(85)
Their savage eyes turn'd to a modest gaze,
By the sweet power of music. Therefore, the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones and floods;
Since nought so stockish, hard, and full of rage,
But music for the time doth change his nature.(90)
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:(95)
Let no such man be trusted.—Mark the music.

Enter Portia and Nerissa.

That light we see is burning in my hall:
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
When the moon shone, we did not see the candle.(100)
So doth the greater glory dim the less:
A substitute shines brightly as a king,
Unto the king be by; and then his state,
Empties itself, as doth an inland brook
Into the main of waters. Music! hark!(105)
It is your music, madam, of the house.
Nothing is good, I see, without respect;
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.
The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark,(110)
When neither is attended; and, I think,
The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
How many things by season season'd are(115)
To their right praise and true perfection!—
Peace, ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion,
And would not be awak'd. Music ceases.
That is the voice,
Or I am much deceiv'd, of Portia.(120)
He knows me as the blind man knows the cuckoo,
By the bad voice.
Dear lady, welcome home.
We have been praying for our husbands' welfare,
Which speed, we hope, the better for our words.(125)
Are they return'd?
Madam, they are not yet;
But there is come a messenger before,
To signify their coming.
Go in, Nerissa;(130)
Give order to my servants, that they take
No note at all of our being absent hence;
Nor you, Lorenzo:—Jessica, nor you. A tucket sounds.
Your husband is at hand; I hear his trumpet:
We are no tell-tales, madam; fear you not.(135)
This night, methinks, is but the daylight sick.
It looks a little paler; 'tis a day,
Such as the day is, when the sun is hid.

Enter Bassanio, Antonio, Gratiano, and their followers.

We should hold day with the Antipodes,
If you would walk in absence of the sun.(140)
Let me give light, but let me not be light;
For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
And never be Bassanio so for me:
But God sort all!—You are welcome home, my lord.
I thank you, madam: Give welcome to my friend.—(145)
This is the man, this is Antonio,
To whom I am so infinitely bound.
You should in all sense be much bound to him.
For, as I hear, he was much bound for you.
No more than I am well acquitted of.(150)
Sir, you are very welcome to our house:
It must appear in other ways than words,
Therefore, I scant this breathing courtesy.
By yonder moon, I swear you do me wrong;
In faith, I gave it to the judge's clerk:(155)
Would he were gelt that had it, for my part,
Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.
A quarrel, ho, already! what's the matter?
About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
That she did give me; whose posy was(160)
For all the world, like cutler's poetry
Upon a knife, Love me, and leave me not!
What talk you of the posy, or the value?
You swore to me, when I did give it you,
That you would wear it till your hour of death;(165)
And that it should lie with you in your grave:
Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
You should have been respective, and have kept it.
Gave it a judge's clerk!—no, God's my judge!
The clerk will ne'er wear hair on's face that had it.(170)
He will, an if he live to be a man.
Ay, if a woman live to be a man.
Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,—
A kind of boy; a little scrubbed boy,
No higher than thyself, the judge's clerk;(175)
A prating boy, that begg'd it as a fee;
I could not for my heart deny it him.
You were to blame, I must be plain with you,
To part so slightly with your wife's first gift;
A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger,(180)
And so riveted with faith unto your flesh.
I gave my love a ring, and made him swear
Never to part with it; and here he stands,—
I dare be sworn for him he would not leave it,
Nor pluck it from his finger, for the wealth(185)
That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano,
You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief;
An 'twere to me, I should be mad at it.
Why, I were best to cut my left hand off
And swear I lost the ring defending it.(190)
My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away
Unto the judge that begg'd it, and, indeed,
Deserv'd it too; and then the boy, his clerk,
That took some pains in writing, he begg'd mine:
And neither man, nor master, would take aught(195)
But the two rings.
What ring gave you my lord?
Not that, I hope, which you receiv'd of me.
If I could add a lie unto a fault,
I would deny it; but you see, my finger(200)
Hath not the ring upon it, it is gone.
Even so void is your false heart of truth.
By heaven, I will ne'er come in your bed
Until I see the ring.
Nor I in yours(205)
Till I again see mine.
Sweet Portia,
If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
And would conceive for what I gave the ring,(210)
And how unwillingly I left the ring,
When nought would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate the strength of your displeasure.
If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,(215)
Or your own honour to contain the ring,
You would not then have parted with the ring.
What man is there so much unreasonable,
If you had pleas'd to have defended it
With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty(220)
To urge the thing held as a ceremony?
Nerissa teaches me what to believe;
I'll die for't, but some woman had the ring.
No, by mine honour, madam, by my soul,
No woman had it, but a civil doctor,
Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me
And begg'd the ring; the which I did deny him,
And suffer'd him to go displeas'd away;
Even he that had uphold the very life(225)
Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
I was enforc'd to send it after him;
I was beset with shame and courtesy;
My honour would not let ingratitude
So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady;(230)
For, by these blessed candles of the night,
Had you been there, I think, you would have begg'd
The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.
Let not that doctor e'er come near my house:
Since he hath got the jewel that I lov'd,(235)
And that which you did swear to keep for me,
I will become as liberal as you;
I'll not deny him any thing I have,
No, not my body, nor my husband's bed:
Know him I shall, I am well sure of it:(240)
Lie not a night from home; watch me, like Argus;
If you do not, if I be left alone,
Now, by mine honour, which is yet mine own,
I'll have that doctor for my bedfellow.
And I his clerk; therefore be well advis'd(245)
How you do leave me to mine own protection.
Well, do you so: let not me take him then,
For if I do, I'll mar the young clerk's pen.
I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels.
Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome notwithstanding.(250)
Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong;
And, in the hearing of these many friends,
I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
Wherein I see myself,—
Mark you but that!(255)
In both my eyes he doubly sees himself:
In each eye, one:—swear by your double self,
And there's an oath of credit.
Nay, but hear me:
Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear,(260)
I never more will break an oath with thee.
I once did lend my body for his wealth;
Which, but for him that had your husband's ring,
Had quite miscarried: I dare be bound again,
My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord(265)
Will never more break faith advisedly.
Then you shall be his surety. Give him this
And bid him keep it better than the other.
Here, Lord Bassanio; swear to keep this ring.
By heaven, it is the same I gave the doctor!(270)
I had it of him: pardon me, Bassanio:
For by this ring the doctor lay with me.
And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano;
For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor's clerk,
In lieu of this last night did lie with me.(275)
Why, this is like the mending of highways
In summer, where the ways are fair enough:
What! are we cuckolds, ere we have deserv'd it?
Speak not so grossly.—You are all amaz'd:
Here is a letter; read it at your leisure;(280)
It comes from Padua, from Bellario:
There you shall find that Portia was the doctor;
Nerissa there, her clerk: Lorenzo here
Shall witness, I set forth as soon as you,
And but e'en now return'd; I have not yet(285)
Enter'd my house.—Antonio, you are welcome;
And I have better news in store for you,
Than you expect: unseal this letter soon;
There you shall find, three of your argosies
Are richly come to harbour suddenly:(290)
You shall not know by what strange accident
I chanced on this letter.
I am dumb.
Were you the doctor, and I knew you not?(295)
Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?
Ay, but the clerk that never means to do it,
Unless he live until he be a man.
Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow;
When I am absent, then lie with my wife.
Sweet lady, you have given me life, and living;(300)
For here I read for certain, that my ships
Are safely come to road.
How now, Lorenzo?
My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.
Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.—(305)
There do I give to you and Jessica,
From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,
After his death, of all he dies possess'd of.
Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
Of starved people.(310)
It is almost morning,
And yet, I am sure, you are not satisfied
Of these events at full. Let us go in;
And charge us there upon inter'gatories,
And we will answer all things faithfully.(315)
Let it be so. the first inter'gatory,
That my Nerissa shall be sworn on, is,
Whether till the next night she had rather stay,
Or go to bed now, being two hours to day:
But were the day come, I should wish it dark,(320)
That I were couching with the doctor's clerk.
Well, while I live, I'll fear no other thing
So sore, as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.



  1. The play ends on a pun. "Ring" means both the physical jewelry that Nerissa has given Gratiano and was a slang term for a woman's vagina.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Inter'gatories are questions asked in a courtroom that the defendant must answer. Notice that even after the happy ending has been arranged, the language of contracts, legal boundaries, and obligation are still used to describe their relationships.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Manna is the divine food of the gods which fell to earth from heaven when the Israelites were exiled to the desert in Exodus. Notice that the Christians evoke Jewish imagery despite having degraded and abused Shylock.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Remember that Lorenzo knew Portia just by the sound of her voice. Here Bassanio touches on the main problem of his love for Portia: it is based on sight and context rather than actual knowledge. Their love touches on one of the play's major themes the difference between something's appearance and something's content.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. In this context "dumb" means unable to speak. Antonio cannot believe that his ships have come into the harbor, and Portia offers no explanation as to why they have returned or why she knows about it.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. Gratiano compares the lesson that their wives have taught them to roads in summer. The lesson was as unnecessary as fixing roads in the summer time which have not yet been destroyed by weather.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. Portia gives Antonio a ring to give to Bassanio. This symbolically enacts the marriage ceremony: Antonio weds Portia to Bassanio. This cuts Antonio out of the romantic ending and displaces him so that the main bond is between Portia and Bassanio instead of Antonio and Bassanio.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. Notice that Antonio inserts himself into the lovers's quarrel, making himself the subject of their fight and displacing Portia. Portia is immediately dismissive of his claim.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. Portia endowed the ring with the symbolic power of her chastity and her vast wealth and gave it to Bassanio. In giving away her ring, now she belongs to the doctor to whom he gave it —which means that she is in possession of herself as she is the doctor. While the audience hears the comedy in this, Bassanio, who does not yet know that Portia posed as his wife, only hears that she will be unfaithful to him now that he has broken his vow to her.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Argus is a mythological beast that had a hundred eyes. He was tasked with keeping watch over Io, one of Zeus's mortal lovers.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. Notice how many times Portia and Bassanio say the word "ring" during this exchange. Bassanio's emphasis on the ring is it as an object, where as Portia uses her repetition to demonstrate how the ring is a symbol. It is not only a sign of Bassanio's devotion to Portia but of Portia herself.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. Ironically, Portia does know to whom Bassanio gave the ring, for what purpose, and in what manner. While Bassanio claims that if she knew these things she would readily forgive him, it is actually for these very things that she does not forgive him. In repeating this phrase, Bassanio add to the tension and comedy of the scene.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony here to build tension and comedy. Portia and the audience know that Bassanio has given her ring away to the doctor (who was Portia herself). In feigning ignorance to what happened, Portia is able to present herself as an innocent victim and hyperbolize her disappointment.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. By "cutler's poetry" Gratiano means a juvenile verse, similar to the kind of inscription that might be written on a knife. Gratiano adds insult to injury by devaluing the ring, a symbol of his commitment to Nerissa.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. Notice that even though Portia freed Antonio while disguised as the doctor, these two men are still bound to each other. Portia must now use the ring to redirect Bassanio's love and faithfulness onto herself.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  16. By "light" Portia means unfaithful. Notice that Portia greets her husband's return with a pledge of her faithfulness, which she knows he has broken by giving away her ring.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  17. In Shakespeare's time, many people believed that on the opposite side of the world there were people who walked on their hands with their feet in the air.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  18. Notice that Lorenzo immediately recognizes Portia by her voice while Bassanio could not recognize her by appearance or voice during the trial. Even though Portia was in disguise in Venice, the immediate recognition that occurs in this scene problematizes Bassanio's easy acceptance of Portia's disguise.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  19. Endymion was a handsome shepherd who was half mortal and half god. In the myth, Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon, falls madly in love with Endymion. She asks his father, Zeus, to give him eternal life so that he can remain ever beautiful. However, in granting her request Zeus also gives his son eternal slumber.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  20. Portia's poetic description of the candle and the moon underscore her own relationship. Portia, like the little candle in her house, is being over shadowed by a "greater glory," Bassanio's love for Antonio.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  21. Erebus was a dark place in Greek mythology that lay between Earth and Hades, life and death. Lorenzo equates a descent from life into Hades to not liking music. Because Jessica has just said that she does not like music, this criticism seems to be directed at her.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  22. Orpheus is a musician from Ovid's Metamorphosis who played such beautiful music that even the stones and the floods paid attention to him.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  23. Remember that Shylock earlier expressed a hatred for music in his house and was chided for it. Jessica is the only other character in the play who dislikes music. Here it shows that she does not fully fit into Lorenzo's world.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  24. "Sola, sola" is a vocal expression used to imitate the sound of a horn that announces a messenger's arrival.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  25. By "holy crosses" the messenger means roadside shrines. He uses this metaphor to show the audience that Portia is traveling and that she is anxious. By kneeling and praying for her husband Jessica and Lorenzo may hear that she is worried about the situation between Antonio and Shylock. However, as we have just witnessed the resolution of that problem, we know that she is more anxious that Bassanio loves Antonio more than her.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  26. Lorenzo and Jessica recount these famous stories of lovers in anticipation in order to classify their love as one of the great love stories in history. This catalogue of tragic lovers is ironically comedic however, because each of the love stories they mention ends tragically with the lovers betraying each other or dying.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  27. Medea is a character from Greek mythology who creates a potion that makes Aeson, her lover Jason's father, young again. She later murders her children after Jason abandons her to marry King Creon's daughter Glauce.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  28. Dido is a character from Virgil's Aeneid. Aeneas delays his journey to find a second home after the fall of Troy when he falls in love with Dido and stays in Carthage. When Mercury is sent to remind Aeneas of his mission, he abandons Dido. Heartbroken, Dido commits suicide atop a funeral pyre.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  29. Pyramus and Thisbe are lovers from an Ovidian myth separated by a wall and their family's feud. They fall in love through a crack in the wall and agree to meet each other outside their houses under the Mulberry tree. Thisbe arrives first and is scarred off by a lion. Pyramus arrives to find his love's scarf and the lion, and fearing she has been eaten, kills himself out of grief. When she returns to meet her lover, Thisbe finds Pyramus dead and commits suicide as well.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  30. Troilus and Cressida is a medieval story by Chaucer and later retold by Shakespeare that takes place during the Trojan War. As punishment for mocking love, Troilus is struck by Cupid's arrow and falls madly in love with Cressida, a Trojan woman. They exchange love letters and eventually spend the night together. When Cressida is traded to the Greeks for a Trojan prisoner of war, she promises to return to her lover. But when this becomes impossible, she takes up another lover in the Greek camp and betrays her promises to Troilus.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  31. Here, Lorenzo claims that there is something inherently wrong with people who do not like music. They are deceptive and lower than animals as animals are even moved by "sweet sounds." Shylock and Jessica are the only two characters in the play who express distaste for music, suggesting that they have a darker disposition or propensity for treason. Notice that these lines occur after Shylock has been defeated and Portia has claimed that Christians should have mercy. This suggests that the Christians have learned nothing and that the antisemitic hierarchy persists in Venice.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff