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Merchant of Venice, D2r

Editorial note

The three of us set out to modernize the language and add clarity to the text for the purpose of gently introducing a pre-teen audience to Shakespeares work. As a group, we feel that a large part of this class is not just learning about Shakespeares works and analyzing plays, but also learning how to engage with these texts. We feel that Shakespeare can often be daunting at first glance and want younger students to be able to engage with his work on their level.  Also, as most people probably can relate to, most instructional aids to younger students such as No Fear Shakespeare can sacrifice the prose and lyricism of Shakespeares work, and all texts meant for older students such as us only add clarification or historical context. With that in mind we wanted to create a middle ground. We wanted to maintain the lyricism of the original text as that is where the majority of the beauty can be found. Any red text refers to changes that we made for clarity's sake, not including simple modernization of spelling. We also added in color coding of themes present throughout the text as follows:

Pink - Love

Brown - Concealment, Shame, Disguise

Blue - Anti-semitism

Yellow - Clarity, Revelation, Light

All colors were chosen as we thought that they naturally went together as society views them, pink is often associated with Valentine's Day and love, brown is associated with the ground and darkness, blue is a color of many Jewish holidays, and yellow is the 'color' of the sun and many other sources of light.

with our-weathered ribs and ragged sails
lean, rent, and beggared by the strumpet wind;
                [Enter] Lorenzo.
Salerio: Here comes Lorenzo, more of this hereafter.
Lorenzo: Sweet friends, your patience for my long absence1
not I but my affairs have made you wait:
so when you're pleased to steal a wife
I'll wait2 as long for you then: approach
here dwells my father Jew. How? who's within?
                [Enter] Jessica above. [disguised as a boy]
Jessica: Who are you? tell me for more certainty,
Although3 I'll swear that I do know your voice4.
Lorenzo: Lorenzo and your love.
Jessica: Lorenzo certain, and my love indeed,
for who love I so much? and now who knows
but you Lorenzo whether I am yours?
Lorenzo: Heaven & your thoughts are witness that you are.
Jessica: Here catch this chest5, it is worth the pains,
I am glad this night you do not look at me,
for I am much ashamed of my change6:
But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit,
for if they could, Cupid himself would blush
to see me here transformed to a boy.
Lorenzo: Descend, for you must be my torch-bearer.
Jessica: What, must I hold a candle to my shames,
they in themselves in truth are clear.7  
Why, it's an vehicle8 of discovery and9 love,
and I should be obscured.
Lorenzo: So are you sweet
even in the lovely garnish of a boy, but come at once,
for the close night does play the runaway,
and we are staid for at Bassanio's feast.
Jessica: I will lock10 the doors & gild myself
with some more ducats, and be with you soon11.
                     [Exit Above]
Graziano: Now by my hood a gentile, and no Jew.
Lorenzo: Beshrew me but I love her heartily,

Image credit: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library, copy G.176.16. The most excellent historie of the merchant of Venice. First Quarto. London: 1600.

Citing this page: Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice, D2r. London: 1600. Cacodemon Digital Shakespeare. Edited by Charles Carrol, Lara Graber-Mitchell, and Carl Serhan. Source edition: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library (copy G.176.16).


  1. Originally "abode"
  2. Originally "When you shall please to play the thieves for wives I'll watch"
  3. Originally "Albeit"
  4. Originally "tongue"
  5. Originally "casket"
  6. Originally "exchange"
  7. Originally "good sooth, are too, too light"
  8. Originally "Office"
  9. Addition
  10. Originally "make fast"
  11. Originally "straight"