There were two main ways we chose to edit this page of the play. First we updated the spelling and punctuation of the original text and second we wrote new lines for Salerio. Our approach in updating the grammar of the page was to respell certain words so that they may match with the way they are spelled today. This helps greatly with readability and makes the text much more accessible. "Ryalto" we left as it was because we felt that proper nouns are slightly more malleable than others. Proper nouns appear differently across languages today and besides, it is not very difficult for the reader to derive "Rialto" from "Ryalto" on their own. We also changed the punctuation of the original text to what we felt was more free flowing and natural. We felt that there were too few periods in Shylock's speech and added some with the help of a modern edition of the play.
We gave new lines to Salerio because we felt that in the original text the response (or lack thereof) to Shylock's pleas for equality was disappointing. We as modern readers of the play may understand Shylock's speech as very moving and impactful but we wanted to recognize how this may not have been the case for early modern audiences. In our edit, Salerio speaks to provide the audience with the reasons why he and Salanio are not moved by Shylock's appeal. Shylock suggests the equality of Jews and Christians on the basis of shared physical attributes (i.e. hands, dimensions, blood, tears, laughs, etc.). However we think that Salerio would find this unconvincing because his arguments do not address Shylock's lack of a "Christian soul."
Shy. There I have another bad match, a bankrupt, a prodigal, who dare scarce show his head on the Ryalto, a beggar that was used to come so smug upon the Mart: let him look to his bond, he was wont to call me usurer, let him look to his bond, he was wont to lend money for a Christian courtesy, let him look to his bond.
Salari. Why I am sure if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh, what's that good for?
Shy. To bait fish withal. If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. 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, healed 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.
Salari. Thou hast only spoken of the physical aspect of thyself. How can thee be treated as mine own if your heart is not placed on the holy scale like mine? If we don't dine or pray together, how can we get along? Ah, here comes Antonio's man.
Enter a man from Antonio
Man. Gentlemen, my master Antonio is at his house and desires to speak with you both.
Saleri. We have been up and down to seek him.
Solanio. Here comes another of the tribe. A third cannot be matched, unless the devil himself turn Jew.
Exuent gentlemen [Solanio, Salerio, with Man]
Shy. How now, Tubal, what news from Genoa? Hast thou found my daughter?
Tubal. I often came where I did hear of her, but cannot find her.
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, E2v. London: 1600. Cacodemon Digital Shakespeare. Edited by [your names]. Source edition: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library (copy G.176.16). http://cacodemonshakespeare.com/comedies/merchant/e2v.
- Modern assistance in transcribing the text from
- Kaplan, M. Lindsay. Merchant of Venice: Texts and Contexts. Palgrave, 2002.
- " Thou hast only spoken of the physical aspect..." Added lines: not found in the original text.