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Merchant of Venice, G3r

Editorial note

With our digital version of G3r. we wanted to preserve the meaning of the text, and make it more readable for modern audiences. The meaning of the play can often get bogged down by how it was written in the past. Therefore, we took out a lot of the early modern English language with our editing. We omitted the long s characters, changed the spelling of words, added the full names for speakers, and kept in the scene divisions and stage directions. We changed all of the language and punctuation in order to adapt this scene for modern audiences. Our audience is modern-day readers of Shakespeare who may be learning the material in a class setting and are looking for a more comedic modernization to help them get the gist of the scene. We kept in bold the few words we kept the same from the original text, so readers can have the background knowledge of how the play was written and to give them the option to read the original. Although we took out the difficult to understand language, we have not changed the meaning of the scene. The language of Shakespeare can often turn off modern day audiences from classic plays and Shakespeare as a whole. By modernizing the text, readers can really grasp the meaning of the scene rather than spending their time trying to translate the language in their head. We think it's important to make classic literature accessible for those who may not be comfortable or familiar with reading Early Modern English language. With this transcription, we aimed to convey an otherwise "boring" and difficult to understand scene into something accessible for the audiences of today.

Modern Retelling of the scene

I’ll let you proceed.

⌜ACT 4⌝
⌜Scene 1⌝
Enter the Duke, the Magnificoes, Antonio, Bassanio,
⌜Salerio,⌝ and Gratiano, ⌜with Attendants.⌝

Wait, is Antonio here?

I’m ready, your honor.

I feel sorry for you. I mean, you’re trying to negotiate with a cruel and awful person. He’s a jerk, really. To be honest, he’s probably not going to show you mercy.

I know that you’re trying to save me from Shylock’s anger, but there’s nothing you can do. I’m ready to just keep my head down and take it. 

Alright, call the Jew in

He’s on his way! 

Shylock, you need to hear this. Basically, everyone thinks that you’re just acting cruel, and you’ll actually show Antonio some mercy at the end of this. Are you really going to take a pound of his flesh? Like actually? If you forgive him, you should not only cancel this debt but also the original amount. You need to show some sympathy, it hasn’t been easy for the merchant business lately. If you do this, the compassion you’ll get will be so overwhelming that even those with hard exteriors, such as Turks and Tartars, will be touched by this action.

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, G3r. London: 1600. Cacodemon Digital Shakespeare. Edited by Isabella Iype and Ellie Thadani. Source edition: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library (copy G.176.16).