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The Merchant of Venice

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Enter BASSANIO, PORTIA, GRATIANO, NERISSA, and all their trains, including a SINGER
BASSANIO, PORTIA, GRATIANO, and NERISSA enter with all their attendants, including a SINGER.





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PORTIA
(to BASSANIO) I pray you, tarry. Pause a day or two
Before you hazard, for in choosing wrong
I lose your company. Therefore forbear awhile.
There’s something tells me—but it is not love—
I would not lose you, and you know yourself
Hate counsels not in such a quality.
But lest you should not understand me well—
And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought—
I would detain you here some month or two
Before you venture for me. I could teach you
How to choose right, but I am then forsworn.
So will I never be. So may you miss me.
But if you do, you’ll make me wish a sin,
That I had been forsworn. Beshrew your eyes,
They have o'erlooked me and divided me.
One half of me is yours, the other half yours—
Mine own, I would say. But if mine, then yours,
And so all yours. Oh, these naughty times
Put bars between the owners and their rights!
And so, though yours, not yours. Prove it so.
Let Fortune go to hell for it, not I.
I speak too long, but ’tis to peize the time,
To eke it and to draw it out in length,
To stay you from election.
PORTIA
(to BASSANIO) Please wait a day or two before making your choice. If you choose wrong, I’ll lose your company. So wait a while. Something tells me—not love, but something—that I don’t want to lose you, and you know that if I hated you I wouldn’t think that. But let me put it more clearly in case you don’t understand—though I know girls aren’t supposed to express their thoughts—I’m just saying I’d like you to stay here for a month or two before you undergo the test for me. I could tell you how to choose correctly, but then I’d be disregarding the oath I took. So I’ll never tell. But you might lose me by making the wrong choice. If you do choose wrong, you’ll make me wish for something very bad. I’d wish I had ignored my oath and told you everything. God, your eyes have bewitched me. They’ve divided me in two. One half of me is yours, and the other half—my own half, I’d call it—belongs to you too. If it’s mine, then it’s yours, and so I’m all yours. But in this awful day and age people don’t even have the right to their own property! So though I’m yours, I’m not yours. If there’s no chance for me to be yours, then it’s just bad luck. I know I’m talking too much, but I do that just to make the time last longer, and to postpone your test.


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BASSANIO
    Let me choose,
For as I am, I live upon the rack.
BASSANIO
Let me choose now. I feel tortured by all this talking.


PORTIA
Upon the rack, Bassanio? Then confess
What treason there is mingled with your love.
PORTIA
Tortured,

Bassanio

Portia and Bassanio are role-playing here, pretending to be torturer and victim.

Bassanio
? Then confess to your crime. Tell us about the treason you’ve mixed in with your love.

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