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The Merchant of Venice

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Enter NERISSA and a servitor
NERISSA and a servant enter.



NERISSA
Quick, quick, I pray thee. Draw the curtain straight.
The Prince of Arragon hath ta'en his oath
And comes to his election presently.
NERISSA
Hurry, hurry, close the curtain quick. The prince of Arragon has taken his oath, and he’s coming to make his choice now.
Flourish cornets Enter the Prince of ARRAGON, his train, and PORTIA
Trumpets play. The Prince of ARRAGON, his entourage, and PORTIA enter.


5


PORTIA
Behold, there stand the caskets, noble Prince.
If you choose that wherein I am contained,
Straight shall our nuptial rites be solemnized.
But if you fail, without more speech, my lord,
You must be gone from hence immediately.
PORTIA
Look, here are the boxes, prince. If you choose the one that contains my picture, we’ll be married right away. But if you fail, you have to leave immediately. No pleas will be allowed.


10




15
ARRAGON
I am enjoined by oath to observe three things:
First, never to unfold to any one
Which casket ’twas I chose; next, if I fail
Of the right casket, never in my life
To woo a maid in way of marriage; lastly,
If I do fail in fortune of my choice,
Immediately to leave you and be gone.
ARRAGON
I swore I’d do three things. First, I can never tell anyone what box I choose. Second, if I choose the wrong box, I’ll never propose marriage for the rest of my life. Third, if I pick the wrong box, I’ll leave immediately.


PORTIA
To these injunctions every one doth swear
That comes to hazard for my worthless self.
PORTIA
Everyone who comes to gamble on winning me has to swear to these three rules.



20


ARRAGON
And so have I addressed me. Fortune now
To my heart’s hope! Gold, silver, and base lead.
“Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”
You shall look fairer ere I give or hazard.
What says the golden chest? Ha, let me see.
“Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.”
ARRAGON
Okay, I’m ready. I hope luck will give me what my heart hopes for! Gold, silver, and common lead. “He who chooses me must give and risk all he has.” You’d have to be more attractive for me to give or risk anything for you. What does the golden box say? Hmm, let me see:

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