While her husband, William, was working hard in London to support the family, Mrs Shakespeare was working hard, too, in the home in Stratford. In the early days of... more »
Read The Merchant of Venice’s Signior Antonio, Many A Time And Oft soliloquy below with modern English translation & analysis:
Spoken by Shylock, The Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene 3
Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances:
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Well then, it now appears you need my help:
Go to, then; you come to me, and you say
‘Shylock, we would have moneys:’ you say so;
You, that did void your rheum upon my beard
And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
Over your threshold: moneys is your suit
What should I say to you? Should I not say
‘Hath a dog money? is it possible
A cur can lend three thousand ducats?’ Or
Shall I bend low and in a bondman’s key,
With bated breath and whispering humbleness, Say this;
‘Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
You spurn’d me such a day; another time
You call’d me dog; and for these courtesies
I’ll lend you thus much moneys’?
“Signior Antonio, Many A Time And Oft” Soliloquy Translation:
Signior Antonio. So manytimes on the Rialto, you have berated me about money and my money-lending. I’ve always responded with a patient shrug because enduring such things is the badge of all our race. You call me an unbeliever, a cut-throat dog, and spit on my Jewish gabardine. And all for using what belongs to me. Well then, it now seems that you need my help. Alright then: you come to me and you say, “Shylock, we want some money.”
That’s what you say. You, who spat on my beard and kicked me as you would kick a stray dog from your house. Now you want money. What am I supposed to say to you? Shouldn’t I say, “Has a dog got money? Could a mongrel possibly lend three thousand ducats?” Or shall I bend low and in the fawning tone of a servant, softly, in a small humble voice, say this: ‘Good sir, you spat on me last Wednesday; you kicked me on such and such a day: another time you called me ‘dog’. And for these courtesies I’ll lend you so much money?
It’s endlessly fascinating to read Elizabethan practices and customs in the plays of the time. If one shuts one’s eyes to the plots, action and characters of Shakespeare’s plays... more »