Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825) was an old school English Victorian gent, physician and philanthropist, but forever remembered for censoring Shakespeare and in doing so creating the epoymous verb bowdlerize (or bowdlerise). So what... more »
Read The Merchant of Venice’s To Bait Fish Withal soliloquy below with modern English translation & analysis:
Spoken by Shylock, The Merchant of Venice, Act 3, Scene 1
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, heated 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 villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
“To Bait Fish Withal” Soliloquy Translation:
To bait fish with! If it will feed nothing else it will feed my revenge! He has insulted me and obstructed me half a million times. He has laughed at my losses, mocked my gains, scorned my race, thwarted my deals, alienated my friends, inflamed my enemies. And what’s his reason? That I am a Jew! Hasn’t a Jew got eyes? Hasn’t a Jew got hands, organs, limbs, senses, likes and dislikes, passions? Fed with the same food, injured by the same weapons, vulnerable to the same diseases, healed by the same medicine, 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, won’t we seek revenge? If a Jew wrongs a Christian, what is his recourse? Revenge! If a Christian wrongs a Jew, what should the penalty be by Christian example? Revenge, of course. I will carry out the villainy you teach me. And even though it will be hard, I will even outdo that villainy!
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