The Merchant of Venice II – Act 1

The Merchant of Venice II

Act I

SCENE 1

 

(A street in Venice)

Enters Shylock

SHYLOCK

In the eyes of those Christians I am one of them.

May they know that deep inside I am a Jew;

But they are not letting me live free among my people.

Cursed be there lives that led me to this maze,

And as there is nothing for me to swear with;

I swear with my ducats which are intended for my enemies to be

After my death. Christians will be a Jew’s sheep.

My ventures will be back with a respect that I have never had.

Enter Tubal

Dear friend, come without uttering a single voice;

For seeing thee is precious to me as Jacob saw his long lost Joseph.

Now, speak to me and whisper in my ear;

News in the rialto that I do not hear.

TUBAL

That news is for thee a torture to hear.

To hear that one of thy enemies is victorious.

SHYLOCK

Till now they are upon me victorious!

TUBAL

Antonio had all his ships back safe.

His wealth and reputation continued to survive.

SHYLOCK

And? Have not thee found an answer to my question?

From where Bassanio got six thousand ducats for me?

Where did he find that treasure? Would thee mention?

And if yes, can I take a part of that treasure for me?

TUBAL

He found a treasure that many wanted but could not get.

Bassanio risked even his Antonio for this treasure.

This treasure is an extremely rich lady named Portia.

She is the world that Bassanio’s dreams can fit.

SHYLOCK

If that what all thou can bring me of news;

Then you are bringing tears to my old eyes.

If there are other news continue Tubal, maybe

It would become a reason for my amusement.

TUBAL

I doubt it old Shylock, what I offer more is not kind.

SHYLOCK

Say it anyway. Man will not put out flames around him

If he cannot see where they are burning.

Even if those fires are hard for me to extinguish;

I will be gazing in the eyes of my enemy.

TUBAL

Except for Antonio, all thy enemies are in Belmont.

If thou are calling them a gang then Jessica is a member.

SHYLOCK

My enemies are all in one place, an easy hit this is.

All Christians but Jessica is a Jew more or less.

Tubal, I am a Jew but now I have the power of both.

To be a Jew inside but to know how pork-eaters think.

TUBAL

Do not plan any other cunning games. The profit is dust,

And the costs are high. Remember what thou had lost.

SHYLOCK

My daughter is still my daughter.

Religion in that does not interfere.

And if she is loyal to a Christ, then compare

A crucified statue to her reason of life.

She stole my ducats which I fought for;

Still no one can steal her love for me.

TUBAL

I am not going to argue this with thee.

Vengeance is a dark way even for a man with torch.

Exit Tubal

SHYLOCK

God high up in thy heavens record this oath.

Shylock is regaining his dignity and religion;

Using Christians to hit Christians for good;

Feeding greedy souls on arrogant eyes and loud mouths.

If this pronounced oath be fulfilled, then happiness;

If not, then I should contain my grievance and sadness.

Exeunt

 

SCENE 2

 

(In a garden in Belmont)

Setting on the ground Jessica and Nerissa

 

NERISSA

My lady is still in her bedroom unlike those birds,

But like those beautiful flowers, naturally beautiful;

And cursed be the man who cuts them off.

JESSICA

My man is a noble beloved Christian.

Gratiano, He draws a real smile on my face;

A smile not compared to that one drawn by the fool.

Wherever I go, this Launcelot reminds me of the past.

He always reminds me of a dark house.

My mind recalls tears and terror

That I felt towards the outside.

He reminds me of fantasies I had about feeling free.

He reminds me of my old lonely father.

NERISSA

Thou mean the Jew? Thou miss him?!

Thou should not, believe me, none of us doth.

JESSICA

Because I am a Christian and one of thee now.

NERISSA

And because he is a filthy Jew and a usurer.

He attempted to hurt a Venetian through a cruel plot.

JESSICA

Is not he a Venetian? Was not he hurt before?

Is not he a Christian now?

My father is a slave for ducats I admit;

But his vengeance emerges from the others’ attitude.

Shylock is a usurer, who exploits people’s misery,

As bad merchants do. Do they receive the same treatment?

Do they get spat on and kicked?

NERISSA

Do thou refute our logic? Thou are married to a Christian noble.

How do thee live rejecting this life and loyal at the same time?

JESSICA

This life I longed for long ago and I have achieved it;

Through Shylock, Lorenzo and the Christian society.

And I will not let that go whether through misconception

Or a simple disbelief. Shylock, a usurer or not still my father.

Either by name or through inheritance.

Enters Portia and Launcelot

 

LAUNCELOT

For thee my lady I lead the way. Gardens are full of ants and insects, thus I will step

here, here and here, to prevent your magnificent person from any injury.

PORTIA

A Lady like me does not follow others steps.

LAUNCELOT

Noble armies with their mighty knights have fools to pave the way. Knights are

the leader though, as they order others to discover the way before them. Look! My leg senses a group of ants, here, there, and done! They are done.

PORTIA

Thy logic is acceptable, though a logic of a jester.

My garden is mine and so I know where is where,

And which is which. Discover thy way there in front of us,

And better do it as merry as thou can;

For thou art my husband’s clown and so mine

To do what I say.

LAUNCELOT

Without wondering your highness.

NERRISA

The beautiful flower is now awake, rise and shine.

Thou are the happiness of this gathering, not Launcelot.

If Launcelot doth obey not our mighty band,

May he, to cherish us, stand on one hand.

LAUNCELOT

Can I? One way to know, which is to try it.

 

Enter Antonio, Bassanio, Lorenzo and Gratiano.

 

ANTONIO

Happy I am to see you all wonderfully smiling.

At the beginning of such a day nothing greater than

Lovers come to meet some awaiting lovers.

How destiny is merciful to gather such a group!

And how proud I am to feel myself a cause for that.

PORTIA

A character and a personality like thee cannot be denied.

People like us cannot abandon thee willing or not.

Thou are truly a cause of happiness, fantastic results;

And dreams which came true.

BASSANIO

Well spoken words my love, my friend should be grateful.

He owes thee his life, and I owe him my happiness.

GRATIANO

I owe him my happiness too. Nerissa my love;

She is more than a beautiful dream.

Antonio’s folly and over-loyalty to Bassanio was a cause.

Bassanio’s well-tamed fortune was another cause,

But Portia’s schooled intelligence conquered all.

JESSICA

And I am glad to be among thou all,

Before, I could not have obtained that.

The old religion and Shylock prevented me from,

Such a merry meeting.

Past is gone and I am living the present,

And next to me my beloved Lorenzo.

LORENZO

No words to be uttered after such sweet breezes.

I concur with the angles that always say,

That thee belong to heavens not to a hell full of Jews.

NERISSA

My lady Portia,

How about making this day a noted celebration?

Let the day be nothing but joy under sun rays,

And night would be a place for real dreams.

We might not sleep till the sun of the next day beams.

PORTIA

Let this be the case, I agree dear Nerissa.

Gentlemen, occupy thyselves with no business.

Please, let’s have fun today and tonight.

Launcelot, cherish us with all thy might.

And prepare when the sun begins to go to sleep,

A party which makes us forget how to weep.
LAUNCELOT

My Lady, you say and I obey. I would prepare for you a beautiful saga to hear.

Then, allow me to offer you some tricks Belmont has never seen. But tonight is a

Surprise for you all. Let me prepare, or start with a simple dance. (He dances)

BASSANIO

My love, seems like we are in thy fairy tale.

Thou are the fairy princess, and I am thy knight.

Thy Belmont is a fairy land with magical trees;

Buildings from beyond and mythological characters.

I risked all for thee and willing to do it again.

My fortune will not forsake me, but what if?

I would risk all; except my heart as thee are inside it.

PORTIA

And thee are my master, father and lover.

All what’s mine is yours including myself.

In order not to repeat previous words,

And not to keep uttering without acting,

Go ahead ask me anything, and see;

If I hesitated to do anything for thee;

Upon me then falls the worse punishment,

Even if it is Shylock’s

JESSICA

My father was and is punished.

Something like this, maybe, you cannot endure.

PORTIA

I am saying what I am saying only because I know;

How much I am loyal and faithful to Bassanio.

BASSANIO

Thy words maketh me ashamed of mine deed,

This incident of rings, and when I broke my oath.

I know not how to erase it from my memory,

And how to accept myself again as a faithful husband.

NERISSA

One feels a great sense of guilt. The other,

Only God knows how he feels.

GRATIANO

It is not about how I feel; it is about what I will do.

I will break no oath after that; I will stick this ring to my finger.

I will stick with thee. And when I swear to abandon thee;

By my life I will keep my oath.

ANTONIO

Fie devils that made thee speak these words,

Awful in meaning and pronouncing.

Still, the attitude shows how much frank thou art.

(To Nerissa) He doth love thee, but his bad character,

Always over-flows. Forget it and notice his bright side.

LORENZO

Rings are not the ultimate bond of love,

And it is not its measurement. Love is in one’s liver.

One’s heart is the continuous teller of love.

The day my heart stops beating then all of thee know;

That my earthly love towards Nerissa is over,

While a new heavenly love starts.

NERISSA

My guardian angel thou have to know that

I am loving thee now in a heavenly way.

I let go my religion and undertook another for thee.

And if our saviour is to be worshipped by me,

It is only because of thy existence in my life.

Our bond is religion, and when I abandon Christianity,

I abandon thee.

BASSANIO

To drink for that ladies and gentlemen, if thee may;

The palace awaits us, and in there we shall stay.

 

SCENE 3

 

At Belmont’s shore

 

SHYLOCK

My mind doubts what my heart tells;

Jessica is my daughter, a thief she is,

And a punishment she should have;

Not only because of the robbery, but because of,

The torture of loneliness she made me feel.

Nothing in the world can replace a daughter,

Even if this daughter is a thief. I wished her dead,

Only then I would have asked forgiveness for her soul.

Now, she is still alive and I am one favour short.

 

Enter two guards

THE FIRST GUARD

Who are thou? Speak up and declare thy identity.

THE SECOND GUARD

Thy strange clothing tells about a religious foreigner, yet thou wear no sign to

prove it.

SHYLOCK

Belmont is a gorgeous and generous place,

Sure a foreigner like me will not be cast away.

I am a guest with no appointment, but I am a guest.

Many people in the palace I know, and they are highly ranked.

They affected my life and I had affected theirs.

All thy lords and mistresses know my old figure,

If not they know for sure my famous name.

My garments symbolizes nothing put an origin,

However I am a Christian.

All I am acquainted with inside know I am a famous Christian as well.

THE FIRST GUARD

Thou are welcome my lord. No appointment you have, but your acquaintances grant

you none of course.

THE SECONG GUARD

A party in there is starting soon my lord. Seems like destiny prepares it to welcome

you in our blessed land. I shall accompany you my lord to the palace, and to your

friends who immediately will welcome thee.

SHYLOCK

No, no my lad. The old man is here to receive generousity.

And a girl inside named Jessica extremely dear to me;

She knows these old eyes and probably misses them.

Life lately separated my eyes from seeing her,

Not only life, but also overambitious I believe.

Go inside polite guard and tell her that the old man

Wishes to make amends.

THE SECOND GUARD

I will my lord. Excuse me.

The second guard leaves

THE FIRST GUARD

I wish you apologize us for our stern actions. I hope you know that we are doing this for the safety of everyone.

SHYLOCK

I know I know.

Everyman is tied to his job whatever it is.

A man like thee perhaps did not come to choose his future;

Believe an old man’s words, future is all about choices.

Did thou choose that job?

Did thou choose to wake up all night?

Did thou choose to leave the blessing of the sunlight behind?

I bet that thee miss rest, and birds singing in the morning.

I know that thee find no purpose doing this job,

Just risking thy life for people thou know nothing about

But their looks and names.

Did thou choose this life?

THE FIRST GUARD

You have what is beyond wisdom old man. I have asked myself those questions a lot and never could find an answer. What keeps me going are the friendship between me and the other guard, and the need of money.

SHYLOCK

Money; I believe it is only about money.

A good friend can turn against thee.

Money, oh money!

Will serve thee always as long as thou do not risk it.

THE FIRST GUARD

May I know the name of the old wise man?

SHYLOCK

Let it be only the old man.

The First Guard reenters with Jessica

JESSICA

Feel free guards to leave us alone.

The two guards leave the stage

Oh father!

SHYLOCK

Yes Jessica, it is the one who should be thy father.

‘Tis me whom thou ate alive.

Only insects do what thou have done with your life.

Spiders kill their parents like you Jessica;

Female bugs choose the powerful male to live with,

Regardless any conditions.

Power is their religion and thine too.

JESSICA

Father! Dear father! Thy words are so painful.

They are more painful than losing my religion.

Father, I am asking thee to hear me.

‘Tis a simple favour with no ducats for thee to pay;

Lend me thy ears as I want to explain.

What happened and what I had done, strangely,

Made my love to thee grow again.

This love raged with fire, it burned in my heart,

To the extent of burning my love to Lorenzo.

SHYLOCK

Then thou have a heart, and now thou feel!

And the sin thou have done made thy love to me appear!

Jessica loves her father? What a corrupted news!

More or less I know about trading;

And this is not a good negotiation for thy merchandise.

JESSICA

Father and my lord, believe that I am thy daughter.

I have taken after thee about everything,

And I dare to say that I am better in trading.

Would thou believe me when I confess?

I am better in deceiving;

When a human deceives his own being,

It becomes easy for him to rule the world.

Thy daughter did not want a throne;

She wanted a decent chair among the chairs of that Christian society.

SHYLOCK

O hell angels! Take her soul away.

Jessica, may thou never be a fool I pray.

From what I see now your status is not justified.

JESSICA

Evaluate the profit of each one of us father.

The world’s judges liked the way I played my game;

I am a winner and thou are trying to go into a rematch.

SHYLOCK

The fight is not over yet for me to start a new one, Jessica.

JESSICA

Call me daughter.

SHYLOCK

Thou art my old beloved daughter when I am the old Shylock again.

Adept for me thou must pay to recompense my tortured heart;

Not in ducats, but as a generous favour from a generous Christian,

To a respectful Jew.

JESSICA

Call me daughter once.

SHYLOCK

Jews don’t bring to the world thieves or traitors.

JESSICA

Don’t make it a religious conflict because it is not.

Religions must not interfere in human relations.

SHYLOCK

This cursed society made it this way,

People want to deal with Jews from this perspective only.

I do not deny that each team has his own case to prove,

The sick mind of humans uses religion to inflame souls by the case.

I am going home now,

And will be waiting for a reply if not a plan.

Thou do not reach me for any reason I will reach thee.

Then Shylock will bring up a torture for thee to see.

Exits Shylock

 

JESSICA

Somehow what my mind had expected.

There is no one can call himself an ultimate winner;

When a player gains what he worked for,

It is inevitable for him to lose something as an exchange.

My wise mind, as always, tells me whom to go to.

A maiden she is, played a similar game but with no loses.

Another game may turn someone close to her a foe,

Still no loses, no sad endings for her or me. Father Moses,

Help me. It is harsh what Jessica is going to do.

 

SCENE 4

 

(In a small room in the palace of Belmont)

 

GOBBO

Son, my dear and beloved Launcelot, here I lie on the last and most decent place I will lie ever upon. My life went astray, and no goals were targeted to be hit. I regret having a body and a soul of a human; a mind like mine should have deserved a body of a four-legged thing.

LAUNCELOT

These poetic words are odd on a tongue like thine, yet my heart cannot deny that they are beautiful except for the part of that four-legged thing.

GOBBO

There are moments in life thou should stop playing the role of a fool, and this moment is one of them. Hear me well, how heavens would accept a man whom his only good deed is bringing to this world a man like thee? O son, I dare to say that thou art the most beautiful thing for me to see; that I would like to die with my eyes on thee.

LAUNCELOT

Thou have been thy entire life more than sand-blind. Do not tell me now that thou have regained thy sight.

GOBBO

Thy old man is dying and still thou are mocking all around thee, including me. Thou are brilliant my son, believe me. Living a tragic life and drawing smiles on the faces of people around thee is a gift that works with a kind of intelligence which many do not have. Moreover, those whom thee make them laugh are already happy, and you put them on a status higher than happiness. At the end of the day, poor Launcelot lives the life of a miserable servant with no future but a clown.

LAUNCELOT

Father I am a servant, true; miserable I am not. Thou art the miserable dying one. Yes I am a jester and my future is well-known. I have generous masters who will guarantee that I live happily ever after. This poor hungry Launcelot thou art talking about died at the house of the Jew. Talking about miserable ones, take Shylock for example, he is neither alive nor dead, with no future or money of his own.

GOBBO

Money of his own, Ah I see, can I see thy ducats then?

LAUNCELOT

Stubborn from the day of thy birth.

GOBBO

And thou art a lost fool from the day of thy birth. My fault it is, I do not deny it.

LAUNCELOT

What do thou fear?

GOBBO

Why, that is obvious! I mean, thou art dying of course, right?

GOBBO

See my son; that is thy gift, making a dying old blind man laughs.

LAUNCELOT

Do not get me lost father. What do thou fear?

GOBBO

Thy masters’ status will not be stable for the end of days. Part of them believeth in happy endings and thinks they are living in one; the other part is always looking for their own good and the profit that cometh after every action.

 

Enter Stephano and Leonardo

 

STEPHANO

Long-live old Gobbo. O Belmont, be generous and do not make his soul leave easily.

LEONARDO

Even if Belmont is not so generous; a son is his young father, Launcelot with us thou shall always be.

LAUNCELOT

Launcelot lived to see a foolish servant

And a so-called wise Leonardo.

Good Gobbo, die peacefully,

Do not live to see these disasters.

What do thou want Stephano?

Do thou want his soul to haunt thee?

Because of his kind and generous nature,

The ministry of haunting-souls may not allow him to do that.

LEONARDO

Behave fool! A servant thou art, like me, to our master Bassanio.

LAUNCELOT

To our master Bassanio, we are slaves. And fools?

GOBBO

Old Gobbo sees a light coming.

STEPHANO

Cruel Belmont! Do not die good Gobbo.

GOBBO

I was talking to and about my son.

LEONARDO

Hidden messages in plain sentences! Two fools trying to be smart!

LAUNCELOT

Hard to divine, wise Leonardo?

I am a fool that is so true,

Only by my own choice.

Behold now that wise Leonardo says to me,

“With us thou shall always be”

Poor Launcelot never thought that would happen!

Is it thee or our masters whom are supposed to say that?

GOBBO

The light is getting brighter.

LAUNCELOT

And do not ask me to behave;

The jester’s work is to misbehave.

Leonardo and Stephano, both of thee are merely equal to me,

She is a servant of one; thou art a servant of another,

Me a servant of both.

Fie, leave me and my poor father.

STEPHANO

Rude and cruel

LAUNCELOT

Together forever?

LEONARDO

Thou shall see who among us is the master. Thou shall always be the clown that makes us all laugh at his foolishness.

GOBBO

The light died out.

LAUNCELOT

Well, I have never heard about a servant-master,

But sure all of us have heard about a fool-master.

GOBBO

Now the light is brighter than ever. Son, I leave to my destiny and I leave thee to thine which is apparently better than mine. Seek the highest to reach the highest.

STEPHANO

Heavens and Earth praise the soul of good Gobbo. Love of God reach out to him and clear his sins away. Open his eyes again to the best views ever.

 

Exit Stephano and Leonardo

 

LAUNCELOT

Father!

Thy soul I honour now and always will;

And for the luck thou did not have in life,

I hope it would be their waiting in the afterlife.

 

Launcelot and Gobbo remain.

Written By: Mustafa Adel Abdel Gawad

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