Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 1
From The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Felix E. Schelling. New York: American Book Co.
The rumors of Antonio's losses grow more frequent and circumstantial. Shylock is torn apart with rage at Jessica's reported extravagance with his long-hoarded wealth, and with malignant joy as he hears of Antonio's misfortunes and impatiently awaits the forfeit of his bond.
2. it lives there unchecked, the rumor is current there uncontradicted.
4. the narrow seas [or sea], a usual term for the English Channel. The Goodwins, I think they call the place. Goodwin Sands,
off the coast of Kent. Notice how Salarino's doubt as to the precise name of the place in which Antonio's ships have come to grief
upholds the illusion that we are in Venice, a place remote from England.
10. knapped, broke into small pieces.
30. the wings she flew withal, the boy's clothing in which she
eloped with Lorenzo.
46. match, bargain.
49. smug, trim, neat.
56. disgraced me, lowered me in public estimation.
57. hindered me [from gaining] half a million [of ducats].
62. affections, emotions caused by external objects, as contrasted
with passions, feelings due to emotions within.
63. [Is he not] fed with, etc. Observe how the pathos of the
Jew's despised life strengthens Shylock's hold on our sympathies at
the very moment when the sense of Antonio's disaster is growing
72. humility, humanity.
81. cannot be matched, cannot be found to match them.
83. what news from Genoa? This question suggests the lapse
of some time since the elopement of Jessica, precisely as the vehemence of Shylock's words to Salanio and Salarino at the beginning
of the scene produces the opposite effect of an apparently brief period since that event.
88. cost, that cost.
89. Frankfort on the Main, famous throughout the Middle Ages
for its commercial fairs.
105. from Tripolis. This argosy is mentioned above, i. 3. 18.
112. here?in Genoa? i.e. known here [in Italy]? in Genoa?
The emendation where for here seems unnecessary.
126. my turquoise. The turquoise was often given as a pledge
of love, because it was supposed to maintain or change its brilliancy
of color in accordance with the faithfulness or infidelity of the
wearer, besides possessing other miraculous qualities. This touch
of human affection in Shylock at the moment when he is raving
over the extravagance and ingratitude of Jessica can never be
131. fee me an officer, engage an officer for me [to arrest Antonio the moment his bond is forfeited].
135. "Shakespeare," says one critic, "probably intended to add
another shade of darkness to the character of Shylock, by making
him still formally devout while meditating his horrible vengeance."
Another remarks on this passage: "The Jew invokes the Ancient
of Days, who spoke unto Moses aforetime: 'If a man cause a
blemish in his neighbor; as he hath done, so shall it be done to
him; breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he hath
caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.' In
entering his synagogue Shylock intrusts his hatred to the safeguard
of his faith. Henceforward his vengeance assumes a consecrated
character." It is one of the marvels of Shakespeare's power of
characterization that we differ about the characters of his personages as we differ about the characters of real people whom we
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Felix E. Schelling. New York: American Book Co., 1903. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2011. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/merchant_3_1.html >.