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20 October 2014
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The Merchant of Venice

Shylock: "To bait fish withal" (Act 3 Scene 1)

There are many ways that you could perform this speech; the Speech Text and Performance Notes explore some different approaches.

Speech Text and Performance Notes (223KB)

The Merchant of Venice is set in a world of religious intolerance in Venice. Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, has been teased by two Christians as his daughter has run away with a Christian. Antonio, a friend of theirs, has failed to repay a loan from Shylock, foolishly he agreed to pay with a pound of his flesh should he default. Shylock explains why he will demand his payment.

Watch a performance of the speech and an interview with the actor below or choose another from the set speech list.

To bait fish withal - videos

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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 villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.

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