Merchant of Venice – Act 1 Scene 1 – In sooth I know not


ANTONIO
To be honest, I don’t know why I’m so sad. I’m tired of it, and you say you’re tired of it too. But I have no idea how I got so depressed. And if I can’t figure out what’s making me depressed, I must not understand myself very well. SALARINO
You’re worried about your ships Your mind is out there getting tossed around on the ocean with them. But they’re fine. They’re like huge parade floats on the sea. They’re so big they look down on the smaller ships, which all have to bow and then get out of the way. Your ships fly like birds past those little boats. SOLANIO
Yes, believe me, if I had such risky business ventures in other countries, I’d be sad too. I’d worry about it every second. I’d constantly be tossing blades of grass into the air to find out which way the wind was blowing. Everything that made me worry about my ships would make me sad. SALARINO
I’d get scared every time I blew on my soup to cool it, thinking of how a strong wind could wipe out my ships. It’s obvious. Antonio is sad because he’s so worried about his cargo. ANTONIO
No, that’s not it, trust me. I don’t have all of my money invested in one ship, or one part of the world. If I don’t do well this year, I’ll still be okay. So it’s not my business that’s making me sad. SOLANIO
Well then, you must be in love. ANTONIO
Oh, give me a break. SOLANIO
You’re not in love either? Fine, let’s just say you’re sad because you’re not in a good mood. You know, it’d be just as easy for you to laugh and dance around and say you’re in a good mood. You could just say you’re not sad. Here comes your cousin Bassanio And Gratiano and Lorenzo too. Goodbye, We’ll leave you to talk to them. They’re better company. SALARINO
I would’ve stayed to cheer you up, if your nobler friends hadn’t shown up. ANTONIO
You’re both very precious to me. But I understand. You need to leave to take care of your own business. BASSANIO
(to SALARINO and SOLANIO) Hello, friends. When are we going to have fun together again? Just name the time. We never see you anymore. Does it have to be that way? SALARINO
Let us know when you want to get together. We’re available. LORENZO
Bassanio, we’ll say goodbye for now, since you’ve found Antonio. But don’t forget, we’re meeting for dinner tonight. BASSANIO
Don’t worry, I’ll be there. GRATIANO
You don’t look well, Antonio. You’re taking things too seriously. People with too much invested in the world always get hurt. I’m telling you, you don’t look like yourself. ANTONIO
For me the world is just the world, Gratiano— a stage where every person has a part to play. I play a sad one. GRATIANO
Then I’ll play the happy fool and get laugh lines on my face. I’d rather overload my liver with wine than starve my heart by denying myself fun. I love you, and I’m telling you this because I care about you, Antonio— there are men who always look serious. Their faces never move or show any expression, like stagnant ponds covered with scum. They’re silent and stern, and they think they’re wise and deep, important and respectable. The only reason they’re considered wise is because they don’t say anything. I’m sure if they ever opened their mouths, When they talk, they think everybody else should keep quiet, and that even dogs should stop barking. The only reason they’re considered wise is because they don’t say anything. I’m sure if they ever opened their mouths, everyone would see what fools they are I’ll talk to you more about this some other time. In the meantime, cheer up. Don’t go around looking so glum. That’s my opinion, but what do I know? I’m a fool.—Let’s go, Lorenzo.—Goodbye for now. I’ll finish my lecture after dinner. LORENZO
All right, we’ll see you at dinnertime. I must be one of these silent so-called wise men Gratiano’s talking about, because he never lets me get a word in. GRATIANO
If you hang around me for two more years, you’ll forget the sound of your own voice. I won’t ever let you speak. ANTONIO
Is he right? BASSANIO
Gratiano talks more nonsense than any other man in Venice. His point is always like a needle in a haystack —you look for it all day, and when you find it you realize it wasn’t worth the trouble. ANTONIO
So, who’s this girl, the one you said you were going to take a special trip for? You promised to tell me. BASSANIO
Antonio, you know how bad my finances have been lately. I’ve been living way beyond my means. nd I owe most to you, Antonio—both money and gratitude. And because you care about me, I know you’ll let me tell you my plan to clear all my debts. ANTONIO
Please let me know your plan, Bassanio. As long as it’s honorable, you can be sure that I’ll let you use all my money and do everything I can to help you. BASSANIO
There’s a girl in Belmont and she’s beautiful who’s inherited a huge amount of money —even better—she’s a good person. I think she likes me. Sometimes the expression on her face tells me she likes me. Her name is Portia She’s as rich as that famous Roman heroine Portia, the daughter of Cato and wife of Brutus. Her wealth is world-famous. Famous and important men have come in from all over the world to try to marry her. The hair that hangs down on her forehead is like gold, calling every adventurer to Belmont like a gold rush. Antonio, if I only had enough money to hold my own against those suitors, I know I could win her! ANTONIO
You know right now all my money’s tied up in that cargo that’s still at sea. I can’t give you the cash you need because I don’t have it. But go ahead and charge things to me on credit, as much credit as I can get in Venice. I’ll use all my lines of credit to help you get to Belmont, to Portia. Go see who will lend money, and I’ll do the same. I’m sure I can get something either as a business loan, or as a personal favor.

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