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The Merchant of Venice in Modern Terms

Activity: Have the students translate the speech below into their own words, encouraging the use of slang, colloquialisms, or regional jargon.

 

Portia: “The quality of mercy is not strain’d, 
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d; 
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: 
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown; 
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, 
The attribute to awe and majesty, 
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; 
But mercy is above this sceptred sway; 
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, 
It is an attribute to God himself; 
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew, 
Though justice be thy plea, consider this, 
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy; 
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea; 
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there” (4.1.184–205)

 

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RADA Production

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