Shylock's penalties

Alternative ending?

Argument in favour

Relevant play text

Alternative ending

The Merchant of Venice — An Alternative Ending

Alternative Ending (red) replaces original (blue)

PORTIA: Speak not so grossly. You are all amazed.
Here is a letter; read it at your leisure;
It comes from Padua, from Bellario;
There you shall find that Portia was the doctor,
Nerissa there her clerk. Lorenzo here
Shall witness I set forth as soon as you,
And even but now returned; I have not yet
Entered my house. Antonio, you are welcome;

And I have better news in store for you
Than you expect. Unseal this letter soon;
There you shall find three of your argosies
Are richly come to harbour suddenly.

And I have sharper news in store for you
Than you expect. Unseal this letter soon;
There you shall find all of your argosies
Are wrecked on reefs or sunken in the sea.

You shall not know by what strange accident
I chanced on this letter.
ANTONIO: I am dumb.

BASSANIO: Were you the doctor, and I knew you not?
GRATIANO: Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?
NERISSA: Ay, but the clerk that never means to do it,
Unless he live until he be a man.
BASSANIO: Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow;
When I am absent, then lie with my wife.

ANTONIO: Sweet lady, you have given me life and living;
For here I read for certain that my ships
Are safely come to road.

ANTONIO: Sad tidings, you have taken my life and living;
For here I read for certain that my ships
Have grimly come to grief.

PORTIA: How now, Lorenzo!
My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.
NERISSA: Ay, and I'll give them him without a fee.
There do I give to you and Jessica,
From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift,
After his death, of all he dies possessed of.
LORENZO: Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
Of starved people.
PORTIA: It is almost morning,
And yet I am sure you are not satisfied
Of these events at full. Let us go in,
And charge us there upon inter'gatories,
And we will answer all things faithfully.
GRATIANO: Let it be so. The first inter'gatory
That my Nerissa shall be sworn on is,
Whether till the next night she had rather stay,
Or go to bed now, being two hours to day.
But were the day come, I should wish it dark,
Till I were couching with the doctor's clerk.
Well, while I live, I'll fear no other thing
So sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.

End of original play

Alternative Ending continued (red)


BELLARIO: The rich Jew, Shylock, is dead.
The deed of gift of all he died possessed
Is now to be enacted into force.
That half his goods Antonio hath now
In use, the deed of gift doth render it
Unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter.

ANTONIO: O God! This means I really am bankrupt!

BELLARIO: Shylock never did become a Christian;
[Aside] To his eternal credit, died a Jew.

[Enter GAOLER and Officers]

GAOLER: Lend me your ears. By order of the Duke,
For theft of Shylock's gems and golden coin,
The law hath put a legal hold on these,
Lorenzo, Jessica and Gratiano,
And each offender's fate lies in the mercy
Of the Duke only, 'gainst all other voice.
In which predicament, I say, they stand'st;
And, therefore, must serve twenty years in prison.
The while, by law, of all they are possessed
Comes to the privy coffer of the state.

LORENZO: [to Jessica]
We are the richest pair in all of Venice
Without a ducat with which to bless ourselves.

GAOLER: Officers, bind their hands. Tightly, tightly.

LORENZO: O Venice, full often wilt thou hear my moans,
For parting my fair Jessica and me!

GRATIANO: Well, keep me company so many years more,
Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue.

LORENZO: O! No! What, suffer you for twenty years?

JESSICA: O! Father, I learn from you to die.

GAOLER: Come, end this bootless chat. Away to prison.