Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 5 Modern English Translation Meaning Annotations – ICSE Class 10 & 9 English


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Original Text
Act III Scene V

Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 5 Translation Meaning Annotations 1

Modern English Reading
Act III Scene V

LAUNCELOT : Yes, honestly ; because, look, the sins of the father are tobe laid on the children; so, I promise you, I’m afraid you. I was always honest with you, and so now, I speak my annoyance over the matter; so be cheerful, because I honestly think you are dammed. There is only one hope in it that can do you any good, and that is only a kind of bastard hope.

JESSICA : And what hope is that, please?

LAUNCELOT : Damn it, you may partly hope that your father had not fathered you, that you are not the Jew’s daughter.

Word Meaning With Annotation

The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children : this is a reference to one of the teachings of the Christian religion, which says that “the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children.” Punishment for a man’s sins may fall upon his family, fear you : I fear on your behalf, be of good chee; for, truly, I think you are damned : it seems a strange combination of ideas to tell Jessica to be cheerful because she is condemned to the punishment of Hell because of her sins. But we can never analyse Launcelot’s remarks as if they were the words of an ordinary person; it may be an attempt at grim humour, or he may only mean be careful! What he says is so very often different from what he intends to say.

Original Text

Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 5 Translation Meaning Annotations 2

Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 5 Translation Meaning Annotations 3

Modern English Reading

JESSICA : That’s a kind of bastard hope indeed; so the sins of my mother should be laid on me.

LAUNCELOT : Honestly, then I’m afraid you are dammed both by father and mother; when I keep away from the Sea Monster, your father, I fall into an equal evil, your mother; well, you are gone both ways.

JESSICA : I shall be saved by my husband; he has made me a Christian.

LAUNCELOT : Honestly, he’s all the more to blame; we were Christians enough before, even as many as could well live one by another. This making of Christians will raise the price of hogs; if we grow all to be pork-eaters, we won’t shortly have a slice of bacon on the coals for money.
[Enter Lorenzo.]

JESSICA : I’ll tell my husband, Launcelot, what you say; here he comes.

LORENZO : I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Launcelot, if you thus get my wife into comers.

JESSICA : No, you don’t need to fear us, Lorenzo; Launcelot and I are arguing; he tells me flatly there’s no mercy for me in heaven, because I am a Jew’s daughter; and he says you are no good member of the community, because in converting Jews to Christians, youraise the price of pork.

LORENZO : I shall answer that better to the community than you can explain the swelling of the negro’s belly; the Moor is pregnant by you, Launcelot.

Word Meaning With Annotation

Rasher : the name applied to a slice of bacon or pork, on the coals : placed on the fire to cook. Launcelot and I are out : “Launcelot and I have quarrelled.” flatly : plainly; without; any softening of the news.

Original Text

Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 5 Translation Meaning Annotations 4

Modern English Reading

LAUNCELOT : It is important that the Moor should be more than reason; but if she is less than an honest woman, she is indeed more than I took her for.

LORENZO : How every fool can play on the word! I think the best grace of wit will shortly turn into silence, and conversation grow commendable in no one except parrots. Go in, servant; bid them prepare for dinner.

LAUNCELOT : That is done, sir; they have all stomachs.

LORENZO : Goodly Lord, what a wit-snapper are you! Then bid them prepare dinner.

LAUNCELOT : That is done too, sir, only ‘cover’ is the word.

LORENZO : Will you cover, then, sir?

LAUNCELOT : Not so, sir, neither; I know my duty.

LORENZO : Yet more quarrelling with purpose! Will you show the whole wealth of your wit al at once? Please understand a plain man in his plain meaning: let your fellows come on, bid them cover the table, serve in the meat, and we’ll come in to dinner.

Word Meaning With Annotation

How every fool can play upon the word : Lorenzo alludes to Launcelot’s habit of quibbling upon double meanings of words, the best grace of wit : “The most dignified wit will soon be to etc.” They have all stomachs : they are all ready for their dinner. This is Launcelot’s idea of humour, that a man prepares for dinner when he is ready to eat it. Lorenzo had meant that the servants should prepare dinner for himself .and Jessica. Bid them prepare dinner : Lorenzo says, “What a witty man you are! Well, tell them to prepare our dinner.” But Launcelot again takes a different sense for the word “prepare.” Lorenzo had meant “Place it ready on the table”, but Launcelot takes it to mean “cook,” and says, “The dinner has been cooked; what you mean now is ‘cover the table’. But when Launcelot says, “All right, you may cover”, Launcelot at once flies off to another meaning of cover, to remain with the head covered, and says, “No sir, I know my duty to my master too well to remain covered (wearing my hat) in his presence.” quarrelling with occasion : “disputing as to whether the word is exactly suitable to the particular occasion.”

Original Text

Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 5 Translation Meaning Annotations 5

Modern English Reading

LAUNCELOT : For the table, sir, it shall be served in; for the meat, sir, it shall be covered; for your coming in to dinner, sir, why, let it be as sense and meaning shall determine.
Exit Clown.

LORENZO : Oh, dear judgment, how his words are suited! The fool has planted in his memory an army of good words; and I know many fools that stand in a better place, dressed like him, except that a tricky word defies definition. How are you, Jessica? And now, good sweetheart, tell me your opinion, how do you like Lord Bassanio’s wife?

Word Meaning With Annotation

For the table, sir, it shall be served in; for the meat, sir, it shall be covered : Launcelot becomes mixed in expression, and changes the words “served” and “covered”. He means to say “The table shall be covered and the meat served etc.” humours and conceits : the word “humour” was applied by writers of the time to characteristic temperaments or moods of men, mostly odd and uncommon, o dear discretion, how his words are suited : O, Spirit of discretion, how strangely unsuitable his words are! a many : it was customary at one time to use this expression, stand in better place : are of higher social rank, garnish’d like him : supplied as he is, with words, tricksy word : a word which enables a trick to be played with meaning; a word capable of double meaning, defy the matter : “ignore what is the obvious and intended meaning.” Or pretend to think a word means something different from the speaker’s obvious sense, how cheer’st thou : “How are you?” Literally, “Of what face or mood are you?”

Original Text

Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 5 Translation Meaning Annotations 6

Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 5 Translation Meaning Annotations 7

Modern English Reading

JESSICA : So much I can’t express it. It is very proper the Lord Bassanio live an upright life, because, having such a blessing in his lady, he finds the joys of heaven here on earth; and if he doesn’t merit it on earth, it stands to reason he should never enter heaven. Why, if two gods should play some heavenly match, and place a bet on two earthly women, and Portia is one of them, there must be something else to bet on with the other, because the poor rude world does not have her equal.

LORENZO : You have such a husband in me as she is for a wife.

JESSICA : No, but ask my opinion too about that.

LORENZO : I’ll ask later; first let’s go in to dinner.

JESSICA : No, let me praise you while I want to.

LORENZO : No, please, let it serve for dinner conversation; then, no matter what you say, I shall digest it with the other things I’m eating up.

JESSICA : Well, I’ll point you in the right direction.

Word Meaning With Annotation

And, if on earth he do not mean it, then : this depends on the sense given to the word “mean.” If we take it as “intend” then we must understand, “if Bassanio is really sincere in his upright life.” Then we might take the sense to be, “If on earth, he does not follow the mean or middle-way in conduct,” taking the sense of “mean” as “the average.” Again the sense of “mean” might be “to demean himself or keep himself humble,” and this gives us, “If he does not humble himself on this earth, he need never expect heaven, if he has already enjoyed, heavenly happiness on earth.” heavenly match : a competition between heavenly or divine beings, pawn’d : put up as a stake; wagered by the other of the two competitors, fellow : equal or match. Anon : in a moment; at once, while I have a stomach : again a double meaning, (i) while I have the desire to do so, and (ii) while I have an appetite for dinner, table-talk : talk over the dinner table, then, howso’er thou speak’st, ‘mong other things, I shall digest it : then, no matter how you speak, I shall be able to digest your words along with dinner, set you forth : set forth your praises.

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