The Merchant of Venice

If to do were as easy as to know what we


The Merchant of Venice

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Age Range
Act 1 Scene 2
Time & Place
Belmont, sixteenth-century
Time Period
Show Type

Monologue Context

Portia has recently lost her father and he has left a very specific request in his

Monologue Text

If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree: such a hare is madness the youth, to skip o’er the meshes of good counsel the cripple. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband. O me, the word ‘choose!’ I may neither choose whom I would nor refuse whom I dislike; so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one nor refuse none?

William Shakespeare. The Merchant of Venice Act 1, sc.2, ll.12-26

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