A pound of flesh - Shakespeare Speaks

source: BBC Learning English    2016年4月29日
Find out if this phrase from The Merchant of Venice is about justice or revenge!
For activities and extra materials connected to this episode: http://www.live.bbc.co.uk/learningeng...
Narrator: It was late in the evening. William Shakespeare is at the palace of King James I.

King James: Mr Shakespeare! Welcome, welcome.

Will: Your majesty, it is a great honour to perform The Merchant of Venice for you a second time.

King James: The Queen and I enjoyed it so much we just had to see it again.

The Queen: You fell asleep halfway through dear, that's why you want to see it again.

King James: Nonsense. Mr Shakespeare, I particularly enjoyed your character Shylock. But what was all that about a pound of flesh?

Will: Well, Shylock lent some money to the businessman Antonio. And Antonio promised that if he didn't pay the money back, Shylock could cut a pound of flesh from his body.

King James: That's right, that's right. I remember it well now. What did he say? If you repay me not on such a day…

If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Express'd in the condition, let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me.

We'll leave them there for now. A pound of flesh? That's nearly half a kilogram! Modern English speakers use the phrase a pound of flesh when someone says they want justice, but the punishment they're asking for is so severe that it seems more like revenge. In the terrible case of US cinema gunman James Holmes, former prosecutor Bob Grant said:

Clip 1: The district attorney will argue that although the defendant is mentally ill, he is not insane under the law, and society deserves its pound of flesh from him.

Clip 2: I apologised and paid for the repairs after I crashed his car, but it isn't enough for him. He wants his pound of flesh. I think he's going to call the police…

The Queen: Mr Shakespeare, please tell the King what happens in the end, just in case he falls asleep again.

King James: I did not fall asleep! But yes, do tell me.

Will: Well, Antonio didn't pay the money back. The court agreed that Shylock could have his pound of flesh, but the court also said that he could not take even a single drop of blood.

King James: Aha! So Antonio was saved.

Will: Yes, your majesty.

The Queen: Ooh, the play is starting. Now do stay awake this time, dear…

King James: To sleep, or not to sleep: that is the question…

Finn explains Shakespeare's "pound of flesh"

source: BBC Learning English    2016年4月29日
Do you know the meaning of the phrase "a pound of flesh"? Learn the meaning with Finn here as he gives examples of it being used on news sites. For more about Shakespeare Speaks visit The Open University: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/languag... And take a look at BBC Learning English: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/... Hi there, Finn here and today we're looking at Shakespeare's phrase pound of flesh – which originally comes from The Merchant of Venice. Now, it's a really colourful phrase, but it can be slightly tricky to use. So I've got some news stories here to help us out - to look at this phrase in context. First up, we have the IT website,The Register, and it has the headline: "California gets $5m pound of flesh from Samsung, LG, and others in price-fix scandal." OK, so, what are we talking about here? This story tells us about a court case, where technology companies were found to have committed a crime and had to face a severe punishment. Now, it's called a pound of flesh here in this story, because it's a very harsh punishment, it's a lot to pay and it could almost be seen more as seeking revenge rather than just paying a fair amount. So there we go, "California gets $5m pound of flesh from Samsung, LG, and others in price-fixing scandal." Next we have this story from BBC Sport, which is about rugby, and in this story a senior Welsh rugby official is talking about playing professionally in different countries. He says that you get paid more in the French league and the English Premiership than you do in Wales, but in return they expect you to play extra hard. So they say: "… professional clubs in the Premiership want their pound of flesh." That's a quote from this official. So, they pay you a lot, but you have to work hard - a pound of flesh! And you know what? I think I've given my pound of flesh in this video – I've given you two examples in just the one video! Actually, I think I've got all my flesh still here! See you.