The Merchant of Venice Summary William Shakespeare

We have decided to create the most comprehensive English Summary that will help students with learning and understanding.

Summary Of Merchant Of Venice By William Shakespeare

Summary of Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice Summary Introduction to the Play

The Merchant of Venice is a very popular play written by William Shakespeare in the sixteenth century. It ranks along with Hamlet as Shakespeare’s one of the most frequently performed dramas. The play is perhaps, most remembered for its dramatic scenes, and is best known for Shylock and his famous ‘Hath riot a Jew eyes’ speech. Equally notable is Portia’s speech about the ‘quality of mercy’. The pound of flesh theme never fails to appeal the audiences.

This play is classified as a Tragic Comedy, as it depicts the misfortune falling upon the characters and thereby, depicting the elements of tragedy, as the play continues, it eventually concludes on a blissful note with justice prevailing in the end.

One school of critics believes that the drama is fundamentally allegorical, addressing the themes like the triumph of mercy over justice, New Testament forgiveness over Old Testament law, and love over material wealth moralizes the play. Another group of commentators, observing several ambiguities in the play’s apparent endorsement of Christian values, contends that Shakespeare actually censures Antonio’s and the Venetian’s Audacity against Shylock.

The title character is the merchant Antonio but the central figure of the play, in the eyes of modern readers and spectators, is of course Shylock. There can be no doubt that he appeared to Shakespeare’s contemporaries on a comic personage. Since he makes his final exit before the last act, by no means he can be referred as the protagonist. To the Elizabethan audiences he seems to be an old man, with rapacity, miserliness, his usury, and his eagerness to dig for another the pit into which he himself falls, seemed ludicrous. Towards the end of the play, we find him as a half-pathetic creation, a scapegoat, a victim and in this sense, he cannot be categorized as a villain.

This play owes its popularity to its characters and the complexities woven around them. It has been crafted and exhibited in such an organized manner that it absolutely adheres its audiences.

The Merchant of Venice Summary Characters in the Play

  • Antonio—A wealthy Venetian merchant.
  • Bassanio—Antonio’s friend, who is in love with Portia; suitor likewise to her.
  • Gratiano, Solanio, Salerio—Friends of Antonio and Bassanio.
  • Lorenzo—A friend of Antonio and Bassanio, who is in love with Jessica.
  • Portia—A rich heiress of Belmont.
  • Nerissa—Portia’s waiting maid, who is in love with Gratiano.
    Balthazar—Portia’s servant.
  • Stephano—Nerissa’s disguise as Balthazar’s law clerk.
  • Shylock—A rich Jew, moneylender, Of Venice and Jessica’s father.
  • Tubal—A Jew; Shylock’s friend.
  • Jessica— Shylock’s daughter, who is in love with Lorenzo.
  • Launcelot Gobbo—A foolish man in the service of Shylock.
  • Old Gobbo—Father of Launcelot.
    Leonardo—Bassino’s servant.
  • Duke of Venice—The Venetian authority who presides over Shylock-Antonio case.
  • Prince of Morocco—Suitor to Portia.
  • Prince of Arragon—Suitor to Portia.

Magnificoes of Venice, officers of the Court of Justice, Gaoler, Servants to Portia, and other attendants.

The Merchant of Venice Summary

Bassanio, a young Venetian of noble rank, wishes to woo the beautiful and wealthy heiress Portia, of Belmont. Having squandered his estate, Bassanio approaches his friend Antonio, a wealthy merchant of Venice, kind, generous person, who has regularly bailed him out, for three thousand ducats needed to subsidise his expenditures as a suitor. Antonio agrees, but since he has inadequate cash because his ships and merchandise are engaged at the sea. He promises to cover a bond if Bassanio can find a lender, so Bassanio turns to the Jewish moneylender Shylock and names Antonio as the loan guarantor.

Shylock, who hates Antonio because of his Anti-Judaism campaign and his customary refusals to borrow or lend money with interest, is initially reluctant, citing the abuse he has suffered at Antonio’s hand, but he eventually agrees to lend Antonio the sum without interest upon the condition that if Antonio is unable to repay it at the specified date, he may take a pound of Antonio’s flesh. Bassanio does not approves of Antonio accepting such a risky bond; Antonio is surprised by what he sees as the moneylender’s generosity (no “usance” — interest—is asked for), and he signs the contract. With money at hand, Bassanio leaves for Belmont with his friend Gratiano, who has asked to accompany him. Gratiano is a likeable young man, but is often flippant, overly talkative, and tactless. Bassanio warns his companion to exercise self-control, and the two leave for Belmont.

Meanwhile in Belmont, Portia is awash with suitors. Her father left a will stipulating that each of her suitors must choose correctly from one of three caskets—one each of gold, silver and lead. If the suitor chooses the right casket, then he gets Portia. The first suitor, the luxurious Prince of Morocco, chooses the gold casket, interpreting its slogan “Who choose’th me shall gain what many men desire” as referring to Portia.

The second suitor, the conceited Prince of Arragon, chooses the silver casket, which proclaims “Who choose’th me shall get as much as he deserves”, imagining himself to be full of merit. Both suitors leave empty-handed, having rejected the lead casket because of the baseness of its material and the uninviting nature of its slogan: “Who choose’th me must give and hazard all he hath.”

The last suitor is Bassanio, whom Portia wishes to succeed, having met him before. As Bassanio ponders his choice, members of Portia’s household sing a song which says that “fancy” (not true love) is “engend’red in the eyes, with gazing fed”, prompting Bassanio to disregard “outward shows” and “ornament” and chooses the lead casket, winning Portia’s hand.

In Venice, Antonio’s ships are reported lost at sea. This leaves him unable to satisfy the bond. Shylock is even more determined to exact revenge from Christians after his daughter Jessica had fled away from home and eloped with a Christian, Lorenzo, taking a substantial amount of Shylock1 s wealth with her, and a turquoise ring which was a gift to Shylock from his late wife, Leah. Shylock has brought Antonio before the court of the Venetian Duke.

At Belmont, Bassanio receives a letter stating that Antonio has been unable to return the loan taken from Shylock. Portia and Bassanio marry, as do Gratiano and Portia’s handmaid Nerissa. Bassanio and Gratiano then leaves for Venice, with money from Portia, to save Antonio’s life by offering the money to Shylock. Unknown to Bassanio and Gratiano, Portia has sent her servant, Balthazar, to seek the counsel of Portia’s cousin, Bellario, a lawyer, at Padua.

The climax of the play comes in the court of the Duke of Venice. Shylock refuses Bassanio’s offer of 6,000 ducats, twice the amount of the loan. He demands his pound of flesh from Antonio. The Duke, wishing to save Antonio but was unable to nullify a contract, refers the case to a visitor who introduces himself as Balthazar, a young male “doctor of the law”, bearing a letter of recommendation to the Duke from the learned lawyer Bellario.

The doctor is actually Portia in disguise, and the law clerk who accompanies her is actually Nerissa, also in disguise. As Balthazar, Portia repeatedly ask Shylock to show mercy in a famous speech, advising him that mercy is twice blest: “It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” However, Shylock adamantly refuses any compensation and insists on the pound of flesh.

As the court grants Shylock his bond and Antonio prepares for Shylock’s knife, Portia points out that the contract only allows Shylock to remove the flesh, not the “blood”, of Antonio. Further damning Shylock’s case, she tells him that he needs to precisely cut only one pound of flesh, no more, no less; she advises him, “if the scale do turn, but in the estimation of a hair, “Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate.” Thus, if Shylock were to shed any drop of Antonio’s blood, his “lands and goods” would be forfeited under the Venetian laws.

Shylock, clearly unable to comply with this law, asks instead that he be given the six thousand ducats, Portia refuses his request, explaining that she has already ruled according to the contract and that it must be carried out. Shylock wishes the court to completely drop his case and forgive Antonio the entire three thousand ducats. Portia again refuses his request, on the ground that he has already refused it “in the open court”.

Portia also finds that Shylock is guilty of conspiring to kill Antonio, and explains that the law in Venice states that if any foreigner conspires against the life of a Venetian, then he should forfeit all his wealth, half is taken as a fine by the state, and half of his wealth is to be given to the man against whom he conspired. In addition, the Duke is granted the power of life and death over him.

When Shylock is pardoned by the Duke, he informs the court that he would prefer death rather than lose everything he owns. Antonio gives Shylock’s property back to him with the understanding that he will bequeath his entire estate to Lorenzo and Jessica and he must also convert to Christianity.

Bassanio does not recognizes his disguised wife, and offers to reward the supposed lawyer. Initially, she denies, but after his continuous persuasion for a token of gratitude, Portia requests him for his ring and Antonio’s gloves. Antonio parts with his gloves without a second thought, but Bassanio gives the ring only after much persuasion from Antonio, as earlier in the play he promised his wife never to lose, sell or give away his bond of love. Nerissa, as the lawyer’s clerk, also succeeds in likewise retrieving her ring from Gratiano, who is also unable to recognize her disguise.

At Belmont, Portia and Nerissa taunt, and pretend to accuse their husbands before revealing their disguise as the lawyer and his clerk in disguise. After all the other characters make amends, Antonio learns from Portia that three of his ships were not stranded and have safely returned from the sea.

The Merchant of Venice Act Wise Summary

The Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 1 Summary

Venue  – Venice
Characters  – Antonio, Salerio, Solanio, Bassanio, Lorenzo, Gratiano

Antonio, a Merchant of Venice, talks of his sadness with his friends Salerio and Solanio, who believe that his heavy investments at sea must cause him worry. When he says that it doesn’t bother him, since his wealth isn’t invested in just one ship, they claim he must be in love. Antonio shrugs this off as well.

When Bassanio enters, he tells Antonio of Portia, a rich and beautiful woman he has fallen in love with, and, although he has borrowed money from Antonio before and hasn’t paid it back, asks to borrow money again so that he may court her, and thus, have enough money to pay Antonio back completely. Even though Antonio’s money is tied up in the ships, he allows Bassanio to see what kind of loan he can secure with Antonio’s credit.

Word Meanings

  • Owe – Commitment to pay or repay in return
  • Wearies – Fatigue
  • Argosies – Large merchant ships
  • Broth – Soup
  • Shallows – Not very deep
  • Edifice – Building
  • Vinegar aspect – Sour look, negative attitude
  • Kinsman – Relative
  • Leisure – Free time
  • Mortifying – Humiliating
  • Exhortation – Communication urging someone to do something
  • Moan – Complaint
  • Quest – Search

The Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Summary

Venue — Belmont
Characters — Portia, Nerissa

In Belmont, Portia complains to her servant Nerissa that she cannot choose her own husband; her dead father has stipulated in his will that Portia’s suitors must pass a test in which they must choose among three caskets one lead, one silver, and one gold, to find which one contains her portrait. The one who chooses correctly will become Portia’s husband and inherit her fortune, but if the suitors fail, they may never marry. Portia and Nerissa discuss the faults of suitors who have come and gone, and remembered Bassanio as one who might be worthy to be her husband.

Word Meanings

  • Aught – Anything
  • Surfeit – In excess
  • Decree – Law
  • Colt Wild – young horse
  • Afeard – Afraid
  • Requite – Return love
  • Acquainted-  Familiar
  • Imposition – Condition
  • Thy – Your
  • Seek – Wish to meet
  • Shrive – Give spiritual consolation

The Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 3 Summary

Venue – Venice
Characters – Bassanio, Shylock, Antonio

Shylock agrees to lend Bassanio three thousand ducats for three months based on Antonio’s credit but is skeptical, since all of Antonio’s assets are tied up at sea. He confesses in an aside that he hates Antonio, because he is a Christian who lends money without interest, which makes Shylock’s profession as a moneylender difficult. Shylock has also been offended by Antonio’s public, physical and verbal assaults against him for usury, which is considered a sin by Christians. When Shylock points out Antonio’s hypocrisy, Antonio points out he makes the exception for Bassanio, not for himself.

Word Meanings

  • Stead – Help
  • Argosy – Merchant ship
  • Peril – Risk, hazard
  • Bethink – Think seriously
  • Fawning – Submissive
  • Publican – Tax collector
  • Wrought – Planned
  • Inserted – Mentioned
  • Doit – A copper coin
  • Merry sport – A joke
  • Dismay – Fear
  • Before the day – Before the expiry of the bond

The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 1 Summary

Venue — Belmont
Characters — Portia, the Prince of Morocco

Prince of Morocco has come to take the casket challenge to win Portia’s hand, but she tells him that if he fails, he may never marry.

Word Meanings

  • Mislike – Misunderstand
  • Livery – Uniform(skin)
  • Thaws – Melts
  • Incision – Blood-letting
  • Hedged – Confined
  • Scimitar – Sword
  • Outstare – Look more defiant
  • Hazard – Tough choice

The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary

Venue – Venice
Characters – Launcelot, the Old Gobbo, Bassanio, Lorenzo, Gratiano

Launcelot Gobbo, Shylock’s servant, ponders running away from Shylock to serve another master. He encounters his father, Old Gobbo, who is nearly blind and doesn’t recognize his son. Launcelot plays a trick on his father, misdirecting him and pretending that Launcelot is dead, but soon reveals himself and asks for his father’s blessings. During their reunion, Launcelot begs Bassanio to have him as a servant.

Bassanio then sees Gratiano, who asks to go to Belmont with Bassanio. Bassanio allows Gratiano to accompany him, making clear, however, that Gratiano needs to be at his best behaviour, since he has a reputation for being a wild man. Gratiano agrees, but asks that his behaviour not be judged on the basis of partying they plan to do that night.

Word Meanings

  • Heed – Care
  • Budge – Move
  • Sand-blind – Half blind
  • Beseech – Request
  • Cudgel – Staff/stick
  • Alack – Alas
  • Liveries – Uniforms
  • Anon – Soon
  • Frutify – Certify
  • Preferment – Promotion
  • Trifle – Line
  • Wench – Lady
  • Misconstrued – Misunderstood
  • Gauge – Judge

The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 3 Summary

Venue –  Venice
Characters  – Jessica, Launcelot
Jessica tells Launcelot that she too, plans to run away from her father’s house with Bassanio’s friend Lorenzo.

Word Meanings

  • Merry : Amusing
  • Rob : Take away
  • Taste of : A little
  • Heinous : Deadly

The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 4 Summary

Venue  –  Venice
Characters –  Lorenzo, Gratiano, Salerio, Solario, Launcelot

Lorenzo, Gratiano, Salerio and Salanio make plans for the masquerade, a Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) celebration, discussing whether or not they should arrange for torchbearers. Launcelot, on his way to invite Shylock to dine with Bassanio, arrives with Jessica’s letter detailing her plans for escape, which includes taking her father’s gold and jewels. Lorenzo tells Gratiano that Jessica will be disguised as a page and will serve as a torchbearer during the night’s festivities.

Word Meanings

  • Quiwidy – Prethiy
  • Break – Break the seal
  • ProvIded – Provided with
  • Direted – Asked
  • Pemur – Read
  • Faithless – Non-beliver

The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 5 Summary

Venue – Venice
Characters – Shylock, Jessica, Launcelot

Shylock reacts angrily to Launcelot’s leaving him, but accepts the invitation to eat with Bassanio despite some nagging premonitions. Launcelot hints to Shylock that there will be a Shrove Tuesday masquerade that night, and Shylock orders Jessica to lock up the house so as to avoid getting robbed by the revellers. Launcelot tells Jessica that Lorenzo will go through with their plans.

Word Meanings

  • Pen-house – Shelter
  • Holds – Applies
  • Untread – Retrace
  • Baggard – Mad poor
  • Abode – Wait
  • Beshrew – Curse
  • Presently – Soon

The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 6 Summary

Venue – Venice
Characters – Gratiano, Salerio, Lorenzo, Jessica

Gratiano and Salerio meet Lorenzo outside Shylock’s house, in order to help Jessica, now dressed as a young man, escape with a casket of Shylock’s gold and jewels. As Gratiano is about to leave for the revelries, Antonio catches him, saying that Bassanio’s ship is about to depart, so he’d better skip the festivities.

Word Meanings

  • Yonker – Smart boy
  • Scarfed –  With flags
  • Strumpet – Harlot
  • Cupid  – God of love
  • Garnish – Dress
  • Beshrew – Curse
  • Fie – Shame

The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 7 Summary

Venue – Belmont
Characters – Portia, the Prince of Morocco

In Belmont, Morocco enters the lottery to win Portia’s hand in marriage. He reads the inscriptions on each of the casket and selects the gold one, whose inscription reads, “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire”. Since the gold casket is made of such a valuable material, he reasons, it is the only one fit to contain Portia’s image. When he opens the casket, he finds a skull with a scroll in the eye socket. When he leaves, Portia declares that she hopes that all “men of his complexion” choose the same way.

Word Meanings

  • Discover – Reveal
  • Blunt – Plain
  • Withal – With that
  • Graved – Engraved
  • Cerecloth – A type of shroud
  • Insulp’d – Stemped
  • Frost – Cold disappointment

The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 8 Summary

Venue – Venice
Characters – Salerio, Solanio
In one of the most racially charged scenes in the play, Solanio, recounts for Salerio, Shylock’s reaction to Jessica’s

Word Meanings

  • Outcries – Cries
  • Amorous – Loving
  • Outrageous – Shocking
  • Reason’d – Discussed
  • Fraught – Loaded
  • Slubber – Spoil

The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 9 Summary

Venue – Belmont
Characters – Portia, The Prince of Arragon

Arragon undergoes the casket test and selects the silver casket, which reveals a portrait of a “blinking idiot.” As soon as Arragon leaves, word comes that Bassanio has arrived to try the test.

Word Meanings

  • Injunctions – Conditions
  • Multitude – Majority
  • Martlet – A bird
  • Chaff – Rubbish
  • Blinking – Winking
  • Amiss – Wrong
  • Wroth – Anger
  • Heresy – Rumour

The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 1 Summary

Venue – Venice
Characters – Salerio, Solanio, Shylock, Salerio

Tubal Solanio and Salerio have heard reports that confirm that Antonio’s ships have indeed wrecked, and they are concerned about his bond with Shylock. Shylock, still reeling from his daughter’s escape, hears from Salerio about Antonio’s bad fortune, and his grief turns to anger. Salerio questions whether Shylock will really take his pound of flesh from Antonio, and Shylock responds that he will take it in revenge, just as a Christian would (“Hath not a Jew” speech, 11.50-69).

Tubal, another Jew, confirms Antonio’s shipwrecks and tells Shylock that he hasn’t found Jessica, but has heard that she has spent 80 ducats in one night and has traded her mother’s ring for a monkey. Enraged, Shylock gets an officer to arrest Antonio in order to collect his bond.

Word Meanings

  • Rialto – Stock exchange
  • Knapped – Nibbled
  • Betimes – In good times
  • Jet and Ivory – Black and White
  • Rhenish – White wine
  • Thwarted – Obstructed
  • Hearsed – Put in coffin
  • Argosy – Merchant ship

The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 2 Summary

Venue – Belmont
Characters – Portia, Bassanio, Nerissa, Gratiano.

Bassanio arrives in Belmont to vie for Portia’s hand, and she tries to delay his choice so as to spend more time with him in case he chooses incorrectly. She wishes she could teach him how to choose, and in fact gives him clues in her song, but will not defy the letter of the law of her father’s will. When Bassanio chooses correctly, Gratiano reveals that he is in love with Nerissa, completing the third romantic couple of the play.

Lorenzo, Jessica, Salerio, and a messenger arrive from Venice, and Bassanio receives the news that Antonio has been arrested. Portia offers to repay the debt even twenty times over, and Bassanio makes plans to return to Venice to try to rescue his friend.

Word Meanings

  • Tarry – Wait
  • Besnrew – Curse
  • Peize – Retard
  • Deliverance – Liberation
  • Flourish – Notes of triumph
  • Alcides – Heracles, a great Greek warrior
  • Visages – Faces
  • Excrement – Appearance
  • Counterfeit – Likeness
  • Mansion – Big building
  • Solemnize – Celebrate
  • Fleece – Golden Fleece
  • Despatch – Expedite
  • Twain – Two

The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 3 Summary

Venue – Venice
Characters – Shylock, Antonio, Solanio

Shylock takes Antonio to jail, with Antonio pleading for mercy in vain. Solanio and Antonio discuss whether the Duke will dismiss the case, but Antonio believes the law will hold.

Word Meanings

  • Look to him – Keep a watch on him
  • Fangs – Teeth
  • Impenetrable – Which cannot be satisfied
  • Forfeitures – Penalties
  • Impeach – Deny

The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 4 Summary

Venue – Belmont
Characters – Portia, Lorenzo, Nerissa

Portia leaves her estate in the hands of Lorenzo while pretending to stay at a monastery a few miles away during their husbands’ absence. Instead, she gets documents and legal clothing from her lawyer cousin so she and Nerissa may go to Venice. Portia promises that she will divulge her plan on the way to Venice.

Word Meanings

  • Conceit – Idea
  • Amity – Friendship
  • Semblance – Likeness
  • Imposition – Task
  • Traject – Ferry
  • Mincing – Short, quick

The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 5 Summary

Venue – Belmont
Characters – Launcelot, Jessica, Lorenzo

In a scriptural debate, Launcelot tells Jessica that he believes that she is damned for her father’s sins, but she asserts that because of her husband, she will not be. Launcelot complains about the conversion of the Jews, which, since they will not be forbidden to eat pork, will raise the price of bacon. Lorenzo enters and berates Launcelot for getting a Moorish servant pregnant.

He suddenly turns to Jessica then and asks her, “How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio’s wife?” Jessica praises Portia as being without equal on earth. Lorenzo jokingly responds, “Even such a husband / Hast thou of me as she is for a wife.” Jessica is ready to comment on his teasing when he urges her to save her comments “for table-talk.” So with loving jests, they go into dinner.

Word Meanings

  • Agitation – Thought
  • Rasber – Piece of bacon
  • Flatly – Plainly
  • Wit-snapper – A witty person
  • Trickry – Tricky
  • Pawnd – Pledged

The Merchant of Venice Act 4 Scene 1 Summary

Venue – Venice
Characters -Shylock, The Duke, Portia, Nerissa, Antonio, Bassanio, Gratiano

Shylock refuses to dismiss the bond, even for repayment of twice the original loan. The Duke tries to reason with Shylock, asking him to have mercy in order to gain mercy, but Shylock argues that, since he has purchased his pound of flesh, it is his to do with as he likes.Portia and Nerissa show up disguised, respectively as a young lawyer and a clerk, just as the Duke is ready to allow Shylock to claim his bond. Portia acknowledges the bond, but appeals to Shylock with her “quality of mercy is not strained” speech. When he refuses, Portia says the law must be upheld, but asks him to reconsider mercy. Still, he demands his bond.

As Shylock prepares his knife and the scales on which to weigh the flesh, Antonio bids a passion-filled farewell to Bassanio, who declares that he would give up his wife to keep Antonio alive, to Portia and Nerissa’s chagrin.As the sentence comes down, Portia reveals the loopholes in the law: not a drop of blood may be spilled with the taking of the pound of flesh; and precisely a pound of flesh may be taken, no more or less. Otherwise, all his possessions will be confiscated by the state of Venice. When Shylock backpedals, trying to take the payment rather than the bond, Portia shows no mercy.

Furthermore, since Shylock has essentially plotted murder, his property will be split between Antonio and the State, and he is subject to the death penalty. The Duke allows him to live but requires that not only should Shylock’s property be willed to Lorenzo and Jessica, but that Shylock become a Christian as well. Shylock assents, saying, “I am not well”. Antonio and Bassanio offer to pay the disguised Portia and Nerissa for their help. They refuse, but Portia agrees to take Antonio’s gloves, asking Bassanio for his wedding ring. Bassanio initially refuses, but recants, sending Gratiano to deliver the ring.

The Merchant of Venice Act 4 Scene 1 Summary Word Meaning

  • Stony – Cruel
  • Obdurate – Obstinate
  • Moiety – Part
  • Commiseration – Pity
  • Gaping – With open mouth
  • Loathes – Hates
  • Abject – Degrading
  • Viands – Rich food
  • Importunity – Request
  • Impugn – Attack

The Merchant of Venice Act 4 Scene 2 Summary

Venue – Venice
Characters – Portia, Nerissa, Gratiano

Portia and Nerissa deliver the deed for Shylock to sign. Gratiano catches up to deliver Bassanio’s ring to them.Nerissa decides to get Gratiano to give up his ring, and both plot to make the men sorry for what they ever did.

Word Meanings

  • Deed – Document
  • Swear – Promise
  • Warrant – Assure
  • Old – Hard
  • Tarry – Wait

The Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 Summary

Venue – Belmont
Characters – Portia, Lorenzo, Jessica, Nerissa, Antonio, Bassanio, Gratiano

In Portia’s garden, Lorenzo and Jessica compare themselves to famous romantic couples of myth and literature. When servants inform them of their masters’ arrivals, Lorenzo asks for music with which to greet Portia, noting its power to charm.

Portia and Nerissa arrive, warning the servants not to mention their absence. Upon his return, Bassanio introduces the women to Antonio. Portia and Nerissa quarrel with Bassanio and Gratiano respectively, about their missing rings, withholding their husbands’ marital privileges until they have their rings back. In fact, both women confess they slept with the lawyer and his clerk to retrieve their rings.

Before the men are too shocked at their wives’ “unfaithfulness,” Portia shows them a letter from her lawyer cousin explaining their roles in saving Antonio’s life. In true romantic form, Antonio’s ships miraculously return, Lorenzo and Jessica learn they will inherit Shylock’s fortune, and everyone retires tct bed as morning comes.

Word Meanings

  • Soul – Signs of love
  • Unthrift – Thriftless
  • Hark – Listen
  • Hermit – Priest
  • Orb – Star
  • Feign – Imagine
  • Speed – Prosper
  • Bound – Obliged
  • Scant – Cease to express
  • Riveted – Fastened
  • Void – Empty
  • Mending – Repairing
  • Starved – Hungry
  • Sore – Acutely

The Merchant of Venice Summary Questions and Answers

Question 1.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
Morocco :
Mislike me not for my complexion,
The shadowed livery of the burnished sun,
To whom I am a neighbour and near bred.
Bring me the fairest creature northward born,
Where Phoebus’fire scare thaws the icicles.
And let us make incision for your love
To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.
I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine
Hath feared the valiant. By my love I swear
The best-regarded virgins of our clime
Have loved it too. I would not change this hue
Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.

Portia :
In terms of choice I am not solely led
By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes.
Besides, the lottery of my destiny
Bars me the right of voluntary choosing.

(i) Where is this scene set? Account for Morocco’s presence in this place.
(ii) What can you assess of Morocco’s appearance and character based on the given extract ?
(iii) Mention any three actions that Morocco says he would be happy to perform in order to win Portia.
(iv) What does Morocco have to swear before he makes his ‘hazard’
(v) Portia speaks of ‘the lottery of my destiny’. What exactly is she referring to? What in your opinion are Portia’s feelings regarding this matter ?
(i) The scene is set in a room in Portia’s house at Belmont. The prince of Morocco is here to try his luck in choosing the correct casket amongst the lead, silver and gold, which the suitors are suppose to choose in order to marry the beautiful heiress, Portia.

(ii) Morocco seems to pass a flamboyant and overbearing nature. He is absolutely not embarrassed about his dark skin and proudly proclaims his peerage.

He comes across as a self-assured and boastful person when he declares that inspite of his skin tone, the most courageous fear him and he has impressed many of the most beautiful virgins in his country. He displays flattery when he tells Portia that he will not change his skin tone but for her. He is a self-conceited person. He brags about his conquests in battles.

(iii) The three actions that Morocco says he would be happy to perform in order to win Portia are :

  • “Outbrave the heart most ctering on the earth” i.e., he would act braver than the bravest man on earth
  • “Pluck the young suckling cubs from the she bear” i.e., he would grab bear cubs from a ferocious mother- ‘ bear, “mock the lion when the roars for prey” i.e., he could tease a hungry lion when it roars.

(iv) As per the condition of the caskets, Portia reminds Morocco that he may either take his chance or not choose at all. And if he does choose, he will have to swear before hand that, incase of incorrect choice, he will never talk about marriage to any woman again.

(v) Portia’s father in his will, set the requirements for the suitors who wish to marry her. They must choose between three caskets of Gold, Silver and Lead, whoever chooses correctly, would win the right to marry Portia. The whole exercise is in simple terms a Tottery which would determine Portia’s destiny’. Her father wanted to ensure that after his death, his daughter and his wealth would be in the hands of a wise man.

For Portia, the lottery system is a symbol of a dead father’s control over his daughter’s right to choose her husband. Thus, Portia is a little depressed and feels overburdened with this condition, because she cannot marry a man of her choosing.

Question 2.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
Shylock: Shall I not receive my principal ?
Portia : Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture,
To be taken at thy peril, few.

(i) Explain what Portia means by the above words.
(ii) How does Shylock respond to her words?
(iii) What more does Portia tell Shylock about the Laws of Venice as applicable to an ‘alien’ (foreigner) ?
(iv) What does Antonio propose to do with his share of Shylock’s goods ?
(v) What role does Portia play in this scene ? What does this reveal of her character ?
(i) During the trial scene when Shylock realises that he is defeated, he quickly backpedals. He asks only for the principal of the debt, the 3000 ducats, hoping for the whole affair to just be over with. Though Bassanio is ready to pay it, but Portia cuts him off. She says that as he has already refused the offer earlier in the court and he will receive only the law, just as he asked for. Portia insists that Shylock no longer has any right to anything but the forfeiture of Antonio’s flesh, which he can take at his own risk.

(ii) ‘Shylock, realising that he has lost the case and the forfeiture, says he wants to stick around to hear some more of the case. He says
“Why, then, the devil give him good of it!
I’ll stay no longer question.”
And he begins to exit.

(iii) Portia further brings up another law of Venice which says that, if a foreigner has sought the life of a Venetian, either directly or indirectly, then the would be victim gets half of his property and the other half goes to the State, while the fate of the would be murderer rests in the hands of the Duke.

(iv) As per the law, as stated by Portia, half of Shylock’s property would now belong to Antonio. But Antonio, being a generous man, says that he would like half of the money to go to Lorenzo and Jessica, as long as Shylock does 2 things. Firstly, convert to Christianity and secondly, draw up a will leaving the rest of his wealth to Lorenzo and Jessica upon his death.

(v) Portia disguised as a lawyer, presented herself as Balthazar, to defend Antonio, she beseeched Shylock to be merciful and accept thrice more than the original loan amount, which he refused. She, is then referred to the very particular conditions of Venetian law which put Shylock in an extremely difficult position as he could not cut off more or less than an ounce of Antonio’s flesh, nor could he spill any of the Merchant’s blood. Shylock realised that he was in a tight spot and he decided to accept the terms. But Portia pointed out that any foreigner who deliberately intended to harm a Venetian, would forfeit his property to the victim and the State and would be under the mercy of the Duke.

Thus, Portia’s intelligent intervention surely saved Antonio’s life and guaranteed a life of misery for the vengeful Shylock.Portia’s appeal of mercy to Shylock comes from her own habitual goodness. The words come from her heart honestly, openly and naturally. This proves Portia’s wisdom and her wit. She displays her intelligence and just personality by presenting.

A Coherent argument saves Antonio’s life and punishes Shylock for his vindictive personality. Thus, she emerges as the true heroine of the play.

Question 3.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
Antonio: But little; I am arm’d and well prepared.
Give me your hand,

Bassanio : fare you well!
Grieve not that I am fallen to this for you;
For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom : it is still her use
wretched man outlive his wealth,
To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
An age of poverty; from which lingering penance
Of such misery doth she cut me off.

(i) Where is this scene set ? To whom are these words addressed ? To what question does Antonio respond with the words,”But little;”?
(ii) What does Antonio mean when he says, “Grieve not that I have fallen to his for you”?
(iii) What does Antonio instruct Bassanio to do immediately after speaking these lines ?
(iv) What is Bassanio’s response to this speech ?
(v) On what note does Antonio conclude his speech ? What does this reveal of Antonio’s attitude to life and death ?
(i) Antonio : “But little cut me off.”
This scene is set in a court of Justice in Venice. These words are addressed to Bassanio. During the trial, when Portia asks Antonio if he has anything to say, “You; Merchant, have you anything to say ?”, then Antonio replies that he has nothing much to say or argue.

(ii) As Antonio has to go into this total condition due to the money he borrowed for Bassanio, and Bassanio is very tensed and helpless to see his dear friend in this condition, he tells Bassanio not to feel guilty and sorrowful that he is going to die because of him, because fortune is being very kind to him as she has spared him from a prolong suffering of old age and a life of poverty. Antonio does not wish to live as a poor man after his wealth is lost. Thus, he tells Bassanio to be cheerful on his death.

(iii) Immediately after this Antanio tells Bassanio to convey Antonio’s greeting to Portia his (Bassanio’s) wife, and tell her how Antonio died and how much he loved her husband. He tells Bassanio to speak well of him after his death and after the talk is done, ask her to judge whether Bassanio had a true friend in Antonio or not. He also tells Bassanio to be sad only at the fact that he’s losing his friend and not because, Antonio paid his debt.

(iv) Bassanio tells Antonio, that he is married to a woman who is as dear to him as life itself. But life itself, his wife and the whole world aren’t more valuable to him than Antonio’s life. He would gladly give it all up and sacrifice them all to the devil i.e., Shylock, in order to save Antonio.

(v) Antonio says that Bassanio must regret the loss of a friend; for he had no regrets in paying his debt and if the Jew cuts deep enough, he would immediately pay the debt with all his heart.Thus, Antonio proves to be a courageous and patient person, even when faced with death.

According to him, old age and poverty are not the things one should opt for in life if abandoned by money. In his pre-occupation to take care of his friends, he puts his life at stake without a second thought.

Question 4.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
Portia :
Go draw aside the curtains, and discover
The several caskets to this noble prince
Now make your choice.

Morocco :
The first, of gold, who this inscription bears,
“Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.”

(i) Who is Morocco? How did he introduce himself to Portia when they first met in an earlier scene?
(ii) How would Morocco know that he had made the right choice? What would his award be?
(iii) Which casket did Morocco finally choose? What reasons did he give for rejecting the casket made of lead?
(iv) What two objects does Morocco find in the casket of the choice? What reason does he give to Portia for
leaving in haste?
(v) How does Portia respond to Morocco’s parting words? What does this reveal of her nature?
(i) Morocco is a Moorish prince who has come to Belmont as a suitor to take Portia’s hand.In an earlier scene when he introduces himself to Portia, we find him as a boastful warrior. He says that,though he is aware that his dark coloured skin may not please Portia, but he considers it a gift conferred upon him by the sun which shines brightly on his land.

He says he is skilled in the use of sword and had slain the king of Persia and the Persian Prince with his sword, the very Persian Prince who had defeated the Sultan of Turkey in three battles.

He says he can compete the most handsome person of the North in the show of love for Portia. According to him, his appearance had terrified many courageous men and the most estimable maidens of his country had loved him for what he is.

(ii) As per the casket system laid down by Portia’s father for her marriage, the suitor had to choose one casket from amongst the three, i.e., the gold, the silver and the lead, all the three bearing an inscription.

On being asked by Morocco that how would he know that he had made the right choice, Portia tells him that one of the three caskets contained her picture and the one who chose that, would have Portia as his wife. This would be his award.

(iii) Morocco finally chooses the golden casket, because it promised the chooser what many men desire and according to him many men desired Portia, as suitors came from all comers of the world to woo her.

He rejected the lead casket on the following grounds .The inscription on the lead casket read “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath”. But the Prince of Morocco finds it utterly useless to risk everything for a base metal like lead, because according to him, if people stake their all, they do so with the hope of a rich reward. Later, he dismisses it for its dull look as unworthy of holding the portrait of an angel.

(iv) In the golden casket which he chooses, Morocco finds a fleshless skull and a scroll in the eyeless socket of the skull.When he reads what is written on the scroll, he is crestfallen. But he takes his rejection with dignity and he tells Portia that his heart being full of grief, could not bid a ceremonious farewell and as per the condition of the casket, the loser was suppose to leave immediately.

(v) Portia is relieved and happy at Morocco’s departure. She appreciates his gentle behaviour but cannot hide her relief at the thought that she will not have to marry him. She wishes that all suitors of dark complexion like that of Morocco, may depart in the same manner, especially when she does not love him. She says “Let all of his complexion choose me so.”

This episode shows that, though Portia seems to be least interested in the suitors that are coming to attempt the casket test, yet being an obedient daughter, she sticks to this system for choosing her husband.

Question 5.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
Bassanio : Were you the doctor, and I knew you not?
Gratiano :  Were you the clerk?

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

Portia : How now, Lorenzo!
My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.

(i) Where does this scene take place? What had Portia directed Antonio to give to Bassanio just moments before the above words were spoken?
(ii) Portia had just given Antonio, Bassanio and Gratiano a letter to read. Who had written this letter? What does Bassanio learn about Portia from this letter?
(iii) What good news does Portia have for Antonio? How does he respond to it?
(iv) To whom does Portia refer as ‘My clerk’? What ‘good comforts’ does the ‘clerk’ have for Lorenzo?
(v) How was Bassanio persuaded to give away the ring that Portia had given him at the time of their marriage? What does this reveal of Bassanio’s relationship with Antonio?
(i) The scene takes place at an avenue outside Portia’s house. Just moments before Portia gives a ‘ring’ to Antonio to give it to Bassanio and ask him to keep it more carefully than the first one. It is of course the original ring which she had given to Bassanio when he had chosen the right casket, but as a disguised lawyer, she had taken it back and was now questioning him for his sincerity for having lost the ring. Both, Antonio and Bassanio, are shocked to see the same ring.

(ii) The letter which Portia had just given to Antonio was written by Portia’s lawyer cousin Dr. Bellario from Padua. From the letter Bassanio gets to know that, it was Portia who was disguised as the ‘Lawyer Balthazar’ at Antonio’s trial in Venice. It was she, along with her companion Nerissa, disguised as a clerk, who had saved Antonio’s life from the clutches of Shylock’s fatal bond.

(iii) Portia hands over a letter to Antonio containing the good news that three of his ships, richly laden with cargoes, had come back quite unexpectedly.Antonio is ecstatic on hearing this. He says, “Sweet lady you have given me life and living”, which meant that she had not only saved his life but also restored his means of livelihood.

(iv) It’s Nerissa, Portia’s lady in waiting, to whom Portia refers as ‘My clerk’. During the trial scene of Antonio, Nerissa had assisted Portia as her clerk. Nerissa presents Shylock’s deed to Lorenzo and Jessica, bequeathing them all of his possessions. As per the final deed signed by Shylock on losing the trial, everything belonging to the rich Jew would be transferred to his daughter and son-in-law, after his death. These were the ‘good comforts’ that Nerissa bestows upon them.

(v) After Antonio wins the trial, the Duke asks him to reward the lawyer. Bassanio tries to pay them the ducats that they had but the lawyer (Portia) rejects the offer. However, they ask the two to take something with them. Portia then asks for Antonio’s gloves and Bassanio’s wedding ring. Bassanio is reluctant to give away the ring and says that, it is a ‘trifle’ and not a worthy gift. But Portia insists that she will settle for nothing else but the ring. She acts as if offended and leaves. On Antonio’s persuasion Bassanio at last sends. Gratiano with his ring to be given to Portia.

This episode clearly reveals that Bassanio and Antonio share an extremely profound and sincere relationship. They could go to any extent for each other. On Antonio’s request, Bassanio gave away the ring which was given to him by his deaf wife under an oath. Antonio too had put his life at stake for Bassanio and later again he is ready to stand in guarantee for his friend when Portia rebukes him for being unfaithful. This shows that both shared a strong relationship of love and faith.

Question 6.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
Salarino : O! ten times faster Venus’ pigeons fly
To seal love’s bonds new-made, than they are wont
To keep obliged faith unforfeited!
Gratiano : That ever holds: who risethfrom a feast
With that keen appetite that he sits down?
Where is the horse that doth untread again
His tedious measures with the unbated fire
That he did pace them first? All things that are,
Are with more spirit chased than enjoy’d.

(i) Where does this scene take place? Who has out-dwelt his hour? Normally, what do the lovers do as far as
the appointed time is concerned?
(ii) Who is Venus? How do the Venus’s pigeons behave as far as love is concerned ?
(iii) “All things that are, Are with more spirit chased than enjoy’d”. How far is this statement brought out by
giving the example of a ship in latter lines?
(iv) How does Gratiano explain in the extract the state of people in love?
(v) What will be Jessica’s role in the masquerade? What does she have to say regarding this role? What is
your opinion’of Jessica?
(i) The scene is set in front of Shylock’s house. Salarino and Gratiano are in time to help Lorenzo steal away Jessica from her father’s house. However, Lorenzo is late and it is surprising because lovers are overeager and arrive even before the appointed time.

(ii) Salarino calls new lovers, Venus’s pigeons, and says that, for new lovers, time passes ten times faster than for couples who’ve been married forever.

(iii) Gratiano says that no one gets up from a meal with the same appetite he had when he sat down. Can any horse retrace his footsteps with the same energy he had when he walked them the first time? We chase everything in life more excitedly than we actually enjoy it when we get it. It’s like when a ship sails out of the harbour with all its flags waving, gently pushed by the wind. When that ship returns, her timber is all weather-beaten and her sails are ragged. That same wind makes the ship thin and poor.

(iv) Gratiano explains on the theory that love is at its best when the lover chases the object of his affection, and that once the lover captures his |^dy and consummates the relationship, he tends to tire and lose interest.

(v) Jessica will be dressed as a boy, as she will pretend to be Lorenzo’s torch-bearer in the masquerade. She is ashamed to be seen dressed as a boy. Jessica hates living in her father’s house, and in this scene, she escapes with his gold and jewels. Therefore, she comes across as heartless towards her father, but also as a young woman deeply in love who risks all to be with the man she loves.

Question 7.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
Why, look you, how you storm!
I would befriends with you and have your love,
Forget the shames that you have stain’d me with,
Supply your present wants, and take no do it
Of usance for my moneys, and you ‘ll not hear me: This is kind I offer,

(i) Where does this scene take place? Who is the speaker? To whom is he talking?
(ii) What are the ‘shames’ which the speaker says have stained him?
(iii) What are the ‘present wants’? Who is in need of the ‘present wants’? Why ?
(iv) Explain “This is kind I offer.” What does the speaker propose to do immediately after this?
(v) What do you think of Antonio and Shylock with regard to the signing of the bond?
(i) This scene takes place us Venice. The speaker of the above lines is Shylock. Ile says these words to Antonio.

(ii) Shylock is reterfing to the insults hurled at him by Antonio such as, speaking abusively of him and his money-lending, spitting on hi long Jewish robe, kicking him, calling him a dog and ridiculing the Jews in general

(iii) “The present wants” roter to the inedited need of Antonio-three thousand ducats to provide for Bassanio’s trip to Belmont to woo Ekrtla. The speaker is ready to supply the wants provided Antonio signs a bond, according to which, if Antonio is unable toy him the money on the specified date, the penalty to be paid will be an exact pound of flesh from any part of Antonio’s body.

(iv) ‘This is kind I offer you” means, ‘this is the kindness that I offer you’. This refers to Shytock lending money to Antonio without charging any interest on it.

(v) Shylock insists on a pound of Antonio’s flesh to take revenge on him and to put him completely at his mercy. Shylock’s hatred for Antonio and Chirstians Is shown in his absurd demand. Taking advantage of the situation, he wants to take revenge on Antonio and all Christians, who persecuted him and his race. He
comes across as cunning, cautious, and crafty

Antonio is confident that there is no danger in signing the bond because, he is confident that one month before the date of payment, his ships will have brought nine times the amount they arc borrowing and they will not have to pay the penalty. This incident shows Antonio’s overconfidence and generosity towards Bassanio. Thus, Antonio cornes across as easy-going, trusting, slightly melancholy, romantic and naive in this scene.

Question 8.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
Portia :
To these injunctions everyone doth swear
That comes to hazard for my worthless self.

Arragon :
And so have address’d me. Fortune now
To my heart’s hope! -Gold, silver and lead base.

(i) Who had tried his luck in trying to choose the correct casket before the Prince of Arragon? Which casket had that suitor chosen? What did he find inside the casket? 3
(ii) What are the three things Arragon was obliged by oath to obey?
(iii) What was the inscription on the golden casket? How do the actions of the mart let illustrate this inscription?
(iv) Which casket does Arragon finally choose? Whose portrait does he find inside? Which casket actually contains Portia’s portrait?
(v) Who enters soon after? What does he say about the young Venetian who has just arrived? What gifts has
the Venetian brought with him?
(i) The Prince of Morocco tried his luck in choosing the correct casket before Arragon. He reasoned that a portrait of Portia, a “mortal, breathing saint,” a woman whom “all the world desires”, could be only within the golden casket. He, therefore, chose the golden casket, hoping to find “an angel in a golden bed.

“When he unlocks the casket and looks inside, he discovers only a skull (“carrion Death”) and a scroll rolled up and inserted within the skull’s “empty eye.” He takes it out and reads the message: “All that glitters is not gold;… Gilded tombs do worms infold.” Defeated and grieving, he made a hasty exit with his entourage.

(ii) Prince of Arragon has arrived to try his luck at choosing the correct casket to win Portia’s hand in marriage, and before he decides on one, he promises Portia that he will abide by her father’s rules. First, if he fails to choose the casket containing her portrait, he will never reveal which casket he chose; second, he promises never to court another woman; and last, he will leave Belmont immediately.

(iii) The inscription on the golden casket read, “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.” What many men want could mean that, most people are fools and make their choice on the basis of whatever glitters and is attractive. They don’t go beyond what their eyes see.

They don’t bother to find out what’s on the inside. Just like the birds called martlets, who build their nests on the outside of walls, people pay too much attention to what’s on the outside.Therefore, Arragon rejects the gold casket because “what many men desire” may place him on the same level With “the barbarous multitudes.”

(iv) The Prince of Arragon finally chooses the silver casket, which bears the inscription, “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves/’Arragon reviews his worth and decides that he “will assume desert” that is, he feels that he rightfully deserves Portia. When he opens the silver casket, he finds within “the portrait of a blinking idiot” a picture of a fool’s head.

He protests the contents; he chose according to what he felt that he deserved: “Did I deserve no more than a fool’s head?” Portia reminds him that no man is permitted to judge his own cause. The scroll in the silver casket reads, “There be fools alive, I wish [know] / Silver’d o’er; and so was this.”Arragon departs then with his followers, promising to keep his oath

(v) A servant enters the scene soon after and announces the arrival of a Venetian ambassador from another suitor and adds that he brings gifts. In fact, in the messenger’s estimation, the man who accompanies this latest suitor is “so likely an ambassador of love” that “a day in April never came so sweet.” Portia is neither impressed nor optimistic, yet she urges Nerissa to bring the man to her so that she can see for herself this “Quick Cupid’s post that comes so mannerly.” Nerissa sighs and hope that this suitor may turn out to be Bassanio.

Question 9.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
Antonio : Grieve not that I am fall’n to this for you,
For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom. It is still her use
To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
An age of poverty—from which lingering penance
Of such misery doth she cut me off.
Commend me to your honorable wife.
Tell her the process of Antonio’s end.
Say how I loved you. Speak me fair in death.
And when the tale is told, bid her be judge
Whether Bassanio had not once a love.

(i) When and to whom does Antonio speak these lines? What is meant by “Grieve not that I am fall’n to this for you”?
(ii) How has “Fortune” been represented in this line? Why does Antonio feel that fortune is kind to him?
(iii) What is meant by “lingering penance”? What is it that Bassanio must not regret and what is it that Antonio does not repent?
(iv) What offer does Bassanio make after this extract to save Antonio? What is Portia’s response?
(v) Throw some light on the bond of friendship between Bassanio and Antonio, giving various instances from the scene.
(i) Antonio says these lines to Bassanio. Antonio tells him not to grieve that he has been reduced to his current situation, because he borrowed money from Shylock so that Bassanio could go to Belmont, to win Portia’s hand in marriage.

(ii) Antonio believes that Fortune has been kinder to him than is her usual custom or habit. Usually, she makes the unhappy man live on after he loses his wealth, to spend his old age in poverty. But in his case she’s letting him avoid that misery by offering death.

(iii) Antonio talks about the lingering penance of having to live in misery and wretched poverty after losing one’s fortune, he says, ” let the wretched man outlive his wealth, to view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow an age of poverty… “, he is glad to be spared this fate.

(iv) Bassanio tells Antonio, that he is married to a woman who is as dear to him as life itself. But life itself, his wife, and the whole world, isn’t more valuable to him than Antonio’s life. He would gladly give it all up and sacrifice them all to the devil i.e., Shylock, in order to save Antonio. Portia is miffed at Bassanio’s words and while still disguised, as a lawyer warns him that his wife would not be pleased if she were to hear his words.

(v) “To you, Antonio, /1 owe the most, in money and in love” This is what Bassanio says as he prepares to leave for Belmont to court his future wife. Like the Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice is interested in the dynamics of male friendship, a bond that’s often valued above all other relationships, especially romance and marriage. Antonio loves Bassanio enough to give his life for him, indeed it seems that Bassanio’s pursuit of a wife is the cause of Antonio’s deep melancholy, which may suggest that his affection for his friend is romantic in nature. Nonetheless, we can say that Antonio and Bassanio share a deep and strong bond of friendship.

Question 10.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
Portia : As from her lord, her governor, her king.
Myself and what is mine to you and yours
Is now converted: but now I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen o’er myself; and even now, but now,
This house, these servants, and this same myself,
Are yours, my lord:

(i) Where are Portia and Bassanio? What has just taken place which makes Portia to speak these words? What was the inscription given in the lead casket?
(ii) What does Bassanio say in praise of Portia’s portrait?
(iii) What news saddens Bassanio on this happy occasion? What does Portia ask him to do?
(iv) Who is Balthazar? What was the work assigned to him by Portia?
(v) Where does Portia really plan to go? What similarity do we find between Portia and Antonio? What does this scene reveal about the character of Portia? Give a reason to justify your answer.
(i) Portia and Bassanio are at Belmont in a room in Portia’s house or estate. Bassanio has just chosen the correct casket and won Portia’s hand in marriage. The inscription on the lead casket states, “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”

(ii) Bassanio opens the lead casket and finds Portia’s portrait inside it. The picture is so, life-like that it seems that only a demi-god could have painted it. The eyes look real and seem to be moving. The lips are parted with sugar breadth. The hair show the skill of the painter who has worked as a spider making a golden mesh to catch the hearts of men. The eyes are so enchanting that after painting one, the artist should have gone blind. He waxes on about how beautiful the picture is, but then reprimands himself for praising the picture, which is only a shadow of the real woman’s beauty.

(iii) Bassanio receives a letter from Antonio with the news that none of Antonio’s ships have returned and that Shylock is demanding his pound of flesh. This sad and troubling news saddens Bassanio. Portia tells Bassanio, to hasten back to Venice and pay back Shylock to cancel the bond. She assures him that he will have enough gold to pay Shylock 20 times over.

(iv) Balthazar is Portia’s servant. She gives him a letter and tells him to hand it over to her cousin, Doctor Bellario, who lives in Padua. She tells him to collect the notes and garments given by Doctor Bellario and bring them to the common ferry which trades to Venice.

(v) Portia plans to go to Venice to rescue Antonio. Both Portia and Antonio exhibit the virtues of selfless generosity and share a deep love for Bassanio. This scene serves to highlight Portia’s wit, intelligence and generosity of spirit.

Question 11.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
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.

(i) Name the speaker. Why did the speaker appeal to the Jew for mercy? Earlier, who else in the play appealed for mercy?
(ii) What are the three qualities of mercy which the speaker has stated just before the extract?
(iii) Give the meaning of ‘But mercy is above this sceptred sway. How does Shylock turn down Portia’s plea
for mercy? What does he insist on?
(iv) What is Bassanio ready to do for Antonio in the court? Why is Bassanio snubbed immediately by the disguised Portia?
(v) Mention two prominent character traits of Shylock as highlighted through the scene from which the extract has been taken. Substantiate your answer with examples from the text.
(i) The speaker is Portia, disguised as a learned Doctor of Law. The speaker appeals to the Jew, Shylock for mercy to save Antonio’s life. Earlier, the Duke of Venice had appealed to Shylock asking him to show some mercy on Antonio.

(ii) The quality of mercy is not strained: it drops on to the world as the gentle rain does from heaven. It’s doubly blessed. It blesses both the giver and the receiver. It’s most powerful when granted by those who hold power over others. It’s more important to a monarch than his crown.

(iii) A king’s sceptre shows the level of his temporal power – the symbol of awe and majesty, in which lies the source of the dread and fear that kings command. But mercy is above that sceptred power. It’s enthroned in the hearts of kings. It is an attribute of God himself. And earthly power most closely resembles God’s power when justice is guided by mercy. However, Shylock rejects mercy and demands fulfilment of the terms of the bond.

(iv) Bassanio is ready to give twice the sum owed to Shylock or even 10 times over the sum, is ready to forfeit his hands, head and heart to save Antonio. When Bassanio said that his life itself; his wife and all the world are not with him esteemed above Antonio’s life, Portia is a little hurt and irritated and consequently snubs Bassanio.

(v) Shylock comes across as a cruel, hateful, merciless and pitiless man. He rejects multiple offers of money and demands his pound of flesh as he wishes to see Antonio suffer.

Question 12.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
Portia : 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?

(i) What test had Portia’s father devised for her suitors? What oath did the suitors have to take before making their choice?
(ii) Who is Nerissa? What does she say to cheer up Portia?
(iii) Why does Portia disapprove of Count Palatine? Whom would she rather marry?
(iv) How, according to Portia, can the Duke of Saxony’s nephew be made to choose the wrong casket? What do these suitors ultimately decide? Why?
(v) Whom does Portia ultimately marry? Who were the two other suitors who took the test? Why, in your opinion, is the person whom she marries worthy of her?
(i) Portia’s father had devised a lottery to give her away in marriage after his death. She would have to marry the suitor who chose correctly from three caskets, made of gold, silver and lead. The suitors had to take an oath not to marry anyone else if they chose the wrong casket, before they made their choice.

(ii) Nerissa is Portia’s maid or lady-in-waiting. She tries to cheer up Portia by saying that her father was a virtuous man and that holy men often have divine guidance on their deathbeds. That is why, he came up with the lottery of the three caskets. She reassures Portia by saying that the right casket will no doubt be chosen by the one whom Portia will love.

(iii) Portia says of Count Palatine that he does nothing but frown, as if he wants to say, “If you don’t want me, I don’t care.” He doesn’t even smile when he hears funny stories. If he’s so sad and solemn when he’s young; she says that he will become a weeping philosopher when he grows old, as he is so full of unmannerly sadness in his youth. Portia would rather be married to a skull with a bone in its mouth than her current suitors.

(iv) The Duke of Saxony’s nephew was rumoured to be wicked when sober, and terrible when drunk. Even when he was sober, he was a beast, and hence, Portia disapproved of him and wanted him to choose the wrong casket. So, she asked Nerissa to place a glass of wine on the wrong casket. The Duke’s nephew would be tempted by the wine, and would open the wrong casket. The suitors decide not to choose a casket, because if they choose the wrong one, they would not be able to marry anyone else.

(v) The two suitors who took the test are the Prince of Morocco and the Prince of Arragon. Portia marries Bassanio because he doesn’t appear to be full of self-importance like the other two suitors. In addition, Portia is also shown to be interested in him. However, Portia’s wealth appears to be one of the reasons why Bassanio wants to get married to Portia. Hence, one can say that he was not fully worthy of Portia.

Question 13.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
Duke: What, is Antonio here?
Antonio: Ready, so please your grace.
Duke: I am sorry for thee:
thou art come to answer
A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
lIncapable of pity, void and empty
From any dram of mercy.

(i) What are the terms of the bond that Antonio has signed?
(ii) Why does the Duke call Shylock ‘inhuman1? What does the Duke expect Shylock to do?
(iii) What reason does Shylock give for choosing rotten flesh over money? What are the things hated by some people?
(iv) State three examples Antonio gives to illustrate Shylock’s stubborn attitude.
(v) How is Shylock’s property distributed at the end by Antonio? Do you think Shylock deserves the punishment given to him? Give a reason to justify your answer.
(i) Antonio signed a bond with Shylock which required him to repay Shylock 3,000 ducats in three months. Shylock didn’t charge an interest on the loan. However, he said that if Antonio failed to repay the money on time, he would give a pound of his Christian flesh to the Jewish moneylender.

(ii) The Duke expressed great sympathy for Antonio. He tries to persuade Shylock to show’ mercy to Antonio. The Duke further tries to pressurise Shylock to waive off the penalty of a pound of flesh, and even forgive some of the loan principal. However, Shylock refused to show mercy to Antonio since he hated him. Hence, the Duke calls him inhuman.

(iii) Shylock doesn’t give a clear reason as to why he chose flesh over money and says that he just felt like doing so. He also says that some things are hated by people based on their likes and dislikes i.e., some people do not like a gaping pig or go mad when they see a cat, or cannot tolerate the shrill notes of a bagpipe.

In reality, he has chosen a pound of flesh over money because he hates Antonio as a Christian, also because Antonio lent money free of interest, thereby harming his business, and finally, because Antonio had spoken out against Shylock’s business practices many times in public.

(iv) Antonio was of the opinion that it was pointless arguing with Shylock. He says that it is possible to do the impossible rather than try to soften his Jewish heart. Antonio further illustrates Shylock’s stubborn attitude by using the following examples: It is easier to stand on the beach and ask the ocean to get smaller. It is possible to question why the wolf killed the lamb and made its mother cry. It is even easy to tell the pine trees on the mountain to stop waving their treetops when the storms blow through them.

(v) Antonio asks the court to pardon Shylock of his debt to the State. Half of Shylock’s wealth which was to go to Antonio would be passed on to L,orenzo at Shylocks death. The Jew must also Leave all his possessions in his will to Lorenzo and Jessica. Antonios final condition was that Shvlock must become a Christian.

One feels sympathetic towards Shyiodc when he is asked to convert to Christianity It only elevates his hatred for Christians. However, Shylock has aLso shown open disregard for Antonio only because he is a Christian. Therefore, ills difficult to comment on the fairnessof the punishmentmeted out to bhylock for his ruthlessness towards Antonio.