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The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 1 Summary
This scene gives a comic relief to its audiences. After the intense conversation between Shylock and Antonio, in Venice, the audience gets transported to Belmont, where they are treated with a comic scene. The scene begins with the entry of Prince of Morocco. Portia, Nerissa and other ladies in waiting, are already present. For the first time, the audience is being introduced to one of Portia’s suitors.
The prince tells Portia not to dislike him because of his complexion. His blood is as red as that of any other suitor. He boasts that many men fear him and many virgins love him. Portia assures him that he is as ’fair’ as any of his suitors and he will get an equal chance as everything depends on the lottery. He is skilled in the use of the sword. He slew the king of Persia and has thrice defeated Turkey’s Sultan.
He is brave enough to confront a she bear, even if her cubs were taken away from her, and can face a lion on his way to search for a prey. The Prince doubts whether the bad fortune may make him choose the wrong casket and Portia may go to one not worthy as himself. Portia repeats the terms of her father’s will and tells him he’ll have to stick to the condition of never marrying if he chooses the wrong casket, to which the Prince agrees.
The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 1 Summary Word Meanings
- mislike – dislike
- shadow’d livery – dark uniform
- burnish’d – burning bright
- near bred – closely related
- fairest – most handsome
- Phoebus – Sun God
- thaws – melts
- incision – cut
- valiant – brave
- hue – colour
- clime – climate
- nice direction – influence
- destiny – luck
- bars – forbids
- scanted – restricted
- scimitar – short sword
- outstare – look defiantly into the eyes
- Hercules – superman of Greek mythology
- the greater throw – winning throw
- Alicides – another name for Hercules
- blind fortune – reference to goddess fortune who is blind folded
- grieving – feeling acutely sad
- be advis’d – be warned
- chance – trial
- hazard – gamble
- temple- chapel.
The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 1 Summary Questions and Answers
1. Prince of Morocco :
Mislike me not for my complexion,
The shadow’d livery of the burnish’d sun.
To whom I am a neighbour, and near bred.
Bring me the fairest creature northward born,
Where Phoebus’fire scarce 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 fear’d the valiant;
Who is the speaker? Where is he? Who else are there in the scene?
The speaker is Prince of Morocco, one of the suitors of Portia. He is at present at Belmont. Portia, Nerissa and other ladies are there.
Explain the reference to Phoebus. Explain, ‘scarce thaws the icicle’.
Phoebus is the Sun God. Its rays in Morocco are strong enough to darken the skin. The speaker says that people of European countries are very fair, as the sun rays do not have the heat to melt the icicles.
Why should the incision be made?
The speaker wants to prove, that in spite of his dark skin, Portia should not consider him inferior. His blood is as red as that of any European, and his love will be as strong as that of any other. Since the contest is for Portia’s love, they should have a bloodletting test and he will come out as a winner.
Give the meaning of the last two lines of the extract what does this prove about his character?
The Prince of Morocco has the habit of boasting about his own qualities. The Prince says that “his appearance has filled many a valiant person with fear”. He boasts that he is a man of exceptional strength and even the bravest soldiers have felt his courage.
On what condition would he change his hue?
The prince says that he has no problem with his complexion. Men fear him and maidens love him. He loves his complexion and will not exchange it, unless it was to gain Portia’s attention.
2. Prince of Morocco :
But, alas the while !
If Hercules and Lichas play at dice
Which is the better man, the greater throw
May turn by fortune from the weaker hand :
So is Alcides beaten by his page;
And so may I, blind fortune leading me,
Miss that which one unworthier may attain,
And die with grieving.
Why does the Prince of Morocco says, ‘but alas, the while’?
Morocco is anxious whether he would make the right choice or not, as the whole situation is a matter of chance and it totally depends on luck. So he sighs alas!
Explain the reference to Hercules and Lichas. What could happen if they played at dice?
The prince of Morocco cites the instance of the famous hero Hercules and his servant Lichas. If they would have played a game of dice, a game of
chance, which is unpredictable. Hercules, the brave man may be defeated, and the servant Lichas might win. In the similar manner, Prince of Morocco might fail and the person not as worthy as him will win portia’s hand.
What were Morocco’s achievements with his ’scimitar’? What other acts of bravery is the Prince willing to do, in order to prove his courage?
Morocco killed Shah of Persia and conquered a Persian prince who had defeated Sultan of Turkey thrice. The prince is willing to take away the cubs from the mother bear and challenge the hungry lion roaring for his prey to win Portia’s hand.
Why is fortune said to be blind? Explain ‘die with grieving’.
The goddess of Fortune is depicted as blindfolded, as she disperses her favor in an unpredictable manner. One doesn’t know who will be favored by her and who will run out of favor. Morocco says that if he doesn’t get Portia, he’ll die with grief.
What does Portia tell him before he decided to make the choice of caskets? Where does she want to take him?
Portia tells him that he could either decide not to make the choice of caskets and go away, or if he loses, swear that he would never propose any lady. She asks him to carefully think before making his decision.