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The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 2 Summary Workbook Answers
The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 2 Summary
The casket story comes to its climax in this long scene. Bassanio makes his choice. The scene begins with Portia begging Bassanio to delay in making the choice. She feels if he chooses wrongly, she’ll miss his company. There’s something that tells her that she won’t like to lose him. So, she wants him to stay in Belmont at least for a month before making the choice. She wishes she could tell him about the right casket.
As Bassanio is eager to make the choice, she allows him to do so. In order to make the atmosphere less tense, she asks for some music.She sings praises of Bassanio, comparing him to Hercules who rescued a maiden from the clutches of a sea monster. Bassanio surveys the caskets and reads the inscriptions. The words of the song make him feel fancy which sometimes bred in the heart and sometimes in the head.
He is warned, not to judge by outward appearance. Beauty, at times, deceives. So he rejects the gaudy gold and silver which is a pale common drudge. He chooses the humble lead. When he opens it, he finds the magnificent portrait of Portia. He also reads the scroll, which tells him to claim the lady with a loving kiss.
Portia in turn commits herself and whatever she has to her lord. She wishes she had more to offer. She gifts him a ring saying that he should not part with it on any account. He is supposed to wear it as long as he lives.Nerissa surprises her mistress with her wish to marry Gratiano at the same wedding ceremony. Portia agrees and Nerissa gives a ring to Gratiano, making him vow not to part with it in his lifetime.
At this happy time, news comes about the bad fortune falling upon Antonio. Reading the message, Bassanio grows pale. Portia wants to share his problem. Bassanio informs her about the events that lead to the borrowing of money from Shylock and the conditions governing the bond.
Jessica confirms her father’s intention to take a pound of flesh from Antonio. Portia urges Bassanio to marry her and leave for Venice with Gratiano.Bassanio reads Antonio’s letter to Portia in which he has expressed his wish to see Bassanio before his death. This will clear all debts Bassanio owes to his friend. Bassanio decides to leave for Venice.
The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 2 Summary Word Meanings
- tarry – wait
- hazard – take this risk
- venture for me – try to win me
- beshrew – shame on
- o’erlook’d – bewitched
- peise – measure out
- rack – an instrument of torture
- amity – friendship
- deliverance – release
- swan like end – it was believed that swan sings only once just before it dies
- flourish – ceremonial fanfare on trumpets
- dulcet – sweet
- Alcides – Hercules, the Greek hero,
- bleared visages – tear-stained faces
- issue – outcome
- exploit – rescue operation
- fray – fight
- fancy- passing affection
- begot – created,
- engendered – born
- gazing – loving glances
- knell – funeral bell
- least themselves – illusory
- tainted and corrupt – bad and dishonest
- seasoned – covered up
- gracious – eloquent
- damned error – a great sin
- grossness – base qualities
- ornament – outward show
- livers white as milk – cowardice
- crisp’d – curly
- gambols – games
- excrement – outgrowth
- sepulcher – tomb
- veiling – covering
- Indian – dark skinned
- Midas – the king who got the boon to turn whatever he touched into gold
- hard food – food that turned to gold and thereby inedible
- drudge – save
- meager – humble
- fleet – vanish
- allay – diminish
- measure – moderation
- scant – restrain
- counterfeit – image
- sunder – separate
- gnats – insects
- it should have power to steal both his – the painter was blinded after making one lustrous eye
- giddy – dazed with excitement
- people’s eyes – estimation
- ratified – fully confirmed
- livings – possessions
- presage – sign
- vantage – opportunity
- bereft – deprived
- buzzing – murmuring with appreciation
- prosper – be fulfilled
- solemnize – celebrate
- bargain of your faith – contract of your love
- infidel – non-believer
- power – right
- commends him to you – sends his greetings
- estate – condition
- shrewd – unpleasant
- constitution – complexion
- blotted paper – spoiled paper
- freely – honestly
- was a braggart – was exaggerating
- to feed my means – to get the money I needed
- merchant marring – that ruin merchants
- confound – destroy
- plies – keeps on urging his demand
- impeach – question
- freedom of the state – integrity of the law of Venice
- port – position
- unwearied – not tired of
- courtesies – acts of kindness
- ancient Roman humour – age old values of loyalty to friends and the country,
- appears – displayed
- draws breath – lives
- deface – cancel
- unquiet soul – distracted and disturbed
- miscarried – been lost
- estate – means
- dispatch – finish
- no bed shall be guilty – I will not take rest,
- interposer – one that comes in the way
- twain – two.
The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 2 Summary Questions and Answers
1. Portia :
I pray you, tarry, pause a day or two
Before you hazard; for, in choosing wrong,
I lose your company : therefore, forbear awhile.
There’s something tells me (but it is not love)
I would not lose you; and you know yourself,
Hate counsels not in such a quality.
But lest you should not understand me well
And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought
I would detain you here some month or two
Before you venture for me. I could teach you
How to choose right, but then I am forsworm
To whom are these words addressed? What request does the speaker made to the person addressed?
These words are addressed to Bassanio. Portia requests him to wait for a couple of days before making the choice of the caskets.
What’s the meaning of ‘forbear’? Why is the person asked to forbear?
‘Forbear’ means, to show patience or wait for a while before making the choice. Portia is scared that if Bassanio makes a wrong choice, he’ll have to leave immediately as per the conditions and she’ll be deprived of his company. There’s something that tells her that she should not lose him.
Explain ‘a maiden hath no tongue but thought’.
A maiden’s modesty prevents her from expressing her love directly. A young girl has no choice. She only thinks of her feelings but cannot express them.
What does the given passage tell you about Portia’s attitude towards her father?
The above given passage portrays Portia as a devoted and loving daughter. Even though her father is not alive, yet she is deeply attached and very much loyal to his memory. She is determined in marrying only as per her father’s will even at the risk of losing the man she loves.
Why does Portia wish that she had not forsworn?
Portia wishes that she had not taken the oath to reveal the right casket because after meeting Bassanio she wishes to guide him in the right choice of the caskets as she loves him and wants to be his wife.
2. Bassanio :
Let me choose;
For as I am, I live upon the rack.
Portia : Upon the rack, Bassanio ! then confess
What treason there is mingled with your love.
Bassanio : None but that ugly treason of mistrust,
Which makes me fear th’ enjoying of my
love : There may as well be amity and life
’Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love.
Portia : Ay, but Ifear you speak upon the rack,
Where men enforced do speak anything.
Bassanio : Promise me life, and I’ll confess the truth.
Portia : Well, then, confess, and live.
Why does Bassanio want to make the choice as soon as possible?
Bassanio can no longer bear the suspense and the uncertainty. He wants to make the choice and know if Portia can be his.
What’s the meaning of ‘rack’? Explain in detail its significance.
‘Rack’ here means torture of not knowing the outcome of choosing the caskets. The rack was an instrument in the old times used to torture the suspects and make them confess their sin. The person used to be tied to a frame which was stretched and the pain of stressing the limbs was unbearable. Here Portia and Bassanio are also tortured as their feelings are stretched to the limit.
What’s the ‘treason’ mentioned here? Explain the comparison in the extract. How is this reference relevant here?
Treason is disloyalty. Portia playfully asks what disloyalty has Bassanio committed to be on the rack. Bassanio says the torment is due to the doubt whether he will be able to choose correctly. This is taking away his peace of mind; so he wants to make the choice fast.
What has been spoken by Portia earlier that reveals her feelings for Bassanio?
Portia had revealed her feelings by asking Bassanio to stay back and wait a while before making the choice. She says his eyes have cast a spell on her and divided her. One half is his and the other half is also his as she gives herself to Bassanio.
What’s the significance of this scene?
This is the famous casket scene that makes the drama very popular. The theme of appearance and reality culminates in this scene. All that glitters is not gold; even humble and not so good looking things have value. The others who chose gold and silver were blinded by pride and desire for worldly things. It is Bassanio, guided by true love makes the right choice and wins the hand of Portia.
3. Portia :
Away then ! I am lock’d in one of them :
If you do love me, you will find me out.
Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof.
Let music sound while he doth make his choice;
Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end,
Fading in music : that the comparison
May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream
And watery death-bed for him.
What does Portia mean by, ‘Away then’? Is she happy in saying this? Give reason.
Portia is asking Bassanio to go ahead with the choice of the casket. She is not very happy as she is anxious about the outcome. She wants to enjoy his ‘ company at least for a month or so, but if he makes a wrong choice, he’ll have to leave her.
Explain ‘I’m locked in one of them’. What is Nerissa and others asked to do?
Portia shows the caskets and says that her portrait is locked in one of them. The one with her portrait is the right choice. Nerissa and others are asked to stand a little distance away, so that Bassanio can make the choice.
Why should the music sound?
The music should sound so that the right atmosphere is created for the choice. It is also to soothe the tension. The music may be to warn Bassanio against giving importance to appearance over less showy things.
What contemporary belief about swans is expressed here?
The contemporary belief expressed is that swans sing only once, just before they die. In fact, swan just disappears into a distance, singing its last song.
What does Portia want to do to make the comparison more proper?
Portia compares Bassanio to a swan. To make the comparison more proper, she says that her tears will become the stream in which the swan will drown itself. If he fails to make the right choice, he’ll have to leave and that will drown Portia in grief. The stream will be Bassanio’s grave, as he’ll be seen no more.
What music will be played if Bassanio wins?
If Bassanio makes the right choice, the music will be like the sound of the trumpet, when loyal subjects bow before the newly crowned king. It will be like the melodious sound that reaches the ear of a dreaming bridegroom at dawn, to call him for his marriage.
4. Portia :
Now he goes,
With no less presence, but with much more love,
Than young Alcides, when he did redeem
The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy
To the sea-monster.
Question 1 .
Who is the ‘he’ mentioned in the first line? Who is Alcides?
The ‘he’ mentioned here is Bassanio who is venturing to make his choice of the caskets. Alcides was Hercules, the Greek hero who saved the daughter of the Trojan king from a sea monster. He was famous for his courage.
Why is the ‘he’ compared to Alcides?
Bassanio is being compared to Hercules or Alcides as he is also venturing for a prize in the form of Portia. His mission is also adventurous and risky as the attempt of Alcides who had to rescue the princess who was being given as a sacrifice to a sea monster.
What adventurous deed did Alcides do? How is his act is compared to the act ‘he’ is going to make?
Alcides rescued Hesoine, the virgin princess of Troy, from being sacrificed as a virgin tribute to a sea monster. Alcides did it not for love, but for the horses offered as a reward. Portia imagines herself as Heroine and Bassanio rescuing her with more love than Alcides had for the girl.
Give the meaning of ‘virgin tribute’ and ‘howling Troy’.
Virgin tribute is the sacrifice of unmarried daughter of the Trojan king to appease the sea monster. The women of Troy were grief stricken to see this pitiable sight and cried loudly in miseiy.
In what state of mind is Portia now?
Portia is full of anxiety about the outcome of the choice. Bassanio’s success will give her life and happiness. She will watch the choice with more anxiety than Bassanio shows although he is the one going to make the choice.
5. Bassanio :
So may the outward shows be least themselves :
The world is still deceiv’d with ornament.
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt
But, being season’d with a gracious voice,
Obscures the show of evil ? In religion,
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it with a text.
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament ?
There is no vice so simple but assumes
Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.
Bring out the context of the passage.
Bassanio is about to make the choice in this last of the casket scenes. He was shown the caskets by Portia and was asked to wait before making his choice, but Bassanio can’t stand the tension and decides to go for it. Portia orders for music to ease the tension. It warns Bassanio against choosing according to appearance.
What major theme of the play is dealt with in this extract?
The theme of appearance against reality is the theme dealt within the extract. The world is always misled with outward show.
What two examples are given by Bassanio to prove his point?
Bassanio gives examples from the Law and religion. In the law court, a case most dishonest may be pleaded with utmost eloquence to conceal the face of the evil. In religion some pious looking person may do a sin but justify it with verses from the scriptures. A vice is concealed by the appearance of virtue.
Explain the last two lines of the extract.
The last two lines means that an evil may not have the least element of goodness in it and not the least touch of grace about it; but it is possible for that evil to wear some mark of virtue on its outward appearance.
What does Bassanio say about cowards soon after this?
Bassanio says that cowards with hearts are as deceptive as a sand staircase. They may wear a beard like that of Hercules or the frowning Mars but on close observation; they turn out to be lily livered cowards. They show off as though they are most courageous and hard to deal with.
6. Bassanio :
Therefore, thou gaudy gold,
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee;
Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
‘Tween man and man : but thou, thou meagre lead,
Which rather threaten’st than dost promise aught,
Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence,
And here choose I: joy be the consequence !
What does the speaker say about beauty before this extract? What idea is brought out here?
Bassanio says that artificial beauty can be purchased by weight in a chemist’s shop and those who wear most of this artificial make up are light, in character. The idea that one should not go by appearance is brought out. Gaudy things are for show; they lack value.
Why does the speaker talk about crispy golden locks earlier? What do they turn out to be at times?
The speaker talks about crispy golden locks again to reinforce the idea that appearance is deceptive. Beautiful, crispy locks may be a wig, made by hair borrowed from another head that may be lying now in a tomb. Outward shows are treacherous shores of a dangerous sea at times.
Who is ‘Midas’? What was hard food for him? Why?
Midas was the mythical king of Phrygia from Greek mythology. He had asked for the boon that everything he touched should turn to gold. When he touched his food, it turned to gold and he could not eat it. Gold was hard food for him. Therefore, he remained hungry. Then he realized his foolishness
Why does Bassanio not choose the golden casket?
Bassanio doesn’t choose the golden casket as he feels that, all that glitters is not gold. It may invite you to its outward show but deceives you rvhen it comes to reality. Thus, he rejects the gold casket with its inviting inscription.
What does Bassanio call the silver casket? Why? Why does Bassanio choose the lead casket?
Bassanio calls the silver casket ‘thou pale common drudge’. He considers it as an ordinary slave passing from hand to hand as coins. He chooses the lead casket as the ugly material seems to warn rather than promise anything. The plain message on it moves him than the eloquent words engraved on the other caskets.
What does he find inside the lead casket? What does he say about the thing found inside it?
Bassanio finds Portia’s portrait inside the lead casket. He says only a demy god could have created such a lovely picture which is almost like the person herself. The eyes seem to move, lips be slightly parted as though they fire in motion. Her hair is as though the artist has worked like a spider spinning a golden web to entrap the hearts of men. But all his praises seem to do injustice to her portrait just as the portrait does underestimate the original beauty, that is, Portia herself.
7. Portia :
Myself and what is mine, to you and yours
Is now converted : but now I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master oj my servants,
Queen o’er myself; and even now, but now.
This house, these servants, and this same myself
Are yours, my lord’s. I give them with this ring;
Which when you partfrom, lose, or give away,
Let it presage the ruin of your love,
And be my vantage to exclaim on you.
Where are Portia and Bassanio? Two other people are also present. Name them.
Portia and Bassanio are in Belmont, in a room in Portia’s house. Gratiano and Nerissa are also present there.
Which possession does Portia want to transfer to Bassanio? What does this show of her character?
Portia offers herself, her house, her servants and a ring to Bassanio. She, like a true wife, generously offers everything to Bassanio. This shows her deep love for her husband and desire to please him.
In what ways does Portia want to excel herself?
Portia wants to excel herself in many ways. She wants to be a thousand times more beautiful, ten thousand times richer and many times better in virtues, property and friends. She calls herself inexperienced, untrained and uneducated girl but she is happy that she is young enough and capable enough to improve.
On what condition does she give the ring to Bassanio?
Portia gives an expensive ring to Bassanio, saying that he should not part with it at any time, at any cost. If and when he parts with it, it’ll be a sign of his diminishing love for her and that will give her an opportunity to accuse him for that.
Explain the last two lines of the extract. How do these become significant later in the play?
The last two lines mean that if Bassanio gives the ring away that will be a sign that his love is dead and Portia will take it as an opportunity to accuse him of that. These words become significant later in the play, as Bassanio feels obliged to give the ring to the lawyer who asks for it as the fee for rescuing Antonio. Portia berates him for giving away the ring without revealing herself as the lawyer. This is a source of humor in the ring episode.
What does Bassanio say in reply to this speech of Portia?
Bassanio says that he is deprived of words. Only blood running in his veins can show his emotions. There is so much confusion in his thoughts like the one that follows after the speech of a prince, amid the applause of the delighted audience. His confused joy cannot be expressed. He promises that when the ring leaves his finger it’d be a sign that Bassanio is dead. In other words, he’ll not part with that ring till he dies.
8. Salerio :
Not one, my lord.
Besides, it should appear, that if he had
The present money to discharge the Jew,
He would not take it. Never did I know
A creature, that did bear the shape of man,
So keen and greedy to confound a man.
To whom is Salerio speaking? Where is he? Who else are with him?
Salerio is speaking to Bassanio. He is in Belmont, in Portia’s house where the caskets are kept. Lorenzo, Jessica and Portia are with him.
What is Salerio referring as ‘No one’? What has he brought for Bassanio? What’s the content of that?
When Bassanio asks Salerio to confirm that no ship of Antonio has escaped from getting lost, he says not a single one. He has brought a letter from Antonio addressed to Bassanio. The content of the letter is that Antonio’s ships have miscarried, his creditors are mercilessly troubling him, his resources are very low, and the Jew is waiting for the forfeiture. If he pays for the penalty, he will not be alive and he wants to meet Bassanio before he dies. If Bassanio fulfills his wish, all debts owed to Antonio will be cleared.
According to the speaker, what would not the Jew do? How is he describing the Jew in this extract?
According to Salerio, even if Antonio pays the money to the Jew, it’ll be too late, as the time for the forfeiture is over and as per the condition, he will insist on taking one pound of flesh. He describes the Jew as a creature that has taken the shape of a man, who is so keen and greedy to bring ruin to another man.
What does the speaker say about the efforts of the Jew in extracting the forfeiture?
The Jew urges the duke at morning and at night to take speedy actions. He threatens legal actions against the country’s legal system, if he is denied justice. Twenty merchants, the duke himself and the noblemen of the highest rank have tried to persuade him but no one is able to prevent him from his revengeful claim.
What does Jessica say about her father just after this extract?
Jessica says that she had heard her father conversing with Tubal and other Jews that he would rather have a pound of Antonio’s flesh than twenty times the value of the debt. She says that she knows well that unless the law and the higher powers intervene, it is going to be tough for Antonio.
9. Portia :
What, no more ?
Pay him six thousand, and deface the bond;
Double six thousand, and then treble that,
Before a friend of this description
Shall lose a hair through Bassanio’s fault.
First go with me to church and call me wife,
And then away to Venice to your friend;
For never shall you lie by Portia’s side
With an unquiet soul.
To what information does Portia say, ‘What no more? In what way had Bassanio praised Antonio just before this?
When Portia comes to know that the debt owed by Antonio is only three thousand ducats, Portia says ‘What no more?’ Bassanio had praised Antonio as his dearest friend and kindest man with the best of intention who never gets tired of showing kindness to others. He displays the old spirits of Roman honor more than any other person in Italy.
What does Portia advice Bassanio regarding the bond? What does it show of her character?
Portia advises Bassanio to pay Shylock six thousand ducats and cancel the bond. If it is not enough, he should double the six thousand and multiply that by three. This shows that she is generous at heart. As a true wife, she considers her husband’s honor and problems as hers and she values his friendship.
What does she tell Bassanio to do before he leaves? Why does she want Bassanio to leave immediately?
Portia tells Bassanio to go to church, marry her, and then go to the rescue of his friend. She wants Bassanio to leave immediately as she knows that Bassanio’s mind will be troubled as long as his friend is in dire trouble. She doesn’t like her husband to be in a distraught condition when he is with her. Moreover, it is his duty to be with his friend who has helped him in spite of the risk to his life.
How will Portia and Nerissa spend the days of separation? What does Bassanio promise his wife at the end of the scene?
Portia and Nerissa will live as unmarried women or widows. Bassanio promises his wife that he will hurry up and come back to Belmont as soon as possible. No bed will be guilty of his stay; no rest will keep him separated from his wife.
What is Portia actually going to do? Does she succeed in her mission?
Portia along with Nerissa is planning to go to Venice dressed in male attire to argue the case for Antonio. Yes, she succeeds in saving Antonio with her argument that not a drop of blood should be shed while taking the flesh.