Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Summary and Question Answers

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Act 1 Scene 2 Summary Merchant of Venice

Students should read the Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Summary ICSE Class 10 notes provided below designed as per the Merchant of Venice book used in ICSE Class 10 English Books. You should refer to all notes provided here for Merchant of Venice Workbook which are really important and can help you to get better marks in ICSE Exams

Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Summary


The Play, in this scene moves to the romantic world of Belmont from the commercial world of Venice. From prose to poetry the dramatist’s pen moves. Portia is introduced and we hear her talking to Nerissa, her maid in-waiting. They describe her father’s will and different suitors who have come to Belmont to woo her. Their conversation is sprightly, down to earth and open. Both are witty, intelligent and practical and have sense of humour.

The scene outlines the device of the lottery of caskets. It introduces Portia as intelligent and strong. Their conversation reminds Portia of Bassanio. Peculiarities of the suitors are displayed in a humorous way.


Colt: Clot is a young horse. It also refers to a foolish and inexperienced person.

County Palatine: Here County Palatine refers to the Count from Palatinate, the region on the west bank of the Rhine.

Heraclitus: Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ancient Greece) was a Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher around 513 BC. He was
also called ‘the weeping philosopher’ because he was so depressed of human follies that he was permanently serious and melancholic.

Sibylla: The Greek word Sibylla means prophetess. Sibylla was an ageless woman who was granted a wish by
Apollo that she would live as many years as the grains of sand. As she failed to ask for eternal youth, she grew
to be a very old woman.

Diana: Diana is the goddess of moon and hunting. She is also known as the virgin Goddess.

Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Summary Question and Answers

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

    By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is weary of this great world.

   You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are – and yet for
   aught I see, they are as sick. That surfeit with too  much as they that starve with nothing. It is no mean happiness
   to be seated in the mean: superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.

Ques. Why is Portia weary of this world?
Ans. Portia is weary of this world because she finds herself between the devil and deep sea. She does not want to marry anyone who is able to choose the right casket but as per her father’s will, she has to do the same and she does not want to disobey her father.
So, her unhappiness and worry make her weary.

Ques. Do you find an echo of someone else’s words in Portia’s speech? Name the person.
An echo of Antonio’s sentiments in the opening scene is found here although it is set in a far lighter key.

Ques. The word ‘mean’ has been spoken by Nerissa two times which figure of speech is used here?
Ans. Pun is used here. The word ‘mean’ used first time means trifle or peltry. The second time it is used as medium or mediocre, neither too much, nor too little.

Ques. Give the meaning of the words troth, aught, mean, and superfluity
Ans. Troth            – faith,
Aught                  – anything,
Mean                   – petty, slight
Superfluity           – to have affluence

Ques. What does Portia say after Nerissa’s speech?
Ans. Portia appreciates her practical wisdom and says that it is a wise saying and well spoken.

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

    Then is there the county Palatine.

    He doth nothing but frown; as who should say ‘And you will not have me, choose! He hears merry tales and
    smiles not. I fear he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old being so full of unmannerly sadness in
    his youth. I had rather be married to a death head with a bone in his mouth than to either of these. God defend
    me from these two.

Ques. Who is County Palatine? Why has he come to Belmont?
Ans. County Palatine refers to the Count of Palatinate.
He has come to Belmont to participate in the lottery process so that he could marry Portia.

Ques. Who is the first prince described by Portia?
Ans. Neapolitan prince from Naples in Italy is the first prince described by Portia.
According to her, he did nothing but talk about his horse.

Ques. Who is the weeping philosopher? In which context is he referred here?
Ans. The weeping philosopher is referred to Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, who had a poor opinion of humans and human affairs. He was depressed of human follies, could never even smile at some amusing thing.

This County Palatine also never smiled and was serious that is why Portia says that he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old.

Ques. Give the meaning of:
a) And you will not have me, choose.
b) A death’s bed with a bone in his mouth.
Ans. a) The County palatine seemed to say if she would not choose him as her husband she could pick anyone.
b) Portia says that she would like to marry a symbol of gloom and life’s end than the County Palatine.

Ques. Give a character sketch of the County Palatine.
Ans. The Country Palatine is a serious and proud man who does not know how to smile.
When so serious in his young age, what his fate will be in old age, no one can say.

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

How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?

God made him and therefore let him pass for a man. In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker, but, he! – why he hath a horse better than the Neopolitan’s, a better bad habit of frowning than the count Palatine, he is every man in no man, he will fence with his own shadow. If I should marry him I will marry twenty husbands…..

Ques. What does Portia say about the French Lord and his horse? Which characteristic is common between the French Lord and the Count Palatine?
Ans. Portia says about the French Lord that his horse is better than the Count Palatine’s horse.
The common characteristic between the French Lord and the Count Palatine is that both have the habit of frowning.

Ques. Explain:
a) He is every man in no man.
b) He falls straight a capering.
Ans. a) He seems to be a man but in reality, he is not a man. She means to say that he lacks the natural qualities
of a man.
b) If a thrush sings, he immediately starts jumping.

Ques. What would happen –
a) If Portia were to marry the Count?
b) If he were to despise Portia?
c) If he were to love Portia passionately?
Ans. a) Portia says if she has to marry him, he will marry twenty husbands.
b) If he were to despise Portia, she will forgive him.
c) If he were to love Portia passionately, she will not need him.

Ques. How does the French Lord react to the sound of a thrush’s singing?
Ans. If a thrush sings, the Count will start jumping.

Ques. Give any three negative qualities of the French Lord as described by Portia.
Ans. 1. The French lord frowned too much.
2. He is startled even by the sound of a thrush’s singing.
3. He is so jumpy that he can wrestle with his own shadow.

Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Summary