Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary and Question Answers

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Act 2 Scene 2 Summary Merchant of Venice

Students should read the Merchant of Venice Act 2 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 2 Scene 2 Summary

Now the plot develops further. To give comic relief, the antics of Lancelot Gobbo are provided. The scene begins with Gobbo’s soliloquy by which he expresses his desire to leave Shylock’s services.

He describes the conflict in his mind. His conscience advises him to do one thing, to remain faithful to his master, Shylock and the devil tempts him to leave his service. Here he is between the devil and the deep sea. But finally, he decides to leave Shylock and to request Bassanio to give him a job, to which the latter agrees.

The situation becomes funnier when Launcelot’s father, the old Gobbo who is nearly blind enters the scene. After some merry talk, Launcelot says to the old man that he is his son. They go to Bassanio and Launcelot gets the job. When they leave, Gratiano enters and requests Bassanio to let him accompany him to Belmont. Bassanio agrees on the conditions that Gratiano will behave like a gentleman and keep his tongue under control. Gratiano makes the promise and thus is allowed the travel to Belmont.


1. Fortune:
Fortune favours a man whether he or she deserves that favour or not. That is why fortune is represented as blind. She is supposed to be standing on a wheel which is turned by the hand of God.

2. The Sisters Three:
In Greek mythology, the three Moiraé (Sisters) were the personifications of fate and destiny. They were Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. Clotho spun the thread of life of each mortal, Lachesis measured it and Atropos cut it. They were represented as remorseless and unfeeling.

Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary Questions and Answers

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

    Well my conscience says, “Launcelot budge not” ‘Budge’ says the fiend…..
    “conscience” say I, you counsel well”, “Fiend” say I, “You counsel well ; to be ruled by my conscience I should stay
     with the Jew my master, – who – God bless the mark 1 – is a kind of devil, and to run away from the Jew, I
     should be ruled by the fiend, who saving your reverence, is the devil himself.

Ques. Who is Launcelot Gabbo? What inner struggle is going on in his conscience?
What does his struggle show the contemporary Christian practice?
Ans. Launcelot is a servant of Shylock and the clown or the comic character of the play.
The inner struggle of Launcelot is between the devil and his conscience. The devil asks him to run away from his master and his conscience advises him to remain a faithful servant of his master.
This inner struggle of Launcelot represents the contemporary practice of Christians that a person should not be tempted by the devil and remain loyal and faithful. One should not abandon faith however much the devil allures.

Ques. Why does Launcelot want to run away from the Jew?
Ans. Launcelot wants to run away from the Jew because the latter is a miser and is cruel.
Launcelot is always hungry and moreover he feels that the Jew is a devil.

Ques. Launcelot’s speech provides some comic relief in the play. Why was such a relief needed in the context
of the play?
Ans. In the previous scene, there is tension. Whether the prince of Morocco chooses the right Casket or not, there will be tension. Portia will have to marry him if he chooses the right casket and it will be grief for her because she does not like him. If he chooses the wrong casket, he will be very sad. That is why to relieve the tension in the play, Launcelot, the clown has been introduced.

Ques. Finally, whom does Launcelot obey – the devil or his conscience? How is the theme of racial discrimination brought out in Launcelot’s decision to run away?
Ans. Finally, Launcelot obeys the devil and leaving the Jew’s services goes to serve the Christian – Bassanio.
Here is the theme of racial discrimination brought out. Shylock is a Jew and Bassanio is a Christian. The Christians and the Jews hated each other. So, Launcelot prefers Bassanio’s service to the Jew’s.

Ques. Who comes later in the scene?
Ans. Old Gobbo enters the scene later. He is Launcelot’s father and is sand blind and old.

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

(Aside) O heavens, this is my true-begotten father. Who being more than sand-blind, high gravel-blind knows me not. I will try confusions with him.

Master young gentleman which is the way to master Jews?

Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but at the next turning of all, on your left, merry, at the very next turning, turn of no hand, but turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly to the Jew’s house.

Ques. Where are Launcelot Gobbo and old Gobbo? What is meant by ‘true begotten father’? Why can old Gobbo
Not recognise his son?
Ans. They are in a street of Venice.
The ‘True begotten father’ means biological father.
Old Gobbo cannot recognise his son because he is almost blind.

Ques. Why is old Gobbo looking for the way to master Jew’s house?
Ans. Old Gobbo has come to see his son and brought a dish of doves for his son’s master, the Jew.

Ques. Why does Launcelot want to confuse his father?
Ans. For the sake of creating entertainment and fun he wants to confuse his father by giving him nonsensical directions to the Jew’s house. Moreover, he does not want his father to present a gift to the Jew.

Ques. What does old Gobbo say when he is given those directions by Launcelot?
Ans. Old Gobbo says that he is unable to understand the directions and they will be difficult to follow.

Ques.  Launcelot plays a comic role in this scene. Give two examples of comedy provided by him.
Ans. a) Taking advantage of his father’s more than sand-blind condition, he confuses him in giving absurd directions to Shylock’s house. He poses as a gentleman while he is simply a servant. The way, he gives directions and poses himself to be a gentleman, creates comedy for the audience.
b) The talk about conscience and devil also creates entertainment for the audience.

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

    Why, then you must. But hear thee Gratiano,
    Thou art too wild, too rude, and bold of voice,
    Parts that become thee happily enough,
    And in such eyes as ours appear not faults,
    But where thou art not known, why, there they show
    Something too liberal, pray thee, take pain,
    To allay with some cold drops of modesty,
    Thy skipping spirit, lest, through thy wild behaviour,
    I be misconstructed in the place I go to,
    And lose my hopes.

Ques. Why does Bassanio say ‘Why, then you must’ and to whom?
Ans. Gratiano has expressed his wish to accompany Bassanio to Belmont. In reply to Gratiano, Bassanio says he can certainly go if he wants.

Ques. What is the condition or warning given by Bassanio to Gratiano in case he goes with him?
Ans. Gratiano is wild and speaks without discrimination. Those who understand him do not mind him but in a new place, his behaviour can be misunderstood and thus having come with Bassanio, Bassanio himself can also be misunderstood and can lose his hopes. Therefore, Bassanio asks Gratiano to behave properly in Belmont if he wants to accompany him.

Ques. Why does Bassanio say in the end ‘…… And lose my hopes’? What are his hopes and why will they be lost?
Ans. Bassanio asks Gratiano to behave properly in Belmont because being Bassanio’s companion and friend, his rude and wild behaviour will cast bad effect even on Bassanio and his prospects in comparison to other suitors for Portia will be lessened and thus he will lose of wooing and marrying her. Thus, his sole purpose of going to Belmont will be lost and that he will never wish.

Ques. Explain:
Ans. To allay with some cold drops of modesty thy skipping spirits.
Bassanio advises and in reality, warns Gratiano to curb his wild spirits and be modest to some extent so that his purpose of going to Belmont may not be jeopardised.

Ques. What does Gratiano say after Bassanio’s warning?
Ans. Gratiano agrees to all the conditions imposed by Bassanio but he requests Bassanio let them enjoy that night in Venice before starting for Belmont the next morning. By enjoyment, he means merry making, dining and wining with all the friends.

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Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary