Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 2 Summary and Question Answers

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Act 3 Scene 2 Summary Merchant of Venice

Students should read the Merchant of Venice Act 3 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 Exam

Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 2 Summary


Again, Belmont is the scene of romance and action. Bassanio is able to choose the right casket and opening the lead casket, he finds Portia’s picture. He claims the lady with a kiss and Portia also expresses her love for Bassanio and commits herself (mind, body and soul) to her lord. She presents him a ring as a token of their love which Bassanio promises never to part with.

Nerissa then surprises Portia with the declaration that she wants to marry Gratiano and she also gives a ring to Gratiano which he promises never to part with. Both the couples rejoice but their joy is interrupted by the distressing news of Antonio’s loss at sea. Salerio brings this news. Bassanio is speechless and tells Portia how he is indebted to Antonio and how Antonio has signed a bond with Shylock’s cruel demand of a pound of flesh. Jessica confirms their
worst fears by telling them about her father’s determination to have Antonio’s flesh. Portia insists that Bassanio should marry her immediately and depart for Venice with Gratiano. Portia and Bassanio are married and so are Nerissa and Gratiano. Bassanio reads Antonio’s letter aloud, in which Antonio has asked Bassanio to come so that he may see Bassanio for the last time.

Bassanio being a loyal friend departs for Venice along with Gratiano.

Portia in this scene is presented as a romantic heroine. She is overjoyed at Bassanio’s success in choosing the right casket and expresses her love, but her intellect, resourcefulness and leadership qualities are as powerful and impressive as her beauty and love. After Bassanio’s departure, she makes her own plans unknown to anybody.

In this scene, Antonio’s nobility is also revealed in his letter, “If your love do not persuade to come, let not my letter.” Bassanio’s loyalty comes into view in his immediate departure for Venice.

This scene seems to be the dramatic centre of the play. It is the meeting point of four different stories, the bond story, the casket story, the ring story and Jessica and Lorenzo’s love story. Here the world of mercantile ventures meets with the world of love. There is also a difference between the other casket scenes and this casket scene. The theme of love versus wealth is also developed here. Climax of courtship and crisis of friendship are presented here.

Class 10 English Act 3 Scene 2 Merchant of Venice Question Answers

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

    Portia :
    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 you right, but then I am forsworn;
    So will I never be, so may you miss me;
    But if you do, you will make me wish a sin,
    That I had been forsworn. Beshrew your eyes.
    They have overlooked me and divided me;
    One half of me is yours the other half yours,-
    Mine own’ I would say, but if mine, then yours;

(i) Where does this scene take place? What is meant by the first line of the extract?
This scene takes place in Belmont in Portia’s house.

The first line means that a young unmarried girl can only think, not speak her heart’s desire. She is bound by her father’s will.

(ii) What reason does Portia give at the end of her speech for speaking so long? what does this show about her feelings for Bassanio?
Portia says that she has been speaking for so long, so that some time may pass before
his venturing to choose one of the caskets and she can prolong his stay a little longer.
This speech shows that she loves Bassanio and does not want to lose him.

(iii) Give the meaning of – a) Beshrew your eyes, b) Detain, c) Forsworn
a) Beshrew your eyes – shame on you for looking at me bewitchingly
b) Detain – to stop someone for some time
c) Forsworn – taken on oath

(iv) Why can’t Portia teach Bassanio to choose the correct casket?
Portia cannot be disloyal to her father’s wishes. If she tells Bassanio which casket he should choose, she will be breaking her promise to her father. To be disloyal or to break a promise is not in her nature. That’s why she cannot teach Bassanio to choose the correct casket. Later, her patience, her loyalty, her truthfulness are awarded.

(v) What is the difference between other casket scenes and this casket scene.
As in other casket scenes, the harsh condition that the suitors cannot marry in future if they fail to open the right casket, is not mentioned to Bassanio. Also, no background music is played when the other suitors make their choice.

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

    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: I stand for sacrifice:
    The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives,
    With bleared visages, come forth to view
    The issue of the exploit, go, Hercules!

(i) Who is Alcides? What is the virgin tribute? How did Alcides save the virgin tribute?
Alcides is another name of Hercules who was the strongest and bravest hero in Greek mythology.

Virgin Tribute refers to Hesione, the unmarried daughter of Trojan King.

Alcides saved the Trojan princess from being sacrificed to a sea-monster, by killing it. He did this not for love but for a reward offered by her father.

(ii) Explain: ‘I stand for sacrifice’.
Portia here compares himself to the Trojan princess. She says that she is like that princess who would have been sacrificed if she would have been married to any of the other suitors apart from Bassanio.

(iii) Give the meaning of – a) Dardanian wives b) Bleared visages.
a) Dardanian wives – Trojan women
b) Bleared visages – Tear stained faces

(iv) In what way is Bassanio compared to young Alcides?
As Alcides had gone to rescue a Trojan Princess, Bassanio is going to rescue Portia. If Alcides had not been able to rescue the Trojan princess, she would have been dead. In the same way if Bassano fails, Portia will be as good as dead.

(v) Why does Portia say, ‘go Hercules’? What will she be doing at the same time?
Portia compares Bassanio to Hercules. Opening the right casket is the Herculean task because like the Trojan Princess, her life depends on it. If he fails, she may die, because she loves him.

She will be watching him with more alarm and dismay than he.

3. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
    There is no vice so simple but assumes
    Some mark of virtue on his outward parts;
    How many cowards whose hearts are all as false
    As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins.
    The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars;
    Who inward search’s have livers white as milk;
    And these assume but valour’s excrement
    To render them redoubled!

(i) Which theme is highlighted in the above extract?
The theme which is highlighted in the above extract is that all that glitters is not gold. Outward show does not mean that a person is really good. Many people pose as brave persons, while in reality they are cowards.

(ii) How can vice assume the external show of virtue?
There is always a contrast between appearance and reality. A person whose beard is like Hercules’ does not mean that he is, in reality, brave like Hercules. It is also true that vice always assumes the external show of virtue otherwise no one will be deceived if it is in its true form.

(iii) What are stairs of sand? To what are these stairs compared?
Steps cut in sand-hills are notoriously libel to let a person down suddenly. They are not stable like the stairs made of brick and cement.

These stairs are compared to the hearts of those who make show of bravery while they are cowards.

(iv) Who is Hercules and who is frowning Mars.
Hercules is the legendary brave man and Mars is the God of War.

(v) Give the meaning of – ‘… have livers like milk’.
Liver was supposed to be the bodily source of courage. Cowards’ livers were thought to be pale.

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

    A gentle scroll – Fair lady, by your leave (Kissing her)
    I come by note, to give and to receive.
    Like one of two contending in a prize
    That thinks he hath done well in people’s eyes,
    Hearing applause, and universal shout,
    Giddy in spirit, still gazing, in a doubt
    Whether those peals of praise be his or no;
    As doubtful whether what I see be true,
    Until confirmed, signed ratified by you.

(i) Where was the ‘gentle scroll? Give the summary of what was written on the scroll?
The ‘gentle scroll’ was in the lead casket.
What was written on the scroll is as follows: “You who has chosen not to be influenced by the external view, your fortune will be fair and judgment true. If you are happy with your fortune, be satisfied and be loyal. Show your happiness by going to the lady and claiming her with a kiss.”

(ii) What prize has the speaker won? Give reasons which led to the winning of the prize.
The speaker’s prize is that he has won and achieved his love, that is, Portia.
The reasons he has won this prize are as follows:
He was not influenced by external glitter of gold or silver.
He was not proud and arrogant but humble.

(iii) What was the speaker asked to give and receive?
The speaker was asked to kiss the lady and claim her.

(iv) Give the meaning of – a) Giddy in spirit, b) Ratified
a) Giddy in spirit – Feeling of such excitement that everything seems to be moving and one is going to fall
b) Ratified – Validated

(v) Why is the speaker doubtful whether what he sees is true?
The speaker had come to try to win Portia but he had not imagined such victory. He is so happy and excited that he is unable to believe his luck.

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

There are some shrewd contents in yon same paper that steals the colour from Bassanio’s cheek. Some dear friend dead’ else nothing in the world could turn so much the constitution of any constant man. What worse and worse! with leave Bassanio! I am half yours and I must freely have the half of anything. That this same paper brings you

(i) Where does the scene take place? Who brings the letter from Antonio to Bassanio?
The scene takes place in Belmont.
Salerio brings the letter from Antonio to Bassanio.

(ii) How does Portia conclude that there is some bad news in the letter? What could be the bad news according to Portia?
When Bassanio was reading the letter, his face lost its colour. This is seen by Portia and she concludes that there is some bad news in the letter. According to Portia, it may be the news of some dear friend’s death.

(iii) What right does Portia now have to know from Bassanio the contents of the letter?
Portia is Bassanio’s wife that means half of Bassanio is hers. Therefore, she has the right to know about the contents of the letter.

(iv) Briefly state what Bassanio told Portia about the bond and the destruction of Antonio’s cargo ships.
Bassanio tells Portia that he had to borrow money to be able to come to Belmont. At that time, Antonio also did not have any money. So, they borrowed from Shylock, the Jew. Antonio had to sign a bond if he is unable to pay the money within the fixed time, Shylock will forfeit a pound of his flesh. Unfortunately, his ships were destroyed and Shylock has no mercy. So, his dearest friend was on the brink of death.

(v) What did Salerio say about Shylock’s insistence on the forfeiture of Antonio’s bond?
Salerio says that Shylock is insisting on the plea of forfeiture, of justice and his bond.

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

    When I was with him, I have heard him swear
    To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen,
    That he would rather have Antonio’s flesh
    Than twenty times the value of the sum
    That he did over him: and I know, my lord,
    If law, authority and power deny not
    It will go hard on poor Antonio

(i) Who are Tubal and Chus? What did Jessica hear Shylock swear to them about the bond?
Tubal and Chus are also Jews and Shylock’s countrymen.
Jessica had heard him swear before his countrymen that he would prefer to have Antonio’s flesh than twenty times the value of the sum, he owed to Shylock.

(ii) What would the Duke, the law and influential citizens of Venice do to prevent Shylock from taking his cruel forfeiture?
The Duke, the law and influential citizens will ask Shylock to take money, show mercy and not to insist on forfeiture. As per law, Shylock has the right to take his forfeiture and except for requesting him for mercy, nothing can be done. The Duke can force Shylock but it will be against the law and sanctity of Venice’s long established rules.

(iii) What is the danger if the forfeiture is denied to Shylock as per the terms of bond.
If the forfeiture is denied to Shylock as per the terms of the bond, he is going to threaten to bring the charge that Venice is not observing the principles of nondiscrimination, on which it was founded as a ‘free city’.

(iv) What does Portia offer to do in terms of payment to Shylock in cash?
Portia offers to pay Shylock six thousand ducats in place of his three thousand ducats and to pay more, even the double and tripple of six thousand ducats.

(v) What does Antonio’s letter state about his last wish?
In the letter, Antonio has written that he wants to see his dear friend before his own death. That is his last wish.

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