Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 4 Summary and Question Answers

Study Material

Act 3 Scene 4 Summary Merchant of Venice

Students should read the Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 4 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 3 Scene 4 Summary


In this scene, the audience sees Portia devising a clever plan to rescue Antonio from the clutches of the Jew, Shylock. Bassanio and Gratiano have already departed. She contacts Dr. Bellario, her cousin and a famous lawyer who lives in Padua. One of her servants, Balthazar takes her letter to Padua. She plans to disguise as a lawyer and Nerissa her clerk and leave for Venice. No one knows about her plan except herself.

This scene brings forth many new traits in Portia’s personality. She is rich not only financially, but she is rich in heart and head also. She is intelligent, witty and has a presence of mind. She can make great plans and execute them successfully. Her imitation of a young lawyer is perfect.

This scene fills the time gap. Generosity contrasted with selfishness is also exhibited here.
‘The disguise theme’ even brings in comic element to some extent.


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

    I never did repent for doing good;nor shall not now: for in companions
    That do converse and waste the time together,
    Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love,
    There must be needs a light proportion of lineaments, of manners, of spirit;

(i) With whom is Portia talking? What has this person said about Antonio? Why is Antonio in need of relief?
Portia is talking to Lorenzo.
Lorenzo has said about Antonio that he is a true gentleman.
Antonio needs relief because the bond signed by him is forfeited and now Shylock will be able to take revenge.

(ii) Explain the relationship that exists between Antonio and Bassanio as related by Lorenzo in his speech just before the above extract.
There is deep love and friendship between Antonio and Bassanio. Antonio has helped Bassanio many times in the past but Bassanio is not ungrateful for his friend’s help. He is genuinely grateful for that. Antonio feels that Bassanio has the right to ask for anything from him. Their relationship is an example of real love and friendship.

(iii) What does Portia say to Lorenzo’s comment that she will never repent her good deed concerning Antonio?
Portia replies to Lorenzo that she has never repented doing good to others.

(iv) What does Portia say about the friends who are equally attached to each other?
Portia says about the friends that are equally strongly attached to each other that there is found a matching balance of characteristics in them.

(v) Give the meaning of – a) Converse, b) Waste, c) Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love
a) Converse – Talk
b) Waste – Spend
c) Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love – Who are equally and strongly attached to each other.

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

    Lorenzo, I commit into your hands
    The husbandry and manage of my house.
    Until my lord’s return, for mine own part,
    I have toward heaven breathed a secret vow.
    To live in prayer and contemplation,
    Only attended by Nerissa here. Until her husband and my lord’s return.

(i) What is meant by ‘the husbandry and manage of my house’?
Portia means to say that she is giving Lorenzo the responsibility of the careful management of her house in
her absence.

(ii) Where is Portia going? What does she tell Lorenzo about the place where she is going?
Portia is going to Venice to try to save her husband Bassanio’s dear friend Antonio.
She tells Lorenzo that she is going to a place where she will pray and contemplate till Bassanio’s return. She is taking only Nerissa with her.

(iii) What in fact was Portia’s intention in leaving her home? Why did she need Nerissa with her?
In fact, Portia’s intention to leave her home was not to go to any monastery but to go to Venice. She intended to save Antonio’s life.
She needs Nerissa with her because according to her plan, a person is needed to accompany her.

(iv) What are her real plans, about which she tells none?
She plans to go to Venice disguised as a lawyer. A lawyer is always accompanied by his clerk. That’s why she needs Nerissa disguised as a clerk. She has already contacted the famous lawyer of Padua, Bellario, her cousin, and taken advice from him. In his place, she will reach Venice and with legal ingenuity, she plans to save Antonio.

(v) In this planning of management of her house and of reaching Venice in the guise of a lawyer, many traits of Portia’s character are revealed. What are they?
Four centuries back, no woman would have dared doing what Portia did. She has exceptional qualities rarely found in people. She has the ability to understand people, brain to plan and will and efficiency to execute her plan properly and perfectly. These are the qualities that are revealed in this scene and further.

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

    Then I’ll repent And wish for all that, that I had not killed them.
    And twenty of these puny lies I’ll tell’
    That men shall swear, I have discontinued school
    Above a twelve month: I have within my mind
    A thousand raw tricks of these bragging jacks. Which I will practice.

(i) Why would not the husbands of Portia and Nerissa recognise them when they would see them?
The husbands of Portia and Nerissa will not recognise them when they see them, because they will be disguised as men. It will be impossible for them to recognise their wives.

(ii) How will Portia appear and behave after she reaches her destination?
Portia has decided to behave and appear like a male adolescent, who talks too much
about his fights or duels, brags too much about his victories when she reaches her destination, Venice.

(iii) Give the meaning of – a) Frays, b) Bragging Jacks, c) Raw
a) Frays – Fights, Duels
b) Bragging Jacks – Fellows
c) Raw – Immature

(iv) What quaint lies Portia will tell to mislead people?
The quaint lies that Portia will tell to mislead people will be manifold. As Portia poses as a handsome young man, some lies will be about the women falling in love with him and dying for him. She will speak like immature young men, who brag about their duels and victories. In this way people will be misled.

(v) What hints does Portia give to Nerissa regarding her mission? When and how are the rest of the plans to be revealed?
Portia tells Nerissa that they are leaving Belmont.
What her plans are, Portia will tell Nerissa when they are sitting in the ferry, which is waiting for them at the park gate. That’s when all plans will be revealed.

Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 4 Summary