Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 Summary and Question Answers

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Act 5 Scene 1 Summary Merchant of Venice

Students should read the Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 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 5 Scene 1 Summary


The Merchant of Venice emerges as a real romantic comedy in the Act V. All the problems, worries and calamities are over. First, we have the dialogues between Jessica and Lorenzo full of mythological references based on the theme of love and romance. Then Portia and later Bassanio and Antonio enter after some moments. Squabble and false quarrel between husbands and wives begin and the audience enjoys it.
Later with Antonio’s intervention, Portia stops teasing Bassanio and Portia and Nerissa give the rings back to their husband. Now to the great astonishment of Antonio and Bassanio, the secret is out that Portia was Dr. Balthazar and Nerissa her clerk. To add to the joy and happiness, the news of Antonio’s ships’ return arrives.


1. Troilus and Cressida: Troilus was the son of Priam, the king of Troy. Cressida was the daughter of the Greek priest Colchas. Troilus fell in love with Cressida. During the siege of Troy, Cressida was handed over to the Greeks in an exchange of prisoners. She had vowed to remain faithful to Troilus, but she switched her affections to the Greek
hero, Diomedes, whereas every night Troilus stood on the walls of Troy looking at the Greek camp. Thus, Troilus is
known as the faithful lover and Cressida is considered an example of female inconsistency.
2. Thisbe: Thisbe was a Babylonian maiden who loved Pyramus. Their parents were against their wedding. Once she
went to meet Pyramus. She comes first, Pyramus had not reached there. She saw a lion, was frightened and ran
away. When Pyramus came, he saw her cloak lying there and the lion. He assumed that the beast had killed her.
He killed himself. When Thisbe returned, she saw his dead body and she too killed herself.
3. Dido: Dido was the queen of Carthage who fell in love with a Trojan warrior and a refugee Aeneas who was
visiting Carthage. When he left for Italy leaving her behind, she felt betrayed and unable to live without him,
took away her life.
4. Aeneas: Aeneas was a Trojan hero and founder of Roman culture. He was the son of Prince Anchises and Goddess Venus. He was one of the few Trojans who were not killed when Troy fell. After years of wandering, he came to Carthage and fell in love with Dido.
5. Medea – Aeneas: Medea was a Sorceress who helped Jason get the Golden Fleece and later eloped with him.
6. Harmony: It refers to the Elizabethan concept of music. It was believed that music brought harmony and order in life.
7. Music of the sphere: According to ancient philosophical concept, there was music in the movement of celestial bodies, the Sun, the Moon and the Planets.
8. Orpheus: Orpheus was called the father of song by the Greeks of classical age. His wife was Euridice. Once, Euridice was bit by a snake. On the advice of nymphs and Gods he went to the underworld and by his music softened the heart of Hades and Persephone, who agreed to allow Euridice to return with him on condition that he
should walk in front of her and never look back till he reached the upper world. In his anxiety, he forgot the condition looked back and lost Euridice forever.
9. Erebus: It is a Greek word which means darkness or shadow. According to Greek mythology, Erebus was the son of a primordial God and personified darkness and shadow. According to some legends, he was part of Hades, the underworld, the place where the dead had to pass immediately after dying.
10. Manna: Manna was the heavenly food that was dropped on the desert according to the Bible and it saved the Israelites from starving. It also refers to the good things which have been provided for sustenance.


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

    In such a night
    did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew
    And with an unthrift love did run from Venice,
    In such a night
    Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well stealing her soul with many vows of faith:
    And ne’er a true one

(i) What kind of night it is that Lorenzo is referring to?
It is a night when moon is shining brightly, and stars are twinkling. It is peaceful, beautiful and romantic.

(ii) What did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew in such a night?
Jessica stole from the wealthy Jew in such a night, all the money and jewels kept in the house along with herself.

(iii) What precautions were taken by Jessica and Lorenzo to ensure that she could escape undetected?
Jessica and Lorenzo planned to elope on the day, when Shylock would not be at home but at Antonio’s place. Second precaution they took was that Jessica was in a page boy’s dress. Lorenzo planned her to make her, his torch bearer in the masquerade although it was cancelled. These were the precautions taken by them to escape detection.

(iv) Name the characters whose adventures, in such a night, are referred.
Thisbe, Dido, Medea and Troilus are the mythological characters, whose adventures in such a night are referred by Jessica and Lorenzo.

(v) How did Jessica’s father react to her escape? What were Jessica’s feelings just before her elopement?
Shylock reacts like an insane person when he comes to find Jessica gone. He also found that all his money and jewels which he loved more than anything in the world, have been stolen by his own daughter. The treachery of his daughter and the loss of his wealth make him react like a person whose rage and insanity knew no bounds.
Jessica felt just before her elopement that she has a lost father and Shylock a daughter, if everything goes as planned. She also feels ashamed at her page boy attire, which she had to wear to escape being detected.

(vi) What do Venice and Belmont stand for? What does the elopement of Jessica and Lorenzo from Venice to Belmont signify?
Venice stands for commercial world and Belmont for love and romance.
Venice reflects the hatred imbued in human heart and Belmont soft and tender feelings. Venice stands for harsh realities of life and Belmont for imagination beauty, poetry and music.
The elopement of Jessica and Lorenzo from Venice to Belmont signifies their departure from the hard cruel merciless and harsh reality of Venice to the world of romance, love, beauty and imagination.

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

    Stephano is my name and I bring word
    My mistress will before the break of day
    Be here at Belmont: She doth stray about
    By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays
    For happy wedlock hours

(i) Where does this scene take place? Who is Stephano? What message does he bring?
The scene takes place in Belmont.

Stephano is Portia’s servant.
He brings the message to Lorenzo that Portia will be at Belmont before the break of day, that is, early morning.

(ii) According to Stephano what has his mistress been doing during her absence from home?
According to Stephano, his mistress has been kneeling and praying for the happiness of her married life

(iii) In reality, what has she been doing during her absence? Who accompanied the mistress?
In reality, she has not been praying for the blessings for her married life, but she had gone to Venice to try to save her dear husband Bassanio’s friend Antonio.
Nerissa accompanied her mistress.

(iv) What role did Portia’s maid play in the company of her mistress?
Portia’s maid Nerissa played the role of a lawyer’s clerk in the company of her mistress, who played the role of a young competent lawyer.

(v) Who has been taking care of Portia’s home in her absence? Was he happy to do it? Who was with him during his caretaking of Portia’s home?
Lorenzo has been supervising Portia’s home during her absence.
He was happy to do it because he respected Portia.
Jessica was with him while he was taking care of Portia’s house.

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

    ….. therefore, the poet,
    Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones floods.
    And since naught so stockish, hard and full of rage.
    But music for the time doth change his nature.
    The man that hath no music in himself,
    Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
    Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
    The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
    And his affections dark as Erebus.
    Let no such man be trusted, Mark the music

(i) Who was Orpheus? What effect did the music played by Orpheus have on objects in nature?
Orpheus was a great musician. He was called ‘the father of songs’ and Greeks of classical age respected him as chief among poets and musicians.
He could charm the objects of nature to dance and even direct the course of rivers by his music.

(ii) What has Lorenzo said about the effect of music on wild young colts?
According to Lorenzo, the effect of music on wild colts was such that they could forget their savagery and become mild and modest.

(iii) Who is the ‘poet’ referred to by Lorenzo?
Lorenzo is referring to Ovid the poet.

(iv) What does Lorenzo say about the man who has no sense of music?
Lorenzo says about the man who has no sense of music that such a man is only fit for treasons and his feelings are dark which have no good in themselves.

(v) What is referred to as Erebus? Why is it used in the extract?
Erebus was a dark region, a part of Hades’ underworld. It is a Greek word, which in English means darkness or shadow.

It is used in the extract to emphases the fact that the person who does not like music or not have the sense of music has no goodness but darkness and evil.

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

    If you had known the virtue of the ring
    O half her worthiness that gave the ring
    You would not then have parted with the ring
    What man is there so much unreasonable,
    If you had pleased to have defended it.
    With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
    To urge the thing held as ceremony?
    Nerissa teaches me what to believe:
    I’ll die for’t, but some woman had the ring.

(i) About which ring is Portia speaking?
Portia gave Bassanio a ring at the time when he had won the lottery of caskets, by opening the right casket. She gave this ring to him and had asked him never to lose it or give it to another person. About the same ring. Portia is speaking.

(ii) When was the ring given away?
The ring was given away when Portia’s sharp intelligence had won the case and Antonio was freed from the clutches of the revengeful Jew as a token of gratitude, though with great reluctance from Bassanio. It was presented to Portia disguised as Dr. Balthazar, the lawyer.

(iii) What compelled Bassanio to part with the ring?
As Bassanio was unwilling to part with the ring, Portia had left the court. Antonio, then said to Bassanio that he should not worry about his wife’s anger so much as the young lawyer has performed such an ingenious feat in saving his life. He deserves to get what he has asked for. Thus, Antonio’s words compelled Bassanio to part with the ring.

(iv) What else did Bassanio offer instead of the rings?
Bassanio offered Portia to give her the costliest ring in Venice in place of the ring which Portia was asking him to give.

(v) Who else in the play has given the ring.
Gratiano, in the play, has given the ring to Nerissa who was disguised as the lawyer’s clerk.

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

    Bassanio: (To Portia)
    Sweet doctor, you should be my bedfellow
    When I am absent, lie with my wife.

    Sweet lady, you have given me life and living,
    For here I read for certain that my ships
    Are safely come to road

    How now, Lorenzo!
    My clerk hath some good comfort for you too.

    Ay, and I’ll give them without a fee.
    There do I give to you and Jessica,
    From the rich Jew a special deed of gift,
    After his death, of all he dies possessed of.

    Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way of starved people.

(i) Whom does Bassanio call sweet doctor? What does he offer to do and why?
Bassanio calls Portia ‘sweet doctor’.
He offers to sleep with the doctor as the doctor is no one else but Portia herself.

(ii) Why does Antonio say to Portia that she has given him life and living?
Antonio says to Portia that she has given him life and living as only due to her efforts, Antonio’s life was saved from the sharp knife of Shylock and certain death. His ships have returned safely and this news is also given by Portia. In this way, Portia has given Antonio life and living.

(iii) What is a special deed of gift? Give its contents.
The special deed of gift is the deed signed by Shylock.
The contents of the deed are that after Shylock’s death, whatever material things or wealth he possessed will belong to Lorenzo and Jessica.

(iv) On whose request the deed was made? On what condition the deed was made?
On Antonio’s request the deed was made, so that after Shylock’s death, Lorenzo and Jessica may benefit from his wealth.

The condition for making the deed was that Shylock’s life will be spared and he will be pardoned for the willful plot against Antonio’s life, if he becomes a Christian and makes a deed giving his wealth to Lorenzo and Jessica after his death.

(v) What is meant by Manna? What Manna was dropped in the context? Who are the starved people?
Manna was the heavenly food dropped on the desert according to the Bible and was eaten by hungry Israelites.
The special deed signed by the Jew is Manna in the context. Lorenzo and Jessica are the starved people.
Here in the extract the special deed is compared to Manna, and Lorenzo and Jessica stand for the starved Israelites.

(vi) How does ring episode create the atmosphere of comedy as well of joy?
The ring episode creates comedy when Portia and then Nerissa begin to blame Bassanio and Gratiano for losing the ring or giving them to other women. The audience or the reader knows the truth. Therefore, Bassanio and Gratiano’s
explanations, and the ladies’ insinuations create comedy. When the rings are returned, there is surprise and joy. All the people concerned are extremely joyous at this happy ending of all tensions.

Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 Summary