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Please answer the questions from Act 2 Scene 2 of The Merchant of Venice: Where are...

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bobbyroychoud... | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted November 16, 2013 at 12:46 PM via web

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Please answer the questions from Act 2 Scene 2 of The Merchant of Venice: Where are Launcelot and Old Gobbo? What is meant by 'true-begotten father'? Why cannot old Gobbo recognise his own son? Why is old Gobbo looking for the way to master Jew's house? How does Launcelot confuse the old man while giving directions to him to reach the Jew's house? What was Gobbo's reaction to the directions given to him by Launcelot? What present has Gobbo brought to give to the Jew? What does Launcelot say to his father about it? 

The above questions are all related to the passage given. Please answer briefly.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 16, 2013 at 1:06 PM (Answer #1)

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The stage directions state that this scene occurs on a street in Venice. Presumably, it is reasonably near to Shylock's residence, as Launcelot works there (at the moment) and his father is heading there. Old Gobbo is not able to recognise his son because he is, according to Launcelot, "more than sand-blind, high-gravel blind," which suggests that he is not only blind but also perhaps going slightly senile. Launcelot, recognising his father decides to trick him by giving him incomprehensible directions that will confuse his father, as the following quote demonstrates:

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

These instructions are obviously not clear and play with words in order to mock his father and make fun of him. Old Gobbo's response to these directions from this "stranger" is to say that "It will be a hard way to hit," recognising that based on these instructions he will not be able to find the house. Although the text does not state his reason for wanting to find Shylock's house directly, the audience can assume that what he wants is to see his son, whom he is immensely proud of. In addition, it is clear that Old Gobbo has brought a present to give to Shylock, in order perhaps to keep his son in his station and ensure that he continues to enjoy good relations with his master. Launcelot, however, advises him to give his present to his new master, Bassanio, in order to help curry favour for him in those quarters.

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