Explain each line in Act 2, Scene 6 of The Merchant of Venice. 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is an e-text here at Enotes that has the modern English equivalent of each line, and the student may easily have access to this explanation by clicking on the link below. For, this format for answering student questions does not afford enough space for lengthy explanations. 

In an effort to assist the student with understanding Act II, Scene 6, here is some explanation:

This scene concludes the subplot of Jessica and Lorenzo's elopement as Shylock has departed for dinner with Antonio, and Lorenzo arrives. As the scene opens, Gratiano and Salerio, friends of Lorenzo wait for him under a shelter; they are surprised that he is late because lovers are normally so excited that they arrive early to meet their beloveds. This is the point of Gratiano's monologue in lines 8-19. In these lines, he draws analogies to other situations. asking when has another repeated the excitement he/she feels for the "firsts." For example, is not someone more eager to sit down to eat than when he rises from the table; is not a horse more interested in a new path than going down one he has traveled before. All things, Gatiano concludes, more exciting when they are sought than after they are experienced.

....Who riseth from a feast
With that keen appetite that he sits down?
Where is the horse that doth untread again
His tedious measures with the unbated fire
That he did pace them first? All things that are,
Are with more spirit chasèd than enjoyed. (2.6.8-13)
Finally, Lorenzo arrives, apologizing to his friends, saying he has had business to deal with. He jokes, saying when they have to steal their wives, he will wait for them. As they arrive at Shylock's house; he calls out to Jessica, who asks him to identify himself. Lorenzo says his name and identifies himself as Jessica's love; his answer satisfies Jessica, who affirms that he is the only one who knows that Lorenzo is her love. Then, she tosses him a casket containing jewels of her mother's that she has stolen, saying that she is happy the night hides her appearance as she is disguised as a boy so that no one will notice her leaving home. But since Lorenzo loves her, he will not care about her "pretty folly." 
For I am much ashamed of my exchange [of clothes]
But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit,
For if they could, Cupid himself would blush
To see me thus transformed to a boy. (2.6.35-39)
Lorenzo tells her to descend because she must be his torchbearer; Jessica is embarrassed, but her lover tells her she is sweet, even in the pleasing attire of a boy. Jessica promises to come after she retrieves some more ducats. When she departs, Gratiano remarks, 'Now by my hood, a gentle and no Jew!" He is surprised at her; he cannot believe a Jew could be so nice. Then, Antonio arrives, telling the others that their friends are waiting for them because Bassanio is going on board and sailing out as the wind has changed. There is no masked ball tonight.
No masque tonight. The wind is come about.
Bassanio presently will go aboard.
I have sent twenty out to seek for you. (2.6.64-66) 
Gratiano is glad, saying he wants nothing more than to sail
I desire no more delight
Than to be under sail and gone tonight. (2.6.66-67)
Read the study guide:
The Merchant of Venice

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