In Act 2, Scene 5, a) From the extract, " The patch is kind enough, but a huge feeder, .....................A proverb never stale in thrifty mind," what is meant by the "patch"? b) What reasons...

In Act 2, Scene 5,

a) From the extract, " The patch is kind enough, but a huge feeder, .....................A proverb never stale in thrifty mind," what is meant by the "patch"?

b) What reasons does Shylock give to Jessica for parting with Launcelot, and what does Shylock mean by saying, "drones hive not with me"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As Scene 5 of Act II of The Merchant of Venice begins, Shylock berates Launcelot, telling him that when he goes to work for Bassanio, he will not be able to "gormandize," or eat so much as he has in Shylock's home. Further in the scene, he adds,

The patch is kind enough, but a huge feeder,
Snail slow in profit, and he sleeps by day
More than the wildcat. Drones hive not with me
Therefore I part with him....

a) So, after the suspicious Shylock has asked his daughter Jessica what the Launcelot has said to her, he reiterates that Launcelot, "the patch," or fool/clown, has been "a huge feeder," and is worthless in two other ways: He is dilatory about doing anything that is profitable to Shylock--"Snail-slow in profit"--and he is lazy, "sleep[ing] by day/More than a wildcat." 

b) Calling Launcelot a mere "drone," (literally, a male honeybee that is stingless and produces no honey) an idler or useless person, Shylock states that he let Launcelot go to work for Bassanio so he will now waste the Venetian's money rather than his.

Incidentally, this Scene 5 lends some weight to the interpretation that Shylock's, who hates and mistrusts Christians already, desire for revenge against Antonio is increased because he comes to believe that Bassanio, Antonio's friend, has lured him away to dinner so that he can be robbed and Jessica and Lorenzo elope.

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