The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

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Act I, Scenes 1-3: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What causes do Salerio and Solanio suggest for Antonio’s melancholy?

2. What humorous advice does Gratiano offer Antonio?

3. Why does Bassanio want Antonio to loan him more money?

4. Why is Portia angry with her deceased father?

5. Why does Nerissa tell Portia she “need not fear” her unwelcome suitors?

6. What do Portia and Nerissa think of Bassanio?

7. According to Shylock, why does he hate Antonio?

8. Why is Shylock indignant over Antonio’s request?

9. What is Antonio’s response to Shylock’s accusation?

10. In exchange for what does Shylock agree to lend Antonio and Bassanio the money?

Answers
1. Salerio and Solanio think Antonio is distracted because his money is tied up in his ships, which are sailing on dangerous seas. When he denies this suggestion, Solanio guesses that he’s in love, an answer Antonio also rejects.

2. Gratiano tells Antonio not to be so grave about worldly affairs, but rather “With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,/…Why should a man whose blood is warm within/ Sit like his grandsire…/…And creep into the jaundice/ By being peevish?” In other words, he suggests Antonio is acting old before his time.

3. Bassanio tells Antonio that “had [he] but the means” to compete with Portia’s suitors, he would “questionless be fortunate,” i.e., win the wealthy heiress’s hand, thus solving his financial difficulties.

4. Because of the provisions of her father’s will—the challenge of the three caskets—Portia cannot choose her own husband. As she says, “I may neither choose who I would nor...

(The entire section is 525 words.)