The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

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Act II, Scenes 1-9: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Why does Morocco fear Portia will reject him at the outset?

2. What is Bassanio’s reservation about Gratiano accompanying him to Belmont?

3. What is Jessica’s dilemma concerning her father, Shylock?

4. How does Lorenzo plan to disguise Jessica in order for her to escape from her father?

5. Before going to dine with Antonio and Bassanio, what advice does Shylock give his daughter?

6. Why does Jessica not want Lorenzo to see her when he arrives at Shylock’s house?

7. What is Morocco’s rationale for choosing the gold casket?

8. What news has Salerio heard, making him anxious?

9. How does Solanio interpret Antonio’s sadness at Bassanio’s departure?

10. Which casket does Aragon choose, and why?

1. Morocco fears Portia would not want to marry someone of his race. Upon entering the play, he pleads: “Mislike not for my complexion/ The shadowed livery of the burnished sun…”

2. Bassanio suspects that Gratiano will appear “too wild, too rude, and bold of voice” for the people of Belmont. “[W]here thou art not known,” Bassanio warns, such traits “show/ Something too liberal.”

3. Jessica believes it is a “heinous sin…/ To be ashamed to be [her] father’s child!” Although she is Shylock’s daughter by “blood,” she claims not to be by “manners” and hopes to become a Christian by marrying Lorenzo.

4. Jessica will be dressed as Lorenzo’s torchbearer for the street festivities.

5. Shylock tells Jessica that if she hears commotion outside, she should “Clamber not…up to the casements then,/ Nor thrust [her] head into the public street/ To gaze on Christian fools…/ But…/ [she should] Let not the sound of shallow fopp’ry enter/ [his] sober house.”

6. Jessica is ashamed because she has been “transformed to a boy,” i.e. is dressed in men’s clothing in order to make her escape.

7. The gold casket is engraved “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.” As Morocco points out, “All the world desires [Portia];/ From the four corners of the earth they come/ To kiss this shrine, this mortal breathing saint.”

8. A Frenchman informed him that a Venetian ship has been wrecked in the English Channel, and Salerio fears it may be one of Antonio’s.

9. Solanio believes that Antonio “only loves the world for [Bassanio].” In other words, his friendship with Bassanio is the one thing which keeps Antonio from being overwhelmed by melancholy.

10. Aragon selects the silver casket, engraved “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves,” because, he asks, “who shall go about/ To cozen fortune, and be honorable/ Without the stamp of merit? Let none presume/ To wear an undeserved dignity.” Aragon feels whoever wins Portia had better be deserving of her.

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