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?

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...

(The entire section is 525 words.)

Act II, Scenes 1-9: Questions and Answers

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...

(The entire section is 450 words.)

Act III, Scenes 1-5: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why, since it won’t result in any financial gain, does Shylock insist on the terms of his bond with Antonio?

2. What news does Tubal bring Shylock?

3. Why does Portia want Bassanio to wait before facing the challenge of the three caskets?

4. Why does Bassanio select the lead casket?

5. What does the lead casket contain?

6. What does Portia claim will occur if Bassanio gives up the ring she gives him?

7. What does Gratiano reveal after Bassanio solves the riddle of the three caskets?

8. Why does Portia allow Bassanio to leave before they get married?

9. According to Antonio, why won’t the Duke be able to intercede on his behalf?

10. What does Portia decide to do at the end of Act III?

1. Shylock wishes to cut off Antonio’s flesh in order to “feed [his] revenge. [Antonio] hath disgraced [him]…laughed at [his] losses…scorned [his] nation, [and] thwarted [his] bargains” out of (so Shylock claims) pure racial hostility.

2. Tubal tells Shylock that one of Antonio’s ships has been wrecked “coming from Tripolis” and that Jessica has spent a great deal of his money.

3. Afraid that Bassanio will fail, but desirous of his company, Portia wishes to spend as much time with him as possible.

4. Bassanio distrusts attractive surfaces, for fear they contain corrupt things. As he addresses his choice, “But thou, thou meager lead/ Which rather threaten’st than dost promise ought,/ Thy paleness moves me more to eloquence;/ And here choose I.”

5. Inside the lead casket, Bassanio finds a picture of Portia—signifying his success—and a scroll instructing him to kiss her.

6. If Bassanio does “part from, lose, or give away [Portia’s ring],/ …it [will] presage the ruins of [his] love.”

7. Gratiano announces that he and Nerissa intend to marry.

8. Portia discovers, while reading Antonio’s letter, that he fears “it is impossible [he] should live” and wishes to see Bassanio before he is killed.

9. “The Duke cannot deny the course of the law;/ For the commodity that strangers have/ …in Venice, if it be denied,/ Will much impede the justice of the state.” In other words, the Duke must uphold the law for non-citizens, so that Venice may maintain its good standing in international business affairs.

10. Portia decides that she and Nerissa must go to Venice disguised as men, to help resolve the situation there.

Act IV, Scenes 1-2: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does the Duke request of Shylock?

2. What reason does Shylock give for his wanting the pound of Antonio’s flesh?

3. Why does Antonio advise his friends to give up attempting to dissuade Shylock?

4. Why does Shylock believe the Duke must enforce the terms of the bond?

5. Why does Portia, disguised as the lawyer, initially conclude that Shylock’s bond must be adhered to?

6. Although she acknowledges Shylock’s right to a pound of Antonio’s flesh, how does Portia prevent the usurer from acting on it?

7. Why is Shylock stripped of his possessions?

8. Apart from the financial conditions, what does Antonio’s new arrangement demand of Shylock?

9. What does the disguised Portia demand from Bassanio for her services?

10. Why is Bassanio reluctant to give up the ring?

1. The Duke asks Shylock if he will “not only loose the forfeiture,/ But touched with human gentleness and love,/ Forgive a moiety of the principle,/ Glancing an eye of pity on [Antonio’s] losses.” In other words, he asks Shylock to consider Antonio’s financial predicament and not only accept money in place of the pound of flesh, but also reduce the amount of the debt.

2. Shylock claims he can “give no reason, nor will [he] not,/ More than a lodged hate and a certain loathing/ [He] bear[s] Antonio…”...

(The entire section is 401 words.)

Act V, Scene 1: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What message does Stephano deliver to Lorenzo and Jessica?

2. What opinion does Lorenzo hold of men who don’t like music?

3. What does Portia order her household not to do?

4. To whom does Nerissa claim to believe Gratiano gave his ring?

5. What does Portia threaten when Bassanio admits he gave the ring away?

6. What does Portia claim she will do if she encounters the doctor to whom Bassanio gave the ring?

7. How does Antonio attempt to placate Portia?

8. What does Portia offer Bassanio to seal the new promise?

9. What secret does Portia reveal to the company?

10. What good news does Portia tell Antonio?

1. Stephano announces that Portia “will before the break of day/ Be here at Belmont. She doth stray about/ By holy crosses where she kneels and prays/ For happy wedlock hours.”

2. Lorenzo claims that “The man that hath no music in himself,/ Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,/ Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils” and is thus not to be trusted.

3. Portia insists that no one reveal that she and Nerissa have been away from home.

4. Nerissa claims whoever has the ring “will ne’er wear hair on’s face…” In other words, she says she suspects him of giving it to a woman.

5. Portia swears that she “will ne’er come in [Bassanio’s] bed/ Until [she] see[s] the ring!”

6. Portia says to Bassanio, “Since [the Doctor] hath got the jewel that I loved,/ And that which you did swear to keep for me,/ I will become as liberal as you,/ I’ll not deny him anything I have,/ No, not my body nor my husband’s bed.”

7. Antonio promises Portia that “[his] soul upon the forfeit…
[Bassanio]/ Will never more break faith advisedly.”

8. Portia offers the same ring she initially gave Bassanio, claiming she recovered it by sleeping with the doctor.

9. Portia reveals that she and Nerissa were in fact the doctor and his clerk.

10. Portia gives Antonio a letter in which it is revealed that “three of [his] argosies [i.e., ships]/ Are richly come to harbor suddenly.”