The Merchant of Venice Act II, Scenes v–ix Summary and Analysis | SparkNotes (2023)

Summary: Act II, scene v

Usurerwarn Lancelot thatBassaniohe will not be as forgiving a teacher as Shylock himself was, and that Lancelot will no longer be free to eat and sleep too much. Shylock asksJessicaand tells him that they have called him to dinner. Worried by a premonition of trouble, Shylock asks Jessica to keep the doors locked and not look at the revelry taking place in the streets. Lancelot whispers to Jessica that she must disobey her father and look out the window at the Christian who is "worth as a Jew" (II.v.41). Shylock questions Jessica about her sneaky conversation with Lancelet and says that although Lancelet is kind, he eats and sleeps too much to be an efficient and valuable servant. After Shylock leaves to see Bassanio, Jessica says goodbye to him, thinking that if nothing goes wrong, Shylock will soon lose a daughter and she will lose a father.

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Summary: Act II, scene vi

As planned, Gratiano and Salarino meet in front of Shylock's house. They are especially anxious because Lorenzo is late and they think that lovers are always early. The talkative Gratiano expounds Salarino's theory that love is best when the lover pursues the object of her affection, and that once the lover captures his lady and consummates the relationship, he tends to tire and lose interest. . Lorenzo joins them, apologizing for being late, and calls Jessica, who appears on the porch dressed as a page. Jessica throws him a chest of gold and jewels. Jessica goes down and leaves with Lorenzo and Salarino. Only then,antoniohe comes in to report that Bassanio is sailing for Belmont immediately. Gratiano is forced to abandon the festivities and immediately join Bassanio.

(Video) The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare | Act 2, Scene 9

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Summary: Act II, dinner vii

Back to Belmont,portahe shows the prince of Morocco the coffins, where he will try to win his hand by guessing which chest contains his portrait. The first coffin, made of gold, is inscribed with the words: "He who chooses me will obtain what many long for" (II.vii.37). The second, made of silver, says: "Whoever chooses me, he will receive what he deserves" (II.vii.23). The third, a heavy lead coffin, declares: "Whoever chooses me must give and risk all he has" (II.vii.sixteen). After much deliberation, the prince chooses the gold coffin, reasoning that only the most precious metal could house the image of such a beautiful woman. He opens the chest to reveal a skull with a scroll in its eye socket. After reading a short poem that chides him for the folly of his choice, the prince hastily leaves. Portia is glad to see him go and hopes that "[all] her complexion will choose me so" (II.viii.79).

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Summary: Act II, dinner viii

Having witnessed Shylock's anger upon learning of Jessica's escape, Solanio describes the scene to Salarino. Shylock, he relates, protested the loss of his daughter and her ducats, shouting a loud and urgent plea for justice and law to prevail. Solanio hopes that Antonio can pay off his debt, but Salarino reminds him of the rumors that the long-awaited ships have sunk in the English Channel. Both men fondly remember Bassanio's departure from Antonio, in which the merchant urged his young friend not to let thoughts of debt or danger interfere with her courtship of Portia.

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Summary: Act II, scene IX

The Prince of Aragon is in Belmont to try his luck and win Portia's hand in marriage. When he is led to the coffins, he chooses the silver one, confident that he "will receive as much as he deserves" (II.ix.35). Inside, he finds a flickering portrait of an idiot and a poem condemning him as a fool. Shortly after he leaves, a messenger arrives to tell Portia that a promising young Venetian, who seems like the perfect suitor, has come to Belmont to try his hand at the coffin game. Hoping it's Bassanio, Portia and Nerissa head out to greet the new suitor.

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Analysis: Act II, scenes v–ix

In these scenes, Shylock is once again portrayed as a mean but not an evil teacher. In fact, he seems to think of himself as quite forgiving, and when he calls Lancelot lazy, that taunt seems to be an accurate description of the jester servant. Shylock's fear for his daughter and disgust for Venetian revelry paint him as a puritanical figure who respects order and the rule of law above all else, and who refuses to have "shallow fopp'ry" in his "sober house" (II. V.3435). Shylock's rhetoric is distinctive: he tends to repeat himself and avoids digressions common to other characters. As more than one reviewer has noted, he is characterized by a single-mindedness.

Fortunately, Jessica and Lorenzo's romantic love triumphs, but several critics have pointed out the ambiguity in their escape scene. The couple's love is not in question, but Jessica's determination to retrieve a great treasure reminds us that she is still a stranger, a Jew among the Gentiles, who may not be sure of her reception. In fact, her shame over her child's fantasy may reflect a deeper concern for her place in her husband's Christian society. Later, at Belmont, she is ignored by virtually everyone except Lorenzo, which suggests that she, despite her husband and her conversion, is still Jewish in the eyes of others.

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The choice of coffins by the Prince of Morocco is incorrect, but his mistake is understandable and we stand in solidarity with him. There is something casually cruel about Portia's reluctance to have even a moment's mercy for the Moor. Portia is a strong-willed character: while his independence is often attractive, at other times he can seem terribly self-centered. She wants Bassanio for a husband and seems unapologetic about seeing other suitors sentenced to a life of celibacy.

Read more about the harshness of the law as a reason.

(Video) summary of act 2 scene 7 of merchant of venice

Salarino and Solanio are the least interesting characters in the play. They are indistinguishable from one another and serve mainly to inform us of events that take place offstage; in this case, Shylock's reaction to the escape of his daughter and the separation of Antonio and Bassanio. Shylock's cries of “My child! Oh my ducats! O my daughter!” are meant to be funny: the moneylender is, after all, acomicvillain (II.viii.15). He mourns the loss of his money as much as the loss of Jessica, hinting that greed is just as important to him as family love. However, we can't be sure that Shylock actually reacted this way, as we hear the story secondhand. Salarino and Solanio taunt the Jew, and his testimony must be balanced against Shylock's concern for his daughter in earlier scenes.

Aragon, a Spanish prince, completes the parade of nationalities competing for Portia. He lacks the nobility of the prince of Morocco and his arrogance almost makes him feel that he deserves his punishment. His quick exit from the scene makes way for Bassânio.

Read Portia's top quotes about her various suitors.

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