Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 1 Summary
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 1 Summary, Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 1 Summary
Setting : Venice
Characters : Antonio, Salarino, Salanio, Bassanio, Lorenzo, Gratiano
Antonio, a rich Venetian merchant, is visited by his friends, Salarino arid Salanio who tell him that he is sad. Salarino ascribes his sadness to his anxiety about his merchant ships at the sea. Antonio must be worried about their safety. Antonio, however, does not agree with the statement, saying his ships move in different directions. Then Salarino says he is sad because he is in love. Antonio rejects this suggestion as well. Salarino then says he is sad because he is not merry. Antonio says that he views the world as a stage on which he has been called to play a sad role.
Antonio’s other friends, Bassanio, Lorenzo and Gratiano appear on the scene. After Salarino and Salanio have left, Gratiano too finds Antonio melancholic. Gratiano thinks that there are some persons who try to look sad to pass for wise persons. Such persons prove to be foolish when they open their mouth. Gratiano advises Antonio not to fall a prey to sadness which consumes a man. His own philosophy is that one should eat, drink and be merry, and that he tries to follow it. He does not want to look old in the prime of his life.
Gratiano leaves their company. Bassanio tells Antonio not to attach any importance to Gratiano’s words because he mostly talks nonsense. Antonio, then, asks Bassanio to tell him which lady he wanted to visit secretly in order to win her love. Bassanio tells him that he has squandered a lot of money by maintaining a rich standard of life. He expresses his gratitude to Antonio for always helping him with money. Antonio assures him that all his wealth and even his life are at his disposal if his plan is honourable. Antonio asks Bassanio to speak out his mind frankly.
Bassanio tells him that he has fallen in love with a beautiful and rich lady of Belmont and that she, too, has responded to his love. Her name is Portia. She is a beautiful and virtuous woman. He wants to go there in order to win her as his wife. He requests Antonio to lend him some money so that he could visit that lady. Antonio tells him that he does not have ready money at the moment because he has invested all his money in the merchant ships. So the best thing is that he should raise a loan from the market on his (Antonio’s) credit.
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 1 Critical Commentary
The opening line of the play reveals that Antonio, the merchant of Venice, is sad. But he does not know the reason of his sadness. The play, then, exposes the situation on which the story is built. We come to know that the main story is about the love of Bassanio and Portia. Soon we come to know that Bassanio needs money in order to visit Portia. So he goes to Antonio to get money. But it is revealed that Antonio does not have ready money.
He asks Bassanio to borrow money on his (Antonio’s) credit. He will gladly stand surety for the money that he borrows. Thus Shakespeare reveals a deep bond of friendship between Antonio and Bassanio. Antonio tells Bassanio that all his wealth and even his life are at his disposal. So the first scene reveals Antonio’s melancholy, love of Bassanio and Portia and friendship between Antonio and Bassanio.
Significance of the Scene
- It introduces major characters and gives a foretaste of the kind of action that would follow.
- Antonio’s melancholy is ominous and sets the tone of the play.
- The bond-story and the casket-story are linked together.
- The friendship between Antonio and Bassanio has been described in vivid terms.
- The scene prepares us for three-fold action: Bassanio’s Belmont-sited hopes, Lorenzo’s promise to meet Bassanio later in
- the evening and Antonio’s undertaking to raise funds for Bassanio.
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 1 Glossary
In sooth : truly
wearies : tires
argosies : ships
traffickers : boats
woven wings : sails
venture forth : business ventures
broth : soup
shallows : shallow waters
dock’d : stuck
ribs : the hull
edifice : building
merry : happy
Janus : the Roman god of door¬ways
vinegar aspect : sour temperament
kinsman : relative
Nestor : a Greek hero known for his grave temperament and wisdom
leisures : free time
attend on : wait for
Signior : Mr
marvellously : astonishingly
mortifying : agonising
alabaster : white stone used for making statue
visages : faces
Sir Oracle : embodiment of wisdom
ope : open
gudgeon : fish
exhortation : good advice
moe : more
gear : advice
in faith : indeed
ere : before
faint : limited
moan : complaint
abridged : curtailed
prodigal : extravagant
shaft : arrow
wilful : self-willed
hazard : risk
uttermost : utmost
prest : engaged
undervalued : inferior
Brutus’ Portia : Portia is Brutus’s wife in the play Julius Caesar
Colchos : an ancient kingdom
strand : shore
quest : search
presages : foretells
thrift : gain
rack’d : strained
for my sake : for personal reasons