Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Summary
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Summary, Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Summary
Setting : Belmont
Characters : Portia, Nerissa
This scene is set in Belmont. Portia is seen talking to her companion Nerissa. Portia tells her that she is ‘weary’ of the world. Nerissa says that she must be so because she has excess of wealth. Portia seems to agree with her. Nerissa tells her that her remarks would be better if these were acted upon.
Portia retorts that it is always easy to preach than to practise. Her real worry is about her future. She feels that her father has left her no freedom to choose her husband by designing the lottery of caskets. Nerissa defends Portia’s father saying that he was a wise person. Only a desirable suitor for her would correctly interpret the inscriptions on the caskets and choose the right casket.
Portia comments upon the various suitors who have already come to try their luck. She seems to like no one. She thinks that the Neapolitan Prince is no better than a horse as he always talks of horses.
Then she remarks that county Palatine is so sad and serious that it is better to marry a dead man’s skull than to marry such a weeping philosopher. Portia makes negative remarks about Monsieur Le Bon. She says that he talks even more about horses than the Neapolitan Prince. In fact he does not have a personality at all. As regards Falconbridge, the young baron of England, he hardly understands the European languages.
Moreover, he is strangely dressed because he has borrowed some articles of dress from every country. So it is impossible to think of marrying him. As regards the Scottish lord, he is a coward. Regarding the young German, Portia remarks that he is addicted to drinking and is never found to be sober. The best way to get rid of him would be to place a bottle of wine in one of the wrong caskets so that he chooses the Wrong casket.
Thereafter, Nerissa tells Portia that she need not bother about these suitors because they do not want to try their luck by the caskets and, therefore, have decided to leave Belmont. Nerissa, then, asks her opinion about Bassanio who visited her earlier in the company of Marquis of Mountferret and says that he is the ideal lover who deserves her hand in marriage.
Portia recollects Bassanio’s visit and agrees with Nerissa’s opinion. At this moment a servant enters and informs Portia that the Prince of Morocco has arrived to try his luck. Portia remarks that if the Prince of Morocco has a dark complexion and a priestly mind she would prefer to have him for religious consolation rather than as a husband.
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Critical Commentary
In this scene we are introduced to the heroine of the play, Portia, in her home at Belmont. She is uncertain of her future due to the strange provisions of her father’s will with regard to her marriage. According to her father’s will, a person who chooses the right casket out of the three caskets will be able to marry her. But the story moves ahead when Portia recollects Bassanio’s earlier visit. She remembers Bassanio with tender thoughts of him. We come to know about Portia’s liking for Bassanio from the conversation between Portia and Nerissa. From the conversation we make out that Nerissa is a clever and witty maid.
A number of suitors are talked about. In them we find a revelation of the various types of European personalities of those times. The Prince of Naples thinks of nothing but horsemanship; the count Palatine is a joyless person; the Frenchman is a hot-headed person; the English man is queerly dressed, the Scottish lord is a coward. These character-sketches of various suitors amuse the readers.
This scene is written in prose; and this shows that this play The Merchant of Venice belongs to the middle period of Shakespeare’s works. In his early works, he made use of prose only in the comic dialogues of clowns and other humorous characters.
Significance of the Scene
- The scene introduces Portia and Nerissa.
- It informs us of the casket lottery.
- We also learn of Portia’s interest in Bassanio.
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Glossary
aweary : tired
aught : anything
surfeit : in excess
mean : middle
superfluity : excess
decree : law
over-name : name over
colt : wild young horse
appropriation : part
afeard : afraid
death’s head : a skeleton with a bone
capering : jumping
requite : return love
suited : dressed
vilely : badly
shift : manage
rhenish wine : a wine of Rhine
ere : before
sponge : drunkard
acquainted : informed
determinations : decisions
imposition : condition
chaste : pure
Diana : the Moon-goddess
parcel : crowd /group
dote on : long for
thy : your
seek : wish to meet
forerunner : advance messenger
shrive : give spiritual consolation
wive : marry