Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 3 Summary
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 3 Summary, Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Summary
Setting : Venice
Characters : Bassanio, Shylock, Antonio
This scene is set in Venice. Bassanio and Shylock are found talking. Bassanio wants Shylock to lend him three thousand ducats for three months on Antonio’s surety. Shylock feels happy inwardly but tells Bassanio that it is difficult to depend upon Antonio’s surety as all his ships are on the sea. Then he adds that he is ready to give him loan as he wants to befriend them. When Bassanio invites him to dinner, he says he is prepared to do business with the Christians but he cannot dine with them, or pray with them.
When Antonio appears, Shylock pretends as if he has not noticed him. He talks to himself, thinking of his hatred for Antonio and he resolves to revenge himself on him. He hates Antonio because he is a Christian, but he hates him chiefly because Antonio lends money without charging interest, thus jeopardising his business interests. Moreover, Antonio has abused and humiliated him in public on many occasions.
Shylock pledges that if ever Antonio gets into his trap, he will teach him a lesson. Shylock says that he does not have three thousand ducats, but he will borrow the amount from one of his Jewish friends named Tubal.
Antonio tells Shylock that he neither lends nor borrows money on interest, but still he will request him to lend money to Bassanio on his personal surety. Shylock tells Antonio that he, too, does not charge any interest, but then, he makes money, breeds money as Jacob, their prophet, made the ewes of Laban breed lambs for him.
Antonio gets annoyed with Shylock because he thinks that he, like the devil, can quote scriptures to serve his own purpose. When Antonio tells him that he is not asking for loan for himself but for his friend Bassanio, Shylock remarks he has been insulting him in private as well as in public places and yet he is now asking for loan from him.
Antonio asserts that he will continue insulting him and he wants him to lend him money like an enemy and if he fails to return the money in time, he might charge the heaviest penalty from him. Shylock, then, asks him to calm down and go to some lawyer to execute some merry bond. He tells him that it will be written in the bond that if Antonio fails to return the money in time, he will be entitled to cut a pound of flesh from any part of. Antonio’s body.
Bassanio is opposed to such a bond. He tells Antonio not to sign such a bond, but Antonio assures him that he will be able to return three thousand ducats before the appointed day. On hearing Bassanio’s words, Shylock says that Christians are unduly suspicious. He adds that one pound of human flesh is more worthless than one pound of mutton or beef or any other human flesh. He tells them that he would not gain anything by cutting one pound of flesh from Antonio’s breast on the forfeiture of the bond.
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Critical Commentary
The action of this scene takes place in Venice again. Here we are introduced to the rich jew, Shylock, one of the most complex and remarkable characters of Shakespeare. In order to help his friend Bassanio, Antonio signs a dangerous bond which takes the story further. The friendliness and frankness that Shylock shows towards Antonio are skilfully described by Shakespeare. We also come to know of Antonio’s arrogance and hatred for Shylock. He has been in the habit of abusing him, spitting on him and kicking him like a cur.
Shylock who has been insulted and ill-treated by Antonio finds a good opportunity to entrap Antonio. So he gets a dangerous bond signed by him. Though Shylock craftily gets the bond signed, the whole affair looks natural. Antonio is confident that all his ships on the sea will return safely before the appointed day. Shylock, on his part, tells Antonio that penalty would not be extracted at the forfeiture of the bond.
Shakespeare describes the hostility between the Jews and the Christians. He presents the hated Jewish moneylender in a remarkable manner.
Significance of the Scene
- We meet Shylock and realize how wicked he is in entrapping Antonio.
- Bassanio is provided with the money to go to Belmont.
- The scene moves the action forward.
- The scene is remarkable for its poetry and dialogue.
Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Glossary
stead : help
imputation : allegation
in supposition : under risk
argosy : merchant ship
squandered : spent lavishly
peril : danger
bethink : think seriously
habitation : flesh of swine
conjured : summoned with magic
fawning : servile, submissive
publican : tax collector
gratis : without interest
feed fat : fully enjoy
congregate : gather together
debating : calculating
soft : wait
ripe : urgent
possess’d : informed
advantage : interest
wrought : planned
compromised : agreed
eanlings : lambs (newborn)
hire : reward
inserted : mentioned
cite : quote
beholding : obliged
rated : insulted
usances : practice of lending money
sufferance : patience
void : throw
rheum : spit
cur : dog
key : tone
bated breath : low voice
breed : profit/gain
break : fail
doit : a copper coin
kind : kindness
merry sport : a joke or jest for amusement
equal : exact
exaction : payment
favour : obligation
seal : sign
dismay : fear
before the day : before the expiry of the bond