Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary

Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary

Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary, Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers

Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary

Setting : Venice
Characters : Launcelot, the old Gobbo, Bassanio, Lorenzo, Gratiano

Launcelot Gobbo, a boy-servant with Shylock, is in a fix. He does not know whether he should continue in the Jew’s service or not. His conscience tells him that he should leave, while the devil advises him to the contrary. Ultimately, he decides to give up the job. The old Gobbo, his father, who is a blind man, appears on the scene. Launcelot plays tricks with him. He confuses him by giving wrong directions to Shy lock’s house. Then he gives him a fright by telling him that his son is dead.

When the old man begins to shed tears, he reveals his identity. The old Gobbo fails to recognize him because he has grown a beard. Launcelot proves his identity by telling him the name of his mother. Then he reveals to his father that he is going to leave Shylock’s service and join Bassanio’s as Bassanio is a generous master who gives fine clothes to his servants.

Bassanio appears on the scene in the company of Lorenzo and others. The old Gobbo requests Bassanio to take his son Launcelot into his service. When both begin to speak to Bassanio, they create a confusion. Then Bassanio asks them to speak one at a time. Thereafter Bassanio agrees to take Launcelot into his service. But Bassanio warns Launcelot that it is not advisible to leave the service of a wealthy merchant and take up a job with a poor master like Bassanio. But Launcelot is determined to do so.

He remarks, “Sir, you have the grace of God and he hath enough”. Bassanio is pleased with his remark and orders for the finest clothes for Launcelot. Launcelot is very happy to get this job. He examines his palm and tells himself that he has got eleven widows and nine maids for his wives. He also says to himself that he will escape from being drowned thrice.

At this moment Gratiano appears and requests Bassanio to take him along with him to Belmont. Bassanio agrees to take him with him provided he keeps his tongue in check at Belmont. Gratiano assures him that he will present himself as a very serious and sober man. But Gratiano requests Bassanio to allow him to be a little free with his tongue at Venice. Bassanio agrees because he has invited Antonio to dinner at his place and he wants Gratiano to entertain him with his witty and humorous remarks.

Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Critical Commentary

In this scene, Shakespeare introduces witty and humorous characters because the Elizabethan audience loved to listen to humorous and witty remarks and droll speeches on the stage. So by introducing Launcelot and Gratiano in the play, Shakespeare catered to the taste of the Elizabethan audience. Launcelot is a servant to Shylock. He wants to leave his service and take up a job with Bassanio. He amuses the audience when he talks about his conscience and the voice of the devil. The remarks that Launcelot makes are full of nonsense and his humour consists in the wrong use of words. It is called Tow comedy’. But the Elizabethans were fond of it. Launcelot is not a well-drawn comic character of Shakespeare.

About Gratiano, Bassanio remarks that he will allow him to make witty and humorous remarks to entertain his friend Antonio.

Significance of the Scene

  1. It introduces us to the jester of the play, Launcelot.
  2. It shows Bassanio preparing to go to Belmont.
  3. It is also a forerunner to the Lorenzo- Jessica elopement.
  4. Launcelot serves as a link between Lorenzo and Jessica.

Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Glossary

Lines 1-30
fiend : devil
heed : care
bids : asks
budge : move
ruled : guided

Lines 31-55
sand-blind : half blind
high-gravel blind : more than half blind
waters : tears
well-to-live : well-to-do

Lines 56-80
beseech : request
deceased : dead
cudgel : staff/stick
Alack : alas

Lines 81-100
fooling : jesting
Jew’s man : Shylock’s servant
fill-horse : shaft-horse

Lines 101-120
halter : rope to hang
tell : count
liveries : uniforms
hasted : hasty
anon : soon

Lines 121-140
infection : wrongly spelled for ‘affection’
cater-cousins : on friendly terms
frutify : certify
suit : petition
impertinent : (here) pertinent
preferment : promotion

Lines 141-160
parted : divided
table : palm
trifle : line
scapes : escapes
wench : lady
gear : thing

Lines 161-180
bestow’d : placed
rude : rough
bold : loud
ally : tone down

Lines 181-202
skipping : lively
misconstrued : misunderstood
demurely : seriously
hood : cover
sad ostent : serious behaviour
grandam : grandmother
bar : make an exception
gauge : judge

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