Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 7 Summary

Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 7 Summary

Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 7 Summary, Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers

Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 7 Summary

Setting : Belmont
Characters : Portia, the Prince of Morocco

In this scene, the Prince of Morocco makes an effort to choose the right casket to win the hand of Portia in marriage. He examines the inscriptions on each of the casket and tries to interpret them before choosing one of them.

The inscription on the leaden casket says, “Whoever chooseth me shall give and hazard all he hath”. The Prince thinks that no sensible person will choose such a casket. He, then, reads the inscription on the silver casket. It says, “Whoever chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves”.

The Prince thinks that he deserves Portia more than any other suitor because of his high rank, noble birth, and his great wealth and power. But, then, he argues that silver is ten times inferior to gold and therefore the silver casket cannot contain the portrait of Portia. He, then, examines the golden casket which says, “Who chooseth me shall get what many men desire”.

The Prince believes that the whole world desires to possess Portia. So he thinks that the golden casket contains the portrait of Portia. The Prince, therefore, chooses the golden casket, but when he opens it, he finds an empty human skull holding a roll of paper in which it is written that he who is guided by the glitter of the things is generally deceived.

Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 7 Critical Commentary

In this scene, we are brought back to the main plot of the story. Jessica’s elopement with Lorenzo is over. Now we are made to see how things are happening in Portia’s house in Belmont. The Prince of Morocco approaches the three caskets of lead, silver and gold and tries to make the right choice. He, like other suitors, soliloquises in front of each casket before choosing one of them. He is conscious of his high rank, noble birth, his great wealth and power and, he therefore chooses the golden casket.

He is attracted by the glitter of the golden casket. But when he opens it, he is disappointed because he finds in it a human skull holding a roll of paper in which it is written that he who is guided by the glitter of things is generally deceived. It is clear that he over-estimated himself. He does not realize that it is the duty of the true lover to ‘give and hazard’. So he chooses the golden casket instead of the ‘leaden casket’ because he is fascinated by the outward glitter of the gold.

Significance of the Scene

  1. It moves further the casket story.
  2. We learn about the Prince of Morocco and his failure.
  3. The scene highlights the importance of the lottery of casket which is, in fact, the test of character.

Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 7 Glossary

Lines 1-25
discover : reveal
blunt : plain
hazard : risk
withal : with that
survey : read
dross : worthless things
virgin hue : white colour
even : impartial

Lines 26-55
deserving : merit
graved : engraved
shrine : temple
mortal-breathing : human
rib : enclose
cerecloth : a type of shroud

Lines 56-80
insculp’d : stamped
carrion death : hateable skull
scroll : roll of paper
enfold : enclose
suit : pursuit
cold : failed
heat : heat of excitement
frost : cold disappointment
part : depart
riddance : relief

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