Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 Summary

Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 Summary

Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 Summary, Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers

Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 Summary

Setting : Belmont
Characters : Lorenzo, Jessica, Portia, Nerissa, Bassanio, Antonio, Gratiano

Lorenzo and Jessica are seen sitting in Portia’s garden in Belmont. It is a moonlit night, and the lovers indulge in a sort of game by narrating the stories of lovers. Lorenzo refers to Troilus who came out on such a night to meet his beloved Cressida. Jessica refers to Thisbe who, on such a night, ran away in terror at the sight of a lion. Lorenzo talks of another lover, Dido, while Jessica talks of Medea and her lover and narrates how she restored to youth her old father-in-law Aeson. Lorenzo tells how on such a night Jessica eloped with her lover. Jessica, in jest, remarks that he took many false pledges of love for her. Lorenzo says that she has falsely accused him but he forgives her.

At that time Stephano comes to inform them that his mistress, Portia, will arrive here before day break. She is at present visiting holy places where she prays for happiness in her married life. When Stephano wants to know if Bassanio has arrived, Launcelot informs him that he has not arrived yet, but is likely to arrive soon.

Lorenzo asks Stephano to instruct the musicians to play music in order to accord a warm welcome to Portia. Lorenzo points out to Jessica the quietness of night. He admires the millions of beautiful stars that are revolving in their own orbits and producing wonderful music. Jessica says that she also feels enchanted by music. Lorenzo further remarks that one who does not love music is a dangerous person. He is capable of committing serious crimes.

Portia and Nerissa enter the house. Portia appreciates the candle light that is coming out of the hall. She remarks that just as a good deed spreads its fragrance all around, similarly, the candle spreads its light far into the darkness of the night. As the moon becomes visible in the absence of the sun, similarly, the king’s deputy becomes prominent in the absence of the king. Then Portia talks of the sweetness of music.

Portia learns from Lorenzo that Bassanio has not arrived yet. She asks Nerissa to tell the servants not to tell Bassanio that they have been absent from the home. Then Bassanio, Antonio and Gratiano arrive. Bassanio admires the beauty of Portia and says that he is feeling as if it were morning because of the presence of shining Portia. Bassanio introduces Antonio to Portia. Portia tells Bassanio that he should be grateful to his friend Antonio who helped him at the risk of his life.

Nerissa starts quarrelling with Gratiano for she does not find her ring on his finger. She alleges that he must have given it to some young woman. Gratiano tells her that he had to give it to the lawyer’s clerk. Portia tells Gratiano that he should not have parted with the ring. She remarks that Bassanio would never have done it. When Portia asks Bassanio about her ring, Bassanio replies that he, too, had to present it to the lawyer who had argued brilliantly to save the life of Antonio. He had initially refused to part with his ring, but, then on the advice of Antonio he had given it to the lawyer. But Portia refuses to believe the words of Bassanio. Like Nerissa, she, too, says that he must have given it to some other young woman.

When Portia and Bassanio, Nerissa and Gratiano begin to quarrel, Antonio intervenes and says that he is the cause of these quarrels. But Portia tells him that he should not feel upset about all this and he is welcome to her house. Bassanio asks for forgiveness from Portia and assures her that he will never commit such a mistake again. When Antonio stands surety for Bassanio, Portia at once gives a ring to Antonio and asks him to advise Bassanio not to part with this ring. Bassanio is pleasantly surprised to find that it is the same ring that he had given to the lawyer. Portia says that she had got this ring from the same lawyer. Nerissa, too, produces another ring and tells Gratiano that she had got it from the lawyer’s clerk.

Portia, then, explains everything to them. She says that she appeared as a lawyer and Nerissa appeared as a clerk. She tells them that she and Nerissa have just arrived from Venice. Portia, then, gives a letter to Antonio which carries good news. It says that all his missing ships have reached the harbour and there has been no loss. Nerissa at the same time gives the deed of gift of Shylock’s property to Jessica and Lorenzo. Gratiano says that he will always try to guard his ring all his life.

Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 Critical Commentary

In this scene, the first twenty lines are full of images of romantic beauty. In Shakespeare’s time, there was scarcity of movable scenery, so he made use of his poetry in order to create a beautiful scene of moonlit night. The beautiful passage on the power of music is lyrical in nature. This scene is known for its poetic beauty.

This scene presents an atmosphere of lightness and joy. The play ends on a happy note. We find the happy union of the lovers and there is no shadow of Shylock.

Significance of the Scene

  1. It is a romantic scene. It also provides comic relief.
  2. The ring story provides some laughter.
  3. With the news of Antonio’s ships, the play ends on a happy note.
  4. Some critics regard the scene as superfluous, but they forget that the play has four sub-stories. This scene is essential to unite all threads satisfactorily.

Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 Glossary

Lines 1-30
mounted : climbed
soul : signs of love
Cressid : Cressida
o’ertrip the dew : across the dewy grass
waft her love : sighed to her lover
renew : made young
un thrift : thriftless
swear : declare
shrew : scolding woman
out-night : tire (you) out in this competition
hark : listen
footing : footsteps

Lines 31-60
wedlock hours : married life
hermit : priest
caremoniously : formally
Sola : Hello
post : messenger
signify : declare

Lines 61-100
creep in : fall upon
patines : plates
orb : star
quiring : singing as in a choir
cherubins : angels
muddy vesture of decay : body of perishable flesh
wanton herd : mischievous group
feign : imagine
stratagems and spoils : plots and thefts
naughty : wicked

Lines 101-150
goose : common bird
season : right time
season’d : improved
speed : prosper
tucket : trumpet
tell-tales : informers
Antipodes : people living in the other part of the globe
heavy : sad
bound : obliged

Lines 151-200
scant : cease to express
courtesy : polite words
cutler’s poetry : poems engraved on cutlery
vehement : strong
riveted : fastened

Lines 201-260
void : empty
conceive : think
contain : preserve
civil doctor : doctor of law
besmear : disgrace
well advised : think properly
double self : duality
of credit : believable
Lines 261-310 :
lend : pledge
wealth : welfare
mending : repairing
unseal : open
come to road : reached the harbour safely
comforts : news

Lines 311-326
deed : document
manna : divine drink
starved : hungry
intergatories : questions
sore : acutely

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