English II: Merchant of Venice (Act IV)

What is Antonio’s mood going into the trial? How does this compare with his mood in Act 1.1? Why do you think this is? He is happy vs. when he was sad. I think he is fine with dying because there is nothing else that he can do.
What comparisons does Antonio make concerning Bassanio’s arguing with Shylock? He compares it to a wolf and a lamb.
If the courts do not uphold Shylock’s claim, what does that mean for the laws of Venice? They would mean nothing.
How do those in the courtroom react to Shylock? How would you describe their behavior? How is their behavior similar to and different from behavior towards him in the streets of Venice? Find evidence from the text in your comparison. They are all angry/scared of him and this is different than the way he was treated in the streets. (Salerio and Salanio making fun of him.)
What appeals does Portia make in petitioning Shylock to have mercy? What effect do these appeals have on Shylock? She lets him know that the law is on his side. Then she gives her mercy speech (attribute of God, Justice). But he doesn’t care.
Why is Shylock so adamant about the law and in his refusal to grant mercy, despite the offer of double and triple repayment? What is greater than his religion and his love of money? Antonio is worth more to him dead than alive. He cares more about revenge.
Does it surprise you that Portia upholds the law instead of bending it in this case? Why or why not? Yes, because she loves Bassanio and Bassanio cares for Antonio. I thought she would bend it for Bassanio’s sake.
Was this a fair trial? Yes, because Antonio was saved.
What do the Venetians gain from Shylock’s conversion to Christianity? Why would this punishment be viewed as a virtuous one? They can release the hate.
What new insights do Portia and Nerissa have into their husbands’ natures as a result of this trial? That their friendships will always come first.
Why would Portia ask Bassanio for the ring he had promised not to give away? She wants to test him.
What excuse does Bassanio give the disguised Portia for not initially giving her his wedding ring? It was a gift from his wife that he promised never to part with.
How easy is it for Antonio to change Bassanio’s mind? What does Antonio say Bassanio should value more that the ring? It was easy and he should value his friend’s life more.
What does the fact that both Bassanio and Gratiano give their rings away say about relationships between men and relationships between men and women? Relationships between men are stronger than men and women.
How serious will the consequences of giving the rings away be? How do you know? It would be very serious. She left right away because she had to beat them back to Belmont.
What is Shakespeare’s intent in bringing in the ring plot line here? What purpose does it serve? He brought it in to bring tragedy.

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