Merchant of Venice Act 3 Questions

What gossip are Solario and Solanio talking about as the scene opens? Solario and Solanio heard that one of Antonio’s ships sunk in the English Channel and they are worried about him.
What is Shylock upset about as he enters? Shylock’s daughter has rebelled and taken off with a Christian (Lorenzo). She has taken his jewels and money.
What are Shylock’s many reasons for wanting revenge against Antonio? Antonio has disgraced him and cost him a lot of money. He scorned Jews and business dealings and has caused friends to turn against him. He has been wronged and wants revenge.
Skylock’s speech which begins with “Hath not a Jew eyes?” is often called “Shylock’s Defense.” Is it an attempt to alter the audience’s opinion of him? Is it successful? Explain. Shylock’s Defense is an eloquent speech to show that Jews are just as human as everyone else and should be treated with respect, just like everyone else.
What does Shylock value more: his daughter or his ducats? What is your proof? Shylock says that he wishes his daughter was dead at his feet with jewels in her ears. Is this Shylock or blind rage? Shylock’s first words in the play were about money. However, look at how he has been treated. There is evidence to suggest Shylock is a villain and that Shylock is a victim.
Tubal brings Shylock good news and bad news. What is it? The good news (for Shylock) is that Antonio has lost a ship near North Africa and will likely go bankrupt. The bad news is that Jessica spent 80 ducats and traded a ring (which was a present from Leah to him before they were married) for a monkey. This drives Shylock mad.
At the beginning of Act 3, Scene 2 Portia asks something a bit strange of Bassanio. Why would she do this? Portia asks Bassanio not to choose a casket for a month or two. This way, she can spend time with him even if he chooses the wrong casket. She doesn’t want to lose him.
What is the basis of Bassanio’s refusal to choose the gold casket? Provide an example of his logic. Bassanio doesn’t choose the gold casket because he says that appearances are often deceiving (this will become ironic later on). Things are not always as they appear (including him – he looks rich but is not). He says cowards may look like Hercules/beauty is often created with make-up.
Explain Bassanio’s allusion (a reference to another literary work) to Midas in line 102. The allusion is to King Midas. Midas was granted a wish and everything he touched turned to gold (it was a blessing and a curse). Therefore, gold can be dangerous.
What impresses Bassanio about what he finds in the lead casket? Provide at least one detail. The portrait of Portia looks very real (her eyes could have blinded the painter).
Besides herself, her wealth, her servants, and her house, what does Portia give to Bassanio? What stipulation does she attach to the gift? Portia gives Bassanio a ring. If he takes it off, he no longer loves her and she no longer loves him. Hey! Didn’t poor Shylock just lose a ring? It seems almost cruel to see Bassanio and Portia so happy right now. This ring forms a new plot in the play … the ring plot.
What news does Gratiano provide? What bet does he want to make? Now that Bassiano and Portia will marry, Gratiano and Nerissa will marry. It makes sense now why Nerissa was rooting for Bassiano.
What news does Bassanio read in the letter? What does Salerio add? All of Antonio’s ships have wrecked. Shylock is demanding justice. He wouldn’t take money even if it was offered. He wants his “bond.”
What is Portia’s reaction to the situation in Venice? What impression do you have of her at this point? Portia tells Bassanio to offer 6,000 or 12,000 or 36,000 ducats to ensure Antonio’s safety. She says they will marry first and then Bassanio can go straight to Venice to save Antonio and bring him to Belmont. She tells him to leave right away. She seems very generous.
Is Bassanio in love with money as much as Shylock? This is a difficult question. Bassanio now has a much money as he could want … but he does drop everything to go to Antonio.
What is another reason Antonio offers to explain Shylock’s hatred? Antonio often helped those who could not pay their debts to Shylock so he hates him for that.
According to Antonio, why must the forfeiture of a pound of flesh be paid? Venice is an international trading center. The law must be followed strictly because the city’s prosperity depends on it. A bad precedent is set if they do not uphold the law (people would lose confidence).
Much of this play has to do with Christian vs. Jewish standards of morality. What takes precedence in Venetian law, where commerce is king? Money takes precedence over friendship, religion … everything.
What does Portia ask of Lorenzo? Why? Portia asks Lorenzo to look after her house while she and Nerissa pray and contemplate in a monastery until Bassanio and Gratiano come back.
What errand does Portia give to Balthazar? Portia asks Balthazar to go to her cousin in Padua and bring back books and clothes (then bring them to the ferry in Venice).
What plan does Portia share with Nerissa? Portia wants to go to Venice to see their husbands.
Who are what were Scylla and Charybdis? What does it mean to be between the two? Scylla and Charybdis were monsters in Greek mythology. They destroyed passing ships on rocks and in whirlpools. This means that the person has a difficult choice (is between a rock and a hard place).
Why does Lancelot jokingly anticipate an increase in the price of pork? Jessica has become a Christian. If all the Jews convert, there will be more people eating pork. The shortage will cause a price increase.
Provide at least one example of a pun (a play on words) in this scene. Some examples of puns are on the words “moor” and “more.” Also “digest” means to eat and to think about something.
How do Solanio and Salerio prove dramatically useful again in scene 1? Solanio confirms that Antonio has lost his ships, which will bankrupt him.They make Shylock face the truth that he had to have known how unhappy Jessica was.Asked the question which gets Shylock to confirm he will enforce the clause.
What is the effect of Shylock’s long “I am a Jew” speech in the first scene? To exemplify the prejudice Jews faced in Elizabethan times – Jews are equal to Christians.That one gets the same reaction one receives – if a Jew wrong a Christian, the latter wants revenge and so the villainy he has been taught by them, he will now use on them.
How does Shakespeare keep from making Shylock into too sympathetic a character in scene 1? Still out for revenge and punishment – no mercy.Cares more about his lost jewels and ducats that his daughter.
What is the prevailing mood as the scene ends? One of anger, maliciousness, revenge, evil.Sympathy for Antonio.
What is the dramatic importance of scene 2? Bassanio gets Portia and she couldn’t be happier.Gratiano revealing he loves Nerissa and vice versa – they will marry.Find out what happened to Antonio’s ship and Shylock’s intention.
What is the theme of Bassanio’s long speech before he makes his choice of the caskets? Not to judge a book by its cover – often one is tricked with false appearances – sin and evilness can attempt to make itself look good somehow.
How does scene 2 help to develop Bassanio’s character? See that he must desire Portia for more than her looks and wealth.Extremely loyal and honest.
How is our understanding of Portia increased in scene 2? Truly cares for Bassanio and becomes selfless and giving.
What is the dramatic function of scene 3? Again shows Shylock can’t be swayed.That Antonio accepts his fate and will not try to reason with Shylock any more.
Why can the Duke do nothing to prevent Shylock’s claiming his bond? Would threaten the security of all foreign merchants in Venice and that’s how the city makes its money – if the government disregards the law, it will be discredited.
How does scene 4 help to “humanize” Portia? Being completely selfless and putting both Bassanio and Antonio before herself.
How does Portia explain her departure from Belmont to Lorenzo? Says she is going to live in a convent until Bassanio returns – says she has promised to live in prayer and thought.
What is the dramatic purpose of scene 5? Further exemplifying Portia’s upright character.Interaction between Jessica and Lorenzo.Comedic relief: exchange between Lorenzo and Lancelot.Jessica worries that the sins of her father will fall on her.

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