What are the four stories that form the basis of the play ‘The Merchant of Venice’? Are they inter connected.
Ans. Shakespeare’s famous play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is a combination of the four stories- the Bond story, the casket story, the Lorenzo-Jessica story and the story of the rings.
The bond story begins with Antonio’s concern to help Bassanio. In order to help Bassanio, Antonio borrows three thousands ducats for three months from the cruel money lender Shylock after signing the bond.
The casket story begins with three caskets-the gold, the silver and the lead one. The one contains Portia’s portrait. Bassanio is successful in choosing the right casket and winning her hand. The next story is the love story of Lorenzo-Jessica. Jessica, he daughter of Shylock elopes with her lover Lorenzo. The last story is the story of the rings. After the trial of Antonio, Bassanio give his wedding ring to Portia, a lawyer in disguise and later Portia asks Bassanio about the ring. This story creates a lot of laughter.
Question : What is the main reason of the popularity of the ‘The Merchant of Venice’?
Or Describe ‘The Merchant of Venice’ as a romantic comedy.
Or ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is the evidence of Shakespeare’s dramatic genius. Discuss.
Ans. William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is one of his best comedies. Indeed it is a romantic comedy. The mains reason of the popularity of this play are given below :
Indeed the bond story is the integral part of this play. According to the bond if Antonio is unable to pay the loan of Shylock, Shylock will have a legal right to cut off a pound of flesh from any part of Antonio’s body.
The depiction of the four stories by Shakespeare keeps up the interest of the readers from beginning to end.
The casket scene is another attraction of the play. The three caskets creates great curiousity in the minds of the readers.
The trial scene is also an attraction and responsible for adding to the popularity of the play. Portia’s speech on mercy is really appealing.
Question : Reproduce the inscriptions on the caskets?
Ans. The wise, rich and virtuous Portia is to be won through the choice of the casket in which her portrait is put. Many royal and rich suitors come to Belmont, the place where Portia lived in the hope of winning her hand.
There are three caskets of gold, silver and lead. According to the will of Portia’s dead father any candidate for contains Portia’s portrait. Three caskets have inscriptions over them. The gold casket promises ‘what many men desire’, the silver casket promises ’as much as he deserves’ and the lead casket asks ‘the chooser the give and hazard all he hath’.
question: Give your opinion of the characters of the prince of Morocco and the prince of Arragon.
Answer. The prince of Morocco is the first suitor of the three suitors we are introduced to. His first line is, ‘Mislike me not for my complexion’ (Act II Scene I). He is anxious to compensate for the colour of his skin. He shows himself to be ashamed and insecure. However his character is proud because after he remarks on his skin colour he proceeds to defend it and boasts about himself. A lot of emphasis is placed on Morocco’s skin colour. His long-winded speeches full of false and extravagant praise makes him sound insincere. His riches are very important to him. From this we can say that Morocco represents sensual love, a desire for physical pleasures as oppose to those of the mind. This means Morocco judges on outward appearances.
The second suitor is the Prince of Arragon whose entrance unlike Morocco’s is not preempted by any comments from Portia. His arrogance and pride are shown through his choice of casket and his reaction to choosing the wrong casket.
He is so crestfallen that one could feel sympathy for him. But he graciously accepts his fate and makes a dignified exit. His choice indicates that Arragon represents love controlled by intellect because from his viewpoint choosing the silver casket was the obvious and right choice. He was blind to his own pride.
Question : Give your estimate of the character of Bassanio in the play, “The Merchant of Venice.”
Answer. Introduction- Bassanio has a sense of adventure in his character. Even his love for Portia is born out of snese of adventure.
His qualities- To be worthy of the love of Portia Bassanio must have had qualities above the common. In the casket scene, he is attracted by the motto ‘who chooseth me must give and hazard all the hath’. In his own life he has always taken risks gladly.
His extravagance is admitted. He believes in living in high style, entertaining his friends even if this involves him in debt.
His loyalty to Antonio- As soon as he learns and realises the situation in which his friend is place he hurries to Venice and does all that lies in his power to help his friend.
Conclusion- A person who won the warm hearted affection of two such good persons as Antonio and Portia must have been essentially a good fellow.
How does the trial of Antonio become the trial of Shylock?
Or Discuss the trial scene in ‘The Merchant of Venice’.
Ans. The trial scene of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ occurs in Act-IV, scene-I. The venue is the court of justice of the Duke in Venice.
Shylock demands the Duke to get the terms and conditions written in the bond fully fulfilled by the court. Bassanio offers him six thousands ducats as penalty. He needs justice. A messenger informs that the doctor has appointed in lieu of him, another youngman to hear the case. The Duke accepts his request.
It is Portia in disguise of young doctor of law. At first she reqests Shylock to show mercy. But Shylock says that he has nothing to give or take with mercy. He wants bond to be completely observed. She orders Shylock to cut off the flesh. But even a drop of blood should not be shed in doing so .Moreover, he has to cut off in a single attempt. On hearing this Shylock cries, “In that the law?”