The Merchant of Venice Summary & Analysis of Act 2

Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice
Merchant of Venice

Act II, Scene One
The Prince of Morocco meets with Portia and tells her that he’s often considered very handsome on account of his black skin. She tells him that unfortunately she doesn’t have the proper to settle on the person who will marry her. Instead, her father created three caskets from among which each suitor must choose. Portia warns the Prince that if he chooses the incorrect casket, he must swear to never propose marriage to a lady afterward. The Prince of Morocco agrees to the present condition and joins Portia for dinner before attempting to settle on.

Act II, Scene Two
Lancelot, mentioned as a clown, is that the servant to Shylock. He tells the audience that he’s brooding about deed from his master, whom he describes as a devil. However, he cannot structure his mind about whether to run away or not because his conscience makes him guilty when he cares about leaving Shylock.

Lancelot’s father, an old man named Gobbo, arrives with a basket. he’s nearly completely blind and can’t see Lancelot clearly. Gobbo asks his son which way results in the Jew’s house, meaning Shylock’s house. He mentions that he’s checking out his son Lancelot. Lancelot decides to possess some fun together with his father, then he pretends to understand a “Master Lancelot” (a term for a gentleman’s son, not a servant). He informs Gobbo that “Master Lancelot” is deceased.

Gobbo is clearly upset by this, and Lancelot kneels down ahead of him and asks his father for his blessing. Gobbo initially doesn’t believe that Lancelot is basically his son, on the other hand he feels his head and recognizes him.

Lancelot tells his father that he’s atrophy serving Shylock which he will become a Jew himself if he stays there for much longer. Gobbo has brought a gift for Shylock, but Lancelot instead convinces his father to offer it to Bassanio, whom Lancelot hopes to possess as his new master. Bassanio, coming onto the stage at that moment, accepts the gift of doves and tells Lancelot that he may leave Shylock and join his service. He then orders one among the lads to urge Lancelot a replacement uniform to wear and sends Lancelot away.

Graziano arrives and tells Bassanio that he wants to hitch him on the trip to Belmont, where Bassanio plans to travel and woo Portia. Bassanio feels that Graziano is just too loud and rude and asks him if he is going to be ready to act more appropriately. Graziano says that he can, which he will “put on a sober habit” (2.2.171). Bassanio then agrees to require him to Belmont.

Act II, Scene Three
Jessica, the daughter of Shylock, meets with Lancelot and tells him that she is going to miss him after he leaves to travel work for Bassanio. She hands him a letter to require to Lorenzo, who is meant to be a guest of Bassanio’s that night. After Lancelot leaves, Jessica remarks,

“Alack, what heinous sin is it in me

To be ashamed to be my father’s child!

But though I’m a daughter to his blood,

I am to not his manners. O Lorenzo,

If thou keep the promise I shall end this strife,

Become a Christian and thy loving wife.

Jessica thus informs the audience that she is crazy with Lorenzo, a Christian. She intends to satisfy him soon and run far away from her father’s house to marry Lorenzo.

Act II, Scene Four
Lorenzo, Graziano, Salerio and Solanio are preparing for a masque that night. Lancelot arrives with the letter from Jessica and hands it to Lorenzo. Lorenzo reads it and tells Lancelot to tell Jessica that he won’t fail her. Lancelot leaves to bring the news to Jessica, and also to ask Shylock to Bassanio’s house for dinner.

After the opposite two men leave, Lorenzo shows Graziano the letter from Jessica. He tells his friend that he and Jessica decide to slip away from her father’s house that night, alongside an excellent deal of her father’s gold and jewels.

Act II, Scene Five
Shylock informs Lancelot that he will need to judge for himself whether Bassanio may be a better master. He then calls Jessica, hands her the keys to the house, and tells her that he must leave for dinner that evening. Lancelot tells Shylock that there’ll likely be a masque that night. At this news, Shylock orders Jessica to lock up the house and not look out the windows. He says, “Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter / My sober house” (2.5.34-35).

As Shylock gets able to depart, Lancelot privately tells Jessica that Lorenzo will come for her that night. She is grateful for the message, and after Shylock leaves she comments that “I have a father, you a daughter lost” (2.5.55).

Act II, Scene Six
Salerio and Graziano are a part of the masquers partying through the road of Venice. They stop and await Lorenzo, who has asked them to satisfy him at a particular spot. Lorenzo arrives and thanks to them for his or her patience. He then calls bent Jessica, who appears within the window of Shylock’s house dressed as a person. She throws out a casket to Lorenzo crammed with much of her father’s gold and jewels. Jessica then goes back inside and steals even more ducats (golden coins) before joining the lads on the road.

Everyone departs apart from Bassanio, who unexpectedly meets Antonio. Antonio tells him to urge the ship heading for Belmont, because the wind has started blowing the proper way and therefore the ship is prepared to depart.

Act II, Scene Seven
The Prince of Morocco is brought into an area containing three caskets, gold, silver and lead. Portia tells him to form his choice. The Prince reads the inscriptions on all the caskets. Gold reads: “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire” (2.7.5). The silver casket has, “Who chooseth me shall get the maximum amount as he deserves” (2.7.7). Finally, the dull lead casket bears the inscription, “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath” (2.7.9).

Portia tells the Prince that the right casket, or the one which will allow him to marry her, contains a miniature picture of her likeness. The Prince looks over all the inscriptions a second time and decides that lead is just too threatening and not worth risking anything for. He also spurns the silver, which he feels is just too base a metal to carry such a gorgeous woman as Portia. The Prince, therefore, chooses gold.

Portia hands him the key, and he opens the casket to reveal a golden skull. The skull holds a written scroll that poetically indicates that he chose superficially. The Prince departs after a hasty farewell. Portia watches him go, and remarks, “A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go. / Let all of his complexions choose me so” (2.7.78-79).

Act II, Scene Eight
Salerio and Solanio meet within the street and discuss the hasty departure of Bassanio and Graziano for Belmont. They further tell the audience that Shylock returned home and discovered his daughter had run away with Lorenzo. Shylock then awakened the Duke of Venice and tried to prevent Bassanio’s ship, which had already set sail. Antonio assured Shylock that Jessica wasn’t on board the ship but rather had been seen during a gondola with Lorenzo. However, Shylock continues responsible Antonio for the loss of his daughter and his money.

Solanio informs Salerio that Shylock was later seen within the streets crying,

BLOCKQUOTE”My daughter! O, my ducats! O, my daughter!

Fled with a Christian! O, my Christian ducats!

Justice! The law! My ducats and my daughter!

A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats,”]

Solanio is worried about Antonio, whom he says had better repay his bond with Shylock on time because Shylock is furious about losing his daughter and his money and blames Antonio for it. Salerio indicates that a Frenchman mentioned a Venetian vessel had sunk within the English Channel the day before. Both men hope that it’s not Antonio’s ship.

Act II, Scene Nine
The Prince of Aragon arrives in Belmont and decides to settle on from among the three caskets. Portia takes him into space and makes him recite the oath never to reveal which casket he chooses, and further to vow never to marry should he choose the wrong casket. The Prince of Aragon agrees and starts to read the inscriptions.

He rejects lead due to the ominous warning and thinks that gold refers to the foolish populace. Instead he chooses silver which indicates he will receive what he deserves. The Prince takes the key and opens the casket to reveal a “blinking idiot” (2.9.53). The scroll indicates that those that are self-loving need to be called idiots, and wouldn’t observe husbands for Portia. The Prince is upset by his choice but is forced to go away.

Portia is happy that the Prince has chosen the incorrect casket. Her messenger comes into space at that moment and informs her that a young Venetian has just arrived. Portia goes to ascertain who it’s, while Nerissa secretly wishes that it’d be Bassanio.


The virtue of marriage is extremely important for Shakespeare, who often ends his comedies with multiple marriages to suggest a cheerful solution to several of the issues the characters have faced. Marriage is thus how of achieving inclusion for Shakespeare, and, notably, the characters which remain unmarried are often isolated and faraway from the society, specifically Antonio and Shylock within this play. Marriage also represents how to beat difficulties; for Bassanio it’ll remove his debt, for Portia it’ll free her from her father’s will and for Jessica is will allow her to flee her father.

Given this view of marriage, the selection of the caskets presents a horrifying risk for several of the participants, namely the threat that if they choose the wrong casket they need to swear to never propose marriage to a lady afterwardduring a sense, the failure to marry is nearly as good as being castrated. Shakespeare creates this very analogy throughout The Merchant of Venice and ties it to the power to form a money breed. Thus within the first act Shylock mentions that he makes his money breed as fast as ewes and lambs. Antonio will further this metaphor within the final act when he remarks that he’s sort of wether or a castrated lamb, and thus unable to breed. For the suitors to Portia, then, swearing to never wed puts them on an equivalent level as Antonio. By agreeing to not marry, they become castrated.

Lancelot the clown is one among the more interesting characters. His treatment of his father is awful, considering that his father is usually blind and has brought a gift to his son. the whole scene mimics the biblical story of Jacob and Esau, though. The Bible tells how Jacob tricked his father into giving him the inheritance by wearing wool so his father would think he was Esau. Lancelot does an equivalent thing, by bending down and making his father “know” him by feeling his head.

Shylock’s character starts to emerge very strongly within this act. We see him not only as a moneylender demanding interest but also as a villain. He shows a marked aversion to fun, demanding that Jessica lock the door and shut the windows when he finds out there’ll be a masque that night. However, contrary to his statement within the first act, Shylock leaves his house to enjoy a dinner with Bassanio. Much of this act, therefore, develop the negative aspects of Shylock’s character.

However, the Christian faults also are exposed within this act. The faithlessness of Jessica has been a problem of dialogue for several centuries, with the talk raging over whether she is justified in leaving her father. The crucial difficulty is that she doesn’t merely run away, but she insists on stealing large amounts of her father’s jewels and gold. Thus when Graziano remarks, “Now, by my hood, a gentile, and no Jew” (2.6.51), we will only see it as ironic. Ironic because she is stealing her father’s money, so he’s essentially implying Christians are thieves.

Jessica’s actions also leave unanswered the question of why she is locked up in her father’s home. the solution to the present comes from an understanding of the connection between money and breeding. Whereas within the beginning Antonio is impotent within the sense that his money doesn’t breed, Shylock isn’t. Shylock further has the advantage of getting a daughter. Since the Jewish lineage is passed down via the maternal line, Jessica represents how for Shylock’s family to continue. Thus, hoarding Jessica and his gold is Shylock’s way of guaranteeing his successful breeding. Solanio makes this connection between daughter and money abundantly clear when he tells us that Shylock ran through the road of Venice crying:

“My daughter! O, my ducats! O, my daughter!

Fled with a Christian! O, my Christian ducats!

Justice! The law! My ducats and my daughter!

A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats,”

Thus for Shylock the simultaneous loss of his daughter and his money is during a sense the loss of his fertility.

Not only does her conversion to Christianity destroy Shylock’s family, it also makes him impotent during a metaphorical sense. Jessica takes two stones together with her, which represent the “testicles” of Shylock since the stone was often wont to mean testicle. Thus after her theft, Shylock joins Antonio in impotence, having lost his ability to breed. Indeed, the escape of Jessica marks the turning point of Shylock’s fortunes, which can cause his eventual destruction.

Jessica mustn’t escape dressed as herself but as a person. There’s never a scene on the Venetian streets during which a lady is present. the sole way a lady can rehearse the road of Venice is to decorate as a person, an incontrovertible fact that will be reinforced when Portia pretends to be Balthasar and dresses as a person before entering Venice. this is often one of the first differences between the worlds of Venice and Belmont.

The three caskets each bear inscriptions that tell us about the personalities of the characters who pick them. Gold reads: “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire” (2.7.5). The silver casket has, “Who chooseth me shall get the maximum amount as he deserves” (2.7.7). Finally, the dull lead casket bears the inscription, “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath” (2.7.9). The Prince of Morocco first chooses gold and gets a death skull. The Prince of Aragon receives the image of an idiot. this is often symbolic, for he’s an old man and hence is an idiot for thinking himself deserving of a girl.

One of the foremost debated lines is when Portia sends the Prince of Morocco away by saying, “A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go. / Let all of his complexions choose me so” (2.7.78-79). This provincial comment stands in contrast together with her upbringing and nobility. However, what soon becomes clear is that Portia may be a very narrow character in her sense of friends. She chooses Bassanio over the more cosmopolitan suitors because he represents her Christian and Venetian world. Bassanio wins her due to an equivalent thing, namely he alone of the suitors possesses the local characteristics necessary to interpret which casket to settle on.

Unlike Portia and Bassanio, Jessica never has got to be chosen by a casket. Instead, she tosses her casket out of the window for Lorenzo to catch. Thus her relationship, unlike that of Portia and Bassanio, has no test to form sure it’s an honest relationship. This lack of a test will create problems later, foreshadowed by Shakespeare when Lorenzo and Jessica compare themselves to several famous failed romances.

The Merchant of Venice is essentially a play about interpretation. The suitors to Portia are condemned to sterility because they misread the caskets. Shylock’s interpretation of the accept 1.3 takes the “pound of flesh” seriously and literally, whereas Antonio thinks Shylock is being “kind.” Later within the final scene, the result of the play – whether it becomes a comedic ending or a tragic one, will rest on Portia’s interpretation of the law. Thus the play creates its drama and its plot through the constant interpretation of events and words. this significant aspect is usually employed by Shakespeare in his remaining comedies, and it forms an important part of the plot in Much Ado About Nothing.

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