The Merchant Of Venice Act -1, Scene - 1 workbook answers

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Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow: 

Extract 1.

In sooth, I know not why I am sad.
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.

(i)  Where are Antonio and his friends? what does Antonio say about his sadness?

Ans:  Antonio and his friends are in the street of Venice. Antonio says that he has been suffering from a strange melancholy. he doesn't know the reason for his sadness makes him depressed and dull

(ii) Give the meaning of:

(a) Whereof it is born:
(b) A want-wit sadness:
(c) That I have much ado to know myself:

Ans:  (a)  of what origin
         (b) An absent-minded sadness
         (c) that I have much difficulty in recognizing/ know who I am.

(iii) What reason does Salarino give as the probable cause of Antonio's melancholy?
Ans: Salarino gives the probable cause of Anotnio's melancholy that he is worried about the safety of his ships at sea or he has fallen in love.

(iv) State in your own words the scene on the ocean as described by Salarino, when Antonio's ships sailing.

Ans:  Salarino compares Antonio’s ships sailing on the waves with the great lords and wealthy citizens, who look down on lesser men as they walk along the street. He says that compared to smaller ships, Antonio’s ships move swiftly on the sea with their canvas sails and look like grand spectacles or pageants of the sea.

(iv) Why do you think that Antonio is presented as a melancholic character? what could be cause for his melancholy?

Ans: though Antonio's melancholy, Shakespeare wants to portray three things:-
(i) By portraying Antonio as a whimsical person, who is too bored with life to care for the consequences of his actions.
(ii) Antonio's melancholy has created a tragic atmosphere, which is suitable for the play
(iii)   Antonio's melancholy creates a sense of mystery for the audience.
There may be various cause for his melancholy:-
He may be melancholic by nature. 
He may be suffering from loneliness. 
He has a foreboding of some approaching disaster.

Extract No. 2

Believe me, sir had I such venture forth,
The 'better part of my affection would
Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind;
Peering in maps for ports, and piers, and roads;
And every object that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
Would make me sad.

(i) Where would Salanio's attention be if he had business ventures abroad? Why he be 'Plucking the grass'? What else would he be doing in that context?

Ans:  If Salanio had business ventures abroad, his thoughts would be fixed on the dangers to his ventures and methods of securing them. He would be plucking the blades of grass and casting them in the air to know the direction of the wind, to see if it was blowing in a direction favourable to the course of his ships or not. Further, he would look into maps for harbours, channels and open road-steads near to the shore where his ships could anchor in case of need.

(ii) What would make Salarino fear some danger to his ventures? Give two examples from the opening scene to show how some objects remind Salarino of the danger to the ships. 

Ans:   Every thought would make Salarino fearful of danger to his business ventures. examples are, When cooling his soup by blowing on it, it reminded him of the stormy winds at sea causing terrible damages to his ships and the sandy hour-glass reminded him of the richly laden vessels wrecked on the sandy shore.

(iii) Give the meaning of: Plucking the grass to know where sits the wind.

Ans:  Holding up a blade of grass to see in which direction the wind is blowing.

(iv) In spite of the danger to his ships, why is Anotonio not worried about his financial security? 

Ans:  In spite of the danger to his ship, Antonio was not worried about his financial security because his business is spread far around the world. it is neither dependent on a single ship nor on a single business transaction of a particular year.

(v)  What light does the opening scene throw on the danger that the sea could pose to ships? How does the scene show that Antonio is very confident about his business venture?

Ans: The opening scene describes the possible dangers that the sea could pose to ships such as strong winds, dangerous shallow waters, sandbanks and dangerous rocks.
                                                                Antonio was very confident about his business ventures as they are not one-bottom trusted which means that his ships were not bound to one place and his financial security did not depend on a single ship nor on a single business transaction of a particular year.

Extract No. 3

My wind, cooling my broth,
Would blow me to an argue, when I thought
What harm a wind too great at sea might do
I should not see the sandy hour-glass run,
But I should think of shallows and of flats;
And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in the sand,
Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs
To kiss her burial.

(i)  Where does this scene take place? Name the people who are present there. In what mood is Salarino in this scene?

Ans:  This scene takes place in a street in Venice. Antonio, Salarino, and Salanio are present there in the scene

(ii) What would the wind cooling the broth remind Salarino of? 

Ans: Salarino says that I’d get scared every time I blew on my soup to cool it, thinking of how a strong wind could wipe out my ships. The wind cooling broth would remind Salarino of the stormy winds at sea and of the terrible damages they might cause to the ships. Antonio responds to Salarino and Salanio's comments by saying that his business ventures are not responsible for his depressed mood.

(iii) Give the meaning of:
And see my wealth Andrew dock'd in the sand,

Ans: Andrew refers to a big cargo ship. In the above lines, Salarino imagines that his rich cargo ship is grounded in the sand and her mast dipped down lower than her sides as if trying to kiss the sands in which she is buried.

(iv) What is the 'sandy hour-glass'? What would it remind Salarino of? 

Ans:  Sandy hour-glass is an apparatus with two spheres of glasses joined together with a tiny hole between, through which sand ran from one sphere to the other in one hour. It was used to indicate a time before watches. It remains Salarino, one of the dangers from hidden banks and shallow water. the danger of the ship getting stuck in the sand Where the water is shallow for a ship to sail over it smoothly in ancient days a glass full of sand was to indicate the passing of time.

(v) When Salarino would go to church what would he see? What would the scene make him imagine?

Ans: When Salarino would go to church he would see the Holy building of stone. The scene would make him imagine about dangerous rock in front of which his ship would be unfortunate. A slight collision with them would be enough to scatter all his spices and silk shipments In one moment he would go bankrupt. 

Extract No. 4


Not in love neither? Them let us say you are sad,
Because you are not merry: and 'twere as easy
For you to laugh and leap and say you are merry,
Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Janus,
Nature hath framed strange fellow in her time:
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes,
And laugh like parrots at a bag-piper;
And other of such vinegar aspect,
That they'll not show their teeth in way of smile,
Though Nestor swears the jest be laughable.

(i) Who has just said that Antonio was in love? What was the reaction of Antonio to that remark?

Ans:  Salarino said that Antonio was in love. Antonio calls the remark as nonsense and completely denies that he is in love.

(ii) Antonio says that he is not sad because of love. What explanation does Salarino give in the extract for Antonio's sadness?

Ans:   Salarino says that, if you are not in love you are sad because you are not happy. He says that Nature has made strange fellows in her time.  Some that will peep through their eyes forever, And laugh like parrots at a bag-piper, And the others of such sour disposition That they’ll never smile Although Nestor swears that the joke is funny. 

(iii) What is meant by the 'two-headed Janus'? Who is Nestor? Why is he referred to in the extract?

   Janus is a Roman god of doors, who had two faces: one frowning, the other smiling; one head looking out inward and the other looking out. He is referred to here to indicate that Nature creates two different types of men, with different outlooks.
Nestor is an old and wise Greek general, who fought in Trojan War, a joke had to extremely funny if Nestor laughed at it. He symbolises seriousness and gravity in nature.

(iv) Describe in your own words the two types of strange fellows who have been framed by nature .

Ans:  Nature has created two different types of men, with different outlooks. Some  people will laugh even at a bagpiper as foolishly as a parrot laughs at anything, and others are so grouchy that they won’t even crack a smile, Although Nestor swears that joke is hysterically  funny.
(v) Who comes at the end of Salarino's speech? Why does Salarino leave then?  

Ans:  Bassanio Lorenzo and Gratiano come at the end of Salarino's speech. Because Antonio's friend had come to give him better company.

Extract No. 5

                     Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
Sleep when he wakes?  and creep into the jaundice
By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio,-
I love thee, and it is my love that speaks,-
There are a sort of men, whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond;
And do a wilful stillness entertain,
With a purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;
As who should say, "I am Sir Oracle,
And when I open my lips, let no dog barks!"


(i) Why is a young man compared to 'his grandsire cut in alabaster'? Under what condition is he likely to be infected with jaundice? 

Ans:   Gratiano advises Antonio not to be sad. He compares the young man to his grandsire cut in alabaster and asks why should man who's warm-blooded sit like a marble statue of his grandfather. 
He is likely to be infected with jaundice by being spiteful.

(ii) Give the meaning of:
     (a) Do cream and mantle like a standing pond:
     (b) do a wilful stillness entertain:

Ans:  (a)It means to stand still like the scum that forms on the surface of still waters in a pool. Here Gratiano says that there is a kind of men whose face looks foamy and covered like a standing pond.
 (b) it means deliberately put on an air of solemnity i.e, maintain seriousness on their face.

(iii) What is said in the extract about the people who try to earn a reputation for wisdom?   

Ans:   The people who try to earn a reputation for wisdom maintain a stubborn and stern silence on their face. Such people mean to say that they speak with the authority of Greek Oracle and they alone are infallible in their utterances. When they speak, others should remain silent.

(iv) Give the significance of 'I am Sir Oracle' and 'let no dog bark'.

Ans: "I am Sir Oracle" means I speak with the authority of the Greek Oracle. " Let no dog bark". It ref means let not a sound be heard. It refers to the attitude of those wise men who consider themselves as the fountain of wisdom and want that when they speak, others should remain silent.

(v) What advice does Gratiano give to Antonio at the end of his speech? What does Bassanio say about Gratiano's p speech a little in the scene?

Ans: Gratiano says that Bassanio should not try to gain a reputation for wisdom on account of his silence. he should not use the bait of melancholy to catch the fish of popularity which is like a worthless cheap fish, a gudgeon.

Extract No. 6

                     I urge this childhood proof,
Because what follows is pure innocence.
I owe you much, and, like a wilful youth
That which I owe is lost; but if you please
To shoot another arrow that self way
Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As I will watch the aim, or to find both,
Or bring your latter hazard back again,
And thankfully rest debtor for the first.

(i) Where are Bassanio and Antonio? What has Antonio said earlier in reply to which Bassanio speaks these words? 

Ans :  
Bassanio and Antonio are in a street in Venice. Earlier Antonio asks Bassanio to tell him about his plans. He adds, that if Bassanio’s plan is as honourable as he is, he then promises him everything that he has- money, influence, personal help, and utmost resources.

(ii) Explain the following:

Or bring latter hazard back again,
And thankfully rest debtor for the first.

The above lines mean that Bassanio will ensure that the latter loan will be returned, and he will still remain indebted (or thankful) to Antonio for the first.

(iii) Which experience of his school days does Bassanio relate to justify his plan for repaying the loan? 

Bassanio says that when he was in school and when he lost one arrow while shooting, he shot another arrow of identical length in the same direction with more thoughtful care, To find the one I lost, and by risking both, I often Found both.

(iv) How does Bassanio propose to pay back his previous loan as well as the present loan?

Ans:  Bassanio proposes to pay back his previous loan as well as the present loan by carefully managing the expenditure of his second loan  amount.

(v) What confession has Bassanio made to Antonio earlier about his financial position? How can you conclude that Bassanio is a spendthrift?

Ans:   Earlier, Bassanio confesses to Antonio that he has spent wealth by having a more lordly way of living than his moderate-income allowed him. Therefore, he has incurred heavy debts because of his youth and extravagance. This proves that Bassanio is a spendthrift.

Extract No. 7

                     sometimes from her eyes
I did receive fair speechless messages:
Her name is Portia; nothing undervalued
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia ;
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth;
For the four winds blow in from every coast
Renowned suitors; and her sunny locks
Hang on her temple like a golden fleece;
Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos' strand,
And many Jasons come in quest of he.

(i) What is meant by, fair speechless messages' and nothing undervalued'?

Ans: 'Fair speechless messages' means silent glances which reveal her thoughts and 'nothing undervalued' means in no way inferior to. Here Bassanio wants to say that sometimes, he received a beautiful silent message from her eyes, he also says that Portia is not less precious than Cato's daughter. 

(ii) Who are Cato and Brutus? Why are they referred to here? 

Ans: Cato is a roman statesman and Brutus is a brave Roman general and also the leader of the conspiracy against Julius Caesar. Here Bassanio is comparing Portia to Portia in Julius Caesar, who was the daughter of Cato and wife of Brutus. They referred here to show that Portia of Belmont is as precious and great as Cato's daughter.

(iii) What evidence is there in the passage to show that Portia's fame had spread throughout the world?

 Portia's fame had spread throughout the world as famous and important suitors have come to Belmont from all over the world to Belmont to try their luck and win Portia's hand.

(iv) Explain in your own words the meaning and significance of the 'golden fleech' which Jason sought in Colchos.

Ans:  Golden fleece, a reference is made to ancient Greek legend. "fleece" refers to the top of wool of sheep or ram. A famous hero called Jason, with his companions, the Argonauts, went on a dangerous voyage to Colchis on the east coast of the Black Sea in search of the golden fleece which was fastened to oak by the local ruler and the fleece was guarded by a dragon. Jason obtained it with help of his wife Medea. 
            Here Bassanio says that Portia's golden  curls Hang on her head like a golden fleece, Which makes Belmont, her home, a rich island in a lake, And many sailors and heroes come to find her.

(v) What does Bassanio say praising Portia?  How is Antonio involved in the romance of Bassanio?

Ans:  Bassanio says that In Belmont, there is a rich heiress and she is beautiful and, more beautiful than that word. She is not less precious than Cato's daughter. Her fame has attracted suitors from all over the world. 
       Bassanio wants to go to Belmont, in order to marry Portia for which he needs a loan. Antonio is providing him financial help, in this way Antonio involved in the romance with Bassanio.

Extract No. 8

Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea;
Neither have I money, nor commodity
To raise a present sum: therefore, go forth;
Try what  my credit can in Venice do:
That shall be rack's, even to the uttermost,
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
Go, presently inquire, and so will I,
Where money is; and I no question make,
To have it of my trust or for my sake.

(i) Why is Antonio unable to help Bassanio at once?
 Antonio is unable to help Bassanio at once because all his money is tied up in his present business ventures at sea and he has no cash left in his hand.

(ii) 'To raise a present sum'. How much was this sum? why was it required urgently?

Ans: The sum to be raised was three thousand ducats. It is required urgently because Bassanio wishes to marry Portia for which he needs a loan to present himself before Portia as a worthy suitor at Belmont.

(iii) What does Antonio instruct Bassanio to do to get a loan

Ans:  Antonio instructs Bassanio to find someone in Venice who can offer him a loan on his name either on his business credit or on account of his personal surety.

(iv)  Give the meaning of: "That shall be rack'd,  even to the uttermost."

Ans:  "That shall be rack'd, even to the uttermost" means the credit shall be stretched to the utmost limit. Antonio says that he is ready to stretch the credit as to equip Bassanio to go to Belmont

(v)  Give any two character traits of Antonio in the scene. How are they different from the character traits of Bassanio?

Ans: Antonio is introduced as a man suffering from nameless melancholy. He has a sad and brooding nature and is deeply attached to his friend Bassanio. Loyalty and generosity towards his friend, Bassanio are his major traits. Bassanio is introduced as a spendthrift and a reckless adventurer. He is also shown as a romantic man with an adventurous spirit who frequently borrows money from Antionio without ever repaying his debts. 

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