Merchant of Venice ACT 2 Scene 7 Question Answers

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Extract I

Go draw aside the curtains, and discover
The several caskets to this noble prince.-
Now make your choice.

1. Who is asked to draw aside the curtains? Who is asked to make his choice?

Ans: Portia asks one of her attendants to pull apart the curtains so that the different caskets are made visible. The Prince of Morocco is asked to make the choice.

2. What does Portia say later to the prince regarding the right casket?

Ans:  After reading the inscription on the three caskets, Morocco asks Portia how he will know if he has chosen the correct casket. Portia replies that the casket which would contain her portrait will be the right casket. If he selects that one, then she will be his wife

3. Which casket does the Prince of Morocco finally choose? What are the reasons for his choice?

Ans:  The prince of Morocco finally chooses the golden casket. Morocco argues that base lead cannot contain such a saintly person like Portia. Silver which is ten times inferior to gold also cannot hold Portia as she is such a rich gem. So he concludes that Portia, whom many men desire and is most precious must be contained in the golden casket. Besides, the English have a gold coin with the figure of an angel engraved on it. Portia is an angel and hence her portrait may be in the golden casket.

4. For what reasons does the prince reject the other two caskets?

Ans:  The prince rejects the base lead arguing that it cannot contain such a noble person like Portia and silver which is ten times inferior to gold cannot contain Portia as she is such a rich gem.

5. What does the prince find when he opens the casket?

Ans: When the prince opens the casket he finds a skull and in its eyeless socket a scroll. When the prince leaves the place, Portia calls it a good riddance and wishes that every suitor like him should make a similar choice.

6. How does the prince bid farewell to Portia? What does Portia say when the prince leaves the place?

Ans:  Morocco bids farewell to Portia with the warm-heartedness of a lover and says he must accept the cold comfort of the rejected. He says that his sorrow is too great for many words. Those who have lost their hearts’ desire depart thus sadly.
When the prince leaves the place, Portia calls it a good riddance and wishes that every suitor like him should make a similar choice.

Extract II


"Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves". 
As much as he deserves! Pause there, Morocco, 
And weigh thy value with an even hand; 
If thou be'st rated by thy estimation, 
Thou dost deserve enough; and yet enough 
May not extend so far as to the lady:
And yet to be afeard of my deserving 
Were but a weak disabling of myself.
As much as I deserve! Why, that's the lady:
I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes,
In graces and in qualities of breeding;
But more than these, in love I do deserve.

1. On which casket do the words, who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves, appear?

Ans:  The above given words appear on the silver casket.

2. Why does Morocco initially doubt his worth to deserve the lady?

Ans:  Morocco initially doubts his worth to deserve the lady because he thinks that though by his own standard, his merits may be very high, yet those merits may not be sufficient enough to deserve Portia, as her reputation is greater than his.

3. Why does he change his mind and say that he deserves the lady?

Ans:  Morocco, after having doubts about his worth to win Portia, later on, changes his mind. He feels that he deserves Portia because of his royal birth, his wealth, his virtues, and his upbringing. Above all, he is worthy of her because of his deep affection for her.

4. Give the meaning of:

a) And weigh thy value with an even hand

b) A weak disabling of myself

Ans: (a) And compare your personal worth impartially.
(b) A sign of weakness which would bring discredit on myself.

5. Why does Morocco think that Portia’s picture is not in the lead casket?

Ans:  Morocco read the inscription on the lead casket which stated that whosoever selects it must be prepared to give all and to risk everything. Morocco declares that no one except a fool will be prepared to risk everything for the sake of dull lead. He argues that lead cannot contain such a noble person like Portia.

Extract III

From the four corners of the earth they come,
To kiss this shrine, this mortal breathing saint:
The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
Of wide Arabia are as thoroughfares now
For princes to come view fair Portia:
The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head
Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar
To stop the foreign spirits; but they come,
As o'er a brook, to see fair Portia.

1. Who speaks these words? Where is he? What has he said about his courage? 

Ans: The Prince of Morocco speaks these words. He is in a room in Portia’s house getting ready to make his choice of caskets. In an earlier scene, Morocco said that with his sword he had slain the emperor of Persia and a Persian Prince, who had defeated Solyman of Turkey thrice. He boasted that he was courageous enough to confront a hungry lion, defy the most valiant warrior on earth, and face the wrath of a mother-bear by separating its young ones from her.

2. What is the significance of the words Shrine and Saint in the context? Which breathing saint does the speaker refer to?

Ans: Shrine is a place where any sacred relic of a holy person or the image of a saint is kept. In this context, the saint is Portia and the shrine is Belmont. The Breathing Saint is a reference to Portia. Morocco says that people came from every part of the globe to worship at the holy place which enshrines this living object of adoration — Portia.

3. What warning is given by Portia to the speaker before he makes the choice?

Ans: Before he makes the choice, Portia gives warning to the speaker that the correct casket contains her picture and if he chooses it, she will be his wife

4. Give the meaning of: 

a) Hyrcanian deserts 

b) Watery kingdom

Ans: (a) Hyrcanian deserts: Hyrcania was a province of the ancient Persian empire. Hyrcanian deserts were deserts lying in the south of Caspian sea.

(b) The watery kingdom: The oceans and its fierce waves do not stop suitors from abroad. 

5. Who are ‘they’ that are referred to in the extract? What difficulties do they face while coming? 

Ans:  The word ‘they’ refers to the many suitors who come to Belmont from all parts of the globe to woo Portia. While coming they travel through Persian deserts, the immense wilderness of Arabia, and even cross the oceans.

Extract IV

Or shall I think in silver she's immured,
Being ten times undervalued to tried gold?
O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem
Was set in worse than gold. They have in England
A coin that bears the figure of an angel
Stamped in gold, but thats insculp'd upon;
But here an angel in a golden bed
Lies all within. - Deliver me the key:
Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may!

1. Why does the prince think that Portia’s picture not in the silver casket?

Ans:  The Prince thinks that Portia’s picture is not in the silver casket because silver is ten times undervalued as compared to gold and such a rich gem can never be set in anything less than gold.

2. What is the sinful thought, why is it so?

Ans: Sinful thought’ is the thought that Portia is contained in the silver casket because silver has only one tenth of the value of gold and a rich gem like Portia can never be set in anything less than gold.

3. Describe the 'coin' referred to in the extract. What is the difference between an angel on the coin and the angel in the casket?

Ans:  The ‘coin’ referred to in the extract is the gold coin in England on which the figure of Archangel Michael standing and piercing a dragon was engraved on one side. The coin was called an angel and its value was about ten shillings. Morocco says that the figure of the angel on the coin is engraved on the surface of the coin. It is outside, whereas Portia is an angel, who lies on a golden bed within the casket entirely hidden from view.

4. After opening the casket, the Prince finds a dead skull and a scroll. Explain what is written on the scroll?

Ans:  On the scroll it is written that things which make the most brilliant show are not always the truest metal. For the sake of mere gold, hundreds have risked and sacrificed their lives. Costly gold-plated tombs may be erected, but they have no real value. Decay and death are all they contain. The message tells the Prince that if he had been as wise as his courage and if he had united youthfulness of body with the wisdom of riper years, the answer would have been a living woman, not a written scroll.

5. Explain how the theme of appearance and reality is shown in the choice made by the prince. write your opinion.

Ans: The theme of appearance and reality is shown in the choice made by the prince. In spite of his good qualities, the prince is materialistic. He only sees the outward appearance and value of the caskets. He thinks that in birth, in fortune and outward graces, he deserves Portia. However, he says nothing about his inner worth, that is, of his good deeds, character and education. He chooses the gold casket for its bright and glittering appearance. The prince is motivated by pride and admiration, not true love. If he loved her, he would have been ready to risk everything for her.