Merchant of Venice ACT 3 Scene 1 Question Answers


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Extract I

1. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:


I would she were as lying a gossip in that as ever knapped
ginger or made her neighbours believe she wept for the
death of a third husband. But it is true, without any slips
of prolixity or crossing the plain highway of talk, that the 
good Antonio, the honest Antonio,-0, that I had a title
 good enough to keep his name company!-


Come, the full stop.


Ha, what sayest thou? Why, the end is, he hath lost a ship.

1. Where does this scene take place? Whom does 'she' refer to in the first line of the extract? What is said about her in the extract?

Ans:  The scene takes place in a street in Venice. In the first line ‘she’ refers to the rumour or report which is personified as a tatling old woman. When Salarino talks about Antonio’s ship, Salanio only wishes that Rumour may prove to be a big liar in this case as any old woman, who ever gossiped with her neighbours over her ginger bread cakes and made her neighbours believe that she mourned sincerely for the death of her third husband.’

2. What was said earlier about the place where a ship of Antonio was wrecked? Where did the news about the ship-wreckage spread? 

Ans:  Earlier, it was told that Antonio’s ship was wrecked in the waters of the English channel at a spot known as Goodwin Sands, a most perilous sand bank. The news about the ship-wreckage spread at the Rialto or the Exchange where merchants met for business  transactions.

3. Give the meaning of: "without any slips of prolixity or crossing the plain highway of talk,"

Ans:  The given words mean: ‘without speaking much or beating about the bush’. That is without being guilty of any lengthy, irrelevant or tedious speech or going outside plain direct speech.

4.  How does Shylock react to the loss of Antonio's ship?

Ans:  Shylock was pleased to hear about the loss of Antonio’s ship. He called him a spendthrift and a beggar, who used to come smiling, so self-satisfied to the market.

5. What feelings for Antonio are expressed by Salarino and Salanio in this scene? Who enters the scene at this time? What does Salanio say about his daughter? 

Ans: In the given extract, Salarino and Salanio express their feelings of concern and sympathy for Antonio. Salanio calls him ‘good Antonio’, honest Antonio and wants a better adjective to describe ‘him’. Salanio conveys the news that Antonio has lost a ship. Salarino hopes that this 
may be the end of his losses. Shylock enters the scene at this time. Salarino says that he is aware of the fact that his daughter, Jessica has eloped. He then tells Shylock that there is a difference between him and his daughter as is between black and white. Further, there is a difference between his blood and hers like there is between ordinary red wine and the expensive white German wine.

Extract II

You knew none so well, none so well as you, of my
daughter's flight.

That's certain: I, for my part, knew the tailor that made
the wings she flew withal.

And Shylock, for his own part, knew the bird was fledged;
and then it is the complexion of them all to leave the dam.

She is damned for it.

That's certain, if the devil may be her judge.

1. Whose flight is being talkes about? Where has the person flown? With whom has the person flown?

Ans:  The flight of Jessica is being talked about. She has flown to Belmont. Jessica has flown with Lorenzo.

2. What bad news, besides the flight of the bird, is given just before the arrival of Shylock?

Ans: Just before the arrival of Shylock, the news about Antonio’s ship-wreck in the English Channel at a spot called Goodwin Sands is given

3. Give the meaning of:

the bird was fledged;

and then it is the complexion of them all to leave the dam.

Ans:  The given words mean that it is the nature of a fully feathered young 
bird to leave the nest when it is old enough. He means to say that 
Jessica was old enough to run away with her lover, Lorenzo.

4. What steps has Shylock taken to get the flown bird?

Ans:  Shylock took all possible steps to get back his eloped daughter. He asked the Duke for justice and even persuaded him to check the ship in which Bassanio left for Belmont. Later it was said that someone saw Lorenzo and Jessica in a gondola. Shylock engaged his friend Tubal for finding and bringing back Jessica to him

5. How does Salarino comapreafter the extract the character of the flown bird with that of Shylock?

Ans:  After the extract, Salarino compares the character of Jessica and Shylock. He says that Jessica is a complete contrast to Shylock as 
black is to white or as ordinary red wine is to expensive white Rhenish wine.

Extract III

There I have another bad match: a bankrupt, a prodigal, who dare scarce show his head on the Rialto; a beggar, that was used to come so smug upon the mart; let him look to his bond: he was wont to call me usurer; Let him look to his bond: he was wont to lend money for a Christian courtesy; let him look to his bond.

Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh: what's that good for?

1.  What is meant by a 'bankrupt' as well as a prodigal? Why has the man gone bankrupt? Why is he called a prodigal?

Ans:  A ‘bankrupt’ means a person who has not enough money to pay off his just debts. ‘Prodigal’ means a spendthrift who spends money recklessly. The man has gone bankrupt because his ship has been wrecked in the English Channel with its rich cargo. He is a spendthrift who has mismanaged his affairs and has gone bankrupt. That is why he is called a prodigal by Shylock.

2. What is known as Rialto? Why was the man said to go 'so smug upon the mart?

Ans: The Venetian Stock Exchange where the merchants used to meet to transact business deals, was known as the Rialto. The man used 
to go to Rialto smiling and so self-satisfied because he was sure of his financial position as he owned a number of ships carrying merchandise to the four corners of the world. Shylock says these words to compare Antonio’s financial position in the past with his present bankrupt condition.

3. Give some incidents to show that the man referred to in the extract used to insult Shylock.

Ans: The man referred to in the extract, i.e., Antonio, used to insult Shylock. He used to disgrace him, laugh at his losses, mock at his gains, despise his race and interfere in his business deals simply because he was a Jew.    

4. How did the 'bankrupt' cause loss to Shylock in Venice?

Ans: The bankrupt caused loss to Shylock in Venice by lending money without interest and thus, affecting Shylock’s business of lending money at exhorbitant rate of interest.

5. How is the bankrupt likely to go into a loss? How will such a loss affect Shylock as far as his revenge and financial position is concerned?

Ans:  The bankrupt is likely to go into a loss as his ship has been wrecked with its rich cargo. Besides, he is to pay three thousand ducats he 
had borrowed from Shylock for Bassanio. Such a loss will favour Shylock to pursue his plan of revenge against Antonio..

Extract IV


...why thou loss upon loss! the thief gone with so much, and so much to find the thief; and no satisfaction, no revenge: nor no ill luck stirring but what lights on my shoulders; no sighs but of my breathing; no tears but of my shedding.

Yes, other men have ill luck too: Antonio, as I heard in

1. Who is the thief referred to in the extract? What had the thief stolen? What loss has Shylock suffered due to the theft?

Ans:   The thief referred to in the extract is Shylock’s daughter, Jessica. The thief had stolen his money, gold and gems, including a diamond costing two thousand ducats. After the theft, Shylock has to spend money to locate Jessica. So he has suffered loss upon loss due to the theft.

2. Who is Tubal? Why did he go to Genoa?

Ans: Tubal is another Jew, a friend of Shylock. He went to Genoa to 
search for Jessica, who has eloped with Lorenzo 

3.  What news did Tubal bring from Genoa about the thief?

Ans:  Tubal brought the news that he went to the places in Genoa where he heard some news about Jessica but could not find her.

4.  The extract refers to 'satisfaction' and 'revenge'. In what context are these expressions used by Shylock?

Ans:   Shylock uses the expressions ‘satisfaction’ and ‘revenge’ in the context of his efforts to retrieve his lost money and eloped daughter. His daughter, Jessica had stolen money, precious stones, and many other jewels. His efforts to locate her and retrieve them have not succeeded. So, he has neither the satisfaction of getting back his lost daughter and money nor taking revenge on the Christians, who caused her elopement.

5. State what ill-luck befell Antonio. Why was Shylock happy over the news?

Ans:   One of Antonio’s large ships has been wrecked on the way back from Tripolis. This was the ill-luck that befell Antonio. Shylock was happy over the news as his chances of taking revenge on Antonio became brighter.

Extract V

Out upon her! Thou torturest me, Tubal: it was my turquoise; I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor: I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys.

But Antonio is certainly undone.

Nay, that's true, that's very true. Go, Tubal, fee me an officer; bespeak him a fortnight before. I will have the heart of him, if he forfeit; for, were he out of Venice, I can make what merchandise I will. Go, Tubal, and meet me at our synagogue; go, good Tubal; at our synagogue, Tubal.

1. Why does Tubal say that Antonio is undone? What makes him say with certainty that Antonio is undone? Who is Leah? Why is she referred to in the extract?

Ans:  Tubal says that Antonio is undone because he has heard from some of the sailors he met in Genoa that one of Antonio’s large ships has 
been wrecked on the way back from Tripolis. Leah was Shylock’s wife. In the context of the theft, Shylock makes a reference to his bachelor days. His wife Leah gave a turquoise ring to him before their marriage. His daughter Jessica stole that ring before eloping and exchanged it for a monkey.

2. In what mood is Shylock in this scene? How is Tubal said to be torturing him?

Ans:  In this scene, Shylock is in a mood of grief. He feels as if he is the only one in the world suffering from ill luck. Tubal is said to be torturing Shylock by giving alternate accounts of Antonio’s losses and Jessica’s extravagances. He alternately makes Shylock elated and depressed for apparently no reason. He elates him by the news of wreckage of Antonio’s ship on its way back from Tripolis, while he depresses him by saying that he could not find Jessica and that she had spent eighty ducats on one evening and exchanged a ring with a merchant for a monkey.

3.  What is Shylock's reaction on hearing about Antonio's misfortune? How is he going to punish Antonio? What would he gain by his revengeful action?

Ans:    Antonio’s misfortune makes Shylock elated because he will be able to take his revenge on Antonio. He will punish Antonio by exacting a pound of flesh from any part of his body. By his revengeful action, he would avenge his hatred for Antonio and the Christians. Further, if Antonio is removed from Venice he can make profits as he likes.

4. What is a synagogue? What can you conclude from Shylock's journey towards the synagogue?

Ans: A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. Shylock’s journey to the synagogue gives us the clue that he will take revenge on Antonio. 

Shylock believes in the old Mosaic law, which prescribed an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. So, Shylock feels he is justified in taking revenge against an enemy of his religion and race.

5. In what way, by the end of the scene, does Shylock convince the audience that his attack on Antonio is without any mercy? Which character trait of Shylock is shown in this scene?

Ans: Shylock’s passion for revenge and his complete justification of it is given in this scene. He explains the insults he has suffered unjustly and his right to take revenge. He believes that he is doing as his enemies would do. The fierceness of his thirst for revenge is expressed in his final threat ‘I will have the heart of him’. In this
scene, Shylock appears as a blood-thirsty, vindictive and self-centred man. He is more worried about the loss of his money than the loss
of his daughter. He is determined to take a pound of Antonio’s flesh to take his revenge on him. But when he expresses his deep anguish at his daughter’s act of exchanging his dead wife’s ring in exchange for a monkey, he appears as an affectionate husband and as a tormented alien.