Synopsis of Act 2 Scene 7 of The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice Act 2 (Scene 7) Plot Summary with Word Meanings

The subplot of Jessica's elopement is over and we are brought back to the main plot. The scene takes place in Belmont. There are color and brightness, pomp and show. This is the first of the famous casket scenes. The Prince of Morocco, after his visit to the temple, is ready to choose the casket. As he goes about his choice, the audience comes to know about the details of the caskets. The first casket is of Gold with the inscription, "Who choose me shall gain what many men desire". The second one made of Silver, says, "who choose me shall get as much as he deserves" and the third one made of lead has the inscription 'who choose me must give and hazard all he hath'.

The prince rejects the lead one thinking that no one will hazard for anything for the base metal; moreover, how can lead contain the portrait of such a worthy lady! He meditates over the Silver. By his birth, fortune and grace and love he deserves Portia. But finally he settles for the gold as silver is of much less value than gold. All the world desire Portia. Men from all corners of the world have come seeking for her hand.

When he opens it, he finds it to his utter consternation a skeleton with a scroll reading, 'All that glitters is not gold.' The prince is upset with his failure. He bids farewell to Portia and to his dreams. Portia feels relieved and hopes that all, like the Prince, should make such errors.


as blunt - as dull as the lead,
withal - with the casket,
golden - noble,
aught - anything,
with an even hand - impartially,
graces - natural virtues,
breeding - upbringing,
shrine - a holy place,
mortal breathing saint - Portia is the holy person whom pilgrims have come to kiss,
Hyrcanian deserts - a province in ancient Persian Empire,
thoroughfares - main roads,
watery kingdom - ocean,
foreign spirits - suitors from abroad,
brook - a stream,
damnation - base thought,
gross - coarse,
rib - enfold,
cerecloth - waxed cloth,
obscure - dark,
immur'd - locked up,
insculp'd - engraved,
thrive as I may - whatever the result may be,
a carrion death - skeleton,
empty eye - hollow eye,
scroll - a roll of paper,
frost - disappointment,
tedious - formal,
complexion - personality

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