Questions and Answers from The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 3 by William Shakespeare

Structured Questions from Act 2 Scene 3 of the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Questions and Answers from The Merchant Of Venice ACT 2 SCENE 3

I am sorry thou wilt leave my father so.
Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil, 
Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness. 
But fare thee well; there is a ducat for thee
And, Launcelot, soon at supper shalt thou see 
Lorenzo, who is thy new master's guest: Give him this letter-do it secretly. 
And so farewell: I would not have my father
See me in talk with thee. 

1. Where is Jessica now? Whom is she addressing? Why has this person come here, at this moment?


Jessica is in her father's house now. She is addressing Launcelot as the 'merry clown'. He has come there to take leave of his hitherto master, Shylock as he is joining his new master Bassanio.

2. Explain the meaning of 'Didst rob of it some taste of tediousness'.


Jessica means that the jokes and pranks of the country clown had made the atmosphere of the house a little better than hell. He made her life cheerful.

3. What does Jessica request the other person to do? What does she gives him?


Jessica gives Launcelot a gold coin and requests him to deliver a letter secretly to Lorenzo, whom he'll be meeting at Bassanio's dinner.

4. What does this extract show about the character of Jessica?


The extract shows that Jessica is a generous person and has true affection for the clown. She is unhappy with the cruelty of her father and finds her house to be a veritable hell. She is troubled by her conscience, as she wants to leave her father to marry a Christian. She is neither loyal to her father nor her religion.

5. In what way is her character contrasted with that of Portia?


Portia is shown as a lady of high character who has great reverence for her dead father. She is willing to follow the instructions of her father regarding her marriage. Jessica is ashamed to call Shylock, her father as she is fed up on the contrary, of his harsh ways. She is going to elope with a Christian even if she knows that it will be a terrible blow to her father.

Launcelot : 
Adieu ! tears exhibit my tongue. Most beautiful pagan, most
sweet Jew! If a Christian do not play the knave and get thee, I 
am much deceived But, adieu ! These foolish drops do something
drown my manly spirit : Adieu ! 

1. Why does Launcelot say Adieu? What is the humour in the first line of the extract?


Launcelot has decided to leave Shylock's house and has come now to bid farewell. He sees Jessica and bids her adieu. The humour is provided by Launcelot's tendency to use the wrong words in place of similar sounding correct words. Here he uses 'exhibit' instead of inhibit. He actually wants to say that his tears are preventing him from using his tongue.

2. Why does the speaker calls Jessica, a pagan and sweet Jew.


Christians considered everyone from other religion than Christianity as a non-believer or pagan. Launcelot also has the same prejudice and hence he calls Jessica pagan. as she is a Jew. But since she is good and he likes her a lot, he calls her sweet.

3. Explain the meaning of 'If a Christian do not play the knave and get thee, I am much deceived.'


Launcelot wants Lorenzo to be dishonest enough to take away Jessica, without the permission of her father. If Lorenzo, the Christian does not play the cheating game, Launcelot, will feel cheated. He wanted Lorenzo to acquire Jessica as his wife.

4. What does the speaker mean by, 'These foolish drops do something drown my manly spirit'?


Launcelot feels sad to leave Jessica. He feels that if he stays longer, his tears will make him look less manly.

5. What does Jessica say to herself, soon after this extract?


Jessica says that it is a deadly sin to feel ashamed of her own father. She was a daughter to him only in blood but not in manners. If Lorenzo keeps his promise, she was ready to be his wife and become a Christian. In this way, she would be able to finally make a choice between her loyalty to her father and love for Lorenzo.

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