Questions and Answers from The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 5 by William Shakespeare

Structured Questions from Act 2 Scene 5 of the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Questions and Answers from The Merchant Of Venice ACT 2 SCENE 5

Well, thou shalt see, thy eyes shall be thy judge
The difference of old Shylock and Bassanio
What, Jessica !—thou shalt not gormandize 
As thou hast done with me–What, Jessica ! –
And sleep and snore, and rend apparel out
Why, Jessica, I say ! 

1. Whom is Shylock talking to? Explain, 'Thy eyes shall be thy judge.' Bring out the humor of this line.


Shylock is talking to Launcelot, the clown who used to be with him, till recently. Shylock is telling the clown that he'll see with his own eyes that how different it will be to work with him and the new master. Only actual experience will help him to make the correct judgments. The humor is that the audience is aware of how Launcelot felt working for the Jew but Shylock says as though, he was very comfortable in his house.

2. Give the meaning of: 'gormandize' and 'rend apparel out'. What contrast do these remarks give as opposed to what Launcelot had said earlier?


Gormandize means overeat. Rend apparel out means, overgrow his dress or have holes in clothes. Launcelot has already expressed that he has become so thin that his ribs can be counted. Also he was very happy that he would get new uniform under Bassanio and he would be able to get rid of his old clothes. This is contrary to what Shylock is saying.

3. Why does the speaker say, 'Why Jessica, I say!' Why does he admonish Launcelot just after this speech? How does Launcelot respond to this?


Shylock has called out for Jessica a number of times while talking to Launcelot; so he gets irritated and says sharply, 'Why Jessica, I say'. Launcelot imitates Shylock and calls Jessica by her name and Shylock admonishes him and says that no one ordered him to do that. Launcelot responds by saying that Shylock used to complain that he doesn't do any work without being told, hence Shylock used to complain that he doesn't do any work without being told, hence this time he has done something without being asked and the Jew is yet scolding him.

4. What information does Shylock share with Jessica soon after this? What instructions are given?


Shylock informs Jessica that he has been invited to attend a dinner party. He also tells her that he is reluctant to go as he feels that he has been invited not out of love but for a desire to flatter : also he dreamt of money bags lately and there is a vague feeling that something is plotted against the peace of his mind. But he will go out of hatred, to make Bassanio the spend thrift, poorer by eating his food. He gives her the keys of the house and tells her to look after it in his absence.

5. What do you know about Jessica, at this stage?


We know Jessica is the sweet daughter of Shylock, who is in love with Lorenzo, a Christian and is planning to elope with him on that very night during the masque, dressed as a page boy. Her mind is torn between loyalty to her father and her love for Lorenzo, whom she wants to marry. She is even willing to adopt Christianity.

Launcelot : 
And they have conspired together : I will not say you shall see a
masque; but if you do, then it was not for nothing that my nose 
fell a-bleeding on Black Monday last, at six o'clock the morning, 
falling out that year on Ash Wednesday was four year in th'
Shylock : What are there masques ?

1. Who are 'they'? What have they conspired? Why is the masque important here?


They are Bassanio. Lorenzo and their friends like Salerio and Solanio. They have planned to hold a masque. The masque is important as it is during the masquerade, Jessica will elope with Lorenzo in the disguise of a page, bearing the torch for the masque.

2. According to the speaker what does his nose bleeding suggest? Explain the reference to Black Monday and Ash Wednesday. What's the incongruity in Launcelot's statements?


Launcelot says that his nose bleeding on Black Monday and Ash Wednesday was a sign of that something good or bad will happen. Shakespeare is here making fun of superstitions or prophesying by omens, as they are vague and inconsistent. Black Monday is the Monday following Easter. Launcelot plays on the superstitious nature of Shylock by referring to Easter Monday in 1360, when Edward III's army was caught in a black fog and many soldiers froze to death. On Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, people put ashes on their foreheads, to remind themselves that man is made of mud and will return to mud. The incongruity is that there is a forty day gap between the two events mentioned but Launcelot is talking as the two fall in the same week.

3. Bring out the dramatic irony crafted in the first line of the extract?


Launcelot says that the Christians have conspired or arranged a masque as a surprise for the guests. The dramatic irony is in the word 'conspire', the audiences know that there is a plot of elopement. It is a conspiracy against Shylock. Neither Launcelot nor Shylock knows the significance of this word at this time.

4. How does Shylock respond to the information and what does he tell Jessica to do?


Shylock is surprised and shocked at this information. He tells Jessica to lock up all the doors and windows as he does not want the music and revelation contaminate the sober atmosphere of his house. He orders his daughter not to climb up the casements and look at the varnished faces of the foolish Christians who waste their time in rivalry.

5. What does Launcelot tell Jessica before he leaves with Shylock? Why does Shylock call the clown Hagar's offspring?


Launcelot tells Jessica that she should look out of the window despite what her father has said, a Christian pay pass that is worthy to be looked upon by a Jewess. Shylock is calling Launcelot the offspring of Hagar, a slave woman, maid to Abraham's wife Sarah. Servants are considered the offspring of the slave woman.

Shylock : 
The patch is kind enough, but a huge feeder;
Snail-slow in profit, and he sleeps by day 
More than the wild cat: drones hive not with me: 
Therefore I part with him, and part with him 
To one that I would have him help to waste 
His borrow'd purse. Well, Jessica, go in
Perhaps I will return immediately
Do as I bid you; shut doors after you: 
'Fast bind, fast find',
A proverb never stale in thrifty mind. 

1. Who is the patch? What does it mean?


The clown is the patch or fool who wears the traditional multicolored patched costume. He calls Launcelot the clown, a patch.

2. How does Shylock refer to the character of the patch in the extract?


Shylock says that the clown is good at heart, but eats a lot of food. He is as slow as a snail and sleeps throughout the day without doing any profitable work. He is like a drone, a male bee who doesn't work to collect honey.

3. Why is Shylock ready to part with the patch? What does it show of his character?


He is happy to let the patch go and take employment with Bassanio. He will help the prodigal Christian to squander the borrowed money. This shows that Shylock hates Christian's and the way they spent money on enjoyment.

4. What does Shylock tell Jessica to do? What is the dramatic irony in this speech?


Shylock tells Jessica to go inside the house and shut all the doors. The dramatic irony is that Jessica is not going to shut the door. In fact, she is going to leave the house and run away with a Christian.

5. What is the proverb quoted by Shylock? What does it mean?


The proverb 'Fast bind, fast find' is quoted here because Shylock imposes all kinds of restriction upon Jessica. He disallows her even to look at a procession of Christmas, from the windows and doors of his house, and wants them to be locked from inside when he goes out.

6. What does Jessica say at the close of the scene? What does it mean?


Jessica says farewell to her father and says that unless she is having bad luck, she has lost a father and he, his daughter. It means that she is running away and if she is lucky, she'll escape from her unkind father.

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