Questions and Answers from The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 6 by William Shakespeare

Structured Questions from Act 2 Scene 6 of the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Questions and Answers from The Merchant Of Venice ACT 2 SCENE 6

That ever holds : who riseth from a feast
With that keen appetite that he sits down? 
Where is the horse that doth untread again 
His tedious measures with the unbated fire
That he did pace them first? All things that are, 
Are with more spirit chased than enjoy'd. 
How like a younger or a prodigal 
The scarfed bark puts from her native bay, 
Hugg'd and embraced by the strumpet wind ! 
How like the prodigal doth she return, 
With over-weather'd ribs and ragged sails,
Lean, rent, and beggar'd by the strumpet wind ! 

1. To which comment does Gratiano say, 'That ever holds'? What does it mean?


That ever holds means that Gratiano is agreeing with whatever was said before. Salerio had said mostly, lovers are in a greater hurry than the wings of Venus' pigeons to keep their engagement, than their marriage promises.

2. Explain, 'All things that are with more spirit chased than enjoyed'. Which two examples does the speaker give to prove his point?


This means that there is more pleasure in pursuit than enjoyment. The speaker first says that no one gets up from the dinner table with the same hunger as he sat down to dine. Then he takes the example of a horse, which cannot retrace his steps with the same enthusiasm as he had earlier.

3. Explain the meaning of scarfed bark and strumpet wind. What does the want on wind do?


Scarfed bark is the ship decorated with flags at the outset of a journey. Strumpet wind is uncontrolled wind. The strumpet wind in its fury blows and pushes about the ship, making it look like an impoverished thing.

4. Give the meaning of: 
'How like a younger or a prodigal 
The scarfed bark puts from her native bay,
Hugg'd and embraced by the strumpet wind!'


The meaning is that when the ship starts its journey, it is like a young man dressed in all finery, hale and hearty. But after it is tossed about by the harlot wind, it is battered and torn, more like a spendthrift, returning exhausted like a beggar.

5. Who comes just after this extract? What does he say to his friends?


Lorenzo comes just after this and apologizes to his friends for making them wait. It was some urgent business, which made him late. He promises to wait for his friends in the same way when they go to steal their wives.

Jessica : 
What! must I hold a candle to my shames ?
They in themselves, good sooth, are too too light. 
Why, 'tis an office of discovery, love, 
And I should be obscur'd.

1. Bring out the context of the extract.


The scene takes place in the street outside Shylock's house. Lorenzo, with his friends, are waiting for Jessica to join them. Jessica, dressed as a boy throws at Lorenzo, a casket full of money and jewels. She is ashamed of her disguise and when Lorenzo tells her that she is going to be the torch bearer, she is embarrassed. She tells him that it is a torch bearer's duty to light up and reveal everything whereas she has to hide her identity to elope.

2. Explain, 'must I hold a candle to my shames? What does this show of her character'?


Jessica asks whether she should hold a light to her boyish dresses that fills her with shame as she is masquerading. For her the idea of holding a light is frightening which could expose her identity. She is modest and honest. It's her love that makes her adopt this disguise.

3. Explain the last two lines of the extract.


The last two lines means, that holding up the torch is the duty of a torch bearer. But if she does so, she'll be revealing her identity, which she is supposed to conceal.

4. How does Lorenzo reassure Jessica? Earlier how had Lorenzo summarized his love for Jessica?


Lorenzo tells Jessica that she is hiding in the charming get up of a boy. She doesn't have to worry about getting detected. He had said that Jessica was wise, fair and faithful and he loved her heartily. She would always be placed in his loyal heart.

5. What information does Antonio give at the end of the scene? How does Gratiano react to this?


Antonio at the end of the scene informs Gratiano that Bassanio's party has been called off. Since the wind is blowing in favourable direction and the time is right to set sail for Belmont, both are eager to get on board to sail off from Venice to the promising and romantic Belmont.

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