Questions and Answers from The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 4 by William Shakespeare

Structured Questions from Act 3 Scene 4 of the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Questions and Answers from The Merchant Of Venice ACT 3 SCENE 4

Portia: I never did repent for doing good,
Nor shall not now : for in companions 
That do converse and waste the time together, 
Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love, 
There must be needs a like proportion 
Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit; 
Which makes me think that this Antonio, 
Being the bosom lover of my lord, 
Must needs be like my lord. If it be so, 
How little is the cost I have bestow'd
n purchasing the semblance of my soul. 

1. To whom is Portia replying in this manner? What has that person just said to Portia?


Portia is talking to Lorenzo in this manner. Lorenzo has just praised Portia's decision to send Bassanio to Antonio. He says she has a good understanding of spiritual friendship. That is why she willingly bears the absence of her husband; but if she knew the person whom she has shown this kindness and honor, how good a man and a good friend of her husband, she'll feel proud of her action. In fact, this action is more valuable than her other generous actions so far.

2. Explain the meaning of companions that do converse and waste the time together'. What is meant by 'equal yokes of love' and 'lineaments"?


Companions that do converse and waste the time together' means friends who spend time talking to each other. 'Equal yokes of love' means bound to each other like a pair of oxen and 'lineaments' mean characteristics.

3. What makes Portia come to the conclusion that Antonio and Bassanio are similar?


Portia feels when two friends spend their time together and interact with each other, bearing equal respect and love for each other in their souls, there is bound to be some similarity in face, manners and disposition.

4. What does Portia tell Lorenzo about her plans in the next few days, till Bassanio returns?


Portia tells Lorenzo that she has made a solemn vow to live in prayer and meditation, with no other attendant but Nerissa, till their husbands return. They are going to live in a monastery two miles away.

Portia : I thank you for your wish, and am well pleas'd
To wish it back on you : fare you well, Jessica. 
(Exeunt Jessica and Lorenzo] 
Now, Balthazar, 
As I have ever found thee honest-true, 
So let me find thee still. Take this same letter, 
And use thou all th' endeavour of a man 
In speed to Padua : see thou render this 
Into my cousin's hand, Doctor Bellario; 
And look what notes and garments he doth give thee, 
Bring them, I pray thee, with imagin'd speed 
Unto the traject, to the common ferry 
Which trades to Venice. Waste no time in words,
But get thee gone : I shall be there before thee.

1. Who is Portia talking to? What had they wished her?


Portia is talking to Lorenzo and Jessica. Lorenzo wished Portia pleasant thoughts and happy hours. Jessica wished her the fulfillment of all the desires of her heart.

2. Who is Balthazar? What is Portia's estimation of him?


Balthazar is Portia's trusted servant. Portia has always found him honest and trustworthy and she is sure that he'll continue to be so and will do the present assignment with utmost sincerity and responsibility.

3. What job has Balthazar been entrusted with?


Portia entrusts Balthazar with the job of taking a letter to her lawyer cousin Bellario to Padua. He has to do this fast and bring the papers and dresses given by the lawyer and reach the landing place of the ferry bound for Venice.

4. Give the meaning of 'imagined speed' and 'traject'. What reply does Balthazar give to these instructions?


'Imagined speed' means quickly, with the speed that imagination takes and 'traject' is the landing place for the ferry. Balthazar replies that he will fulfill all the instructions as fast as possible.

5. What does Portia tell Nerissa just after this?


Portia tells Nerissa, she has work in hand which Nerissa need not know for the present. The only thing she should know now is that they will see their husbands sooner than they think.

Portia : They shall, Nerissa; but in such a habit
That they shall think we are accomplished 
With that we lack. I'll hold thee any wager, 
When we are both acoutered like young men, 
I'll prove the prettier fellow of the two, 
And wear my dagger with the braver grace, 
And speak between the change of man and boy 
With a reed voice, and turn two mincing steps 
Into a manly stride, and speak of frays 
Like a fine bragging youth,

1. To what question of Nerissa, does Portia give this reply? Who are the 'they' mentioned? Where are 'they'?


When Portia tells Nerissa that they will see their husbands before they get time to think of them, Nerissa asks her whether they'll be able to see them, before time. To this question, Portia says, they will. 'They' mentioned here are Bassanio and Gratiano. They have gone to Belmont.

2. Explain 'but in such a habit that they shall think we are accomplished with what we lack'.


Portia says that their husbands will see them in such a dress that they will think they are equipped with qualities of men which they actually lack.

3. For what does the speaker laid a bet with Nerissa? How does the speaker intend to behave to justify their disguise?


Portia bets that being dressed as a man, she would be the smarter of the two (Portia and Nerissa). She claims that she would wear her dagger more gracefully and would speak like a man. She would convert her lady like steps into manly strides. For her to brag and lie like a youth would be easy and she would claim to have caused many women to faint at the sight of this youth. She would very easily learn a thousand tricks of these boastinlows.

4. What lies will Portia say to make people think that he is only twelve months out of his school? What else does she have in her mind?


Portia will tell lies like how noble ladies sought his love but being rejected fell sick and died. Then she would wish she had not done that and regret her behaviour. She has thousand raw plans in her mind, which brew in the minds of boastful school boys.

5. What question does Nerissa ask thereafter? What reply does she get?


Nerissa is confused so she asks Portia whether they are going to dress as men?, Portia pretends to think that Nerissa means 'take men for lovers' so she ridicules Nerissa for asking such a question. She further says that someone with a dirty mind would feel that they are ready to fall into the arms of men. She then assures Nerissa that she will disclose her entire plan to Nerissa on their way to Venice.

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