Questions and Answers from The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

Structured Questions from Act 2 Scene 4 of the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Questions and Answers from The Merchant Of Venice ACT 3 SCENE 1

Salerio : Why, yet it lives there unchecked that Antonio hath a ship of rich
lading wrecked on the narrow seas—the Goodwins, I think they 
call the place, a very dangerous flat, and fatal, where the carca
-ses of many a tall ship lie buried, as they say, if my gossip Report
be an honest woman of her word. 

1. What is referred to as 'it' in the first line? What's the meaning of unchecked? Where has the speaker heard 'it'?


'It' is referred to the rumour that is going on in Venice about the wreckage of Antonio's ship in the English Channel. 'Unchecked' means 'without being denied'. The speaker has heard about it in Rialto, the stock market of Venice.

2. What do you know about Goodwins?


Goodwins refers to the Goodwin Sands, near the mouth of the Thames, the scene of many shipwrecks. The area is shallow and dangerous and the remains of many a ship lie buried there.

3. Explain 'carcasses of many a tall ship'.


Carcasses are the remains or wreckage of ships. Many fine or majestic ships have been ruined at the Goodwin Sands and their wreckage lie buried there.

4. 'If my gossip Report' explain the figure of speech used here? What is gossip Report?


The figure of speech used here is Personification. Report or news has been personified in the form of 'Old mother Rumour', who spreads stories without proof.

5. What does Solanio wish soon after this? Who meets them just after this extract?


Solanio wishes that Old Mother Rumour were a lying wench that ever chewed ginger to make her neighbours believe that she mourned sincerely for the death of her third husband. He wishes that the rumour regarding the loss of Antonio's ship were untrue. Shylock meets them just after this extract.

Shylock : You knew, none so well, none so well as you, of my daughter's flight. 
Salerio : That's certain : I, for my part, knew the tailor that made the wings she flew withal. 

1. Who are the 'you'? What were they talking about?


'You' are Salerio and Solanio, friends of Antonio, who were talking about the rumour at Rialto about the wreckage of Antonio's ship in the English Channel.

2. What is Shylock accusing them of? Explain 'the tailor that made the wings'.


Shylock is accusing them that they knew about the elopement of Jessica and did nothing about it. Salerio agrees by saying that he knew the tailor who made the boy's clothes, which she wore to disguise herself, and flew away from home.

3. Explain the figure of speech used in the extract.


The figure of speech used is a metaphor. Jessica is compared to a bird that flew away from Shylock.

4. According to Solanio what should have been Shylock aware of?


According to Solanio, Shylock should be aware that his daughter was no longer a fledgling: she is grown up and is able to fly away according to her will.

5. Just a little later Salerio makes a comparison between Shylock and his daughter. What is it?


Salerio says that Shylock is jet black whereas his daughter is like ivory. He is like cheap wine when compared to Jessica who is like the expensive Rhenish wine.

Shylock : There I have another bad match : a bankrupt, a prodigal, who dare
scarce show his head on the Rialto; a beggar, that was used to 
come so smug upon the mart. Let him look to his bond ! he was 
wont to call me usurer. Let him look to his bond he was wont to
lend money fora Christian courtesy. Let him look to his bond ! 
Salerio : Why, I am sure, if he forfeit thou wilt not take his flesh : what's
that good for?

1. What is Shylock calling another 'bad match'? Why is it a bad match?


The news that Antonio has lost a ship is the bad match. Shylock has already lost his daughter and incurred much expense and now he has made another bad bargain as Antonio has lost his ship and won't be able to pay back the debt.

2. Who is the 'bankrupt prodigal'? What difference has come into his life?


Antonio is the bankrupt prodigal. According to Shylock, Antonio like other Christians is wastrels who do not know how to save money. Earlier Antonio used to visit the stock market with a self-satisfied expression but now he is like a beggar who won't like to show his face in shame.

3. Explain, 'Let him look to his bond! He was wont to lend money for a Christian courtesy'.


Shylock says that Antonio should take care to redeem his bond and pay back the borrowed money in time; otherwise, he will have to pay with his life. He used to lend money to people without charging any interest from them because of his Christian sympathy for them but now it's time for him to pay attention to the bond.

4. What is Salerio asking at the moment and what's the reply of Shylock?


Salerio asks Shylock whether he is serious about taking the flesh of Antonio as per the stipulation in the bond; it'll be of no use to Shylock. The Jew replies that he'll bait fish with the flesh. It'll gratify his revenge. This way he'll be able to avenge all the insults against him, his nation and loss in business.

Shylock : If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility ? Revenge ! If a
Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian 
example? Why, revenge ! The villainy you teach me I will execute,
and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. 

1. In what way does Shylock justify his desire for revenge a little before this extract?


Shylock says that he wants to take revenge against Antonio as Antonio disgraced him publicly. Antonio has scorned him calling him a usurer, caused losses equal to half a million ducats by interfering in his deals and above all insulted his race. He had cooled his friends and incited his enemies.

2. Give the meaning of the extract.


Shylock says, a Christian does not forgive a Jew if he wrongs him. He doesn't show any patience but takes revenge. So, how should a Jew take insult from a Christian? He will do the same thing to a Christian.

3. Mention the ways in which Antonio had insulted Shylock.


Antonio had called Shylock a cut-throat dog in the Rialto and spat on his gabardine. He had laughed at his money and the interest. He had insulted his race.

4. What does Shylock mean by 'I'll better the instruction'?


Shylock means that he will certainly follow the example set by Christians of cruelty and wickedness. In fact, he'll improve upon the example of the villainy taught by Christians.

5. What injustice does Shakespeare wants to highlight in the passage?


Shakespeare wants to highlight the prejudice of Christians against Jews. This is a classic case of anti-Semitism that has existed for ages. Jews were considered as non-believers and inferior to the Christian race. Antonio represents the Christian attitude and is intolerant towards Shylock's ways.

Solanio : Here comes another of the tribe : a third cannot be matched,
unless the devil himself turn Jew. 
Shylock : How now, Tubal ! what news from Genoa ? Hast thou found my
daughter ? 

1. Who is referred to as another of the tribe? What does it mean?


Tubal, a friend of Shylock is referred to in this manner. It states that Tubal is also a Jew, another one belonging to Shylock's race.

2. Explain the meaning of 'a third cannot be matched'.


Solanio considers Shylock as well as Tubal as an incarnation of the Devil. The two are the worst Jews and a third cannot be found unless the Devil himself turns into a Jew.

3. What news has the person brought? Where had he been?


The person has brought the news that he often went to several places where he heard of Jessica to be but could not meet her. He had been to Genoa.

4. How does Shylock lament his losses as a response to the news?


Shylock laments about the diamond his daughter has taken away from him and other precious jewels. He wishes his daughter was dead with the jewels adorning her ears and the ducats in her coffin. So much money is being spent in searching for her. It's been loss upon loss.

5. What does Shylock say in self-pity at this time?


Shylock says that he keeps suffering from losses. His daughter has gone away and so much has been spent to find her and her lover. He doesn't get any satisfaction even in taking revenge. No sighs are heard except his and no tears shed by anyone else except him. He considered himself as the only victim of bad luck.

6. What comforting news does he hear from the newcomer? How does Shylock react to this?


Tubal, the newcomer gives Shylock the comforting news that other people also have their share of problems. Antonio has lost a ship coming from Tripolis. Shylock is elated to hear this. He thanks god for bringing misfortune to Antonio.

Shylock : Out upon her ! Thou torturest me, Tubal : it was my turqoise; I
had it of Leah when I was a bachelor : I would not have given it
for a wilderness of monkeys. 
Tubal : But Antonio is certainly undone. 

1. Who is the 'her'? Why does Shylock say 'Out upon her'?


Shylock is talking about his daughter Jessica by referring to 'her'. Tubal has just given him the heart-breaking news that Jessica has given a ring in exchange of a monkey. It was the turquoise, which she had taken when she eloped.

2. Who is Leah? Why is Shylock so possessive about the turquoise?


Leah is Shylock's dead wife. The stone is important, as his wife had given it to Shylock before their marriage.

3. What's the meaning of 'Antonio is undone'? Why does Tubal say this at this point of time?


It means Antonio is a ruined man now. He has lost a couple of ships richly laid with cargo. Tubal wants to divert the mind of Shylock from his daughter and cheer him up by doting on Antonio's loss.

4. What does Shylock tell Tubal to do at the end of the scene? Why?


Shylock tells Tubal to hire a legal officer for him. He has to be booked for a fortnight, in advance so that Shylock can be ready to cut off Antonio's heart. Once he is gone, Shylock can make as much profit as he can.

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