Questions and Answers from The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 5 by William Shakespeare

Structured Questions from Act 3 Scene 5 of the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Questions and Answers from The Merchant Of Venice ACT 3 SCENE 5

Launcelot: Yes, truly; for, look you, the sins of the father are to be laid
upon the children; therefore, I promise you, I fear you. I was 
always plain with you, and so now I speak my agitation of the 
matter : therefore be o' good cheer; for, truly, I think you are 
damned. There is but one hope in it that can do you any good,
and that is but a kind of bastard hope neither. 
Jessica: And what hope is that, I pray thee?
Launcelot: Marry, you may partly hope that your father got you not, that
you are not the Jew's daughter. 
Jessica: That were a kind of bastard hope, indeed : so the sins of my mother should be visited upon me.
Launcelot: Truly then I fear you are damned both by father and mother : thus when I shun Scylla (your father) I fall into Charybdis (your mother) : well, you are gone both ways.
Jessica: I shall be saved by my husband; he hath made me a Christian.

1. Who, according to the speaker, is the father here? What sins is he referring to? Who is the child?


According to the speaker, Shylock is the father here. He sins by lending money to people with heavy interest and shows no mercy on anyone, as he is greedy for money. Jessica, the daughter of Shylock, is the child who is being talked about in the above lines.

2. Who is damned and why? What is the only hope, according to the speaker?


Launcelot believes that Jessica is damned because she is the daughter of the cunning Shylock. Being the daughter of such a sinner, she will have to pay for her father's sins. Though Launcelot feels that there is only one hope for Jessica and that is to hope that her father had not begot her, which is a false hope.

3. How does the person, who is 'damned', reacts? How can this person be saved?


If Jessica hopes that if she was not the Jew's daughter then she will have to be punished for the sins of her mother which means that she is doomed from both the sides i.e., from her father's as well as from her mother's side. Jessica says that her husband, Lorenzo, who is a Christian and has made her a Christian, will save her.

4. There are four complaints against the speaker. What are they? What does Jessica say in reply?


Seeing, both Jessica and Launcelot are talking to each other, Lorenzo points out to Launcelot that he will grow jealous of him if he'll find him whispering to his wife in the corners. Secondly, Jessica reports to Lorenzo that Launcelot very bluntly stated that she is damned and that Lorenzo is not a good member of his community. Lorenzo also holds Launcelot responsible for impregnating a Moorish woman. Finally, Launcelot is accused of playing with words to his advantage, twisting and turning their meanings as he desires. Jessica replies that her husband needs no suspicion as she and Launcelot have fallen out as he has flatly said that she has no place in heaven as she isn't a Christian.

5. What humorous remarks does Launcelot say about Christian community soon after this extract?


Launcelot says that Lorenzo is to be blamed for adding to the Christian community by adding one more Christian. They have enough of Christians and this addition will create one more pig eater, thereby increasing the price of the pigs; ultimately, the demand will be too much that there will not be a decent slice of bacon to be cooked on their fire.

Lorenzo: O dear discretion, how his words are suited !
The fool hath planted in his memory 
An army of good words, and I do know 
A many fools, that stand in better place, 
Garnish'd like him, that for a tricksy word 
Defy the matter. How cheer'st thou, Jessica ? 
And now, good sweet, say thy opinion;
How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio's wife? 

1. Who is the speaker talking about? What observation does he make about him?


The speaker is Lorenzo. He is talking about Launcelot Gobbo, the fool. Lorenzo laughs at Launcelot's ability to use words at his discretion and fit them for his purpose. Lorenzo also says that he knows of many fools better than Launcelot (perhaps professionally) but he outruns them all.

2. What is Jessica's opinion of Bassanio's wife?


Jessica feels that Portia, Bassanio's wife, is beyond any comparison. He is blessed to have such a lady as his wife and he should now, lead an honorable life. Having her as his wife, he'll lead a heavenly life on earth. She always draws an example by saying that if there was a heavenly match between two gods and two earthly women were on the wager, one being Portia, something else would have to be gambled for the other as there was no other woman in the world to match Portia.

3. What humorous exchange of words takes place between husband and wife at the end of the scene?


Lorenzo says that Jessica has a husband with all the qualities of an ideal husband just as Portia has for an ideal wife, Jessica replies that she should be allowed to decide that. When Lorenzo suggests that they should talk about it over dinner, Jessica says that she'd prefer to talk about his qualities when she has the inclination to do so. Then Lorenzo says that it'll be better if they have such pleasant conversation while eating, as no matter what she says, he'll be able to digest it along with the other things on the table.

4. How does the scene end? What impression do you get about the relationship between the couple?


The scene ends on a very sweet note with a romantic conversation between Jessica and Lorenzo. He claims that the way Portia is the best wife, similarly Lorenzo has no match as a husband. Jessica insists on being given the opportunity of expressing her opinion on that. Thus, continuing their love prate, they move to the dinner table. From this, we understand that the couple shares a strong bond of love and are passionate about each other. They can spend hours together in each other's company.

5. In what way is the scene important to the play?


The scene is a light-hearted interlude that acts as dramatic relief before the commencement of the emotionally charged court scene. The interaction between the newly married Lorenzo and Jessica provides romance and sweetness to the play. It gives the time gap for Portia's journey to Venice. Jessica's superlative praises enhances Portia's character. Launcelot's clowning and punning is to entertain the common crowd. The comedy would heighten the effect of the court scene.

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