Questions and Answers from The Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

Structured Questions from Act 5 Scene 1 of the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Questions and Answers from The Merchant Of Venice ACT 5 SCENE 1

Lorenzo: The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees, 
And they did make no noise, in such a night 
Troilus methinks mounted the Trojan walls, 
And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents,
Where Cressid lay that night.

1. Who is the other person present? Where are they right now? What has brought them here?


The other person present is Jessica, beloved of Lorenzo and the daughter of the Jewish moneylender Shylock. Right now, both are in the garden of Portia's palace in Belmont. Shylock's hatred for Christians did not allow Lorenzo and Jessica to get married therefore she fled from her father's house with her Christian lover, Lorenzo.

2. In what mood is the speaker? What kind of a night is it?


Lorenzo is in a very romantic mood. The night is moon lit and the sky is full of stars. There is sweet wind blowing and the trees are dancing in the breeze. The night is soft and quiet.

3. The speaker speaks of Troilus and Cressida. Who are they? Why is he reminded of them?


Troilus was a Trojan warrior, who was separated from his beloved, Cressida, when she was taken into the enemy (Greek) camp. He is reminded of these two lovers because the night is romantic and apt for lovers to meet. The way he wants Jessica, even Troilus would be longing for Cressida.

4. Which other people are mentioned by the two people in conversation? Give details.

Ans. The other couples mentioned by Lorenzo and Jessica are Pyramus and Thisbe, Dido and Aeneas, Medea and Jason. Thisbe, seeing the lion, ran and dropped her scarf. The lion mauled the scarf and seeing this bloody napkin Pyramus thought that Thisbe was dead and he stabbed himself. The queen of Carthage, Dido, was deserted by her lover, Aeneas, so she stood at the sea-bank waving a willow. Medea, the enchantress, loved Jason so she restored his father back to youth.

5. Who enters the scene, next? What news has he brought?


Portia's servant Stephano, enters the scene. He brings the news of, the arrival of Portia, his mistress, along with Nerissa, before the break of day, stopping by at small shrines by the roadside praying for a happy married life.

Lorenzo: The man that hath no music in himself,
Not is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds, 
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils:
The motions of his spirit are dull as night, 
And his affections dark as Erebus :
Let no such man be trusted. 

1. According to the speaker, what does a person, who does not like music, deserve? Whom is he talking to?


According to the speaker, Lorenzo, the person who does not like music is fit for destruction and treason. He is a dull person and he is a person not to be trusted. His spirits are 'dull as night and his affections dark as Erebus'. Lorenzo is in conversation with his beloved, Jessica.

2. The listener gives examples to prove the impact of music. What are they?


Lorenzo tells Jessica that even if, by chance, the music falls into the ears of a breed of untrained and youthful colts, which are jumping playfully here and there, bellowing and neighing, they will stand still at once. Their savage eyes will turn gentle. Lorenzo also talks about how Orpheus, a Greek musician, charmed even lifeless objects with his music.

3. Who enters the scene next? Where are they coming from, actually?


Portia and Nerissa enters the scene next. Though they claim that they are coming from a monastery nearby but they are actually coming from Venice after winning the case against Shylock in favor of Antonio.

4. What philosophy does one of these two people highlight? Explain clearly.


Portia believes that everything has its own worth, but nothing is good alone, without taking the circumstances into consideration. She says that in the presence of greater glories the smaller deeds are hidden. Like in the absence of a king his deputy shines but in the king's presence his glory vanishes.

5. How would you describe this act in comparison to other acts of the play and why?


This act is by far a lighter act and there is happiness all around. The ending is happy which is required of a comedy. All the couples come together and everyone gets what they desire. In fact, there is a fairytale The serious atmosphere of the court room in the previous acts is a contrast to the jolly mood of this act. The sad downfall of Shylock is contrasted with the happiness of all the couples. Lorenzo and Jessica put themselves in the league of classical lovers and talk of music and love. Portia and Nerissa play pranks on their husbands though things are controlled before they go too far. Everything falls into place miraculously and everyone is happy.

Portia: You were to blame-I must be plain with you,
To part so slightly with your wife's first gift:
A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger, 
And so riveted with faith unto your flesh. 
I gave my love a ring and made him swear
Never to part with it : 

1. Who is the speaker blaming and for what?


The speaker of the above lines is Portia. She is blaming Gratiano, Nerissa's husband, for parting with the ring that his wife had given him. He had promised Nerissa that he would never part with the ring under any circumstances.

2. What is the speaker boasting about? What shocks the speaker?


The speaker, Portia, is boasting about the love and commitment that her husband has for her. She says that she can swear by anything that if it were her husband, he would have never parted with his ring under similar conditions. Portia is shocked to hear from Gratiano that Bassanio had ended up giving his ring to the lawyer who had saved Antonio's life.

3. How does the speaker react to this revelation? What conditions does the speaker put down and for whom?


Portia is shocked and she can't believe that Bassanio could part with such a precious gift as this one. Portia threatens her husband, Bassanio that she would not come to his bed till she sees the ring. She shows her anger and displeasure and tells Bassanio that she is sure that he has given the ring to a woman and not a man. She also threatens Bassanio that if that lawyer ever came near her she would become as liberal as Bassanio with the lawyer and give him her body, her husband's bed and everything else.

4. Who is 'my love'? What has this person done? How does this person justifies himself?


'My love' here refers to Bassanio, Portia's husband. Bassanio has given his ring to the lawyer who saved Antonio. The ring had been given to Bassanio by Portia saying that he would never part with the ring, under any circumstances. Bassanio justifies himself by saying that had Portia known why, for whom and how unwillingly he had given away the ring she would never have been so displeased.

5. Who comes to the rescue of these people? What promise does he make?


On seeing the couples fight, Antonio feels that he is responsible for all this. He promises the two ladies that their husbands will never again break their promises which he swears by his soul. Antonio is the security.

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