The Merchant of Venice

Act II, Scene 6

Gratiano and Salarino wait beneath Jessica’s window for Lorenzo, who is late. They start discussing how new love unfolds. Gratiano insists that all things are chased more persistently than they are achieved. However, they have no real time to discuss the topic because Lorenzo has arrived. He apologizes for being late and then he calls out for Jessica.

She comes to the window dressed as a man and asks for confirmation as to who is there. Once Lorenzo confirms he is the one waiting for her, she tosses him a chest full of her father’s wealth. She doesn’t want him or anyone else to look on her though because she is dressed like a boy. Lorenzo tells her she looks lovely even as a boy and they have to hurry up and go. She explains that she will steal some more money and meet him downstairs.

Gratiano comments on how unlike a Jewish person she seems to be (*cringe*). Lorenzo gushes about how amazing she is for a bit and then the couple runs off with Salarino because someone is coming.

That someone is Antonio and he tells Gratiano to hurry to the ships because Bassiano is about to head to Belmont.

Act II, Scene 7

Portia directs the Moroccan Prince to the chests and tells him to select one. He reads the riddles inscribed on each chest aloud. The gold says “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.” The silver says “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.” The lead reads “Who chooseth me shall give and hazard all he hath.”

The Prince contemplates the riddles aloud. He decides that foolish men risk all they have in the hopes of winning fortune. When he looks on the silver, he briefly questions his own worthiness. He figures that all the men of the world desire Portia.

Before making his final decision, he weighs the options again. He remarks on how amazing and beautiful Portia is. Because she is so amazing, it’s impossible and insulting for her to be in the lead chest. In the end, he deems the gold chest to be the only one that could come close to Portia’s worth. Portia gives him the key and he finds a parchment inside. The parchment pretty much tells him that he was silly to choose gold because only foolish young men look to the surface of an item for value. He leaves, defeated.

Act II, Scene 8

Salarino and Salanio discuss the events that are unfolding in Venice. Lorenzo and Jessica have disappeared, but they are definitely not on the ship to Belmont with Bassiano. Antonio can attest to that. Shylock is very upset that his daughter ran off with a whole lot of his money.

They also remark on how caring Antonio is for the money he lent to Bassiano, but Salarino heard a rumor that some ships crashed in the English Channel and they may have been Antonio’s. They head off to tell him as much.

Act II, Scene 9

A new prince has come to try and win Portia’s hand. When he is presented with the chests, he reads each inscription aloud (just in case we forgot). He dismisses the lead chest quickly. He lingers on the gold a bit longer, but reasons correctly that only fools judge an item by the surface. He concludes that the correct chest must be the silver one because that would weed out all of the common riff raff.

His choice was, of course, wrong and he is presented with a picture of an idiot and a parchment that confirms whoever guesses silver is dumb. He stalks off.

A servant tells Portia that a new young suitor from Venice has arrived, but she is too tired to deal with more suitors. Nerissa hopes it is Bassiano.

Act III, Scene 1

Salanio and Salarino discuss Antonio’s misfortunes. He has lost a ship and so lost a good bit of his fortune.

Shylock approaches, quite dismayed at his recent turn of affairs. He is very upset that his own daughter would run off. Salanio and Salarino taunt him over the fact that he and his daughter are nothing alike. Then, they quickly change the subject to see if he knows whether or not Antonio has indeed lost a ship. Shylock is very excited about getting his revenge. The men ask if he will really take a pound of flesh. He insists that he will if only for revenge. He delivers a moving speech about how Antonio only hates him because he is a Jew, but there is nothing about being Jewish that makes him less than human.

Salanio and Salarino are called away just as Shylock’s friend Tubal approaches. Tubal has not been able to find Jessica, but he’s been on the trail and knows where she has been. Shylock laments the amount of money and jewels she took and is spending as she makes her way across Italy. Tubal tries to comfort him by reminding him that Antonio will not be able to pay his bond. That makes Shylock feel a little better, but he’s still pretty upset about the whole daughter running away thing.

Act III, Scene 2

Portia doesn’t want Bassanio to choose a chest because she fears he will pick the wrong one and she won’t be able to see him anymore. He insists on giving it a try. She refuses to watch and asks that music be played to make whatever happens easier to bear.

Bassanio works through the riddles himself. Deciding that the gold is meant to fool the greedy into choosing it. He also passes by the silver because that chest is also meant to draw the fool in, so he chooses the lead chest. He is delighted to find Portia’s image inside and dwells on it for a moment, remarking on how beautiful she is. There is also a poem inside that explains he made the correct choice.

Bassiano and Portia declare their undying love for each other. Nerissa and Gratiano congratulate them and then reveal that they too are getting married.

Lorenzo, Jessica, and Salerio (why there are so many characters with nearly the same name, we may never know) enter the happy moment to bring the unhappy news that Antonio has lost everything and now is beholden to his bond with Shylock. Bassiano has to confess to Portia that he actually doesn’t have any money. Once they explain how dire the situation is and how much money is owed, she gives him three times as much to stop Shylock.

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