Wednesday 16 December 2020

The Mechant of Venice


The Mechant of Venice



[The Merchant of Venice is a play written by William Shakespeare, a doyen of English literature. It is a story of two friends named Antonio and Bassanio. Bassanio asks Antonio to lend him some money as he needs this amount to win the hand of his beloved named Portia. Portia is a very wise and beautiful girl. Since Antonio does not have ready money, he borrows it from a rich but very crafty Jew named Shylock. He promises to pay this money back in three months’ time. He is sure that his ships would return from abroad and bring back a lot of wealth soon. He signs a pledge that in case he failed to pay back the money, Shylock would be entitled to a pound of flesh from any part near Antonio’s heart. Antonio suffers losses in business and is brought to the court. In the court, Portia appears as a legal expert (a judge) in disguise. She is able to save Antonio’s life in a very intelligent manner.]


Characters in the Play

Duke of Venice


Portia: Bassanio’s wife, disguised as Doctor of Law


Shylock: the miserly, crafty Jew


Antonio: a merchant of Venice


Bassanio: Antonio’s friend and Portia’s husband


Gratiano: friend of Antonio and Bassanio


Balthazar: Portia’s assumed name



Nerissa: maid to Portia, disguised as a clerk



Act IV, Scene one

Enter Portia for Balthazar, dressed like a Doctor of Law

DUKE You hear the learn’d Bellario1, what he writes;

And here, (I take it), is the doctor come.

Give me your hand; come you from old Bellario?

PORTIA I did, my lord.

DUKE You are welcome; take your place.

Are you acquainted with the difference

That holds this present question in the court?

PORTIA I am informed thoroughly of the cause.

Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?

DUKE Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.

PORTIA Is your name Shylock?

SHYLOCK Shylock is my name.

PORTIA Of a strange nature is the suit you follow;

Yet in such rule that the Venetian law

Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.

You stand within his danger, do you not?

ANTONIO Ay, so he says.

PORTIA Do you confess the bond?


PORTIA Then must the Jew be merciful.

SHYLOCK On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.

PORTIA The quality of mercy is not strain’d;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

1Dr.Bellario had recommended Portia’s (Balthazar’s) name to act as a judge

2Do you know the nature of the case or the dispute?

3are liable to be punished by him 4accept that you signed this bond

5what compels me to show mercy?

6mercy is not shown under compulsion


Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

Tis mightiest in the mightiest7; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown;

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway,

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God’s

When mercy reasons justice.

Therefore, Jew, consider this –

we do pray for mercy,

And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much

To mitigate the justice of thy plea,

Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice

Must needs give sentence’gainst the merchant there.

SHYLOCK My deeds upon my head8! I crave the law,

The penalty and forfeit of my bond.

PORTIA Is he not able to discharge the money?

BASSANIO Yes; here I tender it for him in the court;

Yea, twice the sum; if that will not suffice,

I will be bound to pay it ten times o’er . . .

I beseech you,

Wrest once the law to your authority;

To do a great right do a little wrong,

7 The more powerful a person is, the more merciful he is 8I’ll face the result of my actions


And curb this cruel devil of his will.

PORTIA It must not be; there is no power in Venice

Can alter a decree established . . .

SHYLOCK A Daniel9 come to judgement! Yea, a Daniel!

PORTIA O wise judge, how I do honour thee!

A pray you, let me look up on the bond.

SHYLOCK Here ’tis, most reverend Doctor; here it is.

PORTIA Shylock, there’s thrice thy money offered thee.

SHYLOCK An oath, an oath! I have an oath in heaven.

Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?

No, not for Venice.

PORTIA Why, this bond is forfeil;

And lawfully by this the Jew may claim

A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off

Nearest the merchant’s heart. Be merciful.

Take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.

SHYLOCK . . . By my soul I swear

There is no power in the tongue of man

To alter me. I stay here on my bond.

ANTONIO Most heartily I do beseech the court

To give the judgement.

PORTIA Why then, thus it is:

You must prepare your bosom for his knife.

SHYLOCK O noble judge! O excellent young man!

PORTIA For the intent and purpose of the law

Hath full relation to the penalty,

Which here appeareth due upon the bond.

SHYLOCK ’Tis very true. O wise and upright judge,

9A character in the Bible. He was known for his wisdom and justice.

10 get my soul cursed or condemned


How much more elder art thou than thy looks!

PORTIA Therefore, lay bare your bosom.

SHYLOCK Ay, his breast –

So says the bond; doth it not, noble judge?

‘Nearest his heart,’ those are the very words.

PORTIA It is so. Are there balance here to weigh

The flesh?

SHYLOCK I have them ready.

PORTIA Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your


To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.

SHYLOCK Is it so nominated in the bond?

PORTIA It is not so express’d, but what of that?

’Twere good you do so much for charity.

SHYLOCK I cannot find it; ’tis not in the bond.

PORTIA You, merchant, have you anything to say?

ANTONIO But little: I am arm’d and well prepar’d.

Give me your hand, Bassanio; fare you well.

Grieve not that I am fall’n to this for you,

For herein Fortune shows herself more kind

Than is her custom . . .

Commend me to your honourable wife;

Tell her the process of Antonio’s end;

Say how I lov’d you; speak me fair in death.

BASSANIO Antonio, I am married to a wife

Which is as dear to me as life itself;

But life itself, my wife, and all the world,

Are not with me esteem’d above thy life;

11you’ll pay for it 12praise me after my death


I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all

Here to this devil, to deliver you.

PORTIA Your wife would give you little thanks for that,

If she were by to hear you make the offer.

GRATIANO I have a wife who I protest I love;

I would she were in heaven, so she could

Entreat some power to change this currish Jew.

NERISSA ’Tis well you offer it behind her back;

The wish would make else an unquiet house


PORTIA A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine.

The court awards it and the law doth give it.

SHYLOCK Most rightful judge!




PORTIA And you must cut this flesh from off his breast.

SHYLOCK Most learned judge! A sentence! Come, prepare.

PORTIA Tarry a little; there is something else.

This bond doth give thee here no jot14 of blood:

The words expressly are ‘a pound of flesh.’

Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;

But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed

One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods

Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate

Unto the state of Venice.

13like a dog drop


GRATIANO O upright judge! Mark, Jew. O learned judge!


SHYLOCK I take this offer then: pay the bond thrice,

And let the Christian go.

BASSANIO Here is the money.


The Jew shall have all justice. Soft. No haste.

He shall have nothing but the penalty.

GRATIANO O Jew! an upright judge, a learned judge!

PORTIA Therefore, prepare thee to cut off the flesh.

Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more

But just a pound of flesh ; if thou tak’st more

Or less than a just pound... if the scale do turn

But in the estimation of a hair –

Thou diest, and all thy goods are confiscate.

GRATIANO A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew . . . . .

PORTIA Why doth the Jew pause? Take thy forfeiture.

SHYLOCK Give me my principal, and let me go.

BASSANO I have it ready for thee; here it is.

PORTIA He hath refus’d it in the open court;

He shall have merely justice, and his bond.

GRATIANO A Daniel still say I, a second Daniel!

I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.

SHYLOCK Shall I not have barely my principal?

PORTIA Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture

To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.

SHYLOCK Why, then the devil give him good of it.

I’ll stay no longer question.

wait at your risk no longer continue my case


PORTIA Tarry, Jew.

The law hath yet another hold on you.

It is enacted in the laws of Venice,

If it be proved against an alien

That by direct or indirect attempts

He seek the life of any citizen,

The party against the which he doth contrive

Shall seize one half his goods; the other half

Comes to the privy coffer18 of the state;

And the offender’s life lies in the mercy

Of the Duke only . . . …………………….

GRATIANO Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself;

And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,

Thou hast not left the value of a cord;

Therefore thou must be hang’d at the state’s charge.

DUKE That thou shalt see the difference of our spirit,

I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it.

For half thy wealth, it is Antonio’s;

The other half comes to the general state,

Which humbleness may drive unto a fine.

PORTIA Ay, for the state; not for Antonio.

SHYLOCK Nay, take my life and all, pardon not that.

You take my house when you do take the prop

That doth sustain my house; you take my life

When you do take the means whereby I live.

PORTIA What mercy can you render him, Antonio?

GRATIANO A halter gratis; nothing else, for God’s sake!

Private treasury in humility, I reduce it to a fine a rope free of cost


ANTONIO So please my lord the Duke and all the court

To quit the fine for one half of his goods;

I am content, so he will let me have

The other half in use, to render it

Upon his death unto the gentleman

That lately stole his daughter –

Two things provided more; that, for this favour,

He presently become a Christian;

The other, that he do record a gift,

Here in the court, of all he dies possess’d

Unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter.

DUKE He shall do this or else I do recant

The pardon that I late pronounced here.

PORTIA Art thou contented, Jew! What doesn’t thou say?

SHYLOCK I am content.

PORTIA Clerk, draw a deed of gift.

SHYLOCK I pray you, give me leave to go from hence;

I am not well; send the deed after me

And I will sign it.

DUKE Get thee gone, but do it . . .

Exit Shylock

DUKE Sir, I entreat you home with me to dinner.

PORTIA I humbly do desire your Grace of Pardon;

I must away this night toward Padua,

And it is meet I presently set forth.

DUKE I am sorry that your leisure serves you not.

Antonio, gratify this gentleman,

For in my mind you are much bound to him.

Exeunt Duke, and his train

[an extract from Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene 1]






Glossary: I


acquainted (n) : familiar with I am acquainted with the situation.


thoroughly (adv) : completely The minister was thoroughly acquainted with the situation.

impugn (n) : express doubt, find a flaw, challenge The law cannot impugn him as he is perfectly legal in what he is doing.


sceptre (n) : rod of authority carried by a king


Sceptre is the symbol of the king’s authority.


monarch (n) : king The monarch should be respected.


enthroned (v) : to place on a throne The bishop was enthroned by the people of the city.

render (n) : to perform in return We should render good deeds for the kindness that God bestows on us.


mitigate (v) : to lessen I failed to mitigate his sense of hurt.


suffice (v) : to be enough I am taking one thousand rupees. I think that should suffice

during the journey.


beseech (v) : beg Stay a little longer, I beseech you.


curb (v) : control Bad habits should be curbed.


reverend (adj): highly respected.


The reverend Bishop has arrived.


bid me (n) : allow me Bid me go along with my father.


for the intent and purpose : in all important ways, for intention and aim of For the intent and purpose of the plan, the project is now complete.


grieve (v) : to feel or express sadness.


He is still grieving for his dead wife.


deliver (v) : save from sins I pray to God to deliver me from sinfulness.


entreat (n) : ask for or request earnestly Mothers have to entreat children to eat properly.



confiscate (v) : to take away something All his property was confiscated by the court.


upright (adj) : honest Upright officers and leaders are the need of the hour.


pause (v) : to stop He paused for a while as he told his story.


merely (adv) : only He wanted merely justice, nothing more.


attempts (n) : efforts All her attempts to persuade her father failed.


enacted (n) : made into a law The U.S. of America enacted some sanctions against Iran.


contrive (v) : to plot against someone. Somehow she contrived to defeat her enemy.


seize (n) : to hold Customs officials have seized 60 kilograms of heroin.


offender (n) : a person guilty of crime The law should be soft on first-time offenders.


cord (n) : rope Where’s the cord that ties back the curtains ?


prop (n) : support I need some sort of a prop to keep the clothes in position.



prop : (v) to support I propped my bike against the wall.


sustain : (n) to keep up Relations are easy to make but difficult to sustain.


content : (adj) happy He seems fairly content with life.


pronounced : (n) officially stated The judge pronounced the penalty on the defaulter.


draw : (v) to make A deed was drawn for the sale of the shop.


humbly : (adv) without attaching importance to self\ He humbly ascribes his success to his wife.


leisure : (n) spare time. Leisure is a bliss in a busy life.


gratify : (v) to please someone. We were gratified by the response we received.






A. Comprehension Questions

(i) Answer the following questions in brief:

1. How was Portia dressed and on whose recommendation did she come to the court?

Ans. Portia was dressed like a Doctor of law, a legal expert. She came to the court on the recommendation of Dr. Bellario.


2. What is the suit between Shylock and Antonio?

Ans. Antonio has borrowed some money from Shylock. He fails to return the money on time. So Shylock files a case against him for a legal action.


3. What does Shylock want?

Ans. Shylock wants a pound of flesh from the part of body that is nearest Antanio’s heart.


1.     Why does Portia want the Jew to show mercy?

Ans. Mercy, according to Portia, is a divine quality. It blesses both the giver and the taker. She wants the Jew to show mercy to Antonio and become a human being of divine quality.


2.     What does the Jew insist upon?

3.     Ans. The Jew is revengeful. He hates Antonio. So he insists upon getting a pound of flesh from nearest Antonio’s heart.


1.     What does Bassanio offer the Jew?

Ans. Antonio has borrowe4d some money from the Jew. Bassanio offers to give him double the amount. If it is not sufficient, he is ready to give ten times the borrowed money.


2.     Why does Shylock call Balthazar (Portia) a Daniel?

Ans. Balthazar is a legal expert. He declares that shylock’s bond is valid. Therefore, he can legally get his pound of flesh. This declaration pleases Shylock. He praises Balthazar and calls him a Daniel. Daniel was the wisest judge of his time.


8. Why is not Shylock ready to take money?

Ans. Shylock hates Antonio because her stands in the way of his lending money on interest. He wants his death. So he is not ready to take money. He wants a pound of flesh from nearest Antonio’s heart.


 (ii) Answer the following questions in 50-60 words each:

1.     What does the bond say?

Ans.  Antonio borrows some money from Shylock. Shylock gets a bond signed from him. The bond says that Antonio will have to give back to Shylock the borrowed money within a period of three months. If he fails to return the loan amount within the fixed period, Shylock would have the right to cut off a pound of flesh from nearest Antonio’s heart.


2.     Why can’t Shylock take his pound of flesh?

Ans.  If any piece of flesh is cut off from a person’s body, blood must flow from the wounds. But the bond of Shylock does not allow him to shed the blood of Antonio. The shedding of blood is not mentioned in the bond. So Shylock cannot take a pound of flesh.


4.     What does Antonio want Bassanio to tell Portia?

Ans.   Antonio wants Bassanio to tell Portia that he died to help his dearest friend. He wants him to tell her that he always dearly loved Bassanio. He had no regret to do some good to Bassanio at the cost of his life.


5.     What is the vow taken by Shylock?

Ans.   Shylock swears by god that no power in the state of Venice would change his mind and he would never show mercy to Antonio. He would stick to the condition in the bond and take a pound of flesh from the body of Antonio.


6.     What does Shylock offer after he fails to take his pound of flesh?

Ans.   Shylock fails to get a pound of flesh from the body of Antonio. Then he offers to accept three times the principal amount. But the court rejects his offer. Then he offers that he would accept only the principal.


7.     What is the penalty imposed upon Shylock?

Ans.   Shylock is found guilty of conspiring against the life of Antonio who is a citizen of Venice. Shylock is a foreigner. According to a law of the state of Venice, the plenty could be death of Shylock. But the duke reduces this plenty. He spares his life. But half of his property goes to Antonio and the other half to the state. This is the penalty imposed upon Shylock.


8.     What does Antonio want the law to do?

Ans.  Half the property of Shylock is given by the law to Antonio. But Antonio wants the law to remit the fine imposed upon Shylock. He wants to keep with him his half share. But he says that it would go to Lorenzo after the death of shylock. Antonio wants that Shylock must become a Christian and execute a will that the other half share of his property would go after his death to Lorenzo and Jessica, the son in law and daughter of Shylock.




(iii) Describe the following briefly in your own words:

a.     Portia’s speech on Mercy

Ans.   Portia delivers a speech in the court of the duke. It is a speech on ‘The Quality of Mercy’. She tells that mercy is superior to any other quality of human beings. It has a touch of divinity. It is the greatest and the most praiseworthy quality of these who are powerful. When a king or ruler shows mercy to those who suffer, he becomes a divine being. Portia asks the cruel Jew to be merciful, and thus become a noble person. Portia points out that mercy blesses both the giver and the receiver.

Thus she wants that Shylock should give up the idea of getting a pound of flesh from the body of Antonio.



b.    Portia’s character

Ans.   Portia is beautiful and intelligent lady. She is the beauty of the play. She is wife of Bassanio, who is a friend of Antonio. He has borrowed some money from Shylock. One of the condition in the bond, that he has signed, is that if he fails to return the money within the fixed time, shylock would have a legal claim to get a pound of flesh from his body.

                                  When Portia comes to know that her husband’s wife is in trouble, she goes to Venice. She appears in the court as a male lawyer for Antonio. She says that Shylock has a right to take his pound of flesh, but she cannot shed the Christian blood of a citizen of Venice because shedding of blood is not mentioned in the bond. Shylock wants to kill Antonio but he is helpless. Cutting off a pound of flesh from the body without shedding blood is not possible. Thus she saves the life of Antonio and turns the tables on Shylock. He is insulted and punished in the court.


c.      Shylock’s character

Ans. Shylock is a Jew. He is a money-lender in Venice. He hates Antonio because that Antonio is spoiling his business.

Antonio borrows some money from Shylock. He signs a bond on the condition that he must pay back the money within three months. If he fails to do so, Shylock will be legally entitled to cut and take a pound of flesh from Antonio’s body. Antonio fails to pay back the money by the fixed time. The Jew files a court case against Antonio. When Portia say us that he is entitled to have his pound of flesh, he gets ready like a butcher to cut his enemy’s flesh. But in the end his plan fails. He is sentenced to death. He is foreigner in Venice. He has conspired to kill a citizen of Venice. However, the Duke pardons him on certain conditions. Half of his wealth is given back to him. The other half is given to Antonio. After his death, his entire property would go to his daughter Jessica and her lover, Lorenzo. He has to agree to become a Christian. Thus he gets his due in the end.



(iv) How does Portia turn the tables on Shylock?

B. Vocabulary Exercises

(i) Match the Phrases in column A with their meanings in column B.

A                                                                B

acquainted with                                                  tell positively about me


stand within danger                                             to open


confess the bond                                                  respect the law


discharge the money                                           to change


crave the law                                                       familiar with


to alter                                                                 liable to be punished


lay bare                                                               accept the bond


commend me                                                       give back the money




acquainted with                                                  familiar with


stand within danger                                            liable to be punished


confess the bond                                                  accept the bond


discharge the money                                                     give back the money


crave the law                                                       respect the law


to alter                                                                 to change


lay bare                                                               to open


commend me                                                       tell positively about me




 (ii) Fill in the blanks with the opposites of the italicized words:


a. The police should commend the honest citizen, anyone who fails to do his duty should be condemned.


b. Virtue and vice, go together in life.


c. Ramesh is an upright officer while Shyam is a dishonest one.


d. Don’t pause during your speech; continue, speaking.


e. The enemy seized the fort but Shivaji soon got it released.


f. Request humbly, don’t order proudly.


(iii) Match the words in column A with their meanings in column B:


A                                                                    B


           gratitude                                                             to change


            learned                                                               to check


offence                                                                 to lessen


thoroughly                                                           actions


monarch                                                              placed on throne


dread                                                                             fear


enthroned                                                            educated


deeds                                                                    crime


mitigate                                                                completely


curb                                                                     thankfulness


alter                                                                     king




gratitude                                                                       thankfulness


learned                                                                          educated


offence                                                                 crime


thoroughly                                                                    completely


monarch                                                                         king


dread                                                                             fear


enthroned                                                            placed on throne


deeds                                                                     actions


mitigate                                                               to lessen


          curb                                                                      to check


         alter                                                                       to change





C. Grammar Exercises


(i) Fill in the blanks with the correct forms of the words given in brackets:


a. She contrived to rob his brother of all his property. (contrive)


b. I propped the tent with a big bamboo stick. (prop)


c. One should be contented with what one has. (content)


d. The sentence was pronounced in the court. (pronounce)


e. The child humbly asked me to help him out of the difficulty. (humble)


f. Gratifying someone at the cost of your self respect is useless. (gratify)


g. He bade or bid adieu to his friends. (bid)


(ii) Correct the following sentences.


1.     This is an useful article

Ans. This is a useful article.


2. He has no informations.

Ans. He has no information.


3. What foolish I have been!

Ans. How foolish I have been!


4. I will be binding to pay it.

Ans. I will be bound to pay it.


5.. The football match ended to a draw.

Ans. The football match ended in a draw.


6. The class has less boys today.

Ans. The class has fewer boys today.


7.. She has bought new furnitures.

Ans. She has bought new furniture.


8..I cannot give you some money.

Ans.  I cannot give you any money.


(iii) Punctuate the following sentences:

(a) nonsense said the father don’t people die even after swallowing all kinds of drugs.

(b) if costly medicines could save life how is it that kings and emperors are not immortal said the monk.


(a) “Nonsense!” , said the father, “ don’t people die even after swallowing all kinds of drugs”?

(b) “If costly medicines could save life, how is it that kings and emperors are not immortal? said the monk.



(i)                Rewrite the following sentences in Passive Voice:


i.. I know him very well.

Ans. He is very well known to me.


ii.. This glass contains milk.

Ans. Milk is contained in this glass.


iii.. Whom do you want to see?

Ans. Who is wanted to be seen by you?


iv. What wrong have I done to you?

Ans. What wrong to you has been done by me?


v. Inform the police.

Ans. Let the police be informed.


vi. Don’t walk on grass.

Ans. You are forbidden to walk on grass.


You are advised not to walk on grass.


vii. You have forgotten your property.

Ans. Your property has been forgotten by you.


viii. He will punish her for being late.

Ans. She will be punished by him for being late.



D. Pronunciation Practice

Try to perceive the vowel sounds in the following sets of words and say them aloud :

A                                                       B                                                       C

end – and                                test – taste                                              fast – first


lend – land                              fell – fail                                                far – fur

mess – mass                                      men – main                                                      hard – heard


merry – marry                        sent – saint                                            heart – hurt


said – sad                                hell – hail                                               bath – birth


E. Creative Writing and Extended Reading

1. Write a paragraph on :

Virtues of mercy or

Never a Borrower or a Lender Be or

Value of Tolerance and Compassion


2. Read the following plays of William Shakespeare and write in 10-15 lines the message you find in each :

i. The Merchant of Venice

ii. The Tempest


3. Do you think Shylock was treated rightly in the court ? Justify your answer. Discuss the issue with some of your classfellows.


4. Visit a local court. Describe in your own words some court

scene you witness.


5. Describe an interesting incident in which an elder one sorted out a difficult case of misunderstanding or a genuine quarrel between you and a friend.




Just a little fun:

There was a young lady of Niger,

Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.

They returned from the ride

With the lady inside –

And the smile on the face of the tiger!