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Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers

Act II Scene 1

1.      Where does this scene take place? Who are present in the scene? What explanation does Morocco give for his dark complexion?

This scene takes place in a room in Portia’s house at Belmont. People present are: Prince of Morocco and his attendants, Portia, Nerissa and her attendants. Morocco says that he got his dark colour because of the fierce sun. He was born and brought up in a country where the sun is very close to the earth.

2.      What qualities does a creature born in north have? Why?

People born in  north are fair-skinned. This is because the sun’s rays are so faint in the north that they are hardly able to melt the frost, snow and icicles.

3.      Who is Phoebus and what is meant by Phoebus’ fire? What test does the speaker  propose, to prove ‘whose blood is reddest’?

Phoebus in Greek mythology is one of the names of the Sun God, Appollo. Phoebus’ fire means the rays of the sun. Morocco proposes that he should be matched with any fair-skinned man born in the north. They should open their veins to see whose blood is redder. Red blood was considered to be sign of courage.

4.      What effect does the physical appearance of Morocco have on the brave men and the prettiest women of his country?

Morocco’s physical appearance frightened the brave men whereas the prettiest women admired and loved it.

5.      On what condition is the speaker  prepared to change his dark complexion?

 

The speaker is prepared to change his dark complexion only to win over Portia’s favour.

6.      What idea do you get about the character of the Prince of Morocco from the extract?

From the extract we know that the prince of Morocco is a warrior and self-assured man. He has a large imposing physical appearance and is proud of his dark complexion. He is an egoist who thinks that he is better than other people. He boasts of his red blood and the admiration and affection he enjoys in his land from the nobles and the best maidens.

 

 

1.      What is the lottery of Portia’s destiny?  How does it prevent her from the right of voluntary choosing?

Lottery of Portia’s destiny refers to the lottery devised according to her deceased father’s will. According to the lottery, each suitor has to choose from amongst the three caskets of gold, silver and lead the one containing Portia’s portrait. The suitor who will choose the correct casket will win Portia’s hand in marriage. The lottery of caskets designed by her father, thus prevents Portia from exercising her freedom of choice. The suitor, who will  make the right choice will win her as wife.

2.      Give the meaning of:

But if my father had not scanted me,

And hedged me by his wit, to yield myself

His wife who wins me by that means I told you,

These lines mean: “ If I had not  been limited and restricted by my father’s wisdom and obliged to accept for a husband the one who will succeed in winning me by the means I have told you.”

3.      How prudent was Portia’s father to have arranged her marriage through a lottery? Give a reason  for your answer.

Portia’s father was prudent to have arranged for her marriage through a lottery. We see that  at the end the wisdom of her father prevails and she is won as wife by Bassanio whom she loves and admires.

4.      Give the brief character sketch of the Prince of Morocco in this scene.

Form the extract we know that the Prince of Morocco is a warrior and self-assured man. He has a large imposing physical appearance and is proud of his dark complexion. He is an egoist who thinks that he is better than other people. He boasts of his red blood and the admiration and affection he enjoys in his land from the nobles and the best of maidens. He admits that the lottery of the caskets has no consideration for heroism and can be won by anyone, even an undeserving  candidate. He harps  on the idea of chance-choice, lottery, destiny, choosing, fortune and hazards.

5.      Do you agree with Portia’s statement that the Prince of Morocco stands as fair a chance as the other suitors? Give a reason to justify your opinion.

Portia does not really mean that Morocco had a good chance of winning her love, because in Act I, Scene 2 she holds her former suitors in contempt. She thinks the same of Morocco because he is boastful. Portia treats him with perfect courtesy and tact and speaks as if she holds him in high esteem.

Extract III

1.      What is meant by a ‘scimitar’? What conquests did Morocco make by using his scimitar?

‘Scimitar’ means sword. By using his sword, Morocco had slain the Emperor of Persia and a Persian Prince, who had defeated Sultan Solyman of Turkey thrice.

2.      State two of the brave deeds Morocco is prepared to carry out in order to win Portia.

The brave deeds Morocco is prepared to perform in order to win Portia are:

a)      To challenge the most brave warrior on earth

b)      Snatch away the young sucking cubs from the mother bear and dare her wrath

3.      Who are Hercules and Lichas? What could happen if they were to play a game of dice? In what way is this example applicable to Morocco?

In Greek Mythology, Hercules was renowned  for his manliness, strength and exploits. Lichas was his servant. According to the legend, once Hercules and Lichas were playing a game of dice. By chance, the winning throw came from Lichas. This example is applicable to Morocco since his fame, wealth and achievements are of no help to him to win Portia. He is forced to take his chance against any inferior rival.

4.      Why is the fortune said to be blind? What does Morocco fear since the blind fortune is leading him to choose the casket?

The goddess fortune is usually represented blindfolded. Fortune is said to be blind due to the unaccountable variations in her dispensation of favours to mankind. He fears that as the blind fortune is leading him to choose the right casket, the outcome depends only on chance as in a game of dice.

5.      What final instruction does Portia give to Morocco before he is led to  make the choice?

Before he is led to make the choice, Portia tells Morocco that he must take a chance. He must either leave the matter altogether and not make the attempt or swear in the Chapel before choosing, that if he makes the wrong choice, he will never again speak to any lady on the subject of marriage.

6.      Why does Portia ask Morocco to go to the temple before he makes the choice of the casket?

Before he makes the choice of the casket, Portia asks Morocco to go to the temple to swear on oath that if he makes the wrong choice, he will never again speak to any lady on the subject of marriage.

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