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Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers

Act II Scene 7

Extract I
Go draw aside the curtains…..make your choice
1.     Who is asked to draw aside the curtains? Who is asked to make his choice?
Portia asks one of her attendants to pull apart the curtains so that the different caskets are made visible. The prince Morocco is asked to make the choice.
2.     What does Portia say later to the prince regarding the right casket?
After reading the inscription on the three caskets, Morocco asks Portia how he will know if he chooses the right casket. Portia replies that her portrait will be in the right  casket. If he selects that one, then she will be his wife.
3.     Which casket does the Prince of Morocco finally choose? What are the reasons for his choice?
The Prince of Morocco finally chooses the golden casket. Morocco argues that base lead cannot  contain such a saintly person like Portia. Silver which is ten times inferior to gold also cannot hold Portia as he is such a rich gem. So he concludes that Portia, whom many men desire  and is most precious must be contained  in the golden  casket. Besides, the English have a gold coin which with the figure of an angel engraved on it. Portia is an angel and hence her portrait may be in the golden casket.
4.     For what reasons does the prince reject the other two caskets?
He rejects the base lead arguing that it cannot contain such a noble person like Portia  and silver which is ten times inferior to gold cannot contain Portia as she is such a rich gem.
5.     What does the prince find when he opens the casket?
When the prince opens the casket he finds a skull and in its eyeless socket a scroll.
6.     How does the prince bid farewell to Portia? What does Portia say when the prince leaves the place?
Morocco bids farewell to Portia with the warm-heartedness of a lover and says he must accept the cold comfort of the rejected. He says that his sorrow is too great for many words. Those who have lost their hearts’ desire depart thus sadly.
When the prince leaves the place, Portia calls it a good riddance and wishes that every suitor like him should make a similar choice.
Extract II
Who chooseth me shall……in love I do deserve.
1.  On which casket do the words, who chooses me shall get as much as he deserves?
On the silver casket
2. Why does Morocco initially doubt his worth to deserve the lady?
Morocco initially doubts his worth to deserve the lady because he thinks that though by his own standard, his merits may be very high, yet those merits may not be sufficient enough to deserve Portia, as her reputation is greater than his.
3. Why does he change his mind and say that he deserves the lady?
Morocco, after having doubts about his worth to win Portia, later on changes his mind. He feels that he deserves Portia because of his royal birth, his wealth, his virtues and his upbringing. Above all, he is worthy of her because of his deep affection for her.
4. Give the meaning of:
A) And weigh thy value with an even hand
And compare your personal worth impartially.
B) A weak disabling of myself
A sign of weakness which would bring discredit  on myself.
5. Why does Morocco think that Portia’s picture is not in the lead casket?
Morocco read the inscription on the lead casket which stated that whosoever selects it must  be prepared to give all and to risk everything. Morocco declares that no one except a fool will be prepared to risk everything for the sake of dull lead. He argues that lead cannot contain such a noble person like Portia.
Extract III
From the  four corners of the earth…..to see fair Portia.
1.     Who speaks these words? Where is he? What has he said about his courage in an earlier scene?
The prince Morocco speaks these words. He is in a room in Portia’s house getting ready to make his choice of caskets. In an earlier scene, Morocco said that with his sword he had slain the emperor of Persia and a Persian Prince, who had defeated Solyman of Turkey thrice. He boasted that  he was courageous enough to confront  a hungry lion, defy the most valiant warrior on earth and face the wrath of a mother-bear by separating its young ones from her.
2.     What is the significance of the words Shrine and Saint in the context?
Shrine is a place where any sacred relic of a holy  person  or the image of a saint is kept. In this context, the saint is Portia and the shrine is Belmont. The breathing saint is a reference to Portia. Morocco says that people came from every part of the globe to worship at the holy place which enshrines this living object of adoration-Portia.
3.     What warning is given by Porita to the speaker before he makes the choice?
Before he makes the choice, the speaker is told by Portia that the correct casket contains her picture and if he chooses it, she will be his wife.
4.     Who are ‘they’ that are referred to  in the extract? What difficulties do they face while coming?
‘They’ the  refers to the many suitors who come to Belmont from all parts of the globe to woo Portia. While coming they travel through Persian deserts, wilderness of Arabia and even cross the ocean.
5.     Give the meaning of:
a) Hyrcanian deserts
Hyrcania was a province of the ancient Persian empire. Hyrcanian deserts were deserts lying in the South of Caspian sea.
b) Watery kingdom: The oceans and its fierce waves do not stop suitors
6.  Why does the speaker reject the lead casket?
The speaker rejects the lead casket since on it was written that whoever selects it must be prepared to give all and to risk everything for the dull lead. He thinks lead is too crude a metal even to enclose the winding sheet when she is buried in the grave. He asserts that the lead casket cannot hold Portia’s picture and so he rejects it.
Because silver is ten times inferior to gold and such a rich gem can never be set in anything less than gold.
Extract IV
Or shall I think in silver she’s immured…….and thrive I as I may.
1.  Why does the prince think that Portia’s picture not in the silver casket?
Sinful thought is the thought that Portia is contained in the silver casket because silver has only a tenth of the value of gold and a rich gem like Portia can never be set in anything less than gold.
2. What is the sinful thought, why is it so?
Sinful thought is the thought that Portia is contained in the silver casket because silver has only a tenth of the value of gold and a rich gem like Portia can never be set in anything less than gold.
3. Describe the coin referred to in the extract. What is the difference between an angel on the coin and the angel in the casket?
The coin referred to in the extract is the gold coin in England on which the figure of Archangel Michael standing and piercing a dragon was engraved on one side. The coin was called an angel and its value was about ten shillings.
Morocco says that the figure of the angel on the coin is engraved on the surface of the coin. It is outside, whereas Portia is an angel, who lies on a golden bed within the casket entirely hidden from view.
4. After opening the casket, the Prince finds a dead skull and a scroll. Explain what is written on the scroll?
On the scroll it is written that things which make the most brilliant show are not always the truest metal. For the sake of mere gold, hundreds have risked and sacrificed their lives. Costly gold plated tombs may be erected, but they have no real value. Decay and death are all they contain.
5.Explain how the theme of appearance and reality is shown in the choice made by the prince.
Write your own opinion.