Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers

Act II Scene 6

Extract I

Gratiano:  And it is marvel he out-dwells……..are with more spirit chased than enjoyed.

1.     Where does this scene take place? Who has out-dwelt his hour? Normally what do the lovers do as far as the appointed time is concerned?

This scene takes place in the street outside Shylock’s house. Lorenzo has out-dwelt his hour to meet Gratiano and Salarino for the masque. Lovers generally rush to  the meeting  place long before  the appointed hour.

2.      Who is Venus? How do the Venu’s pigeons behave as far as love is concerned?

In Greek mythology, Venus is the goddess of love. Salarino comments that the doves that draw the chriot of Venus, the goddess of love, fly  ten times faster when they are journeying  to bind  new love more firmly, than they do when love is already pledged and certain.

3.     How does Gratiano explain in the extract the state of people in love?

According to Gratiano, people in love are anxious to meet each other. They rush to their meeting places much before the appointed time. Thus, people in love keep punctuality in their  meetings and never delay.

4.     Give the meaning of:

a)     He out dwells his hour

He overstays the time fixed by him to meet.

b)     To seal love’s bonds new-made

To bind new love more firmly

5.     Explain the meaning of:

 Where is the horse that doth untread again

His tedious measures with the unabated fire

The above lines mean that you will not find even a house travel again over the same  road on its return journey with the same energy and animation with which it set out.

6.     All things that are,

Are with more spirit chased than enjoyed

How far is this statement brought out by giving  the example of a ship?

It means that the pursuit of any desired object is more enjoyable a task and gives more  joy compared to  the pleasure one gets  on its attainment. The truth of the statement is brought about by the example of a ship.  A ship  with its sails spread and flags flying, sails out from the harbour like a high-spirited spendthrift youth in search of  pleasure. But after being tossed about and hugged by the rough wind, it comes back to the port with broken planks and torn sails. It looks like the returning  of the prodigal son, ruined by the faithless gales.

Extract II


Sweet friends, your patience for my long abode…..who’s within?

1.     Where is Lorenzo and who are his sweet friends?

Lorenzo is in the street outside Shylock’s house. His sweet  friends are Salarino and Gratiano.

2.     What did his friends say about the  anxiety of those  in love?

His friends said that lovers generally rush to meet  each other before the appointed time. Salarino commented that the doves that draw the chariot of  Goddess of love, fly ten times  faster, when they are journeying to find new  love than  they do when love is once pledged and certain.

3.     What were the affairs that kept the speaker away so long?

The speaker was kept away so long due to his business affairs. Also he had to plan for  the masquerade, in which he would elope with his lady-love, Jessica.

4.     What is meant by ‘to play the thieves for wives’? How apt are these  remarks in the context?

‘To play the thieves for wives’ means if ever any of them wishes to do what  he is doing that night  and steal away a fair lady to be his wife, he will wait as long as they  have  done to help him on the occasion. These  remarks are quite relevant  because  Lorenzo wants to give the reason for his delay as well as thank his friends, whom he has kept waiting for a long time.

5.     What does Lorenzo ask Jessica to do later in the scene? What is Jessica’s reaction to his request?

Later in the scene, Lorenzo tells Jessica to come down in the street quickly and that she has to play the part of his torch-bearer in the masque that night. Jessica is shocked and embarrassed at the suggestion. She asks Lorenzo whether she must hold a light to show up her shameful acts-her elopement, theft and male dress.

6.     Who appears on the stage after the extract? In what condition does the person appear?

After this extract, Jessica appears on the stage. She appears on the stage dressed in a boy’s clothes, as a page-boy.

Extract III


Here, catch this casket…..thus transformed to a boy.

1.     What do you think is sent down in the casket? How can you conclude that the contents in the casket are valuable?

The casket must have valuables like jewellery which Jessica has stolen from her house. We can conclude that the contents in the casket are valuables since Jessica hands over the casket only after making sure that the person to whom she is giving the casket is her love, Lorenzo. Besides, she tells Lorenzo that it is worth carrying the casket.

2.     What is meant by ‘I am much ashamed of my exchange.’? Why is the exchange needed?

The above words mean that Jessica is much ashamed that she has to change her dress to that of  a page boy. This exchange was needed for her to elope with Lorenzo.

3.     In what way is love blind in the context? Who is referred to as Cupid? Why would he blush?

Love is blind in the context since it makes Jessica dress like a page boy, steal jewellery and money from her house and be ready to elope with Lorenzo, a Christian. Cupid is the classical God of love who is always represented as a blind boy with bows and arrows. Jessica says that Cupid, the little blind God of love himself would be shocked and blush if he saw her dressed like a boy.

4.     What is meant by a torch bearer? In what way Jessica would hold a candle to her shames, if she were a torch bearer?

Masquerades were dramatic performances where players wore masks and costumes and took part in a torch like procession playing drums and fife. Jessica was to carry the torch light or candle. If she carries the candle, she will show up her shameful acts- her male attire, the casket containing her theft and the fact of her elopement.

5.     Give the meaning of:

Why it’s an office of discovery, love;

And I should be obscured

These lines mean: ‘The duty of a torch bearer would expose me to all when I should be concealed.’ Jessica means that her shameful disguise of a pageboy’s dress is too frivolous and Lorenzo should not light them further by having her as a torchbearer.

6.     How is Jessica’s feminine nature is highlighted in the extract?


Jessica’s feminine nature is highlighted in the extract. Her shyness at her male clothes shows her feminine modesty as in Elizabethan times women never wore men’s clothes. Also she comes down from her house after making sure that the person who has come to take her is Lorenzo, her lover.