Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers Act 3 – Important Notes – ICSE Class 10 & 9 English
Word Meaning With Annotation
Act III Scene I
It lives there unchecked : the rumour there is not contradicted, of rich lading : loaded with a rich cargo. Goodwins : this is a shallow part of the North Sea off the east coast of England, known as the Goodwin Sands, and noted as an excellent fishing ground, if my gossip report, be an honest woman of her word : “my gossip Report” may be read here as “Dame rumour,” rumour personified as a woman. Knapped ginger : “chewed ginger.” This was in use as a sweetmeat in Shakespeare’s time, slips of prolixity : lapses into tedious speeches, the full stop : finish your sentence.
You knew, none so well, none so well as you, of my daughter’s flight : by his words, Shylock infers that they were partly responsible for helping Jessica in her flight, wings : Jessica’s disguise, her boy’s dress, and Shylock, for his own part, knew the bird was fledged; and then it is the complexion of them all to leave the dam : Salarino tells Shylock that Jessica was like a young bird, fully feathered and hence due to leave the nest where it had been hatched. The word “dam” is used here for the mother-bird; this is not its proper meaning, since it always applies to a mother animal. But Shakespeare probably uses the word in this sense in order to allow Shylock to make his play on the other meaning of “dam” in the next line, that Jessica has incurred damnation in the next life by her action, complexion : natural tendency; disposition.
That’s certain, if the devil may be her judge : Salarino thinks differently, and says that on the devil himself would condemn Jessica for what she had done. Jet and ivory : jet is deep black, while ivory is extremely white, red wine and Rhenish : there would be great difference in appearance between the two blends of wine; for Rhenish, or wine from the Rhine valley, is white, bad match : a bad stroke of business, prodigal : a wasteful person, a beggar, that was used to come so smug upon the mart : he is now reduced to beggary, who used to come into the market place with such a smiling and self-satisfied expression, for a Christian courtesy : Shylock speaks the words in bitter scorn. He cannot Conceive of a man lending money from any other motive than to extort as much interest as possible. Antonio’s generous spirit moves the Jew to fury. To bait fish : means “to feed fish.”
hindered me half a million : “caused me to lose half a million ducats”, by lending money to people who might otherwise have borrowed from Shylock. hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is : Shylock is comparing the physical bodies and powers of the Jew and the Christian, and proving that they are exactly similar. Then he passfes to “senses, affections,” and finds that here also there is no difference. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility : Shylock sneers at the Christian religion. The teaching of Christ is that a Christian must never take revenge, but must forgive his enemy in a spirit of proper humility. But Shylock says that this is not observed. He asks “If a Jew wrongs a Christian, does the latter show humility? No! He takes revenge.” The sense of “humility” here is “patience” or “humanity.” what should his sufferance be by Christian example : what should his attitude be if he is guided by the example which Christians set him?
A third cannot be matched, unless the devil himself turn Jew : Shylock and Tubal are such a pair of villains that one could not find a third like them, unless it were the devil himself, what news from Genoa : Tubal has been to Genoa to search for Jessica. According to his replies to Shylock, we must assume that Lorenzo and Jessica have been there. As Genoa is at the other side of Italy, some distance from Venice, this conversation shows us that an interval of time has now elapsed since the elopement. The curse never fell upon our nation till now, I never felt it till now,- Two thousand ducats in that, and other precious, precious jewels : Shylock shows how very self-centred he is. He looks upon his misfortunes as a blow to the whole Jewish nation, though, if we are more charitable, it is possible to assume that he is thinking rather of her daughter Jessica’s falling away from the Jewish faith, and that this is the curse he means.
I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear: would she were hears’d at my foot and the ducats in her coffin : it would be possible to feel sympathy for Shylock if he declared that he wished his daughter dead, rather than married to a Christian. But he seemingly wished her dead if it would only help him to recover his money and jewels, a particularly despicable wish,hearsed : the hearse is the black funeral carriage which carries the coffin to the grave, loss upon loss : Shylock has lost further sums of money in the search for the runaway lovers. Fourscore ducats at a sitting : she had spent eighty ducats in a single place of entertainment, divers of Antonio’s creditors : this is an old expression, frequently found in the Bible. Simply “a certain number of’ or “serveral of.”
cannot choose but break : “has no choice but to go bankrupt.” In this sense, a bankrupt is often referred to as “a broken man.” it was my turquoise: I had it of Leah : Shylock refers to the ring containing a turquoise, a pale bluestone, which he had received from Leah, his dead wife. This is a bitter thought to him, and intensifies his feelings of hatred. Every circumstance in the play now is directed towards irritating and infuriating the Jew. In this manner, his action against Antonio is not unnatural or improbable. Undone : ruined; bankrupt, fee me an officer : engaged a law officer by paying him an advance fee. if he forfeit : if he becomes liable for the penalty of the pound of flesh, to, Tubal, and meet me atour synagogue; go, good Tubal; at our synagogue : Shylock arranges to meet Tubal at the Jewish church, his motive being, as we afterwards see, to swear an oath not to give up his scheme of revenge.
Act III Scene II
In choosing wrong : in case you should choose wrongly. There’s something tells me, (but it is not love,) I would not lose you : the words are deliberately vague. Portia wishes to tell Bassanio that she wants him to be with her but maidenly modesty prevents her from declaring actual love for him. So she hints at the truth, saying, “A certain reeling, I will not say it is love- prompts me in wanting you to remain.” She neither confesses her love nor denies it. quality : manner, and yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought : a maiden is prohibited by modesty from telling her love; she may only think of it.
I am forsworn : I would have committed a breach of faith, miss me : lose me by making the wrong choice, wish a sin, that I had been forsworn : she will then wish that she had committed a sin, and had informed Bassanio which casket was the right one to choose. Beshrew your eyes : means “Curse you!” though the expression is always used in a humorous and light-hearted manner, where a curse is not intended, overlook’d : the evil eye. these naughty times put bars between the owners and their rights : “the evil times we live in put obstacles between men and their rightful property.” Portia refers to the compulsory choice between the caskets, as a barrier to be surmounted before Bassanio can possess himself of what is already his own by right, herself. There is also a reference to the artificial barriers which society raises between lovers of high position.
Prove it so, let fortune go to hell for it, not I : “If such should prove to be the case, my ill-fortune be punished, and not myself.” Portia insinuates that if Bassanio’s choice between the caskets should be wrong, her love for him will make her. defy the decision. In this case, ill-fortune should receive the punishment of hell-fire for such a breach of her oath, and not herself, to peize the time : to “peize” anything meant to retard it by hanging weights upon it. Cp. Richard III.
eke : prolong; augment, election : choice; selection, upon the rack : “in a state of torture.” The rack was an instrument something like a bed; the victim was stretched upon it, and his wrists and ankles attached to the four corners. The levers stretched him out violently, leaving in great agony. It was used to force confessions from a prisoner, and is still used as a metaphor for intense pain. Treason : disloyalty to State or ruler, which was often punished by torture in the middle ages, which makes me fear the enjoying of my love : which makes me fear that I shall never enjoy my love, there may as well be amity and life, ’Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love : there could be agreement between snow and fire as easily as between treason and my love, when men enforced : the torture of the rack was so extreme that men subjected to it would gladly confess any crime for the sake of a brief respite, confess and live : if you confess the truth, you shall (like the prisoner on the rack) be given a promise of life.
O happy torment, when my torturer, Doth teach me answers for deliverance : still the metaphor of the rack. Bassanio says that his torturer, Portia, who is keeping him in an agony of suspense, is a kindly torturer, since she suggests the answer which will have the effect of releasing him from the ordeal! if you do love me : Portia seems to think that the test of the casket is indeed a test of true love, a swan-like end, fading in music : An old superstition that the swan, usually mute, sings a beautiful song just before its death, my eye shall be the stream, and watery death-bed for him : Portia says to him that, just as the stream on which it floats is the death bed of the dying swan, so her tear-filled eyes will be the death-bed of Bassanio if he fails, dulcet : from Latin dulcis, sweet.
Alcides : another name for Hercules; Cp. II, I, 35. bleared visages : tear-stained faces, issue of the exploit : the result of his achievement. Go, Hercules : she fancifully addresses Bassanio as her Hercules. Live thou, I live : “if you are successful, I shall live in happiness.” Ding dong bell : an imitation of the sound of a church bell, which is rung when any one has died. So may he the outward shows be least themselves : The sense here is that the outward appearances of things may differ greatly from their real natures, still : continually; always. In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt, but, being season’d with a gracious voice, obscures the show of evil: Bassanio reflects that a dishonest case in law may be made to appear just, by the eloquence of a clever lawyer.
In religion, what damned error, but some sober brow will bless it, and approve it with a text, hiding the grossness with fair ornament : similarly in religion it is possible for some wicked doctrine to appear fair and true if expounded by a serious priest, and concluded by a text from the Bible, simple : plain; unmistakable, stairs of sand : these would indeed be very untrustworthy and unreliable steps to walk upon, the beards of Hercules and frowning Mars : men who are cowards, yet wear beards like Hercules, the God of strength, and wear a frowning expression which might suit Mars, the god of war. livers white as milk : a man having a brave heart, as if the heart was the seat of physical courage, valour’s excrement : an outward growth as a beard is.
purchas’d by the weight : the beautiful colours and complexion of women’s faces have been bought (in the form of cosmetics) in chemist’s shops. Moreover, there is the case of beautiful hair, which is often an artificial wig which has been purchased, making them lightest that wear most of it : Women who wear the greatest amount of artificial aids to beauty are the lightest in morals whereas we would expect to find them heaviest, crisped : curled.upon supposed fairness : upon the head of a lady who has a reputation for beauty, undeserved because the hair is not really her own, but has been cut from the head of some other person who is now dead and in the grave, dowry : possession guiled : a shore which is dangerous to shipping.
He beauteous scarf Veiling an Indian beauty : thought of the negroes of the West Indies as “Indians”. The idea here is that of a beautiful cloth covering the thick lips and flat nose of a negress, a fair outward appearance concealing ugliness, seeming truth : a false appearance of truth, hard food for Midas : Midas was an ancient king who was allowed to ask a certain favour from the gods. Midas was very avaricious and asked that whatever he touched might turn to gold. His request was granted. Then he found that when he attempted to eat, his food was at once turned to gold. So he was in danger of starving to death, and had to pray to the gods to withdraw their gift, meagre lead: unattractive lead, in comparison with gold and silver. All the other passions fleet to air : how every passion except love vanishes like thin air. green-eyed jealousy : jealousy is personified here, and said to be a monster with green eyes.
In measure rein the joy : “scatter down the joy.” surfeit : to sicken of a thing from having too much of it. Counterfeit : something made exactly the same as another, what demi-god hath come so near creation : a demi-god is a half-divine person. Bassanio says that the portrait is so near to being alive that the artist has almost created life, or whether, riding on the balls of mine, seem they in motion : or is it the fact that their image is taken‘up by my own eyeballs, which seem to impart motion to them? here are sever’d lips, parted with sugar breath : her lips are slightly parted by the sweet perfumed breath which passes in and out.
but her eyes, how could he see to do them? having made one, me thinks it should have power to steal both his, and leave itself unfurnish’d : says that it surprises him that the painter was able to finish the second eye of the portrait, because the beauty of the first eye should have absolutely dazzled the artist, so that he could not see to complete the second one. Thus the first should have been left without its companion eye (unfumish’d = unaccompanied), doth limp behind the substance : moves like a lame person (limp) in an unsuccessful effort to keep up with the original, continent : that which contains; the container, you that choose not by the view : the whole principle on which the choice of the caskets is founded is expressed in this line, namely that men should not choose by outward appearances, but should look deeply for the real meaning of things, by note : according to this instruction, your leave : kissing her.
contending in a prize : the simile is that of two wrestlers, or similar athletes, competing for a prize. Livings : property; possessions, exceed account : surpass all reckoning, but the full sum of me, is sum of nothing : but the sum total of all my virtues amounts actually to nothing at all. happier than this : and a happier circumstance than that is etc. to you and yours is now converted : now pass to you, and become part of your property, lord : used as “owner” without regard to sex. and even now, but now : and just now, at this very moment. I give them with this ring; which when you part from, lose, or give away, let it presage the ruin of your love, and be my vantage to exclaim on you : this gift of the ring, which looks no more than a pretty action on Portia’s part, is really the commencement of an important subsidiary action in the latter stages of the play, presage : fore tell, and be my vantage to exclaim on you : and then it will be my opportunity to scold you.
Buzzing : murmuring, where every something, being blent together : where all individual sounds being mingled, a wild of nothing : a wild confusion of sound, expressing nothing, for I am sure you can wish none from me : Gratiano has wished Bassanio all the joy he may desire, and adds “I may safely do this, for I am sure you are not likely to desire anything that will be taken from me” i.e. there is no fear of your wanting Nerissa, who is mine, solemnize : celebrate or confirm solemnly. For intermission, no more pertains to me, my lord, than you : for delay in seizing an opportunity is no more a fault in my nature than it is in yours, as the matter fall : as things turn out. for wolfing here, until I sweat again : Gratiano says that his love suit was hard and difficult matter, and compares it to bard labour Which makes a man perspire, swearing : making declarations of his love, if promise last : if her promise still holds good. Achieved : unhold. Infidel : “not faithful” i.e., the one who is not a believer in a particular religion; an unbeliever. Applied to Jessica because she is not a Christian, the youth of my new interest : the beginning of my newly acquired authority here.
Past all saying nay : in spite of all arguments to the contrary, commends him to you : sends his compliments, how my good friend doth : simply “how he is,” like the modem inquiry after a friend’s health: “How do you do?” not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind : he has no illness unless it be mental trouble. On the other hand, he can have no cause for happiness, except in his mind, estate : condition. Royal merchant : a very important merchant. We speak of “merchant princes,” meaning very great men of business, fleece : wealth, fleece : here signifies “wealth.” A sheep’s riches consists of the fleece on its back.
Shrewd : sharp; bitter, constitution : normal condition; self-control, constant man : man of firm nerves. I am half yourself : it is proverbial that, on marriage, man and his wife are united into one; hence each can only claim to be one half, all the wealth I had, Ran in my veins : that I possessed no riches except noble blood, rating myself at nothing : when I estimated my possessions at nothing, was a braggart : I was actually boasting and over estimating, mere enemy : one who was his complete enemy, feed my means : increase my resources, issuing life-blood : discharging his life-blood, what, not one hit : What! Has not a single one attained its object?
merchant-marring rocks : rocks, which ruin merchant by wrecking their ships. If he had the present money : if he had the money at the present time, confound : ruin; reduce to beggary, plies : continues to approach; presses, and doth impeach the freedom of the state : to “impeach” in legal language, meant “to bring an accusation against.” Shylock brings the charge that Venice is denying him his legal rights, and therefore is violating the free rights which foreigners were supposed to enjoy, magnificoes of greatest port : the greatest nobles of Venice were termed “Magnifici”, the noble-minded or magnificent ones “Of greatest port” may be rendered as “of the most noble carriage”, when I was with him, I have heard him swear : this is an indication of the passage of time showing that Jessica is speaking of things by no means recent. It also shows Jessica’s character, and some might fancy that this betrayal of her father’s confidential talk is not an admirable trait. Roman honour : in the early days of the Roman empire the Romans were famed all over the world for the strict and un-wavering code of high honour which distinguished their national life. The standard of national honour was made the theme of many a song.
First go with me to church, and call me wife : to have the legal ceremony of marriage performed by the priest, since you are dear bought, I will love you dear : “Since you have cost your friend Antonio so dear a price, I shall hold you equally dear in my estimation.” miscarried : failed, estate : my wealth. No bed shall e’er be guilty of my stay : Bassanio says that since Portia is so noble and self-sacrificing as to allow him to leave her on the wedding day, he will also make some self-sacrifice. So he will not be guilty of taking comfortable rest in bed as along as he is away from her, and no rest will refresh him in the interval before he returns.
Act III Scene III
I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond : we saw in a previous scene that Shylock was preparing to go to the synagogue, the Jewish church. It was evidently for the purpose of swearing an oath that he would exact full vengeance from Antonio, fond : “foolish”. Dull-eyed : stupid; foolish in look. Impenetrable : not to be penetrated or moved by any appeals, kept with men : lived among men.
bootless : fruitless; vain, from his forfeitures : out of his clutches, into which they had fallen by borrowing money, made moan : told their sad story, will never grant this forfeiture to hold : will never allow this penalty to be exacted, for the commodity that strangers have, with us in Venice, if it be denied, will much impeach the justice of the state, Since that the trade and profit of the city, Consisteth of all nations : because to refuse Shylock the privilege, at present enjoyed by all aliens, of having the same rights in law as the citizens of Venice, would injure the reputation of the state for impartial justice, bated : abated red: lessened in bodily weight.
Act III Scene IV
Conceit of god-like amity : conception of friendship which is truly divine, how dear a lover : “lover” often means “friend”, you would be prouder of the work, than customary bounty can enforce : you would be more proud of this act than of any ordinary act of kindness. That do converse and waste the time together : who live and pass their time together, whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love : whose sources are united in a common bond of love. The “yoke” is a common enough sight in India, and may be described as the cross piece of wood against which a bullock pushes when pulling a cart hence Antonio and Bassanio are like two bullocks yoked to the same cart, there must be needs a like proportion, of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit : there must be a similarity between them in countenance, in manners and in disposition, bosom Lover : dear friend. In purchasing the semblance of my soul : in saving by my money one who is the very double of Bassanio, my soul’s love, husbandry and manage : administration and management, monastery : religious house or convent, not to deny this imposition : not to refuse this task I place upon you.
Doctor Bellario : he is a doctor of law. This, might not denote the holder of an actual degree, as it would at the present day, but perhaps a celebrated teacher a man renowned for his knowledge of the law. Padua was noted as a centre of law studies, with imagined speed : with all conceivable speed. Habit : dress. In the same sense we still speak of a lady’s “riding-habit.”
accoutred : equipped, prettier : which is now only applied to feminine beauty, was formerly used in this manner to denote manly qualities. And speak, between the change of man and boy : She is speaking of the period when a change comes in a boy’s shrill voice, but it has not yet become the deep voice of a man. reed voice : a thin sharp voice, mincing steps : the short quick steps that ladies take when walking, quaint lies : “fanciful lies.” I could not do withal : “I could not help it.” raw : childish. Jacks : fellows; young men.
Act III Scene V
The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children : this is a reference to one of the teachings of the Christian religion, which says that “the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children.” Punishment for a man’s sins may fall upon his family, fear you : I fear on your behalf, be of good chee; for, truly, I think you are damned : it seems a strange combination of ideas to tell Jessica to be cheerful because she is condemned to the punishment of Hell because of her sins. But we can never analyse Launcelot’s remarks as if they were the words of an ordinary person; it may be an attempt at grim humour, or he may only mean be careful! What he says is so very often different from what he intends to say. Rasher : the name applied to a slide of bacon or pork, on the coals : placed on the fire to cook.
Launcelot and I are out : “Launcelot and I have quarrelled.” flatly : plainly; without; any softening of the news. How every fool can play upon the word : Lorenzo alludes to Launcelot’s habit of quibbling upon double meanings of words, the best grace of wit : “The most dignified wit will soon be to etc.”
They have all stomachs : they are all ready for their dinner. This is Launcelot’s idea of humour, that a man prepares for dinner when he is ready to eat it. Lorenzo had meant that the servants should prepare dinner for himself .and Jessica. Bid them prepare dinner : Lorenzo says, “What a witty man you are! Well, tell them to prepare our dinner.” But Launcelot again takes a different sense for the word “prepare.” Lorenzo had meant “Place it ready on the table”, but Launcelot takes it to mean “cook,” and says, “The dinner has been cooked; what you mean now is ‘cover the table’. But when Launcelot says, “All right, you may cover”, Launcelot at once flies off to another meaning of cover, to remain with the head covered, and says, “No sir, I know my duty to my master too well to remain covered (wearing my hat) in his presence.”
quarrelling with occasion : “disputing as to whether the word is exactly suitable to the particular occasion.” For the table, sir, it shall be served in; for the meat, sir, it shall be covered : Launcelot becomes mixed in expression, and changes the words “served” and “covered”. He means to say “The table shall be covered and the meat served etc.” humours and conceits : the word “humour” was applied by writers of the time to characteristic temperaments or moods of men, mostly odd and uncommon, o dear discretion, how his words are suited : 0, Spirit of discretion, how strangely unsuitable his words are! a many : it was customary at one time to use this expression, stand in better place : are of higher social rank, garnish’d like him : supplied as he is, with words, tricksy word : a word which enables a trick to be played with meaning; a word capable of double meaning, defy the matter : “ignore what is the obvious and intended meaning.” Or pretend to think a word means something different from the speaker’s obvious sense, how cheer’st thou : “How are you?” Literally, “Of what face or mood are you?”
And, if on earth he do not mean it, then : this depends on the sense given to the word “mean.” If we take it as “intend” then we must understand, “if Bassanio is really sincere in his upright life.” Then we might take the sense to be, “If on earth, he does not follow the mean or middle-way in conduct,” taking the sense of “mean” as “the average.” Again the sense of “mean” might be “to demean himself or keep himself humble,” and this gives us, “If he does not humble himself on this earth, he need never expect heaven, if he has already enjoyed, heavenly happiness on earth.”
heavenly match : a competition between heavenly or divine beings, pawn’d : put up as a stake; wagered by the other of the two competitors, fellow : equal or match. Anon : in a moment; at once, while I have a stomach : again a double meaning, (i) while I have the desire to do so, and (ii) while I have an appetite for dinner, table-talk : talk over the dinner table, then, howso’er thou speak’st, ‘mong other things, I shall digest it : then, no matter how you speak, I shall be able to digest your words along with dinner, set you forth : set forth your praises.
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