Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers Act 4 – Important Notes – ICSE Class 10 & 9 English
Word Meaning With Annotation
ACT IV Scene I
What : is used to indicate that a question is being asked, and without grammatical connection with the rest of the sentence, uncapable of pity : without the power of feeling pity, from any dram : of the smallest amount, your grace : a title of respect applied to a Duke, qualify : make less severe, obdurate : very hard: unyielding, very : utmost: greatest possible. That thou but lead’st this fashion of thy malice, to the last hour of act : that you only continue this cruel course up the last moment, strange apparent cruelty : this strange cruelty of yours, which I think only apparent or assumed . where : whereas, loose the forfeiture : excuse payment of the penalty, forgive a moiety : let him off from paying a certain part of the principal sum. huddled : accumulated; pressed upon, royal merchant : a very great merchant; a prince among merchants, from brassy bosoms, and rough hearts of flint : from hearts as pitiless as brass and as rough as stone.
Turks and Tartars : in the vague and imperfect knowledge of Asiatic races which the Elizabethans possess, such people were looked upon as types of barbarians, offices of tender courtesy : obligations imposed by courtesy and kindness. Posses’ d : informed; told, holy Sabbath : Sunday; the sacred day of the week, let the danger light, Upon your charter, and your city’s freedom : this is a threat to the Duke that some higher power may punish the city, if justice is refused to Shylock. carrion : repulsive and unfit for food; dead, ban’d : poisoned, gaping pig : sometimes a pig was prepared whole for the table, and set on a large dish with a lemon in its mouth, and other, when the bagpipe sings i’ the nose : many people with sensitive ears, do not like the wild notes of the bagpipe, a w’oollen bagpipe : the bag is usually covered with woollen cloth, to protect the leather from which it is made, lodg’d hate : a hate which has lodged or become rooted in him. a losing suit : a suit in which Shylock suffers financial loss, by refusing to accept his money rather than the pound of flesh. Current of the cruelty : cruelcourse of action. Think you question with the Jew : Do you think you can argue with the Jew? fretten : “agitated by.” but, with all brief and plain conveniency : but briefly and without ceremony, as is there convenient, etc.
You have among you many a purchas’d slave, which like your asses, and your dogs and mules You use in abject and in slavish parts, Because you bought them. Shall I say to you, Let them be free, marry them to your heirs? Why sweat they under burthens? Let their beds, Be made as soft as yours, and let their palates, Be seasoned with such viands? You will answer, “The slaves are ours” : Shylock argues that it is a common practice to keep slaves, and many in the court do so. The slaves are regarded as the property of the owner, and may be treated in any manner. Similarly this pound of flesh is his own property, and he’may do what he likes with it without being brought to account. This passage shows well the unyielding and determined nature of Shylock, as well as the cruelty of his nature, parts : duties, stand for : claim; demand as my right.
Upon my power : by virtue of the authority I possess, unless Bellario, a learned doctor, whom I have sent for to determine this, come here to-day : It is strange that Portia should think at once of Bellario, and then the Duke conveniently sends for him and makes it possible for Portia to come as his representative. The possibility of the Duke sending for some other learned lawyer makes us wonder how Portia would then have gained admission to the court. But it is futile to approach the drama as if we were speaking of actual life and human characters, and we must accept that this is what happened. It is possible that the messenger, who brought the news to Belmont may have mentioned there that the Duke had sent for Bellario. determine : arrive at a decision, this come : just arrived.
Tainted wether : an old and infirm sheep, why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly : the actor who plays the part of Shylock bends down and proceeds to sharpen the edge of his knife upon the leather sole of his shoe, forfeiture : that which has been forfeited, or the flesh. Not on the sole: but on thy soul harsh Jew, Thou mak’st thy knife keen : the Old English word for soul was sawol. While the spelling had changed by the time of Shakespeare it is possible that it was pronounced rather like “sowl”, to rhyme with “howl.” No, not the hangman’s axe : the official who executed condemned men was called the “hangman”. Low bom criminals or men charged with ordinary offences were executed by hanging. But noble or political prisoners would be beheaded with an axe, manipulated by the same hangman.
Inexecrable : ‘inexecrable’ “too bad for execration.” and for thy life let justice be accus’d : and we must accuse the spirit of Justice for allowing you to live, thou almost mak’st me waver in my faith, To hold opinion with Pythagoras, That souls of animals infuse themselves, Into the trunks of men : Pythagoras was a Greek philosopher who believed that souls of men or animals appeared several times on the earth, assuming sometimes higher and sometimes lower forms of life, a Wolf, who hang’d for human slaughter : In the olden days it was not uncommon for animals to be formally executed like criminals, fell : fierce; cruel, unhallowed : wicked; vile. Infus’d itself in thee : poured itself into the body.
Offend’st thy lungs : injure your lungs; put them to useless labour, go give him courteous conduct : Go and conduct him on a friendly visit. Which, bettered with his own learning : and this opinion I have given him, strengthened by his own learning etc. to let him lack a reverend estimation : in depriving him of your respectful opinions, and here, I take it, is the doctor come : the word “doctor” was the title of respect paid to a distinguished teacher or lawyer. Yet in such rule, that the Venetian law cannot impugn you as you do proceed : “Yet it is in accordance with the rules, and the Law of Venice cannot attack you for bringing the case”. I do not think it has been pointed out by anyone that Portia later reverses this opinion, for her final decision which makes Shylock into the accused instead of the accuser, is that the very nature of the suit constitutes a conspiracy against the life of a citizen, you stand within his danger, do you not : You admit having incurred this dangerous liability, do you not? then must the Jew be merciful : by “must” Portia means, “according to the ordinary laws of humanity and kindness, you must.” But Shylock takes it up as meaning legal compulsion, and asks her to explain why he must do so.
Strain’d : forced; compelled, becomes : adorns; renders beautiful, his sceptre shows the force of temporal power : his sceptre is the emblem of worldly power, temporal means, in this sense, “worldly” as opposed to “heavenly.” sceptred sway : the worldly rule which is symbolised by the sceptre, it is an attribute to God himself : it is a divine quality, and one which God Himself possesses, when mercy seasons justice : when mercy lessens the severity of justice, though justice be thy plea, consider this, That in the course of justice, none of us, Should see salvation : this is a statement of the Christian doctrine that we are all sinners, and therefore must throw ourselves on God’s mercy. If we were judged with strict justice, not one of us would deserve heavenly happiness, to mitigate the justice of thy plea : to persuade you to put forward a milder demand than that for strict justice.
My deeds upon my head : may the consequences of my acts fall on my head. Wrest once the Law to . your authority : for one occasion, use your authority to change the course of the law. Decree established : a law which is fixed and on the statute book, precedent : an example which might be followed by other judges, will rush into the state : will speedily appear in the business of the State. A Daniel come to judgement, yea a Daniel : Daniel, one of the great Jewish characters of the Old Testament, was a man famed for wisdom and sound judgment. Shylock takes his name here as a representative or type of the perfect judge.
An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven. Shall I lay perjury upon my soul? No not for Venice : Shylock gives us an additional reason that he has sworn a sacred oath (in the Jewish synagogue) not to be dissuaded from exacting what is due under the bond. This oath he cannot break, without committing a serious sin against his religion. According to the tenour : according to the strict wording and meaning, a well deserving pillar : “a worthy representative.” Shylock says that Portia is an equally strong supporter of the structure of the law.
i stay here on my bond : I base my claim strictly on my bond, for the intent and purpose of the law, hath full relation to the penalty, which here appeareth due upon the bond : for the object and working of this particular law is quite applicable to the special penalty which is set forth here. How much more elder art thou than thy looks : Shakespeare frequently uses a double comparative or superlative form of the adjective, often for emphasis. We should take elder here as meaning “wise”, i.e. you show more wisdom than would be expected from your youthful appearance. On your charge : at your expense.
Is it so nominated in the bond : this line is effective in destroying sympathy for Shylock, and was probably designed by Shakespeare to have that effect. Not only is Shylock determined to have Antonio’s life, but he wishes to do so in as cruel a manner as possible, and will not spare him any of the pain accompanying the penalty. ’Twere good you do so much for charity : again Portia attempts to make Shylock think of the law of human kindness, and not only of the law of the court. But he refuses to show any sign of compassion, and will not accept the opportunities of relenting which Portia gives him. It is still her use, to let the wretched man out-live his wealth : fortune often ruins a man, and allows him to live on in miserable poverty after his wealth has gone, but she is more kind to Antonio in mercifully allowing him to die at the same time, an age of poverty : the prospect of spending his old age in poverty, lingering penance : prolonged suffering, speak me fair in death : speak well of me to her after I am dead, a love : a friend who felt deep love.
I’ll pay it instantly with all my heart : even in the moment of tragedy, Shakespeare makes Antonio speak with grim humour, using the double meaning which characterised the wit of the day. “With all my heart” means in the first place, “With the utmost willingness.” But there is the literal meaning that the Jew would cut out the whole of Antonio’s heart as part of the pound of flesh. This is a tense moment, but it is relieved by this humorous remark. The courageous character of Antonio and his frank manliness make a sharp contrast with the malice of the Jew. to this devil : from this devil. I would she were in heaven: I wish that she were dead, so that her soul in Heaven might intercede with the Divine Powers to change the conduct of the vile Jew.
These be the Christian husbands : to Shylock, the words of Bassanio and Gratiano appear unnatural, and he infers “That shows how little Christian husbands think of their wives.” would any of the stock of Barrabas, Had been her husband, rather than a Christian : Barabbas was a murderer in the Bible, and murder is a crime which is particularly rare and greatly abhorred among the Jews. Yet Shylock says that he would have preferred to see Jessica married to a descendant of Barabbas, rather than a Christian.
I pray thee pursue sentence : Carry out the sentence, please! Tarry a little—there is something else, this bond doth give thee here no jot 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 : the turning point in the events of the trial scene, it is introduced without a moment’s warning. Just when Antonio’s case seems hopeless, Portia changes the aspect of the situation completely by the ‘ restriction which she places upon Shylock. Tragedy is averted; the audience is shown at once that the tension is over, and all breathe freely again. The atmosphere almost becomes that of comedy for an Elizabethan audience. But a modem audience would not find comedy in the crushing humiliation of Shylock.
jot : tiny particle. Is that the law : Shylock speaks in utter bewilderment, and appears a comic, hesitating figure on the stage, with all his arrogance and confidence gone, see the act: see it put into execution, for, as thou urgest justice, be assur’d thou shalt have justice, more than thou desirest: the sense is “You have been insisting on the literal reading of the law. Well, you shall have the same kind of law yourself, as much as you can possibly desire.” he shall have nothing but the penalty : having led Shylock into the trap, Portia is determined not to let him off lightly. He was afforded numerous opportunities of withdrawing with a profit before this; now the tables are completely turned, and he who would show no mercy to Antonio is to have none himself, as makes it light or heavy in the substance : “As will make the amount of it light or heavy.”
or the division of the twentieth part of one poor scruple : the word “or” seems to connect this with the previous line as an alternative. It is a repetition of the previous line, and the general sense is “ or if it varies from an exact pound by the twentieth part of a scruple.” A scruple was a very small unit of weight, if the scale do turn but in the estimation of a hair : “if it is estimated that one side of the scale varies from the other by as much as a hair’s breadth.” confiscate : an old past participle, equal to “confiscated” On the hip : this phrase is taken from wrestling. To have a man “on the hip” meant to secure such a hold on him that he was helpless, and could be easily thrown by his opponent, he hath refus’d it in the open court; he shall have merely justice and his bond : Shylock is willing to receive back his three thousand ducats and depart. Many would think that his defeat is sufficiently great, and that his humiliation need not be increased. Shakespeare evidently thought otherwise, and prepared a much heavier punishment for the Jew.
A Daniel, still say I; a second Daniel! I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word : Gratiano exultingly quotes Shylock’s own words, and says “I thank you, Shylock, for supplying me with such an appropriate illustration.” The atmosphere of this law court seems free and easy, and the freedom of speech afforded the spectators surprises us. Barely my principal : my principal alone without any interest. I’ll stay no longer question : I shall not remain here for any further talk. Tarry Jew : on the stage, Shylock is shown as startled by those words, wondering what fresh development is to come, alien : person not a native of Venice, citizen : a native of Venice, the party ‘gainst the which he doth contrive : this is in imitation of the language of the law. Portia may be supposed to quote from the exact words of this particular law, “against the which” is particularly typical of the affected working of legal documents. It is thought that Shakespeare served at one time of his life in a lawyer’s office, and it is his accurate knowledge of legal terms which lends some show of probability to the theory, contrive : conspire; plot, seize : “take possession of’ or “become entitled to.” privy coffer : the state treasury, ‘gainst all other voice : no other person except the Duke has power to decide whether the offender shall live or die.
predicament : difficult situation; position, the danger formerly by me rehears’d : the penalties which I have just stated. 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 : Gratiano is openly exulting at the humiliation of Shylock. He evidently does not believe in the modem English principle of not hitting a man who is “down and out”, but jeers at the Jew with full enjoyment. Which humbleness may drive unto a fine : “but a humble attitude on your part may induce the state to accept a fine, instead of taking the full half of your wealth.” This line sets forth the tremendous difference in the fortunes of Shylock. A few minutes ago he was preparing to cut off his pound of flesh; now he is told to go humbly on his knees and beg that his life and a small proportion of his money may be spared. The tables are indeed turned. In no play of Shakespeare’s do we get such a sudden and complete reversal of fortune.
Ay, for the state : Portia reminds them that the Duke has power to allow Shylock to keep some of the half which is due to the State, but he has no power to do so in the case of Antonio’s share. Portia thinks that, since Antonio is bankrupt, it is just that he .should receive the Jew’s money” The bitterness of such a decision to Shylock may well be imagined, a halter gratis : a rope free of charge, to hang himself, quit : remit; excuse, so he will : on condition that he will, become a Christian : would be the cruellest blow of all for Shylock, for his adherence to the Jewish faith has seemed the only point in his nature which redeemed him from being purely mercenary, record a gift : “draw up a legal document for the assignment of property.” Such a document was called a “deed of gift”.
Reacant : “to deny one’s faith” or to deny previous expressions of belief. The best sense here is “withdraw”. In christening, shalt thou have two god-fathers; had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more, to bring thee to the gallows, not the font : Gratiano again gives vent to his brutal wit. He alludes to the fact that when a man is christened, or admitted to the Christian faith by baptism with water, it is necessary for him to have two godfathers, responsible men who will be his sponsors, and see that he grows up a good Christian. Shylock has been compelled to accept the Christian faith and so will have two godfathers, but Gratiano says that if he had been judge, he would have sent Shylock before a jury of the usual twelve, who would have condemned him to be hanged. The “font” is a bowl on a raised platform or pedestal, containing holy water for the, ceremony of baptism. It is the same word as “fountain”. The custom of having twelve members of a jury was, of course, purely English. Meet : necessary. I am sorry that your leisure serves you not : I am sorry that you do not have the leisure time to come, gratify this gentleman : “reward this gentleman”, much bound to him : under a deep obligation to him.”
In lieu whereof : “in requital of your services.” we freely cope your pains with : “we freely remunerate you for your kindly labours.” he is well paid that is well satisfied : this is an example of Shakespeare’s felicity of phrasing, and his power of expressing universal truths in a condensed and epigrammatic manner, my mind was never yet more mercenary : my mind was never desirous of any greater reward than this.” I pray you, know me, when we meet again : “Please do not forget me, if ever we should chance to meet again.” But the words have a deeper significance for the audience than for Bassanio, since they know that the lawyer is Portia, while he does not. So this is another of the numerous instances of skilful dramatic irony in which this play abounds.” take some remembrance of us, as a tribute : “Take some souvenir from us as a token of our esteem.” Bassanio asks Portia to accept some trifling present, in token of remembrance of their gratitude. This leads up to the final episode of the play, which provides a considerable amount of humour, namely, Portia’s success in persuading her husband to part with the ring she had given him. The last shade of tragedy has now left the play, and all the subsequent action is light-hearted and joyous.
For your love : as a souvenir of your friendship, and now, methinks, I have a mind to it : Portia mischievously proceeds to make her request more pointed and difficult to refuse, by saying that it is not merely an accidental choice that made her hit upon the ring, but the fact that she really has a strong desire to have it. There’s more depends on this than on the value : “This ring is of sentimental, rather than intrinsic value.” and find it but by proclamation : he will cause it to be proclaimed in Venice that he wishes to buy an expensive ring, so that he may receive specimens from the various jewellers and select the best one. only for this I pray you pardon me : but excuse me from giving this one thing, you teach me how a beggar should be answer’d : and now you refuse me, as one usally does a beggar.
Scuse : a contracted form of “excuse.” she would not hold out enemy for ever for giving it to me : “she might be angry on first hearing of it, but she would not retain her anger for long when she had heard Bassanio’s explanation.” Portia’s reasons are skilful and sound, and make Bassanio appear very mean in refusing such a simple request. She goes away in a mood of hurt and offended dignity, yet full of quiet courtesy, and makes Bassanio look even more discourteous, let his deservings, and my love withal, be valued ‘gainst your wife’s commandment : “let his great services to us, combined with your love for me, be stonger that the command which your wife gave you.” will thither presently : will go there at once.
ACT IV Scene II
Upon more advice : on second thoughts; after reconsideration. Thou may’st, I warrant : you will be able to, I am sure, old swearing “a great amount of swearing and protesting from them.” The word old is used colloquially to denote almost anything whatever, but we’ll outface them, and outswear them too : but we will put a bolder face on the matter than they do, and we shall protest louder still that, etc.
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