Friday, 13 September 2019

The Merchant of Venice



A. Comprehension Questions

(i) Answer the following questions in brief:

1. How was Portia dressed and on whose recommendation did she come to the court?

Ans. Portia was dressed like a Doctor of law, a legal expert. She came to the court on the recommendation of Dr. Bellario.


2. What is the suit between Shylock and Antonio?

Ans. Antonio has borrowed some money from Shylock. He fails to return the money on time. So Shylock files a case against him for a legal action.


3. What does Shylock want?

Ans. Shylock wants a pound of flesh from the part of body that is nearest Antanio’s heart.


1.     Why does Portia want the Jew to show mercy?

Ans. Mercy, according to Portia, is a divine quality. It blesses both the giver and the taker. She wants the Jew to show mercy to Antonio and become a human being of divine quality.


2.     What does the Jew insist upon?

3.     Ans. The Jew is revengeful. He hates Antonio. So he insists upon getting a pound of flesh from nearest Antonio’s heart.


1.     What does Bassanio offer the Jew?

Ans. Antonio has borrowe4d some money from the Jew. Bassanio offers to give him double the amount. If it is not sufficient, he is ready to give ten times the borrowed money.


2.     Why does Shylock call Balthazar (Portia) a Daniel?

Ans. Balthazar is a legal expert. He declares that shylock’s bond is valid. Therefore, he can legally get his pound of flesh. This declaration pleases Shylock. He praises Balthazar and calls him a Daniel. Daniel was the wisest judge of his time.


8. Why is not Shylock ready to take money?

Ans. Shylock hates Antonio because her stands in the way of his lending money on interest. He wants his death. So he is not ready to take money. He wants a pound of flesh from nearest Antonio’s heart.


 (ii) Answer the following questions in 50-60 words each:

1.     What does the bond say?

Ans.  Antonio borrows some money from Shylock. Shylock gets a bond signed from him. The bond says that Antonio will have to give back to Shylock the borrowed money within a period of three months. If he fails to return the loan amount within the fixed period, Shylock would have the right to cut off a pound of flesh from nearest Antonio’s heart.


2.     Why can’t Shylock take his pound of flesh?

Ans.  If any piece of flesh is cut off from a person’s body, blood must flow from the wounds. But the bond of Shylock does not allow him to shed the blood of Antonio. The shedding of blood is not mentioned in the bond. So Shylock cannot take a pound of flesh.


4.     What does Antonio want Bassanio to tell Portia?

Ans.   Antonio wants Bassanio to tell Portia that he died to help his dearest friend. He wants him to tell her that he always dearly loved Bassanio. He had no regret to do some good to Bassanio at the cost of his life.


5.     What is the vow taken by Shylock?

Ans.   Shylock swears by god that no power in the state of Venice would change his mind and he would never show mercy to Antonio. He would stick to the condition in the bond and take a pound of flesh from the body of Antonio.


6.     What does Shylock offer after he fails to take his pound of flesh?

Ans.   Shylock fails to get a pound of flesh from the body of Antonio. Then he offers to accept three times the principal amount. But the court rejects his offer. Then he offers that he would accept only the principal.


7.     What is the penalty imposed upon Shylock?

Ans.   Shylock is found guilty of conspiring against the life of Antonio who is a citizen of Venice. Shylock is a foreigner. According to a law of the state of Venice, the plenty could be death of Shylock. But the duke reduces this plenty. He spares his life. But half of his property goes to Antonio and the other half to the state. This is the penalty imposed upon Shylock.


8.     What does Antonio want the law to do?

Ans.  Half the property of Shylock is given by the law to Antonio. But Antonio wants the law to remit the fine imposed upon Shylock. He wants to keep with him his half share. But he says that it would go to Lorenzo after the death of shylock. Antonio wants that Shylock must become a Christian and execute a will that the other half share of his property would go after his death to Lorenzo and Jessica, the son in law and daughter of Shylock.




(iii) Describe the following briefly in your own words:

a.     Portia’s speech on Mercy

Ans.   Portia delivers a speech in the court of the duke. It is a speech on ‘The Quality of Mercy’. She tells that mercy is superior to any other quality of human beings. It has a touch of divinity. It is the greatest and the most praiseworthy quality of these who are powerful. When a king or ruler shows mercy to those who suffer, he becomes a divine being. Portia asks the cruel Jew to be merciful, and thus become a noble person. Portia points out that mercy blesses both the giver and the receiver.

Thus she wants that Shylock should give up the idea of getting a pound of flesh from the body of Antonio.



b.     Portia’s character

Ans.   Portia is beautiful and intelligent lady. She is the beauty of the play. She is wife of Bassanio, who is a friend of Antonio. He has borrowed some money from Shylock. One of the condition in the bond, that he has signed, is that if he fails to return the money within the fixed time, shylock would have a legal claim to get a pound of flesh from his body.

                                  When Portia comes to know that her husband’s wife is in trouble, she goes to Venice. She appears in the court as a male lawyer for Antonio. She says that Shylock has a right to take his pound of flesh, but she cannot shed the Christian blood of a citizen of Venice because shedding of blood is not mentioned in the bond. Shylock wants to kill Antonio but he is helpless. Cutting off a pound of flesh from the body without shedding blood is not possible. Thus she saves the life of Antonio and turns the tables on Shylock. He is insulted and punished in the court.


c.      Shylock’s character

Ans. Shylock is a Jew. He is a money-lender in Venice. He hates Antonio because that Antonio is spoiling his business.

Antonio borrows some money from Shylock. He signs a bond on the condition that he must pay back the money within three months. If he fails to do so, Shylock will be legally entitled to cut and take a pound of flesh from Antonio’s body. Antonio fails to pay back the money by the fixed time. The Jew files a court case against Antonio. When Portia say us that he is entitled to have his pound of flesh, he gets ready like a butcher to cut his enemy’s flesh. But in the end his plan fails. He is sentenced to death. He is foreigner in Venice. He has conspired to kill a citizen of Venice. However, the Duke pardons him on certain conditions. Half of his wealth is given back to him. The other half is given to Antonio. After his death, his entire property would go to his daughter Jessica and her lover, Lorenzo. He has to agree to become a Christian. Thus he gets his due in the end.



(iv) How does Portia turn the tables on Shylock?

B. Vocabulary Exercises

(i) Match the Phrases in column A with their meanings in column B.

A                                                                B

acquainted with                                                    tell positively about me


stand within danger                                               to open


confess the bond                                                   respect the law


discharge the money                                             to change


crave the law                                                        familiar with


to alter                                                                  liable to be punished


lay bare                                                                accept the bond


commend me                                                        give back the money




acquainted with                                                    familiar with


stand within danger                                             liable to be punished


confess the bond                                                  accept the bond


discharge the money                                                      give back the money


crave the law                                                        respect the law


to alter                                                                  to change


lay bare                                                                to open


commend me                                                        tell positively about me




 (ii) Fill in the blanks with the opposites of the italicized words:


a. The police should commend the honest citizen, anyone who fails to do his duty should be condemned.


b. Virtue and vice, go together in life.


c. Ramesh is an upright officer while Shyam is a dishonest one.


d. Don’t pause during your speech; continue, speaking.


e. The enemy seized the fort but Shivaji soon got it released.


f. Request humbly, don’t order proudly.


(iii) Match the words in column A with their meanings in column B:


A                                                                    B


           gratitude                                                              to change


            learned                                                               to check


offence                                                                  to lessen


thoroughly                                                            actions


monarch                                                               placed on throne


dread                                                                              fear


enthroned                                                             educated


deeds                                                                    crime


mitigate                                                                completely


curb                                                                      thankfulness


alter                                                                      king




gratitude                                                               thankfulness


learned                                                                           educated


offence                                                                  crime


thoroughly                                                           completely


monarch                                                                king


dread                                                                    fear


enthroned                                                             placed on throne


deeds                                                                     actions


mitigate                                                                to lessen


          curb                                                                      to check


         alter                                                                       to change





C. Grammar Exercises


(i) Fill in the blanks with the correct forms of the words given in brackets:


a. She contrived to rob his brother of all his property. (contrive)


b. I propped the tent with a big bamboo stick. (prop)


c. One should be contented with what one has. (content)


d. The sentence was pronounced in the court. (pronounce)


e. The child humbly asked me to help him out of the difficulty. (humble)


f. Gratifying someone at the cost of your self respect is useless. (gratify)


g. He bade or bid adieu to his friends. (bid)


(ii) Correct the following sentences.


1.     This is an useful article

Ans. This is a useful article.


2. He has no informations.

Ans. He has no information.


3. What foolish I have been!

Ans. How foolish I have been!


4. I will be binding to pay it.

Ans. I will be bound to pay it.


5.. The football match ended to a draw.

Ans. The football match ended in a draw.


6. The class has less boys today.

Ans. The class has fewer boys today.


7.. She has bought new furnitures.

Ans. She has bought new furniture.


8..I cannot give you some money.

Ans.  I cannot give you any money.


(iii) Punctuate the following sentences:

(a) nonsense said the father don’t people die even after swallowing all kinds of drugs.

(b) if costly medicines could save life how is it that kings and emperors are not immortal said the monk.


(a) “Nonsense!” , said the father, “ don’t people die even after swallowing all kinds of drugs”?

(b) “If costly medicines could save life, how is it that kings and emperors are not immortal? said the monk.



(i)                Rewrite the following sentences in Passive Voice:


i.. I know him very well.

Ans. He is very well known to me.


ii.. This glass contains milk.

Ans. Milk is contained in this glass.


iii.. Whom do you want to see?

Ans. Who is wanted to be seen by you?


iv. What wrong have I done to you?

Ans. What wrong to you has been done by me?


v. Inform the police.

Ans. Let the police be informed.


vi. Don’t walk on grass.

Ans. You are forbidden to walk on grass.


You are advised not to walk on grass.


vii. You have forgotten your property.

Ans. Your property has been forgotten by you.


viii. He will punish her for being late.  

Ans. She will be punished by him for being late.



D. Pronunciation Practice

Try to perceive the vowel sounds in the following sets of words and say them aloud :

A                                                       B                                                       C

end – and                                 test – taste                                              fast – first


lend – land                               fell – fail                                                 far – fur

mess – mass                                      men – main                                                       hard – heard


merry – marry                         sent – saint                                             heart – hurt


said – sad                                hell – hail                                               bath – birth


E. Creative Writing and Extended Reading

1. Write a paragraph on :

Virtues of mercy or

Never a Borrower or a Lender Be or

Value of Tolerance and Compassion


2. Read the following plays of William Shakespeare and write in 10-15 lines the message you find in each :

i. The Merchant of Venice

ii. The Tempest


3. Do you think Shylock was treated rightly in the court ? Justify your answer. Discuss the issue with some of your classfellows.


4. Visit a local court. Describe in your own words some court

scene you witness.


5. Describe an interesting incident in which an elder one sorted out a difficult case of misunderstanding or a genuine quarrel between you and a friend.





Just a little fun:

There was a young lady of Niger,

Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.

They returned from the ride

With the lady inside –

And the smile on the face of the tiger!