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The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary Workbook Answers
The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary
The scene shifts to Venice and it offers a humorous relief. Launcelot Gobo, the clown, dominates this scene. As the scene opens, the clown is debating with himself whether to continue with Shylock or not. A ‘fiend’ urges him to leave his present employment. His conscience urges him to be loyal to his master and stick on.
Ultimately, he decides to run away. The comic situation builds up when Old Gobo makes his appearance. The blind father does not recognize his son at first. He seeks direction to Shylock’s house without realizing that the dim image before him is his son.
Launcelot gives him crazy directions where he would meet ‘Master Launcelot’. Continuing the joke, he tells old gobo that Master Launcelot is dead. After much clowning and double talk, he finally reveals his identity and kneels before his father for blessings. Bassanio enters. The two Gobos intimate him of the plan of Launcelot leaving the service of Shylock. Bassanio is ready to employ him.
He orders for new livery for Launcelot. Gratiano enters, seeking to go to Belmont with Bassanio. Bassanio agrees thinking that Gratiano will curb his high spirits; Gratiano suggests revelry before they leave and Bassanio consents. All look forward to festivity.
The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary Word Meanings
- fiend – devil
- heed – care
- aforesaid – said before
- scorn – contemptuous
- pack – go
- hanging-heart – clinging to heart
- budge – move
- ruled – guided
- reverence – respect
- incarnation – in human form
- sand-blind – half blind
- high-gravel blind – almost completely blind
- marry – by the Virgin Mary
- sonties – saints, raise the waters – bring tears
- ergo – therefore
- the sisters three – the sisters of fates or destinies
- staff – support
- cudgel – short stick for support
- hovel post – main support of a poor building
- fill-horse – cart horse
- famished – starved
- liveries – uniforms
- hasted – speeded up
- at the farthest – at the latest
- anon – at once
- gramerci – many thanks
- infection – wrong word used for affection
- cater-cousins – good friends
- fructify – wrongly used for notify
- suit – request
- impertinent – relevant
- defect – used for effect
- preferment – promotion
- guarded – more ornamented
- table – palm
- trifle – unimportant
- maids – unmarried girls
- peril – danger
- wench – lady
- besto’wd – placed in the boat
- hie – hurry
- yonder – over there
- rude – unmannerly
- bold – loud
- parts – qualities
- pray – request
- allay – moderate
- skipping – playful
- misconstrued – misunderstood
- wear – carry
- demurely – grave
- civility – good manners
- bearing – conduct
- gauge – judge
- suit of mirth – party dress or amusing manner
- purpose – intend
- merriment – enjoyment.
The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 2 Summary Questions and Answers
To be ruled by my
conscience, I should stay with the Jew my master, who (God bless the mark !)
is a king of devil; and, to run away from the
Jew, I should be ruled by the fiend, who (saving your reverence)
is the devil himself. Certainly, the Jew is the very devil
incarnation; and, in my conscience, my conscience is but a kind of hard conscience, the offer to counsel me to stay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more friendly counsel: I will run, fiend; my heels
are at your commandment; I will run.
Where is the speaker now? Who is he? Who is the ‘Jew my master’?
The speaker is on a street in Venice. Launcelot is the typical country clown whom the Elizabethans loved watching in plays. The Jew is Shylock, under whom Launcelot is employed.
What is the conflict going on in the speaker’s mind? What do you think is the reason for his confusion?
The conflict in his mind is whether to be loyal to Shylock and continue working for him or run away. The reason, to a great extent is racial discrimination. He doesn’t like being under a Jew. Moreover, Bassanio has offered his hires to him and he feels that life under the English man will be more easy, respectful and better paid.
Why is the Jew called a ‘devil’s incarnation?
Launcelot says that the very devil has taken the form of Shylock who is a Jew, a miser and a bad master. This marks the racial discrimination the Christians had for the Jews, they consider them as the monsters of cruelty.
Give the meaning of, ‘I should be ruled by the fiend’ and ‘a kind of hard conscience’ and ‘my heels are at your command’
Launcelot’s mind, here, is torn by conflict. His conscience tells him, as he is now employed by Shylock, he should stick with him. He says his conscience is being cruel as it advises him to take the difficult choice. Finally, he gives up Shylock’s service in order to take up a job under Bassanio.
What is the importance of this scene, in regard to the play?
This scene offers comic relief after the pompous talks of Prince of Morocco. The scene also makes us think about conscience, loyalty of a servant to a master, false expectations, prejudice and relationship of children with parents.
2. Launcelot :
[Aside] O heavens ! this is my true-begotten father, who, being
more than sand-blind, high gravel-blind, knows me not: I will try
confusions with him.
To whom is Launcelot referring? When does this person makes his entry? What does he have in his hand?
Launcelot is referring to his own father, Old Gobo. The old man comes soon after Launcelot makes his decision to leave Shylock’s employment. Old Gobo has a basket in his hand.
Explain the meanings of ‘sand-blind’ and ‘gravel blind’. Of which category is the newcomer?
Sand-blind mean half blind and gravel blind means almost completely blind. The newcomer is sand-blind as he can see vaguely. The speaker does not reveal that he is the one his father is looking for and confuses him by referring to Master Launcelot.
What has the speaker decided to do now? What does the new¬comer ask the speaker, at this time? How do you fell about Launcelot’s attitude towards his father in this scene?
The speaker decides to confuse the old man. The newcomer asks for the way to Master Jew’s house. At this point of time, we feel that Launcelot is quite cruel to his half-blind father. He doesn’t spare him from his practical jokes. He torments him by telling him that his son is dead. The scene also shows his desire to be considered as a gentleman, so he insists that his father calls him, ‘Master Launcelot’.
How does the speaker confuse the newcomer?
he speaker gives a lot of complicated directions for Shylock’s house, only to distract and confuse him. Then he calls himself Master Launcelot, which makes the old man say that his son is not a Master. Later on he tells his poor father that Master Launcelot is dead, in order to have some fun.
How does this interlude end?
After distressing his father for a long time, Launcelot kneels before his father, asking for his blessing. He admits that he is his son. He also tells his father about his decision to run away and join the service of Bassanio.
3. Launcelot :
Well, well : but, for mine own part, as I have set up my rest to
run away, so I will not rest till I have run some ground.
To what comment of Old Gobo does the speaker reply in this manner. Why does he say, ‘I will not rest till I have run some ground’?
Old Gobo says that he has brought a gift to Shylock. Launcelot says that his father can do what he likes, but he has decided to run away and he’ll not stop till he has covered some distance.
‘My master is a very Jew’. Comment on the line. According to him what should his father do with the gift?
Launcelot says that his master shows the characteristics of a typical Jew; miserly, cruel and cunning. Anti-Semitism or racial prejudice is evident here, as Christians didn’t like Jews and considered them incarnations of the devil. Launcelot wants the gift to be given to Bassanio.
What is the halter? Why does Launcelot say that his father should do? Why?
A halter is a rope used for hanging. Launcelot says that his father should present the Jew with a rope; so that he can hang himself with it. Thereby, the world will be rid of one Jew.
Why does the speaker refer to his ribs? What do you think is the importance of the character of Launcelot in the play?
The speaker tells his father to run his hands over his ribs. He is famished under the service of the Jew, and has become thin like a skeleton that his ribs can be counted. The importance of Launcelot in the play is that he plays the role of the clown and contributes to the mirth with his comments and antics. His humour provides comic relief.
What does he say about Bassanio at this time?
The speaker says that Bassanio will give him new uniform. If he can’t join his service, he’ll run to the end of the world.
4. Bassanio :
I know thee well; Thou hast obtain’d thy suit:
Shylock thy master spoke with me this day,
And hath preferr’d thee, if it be preferment
To leave a rich Jew’s service, to become
The follower of so poor a gentleman.
Who is the ‘thee’ in the extract? What had Shylock told about the thee?
The ‘thee’ in the extract refers to Launcelot Gobo. Shylock had referred Launcelot to Bassanio, saying that he is a lazy fellow who knows only to eat and sleep.
Explain the meaning of the extract.
Bassanio says that he knows Launcelot as he had talked to him earlier. Shylock had recommended him to Bassanio. Bassanio wonders if it is wise on the part of Launcelot to leave the rich Jew and join a poor man’s service.
What proverb is quoted as an answer to this speech of Bassanio?
Launcelot quotes the proverb ‘you have the grace of God and he hath enough’. He means, the Jew has enough wealth but Bassanio has reputation of being very generous and liberal. Bassanio is blessed by God.
What instructions are given by Bassanio, soon after this? What does this show of his character?
Bassanio tells Gobo to go on and take leave of the Jew. He tells his servants to arrange for liveries for Launcelot and well-decorated ones as he is going to be in a better position. This shows the generous nature of Bassanio. He looks after his retinue well.
Just after this extract, Launcelot has predicted certain things for himself by looking at his palm. What are they?
By looking at his palm, Launcelot predicts he’ll have a good fortune and fifteen wives. He’ll escape drowning thrice and the danger of falling over the side of a feather bed.
5. Gratiano :
Signior Bassanio, hear me :
If I do not put on a sober habit,
Talk with respect, and swear but now and then,
Wear prayer-books in my pocket, look demurely,
Nay more, while grace is saying, hood mine eyes Thus with my hat, and sigh, and say ‘amen’,
Use all the observance of civility,
Like one well studied in a sad ostent To please his grandam, never trust me more.
Where is the speaker now? What had the speaker requested Bassanio a little earlier?
The Speaker is now on a street in Venice. Gratiano had earlier requested Bassanio to take him along to Belmont, in his visit.
What had Bassanio accused Gratiano, a little while ago? Why should Gratiano change his habits? What changes should Gratiano make in his behavior and why?
Bassanio had accused Gratiano that he was too wild, too rude and too loud. These characteristics suit his personality and his friends do not mind his behaviour; but outside the friend circle, it may be considered too liberal, hence he should mend his habits if he is going to Belmont. Bassanio tells Gratiano to moderate his speech, be more decent and in a playful spirit. If he doesn’t do so, it may affect Bassanio’s chances of making a favourable impression on Portia.
What is the result of this speech? Why is Gratiano requested to be merry at dinner?
Gratiano promises to behave modestly, talk with politeness, swear rarely, carry a prayer book in his pocket and look sober in his outlook. He will show all the manners of a civilized society, observing all manners that would please his grandmother. Bassanio requests Gratiano to be in his happiest mood and enjoy with all the friends.
Gratiano appears in a different mood in Belmont. Describe that mood.
Gratiano’s behavior in Belmont was entirely different. He did not utter anything that would have shocked Portia. Being such a vivacious and witty person, he proved that, he could be quiet and grave when required.
What does Gratiano mean by ‘sober habit’ and ‘sad ostent’?
‘Sober habit’ means decent manners and etiquettes. ‘Sad ostent’ means serious appearance.