The Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 3 ICSE Questions and Answers

Question 1 : Read the extract give below and answer the questions that follow.

Bassanio : Be assured you may.

Shylock : I will be assured I may; and , I may be assured, I will bethink me. May I speak with Antonio?

Bassanio : If it please you to dine with us.

Shylock : Yes, to smell pork; to eat of the habitation which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into. I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following, but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. What news on the Rialto? Who is he comes here?

Enter Antonio

(i) Where are Bassanio and Shylock at this time? What is the purpose of their meeting?

Answer : At this moment, Bassanio and Shylock were at a public place in Venice. Bassanio has come to Shylock to ask him whether he would lend three thousand ducats for three months on Antonio’s surety.

(ii) What reply does Shylock give to Bassanio’s invitation for dinner?

Answer : Shylock replies that he wants to talk to Antonio before finalising the deal, but refuses to join them for dinner. Shylock, a Jew, expresses his revulsions to smelling and eating pork and implies that Christians should feel the same way,  since Christ (‘the Nazarite’) cast the spirit causing a man’s insanity into a herd of swine, which makes pigs the ‘habitation’ of the devil. Shylock is only interested in doing business with Christians; he will neither eat nor drink with them or pray with them.

(iii) What does Shylock say ‘aside’ about Antonio when he enters the scene?

Answer : When Antonio join Bassanio and Shylock , Shylock in an aside expresses his extreme hatred for Antonio. He hates Antonio for being a Christian but moreover, he hates him because he lends money without interest and spoils the business for other moneylenders like Shylock. So he wants to have Antonio at a disadvantage some day and have his revenge. In addition, Antonio has disgraced Shylock and Jews in general often.

(iv) What Biblical allusion does Shylock make while speaking to Bassanio in the extract?

Answer : Bassanio invites Shylock to have dinner with them but Shylock gets offended and says that he cannot dine with them as they eat pork, which is forbidden for Jews. He says that the Nazarite i.e., Jesus Christ healed a madman by ordering the devils possessing him to leave the man and enter into a herd of pigs. He could not eat the meat of a defiled thing.

(v) Why does Bassanio say, “Be assured you may”? What has Shylock said earlier about Antonio’s ventures?

Answer : Bassanio wants to reassure Shylock that Antonio as surety will be acceptable. This is because earlier Shylock had pointed out the drawbacks of the shipping business in which Antonio had invested his money, to Bassanio so that he will be appreciative of the risk involved in lending him the money he wanted. Shylock had expressed his doubts about Antonio’s financial condition, considering that all his ships carrying goods were still at sea and subject to attacks by pirates, perils of running aground, stormy weather and other natural phenomenon, due to which Antonio could lose his invested money.

Question 2 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.

Antonio : Shylock, albeit, I neither lend nor borrow
By taking nor by giving of excess,
Yet, to supply the ripe wants of my friend,
I’ll break a custom. – [To Bassanio] Is he yet possessed
How much ye would?

(i) Where are Antonio, Bassanio and Shylock at this time? What is the purpose of their meeting?

Answer : Antonio, Shylock and Bassanio were at a public place in Venice when they had this meeting. The purpose of their meeting was that Bassanio wanted to take a loan of three thousand ducats from Shylock for which Antonio would stand surety.

(ii) Shylock had earlier said that Antonio was spoiling the moneylenders’ business. How was Antonio responsible for this?

Answer : Shylock had accused Antonio of spoiling the business for other moneylenders as Antonio would give loans without interest. Moreover, Shylock was angry with him as many time, Antonio had bailed out his debtors.

(iii) Did Shylock help Antonio and Bassanio? If yes, then was there any ulterior motive behind this charity?

Answer : Yes, Shylock agreed to help Bassanio and loan him an amount of three thousand ducats upon Antonio’s surety. However, there was an ulterior motive behind it. He wanted to avenge his grudge against Antonio as Antonio had spoilt his loan business and insulted him on many occasions. He wanted to exploit his position.

(iv) What impression do you form about Antonio from the above lines?

Answer : Antonio was a true friend. The extract confirms this. He changes his principles to help a friend in need. Not only this , he went to his adversary asking for a loan so that he could aid his friend in a time of need.

(v) Why was Antonio not able to help his friend Bassanio? What made him come to Shylock?

Answer : Antonio was a wealthy merchant. He helped Bassanio many times in the past also. However, when Bassanio wanted three thousand ducats from Antonio, he was not able to help him much. He told him that he did not have any ready cash at his disposal and his ships were yet to reach port. But he told Bassanio to go to any moneylender in Venice and get a loan for which Antonio would stand surety. Bassanio had gone to Shylock and Shylock wanted to meet Antonio before finalising the deal. Hence, all three met at a public place.