The Merchant of Venice Act 2 Scene 1 ICSE Questions and Answers

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

Portia : In terms of choice I am not solely led
By niceĀ  direction of a maiden’s eyes;
Besides, the lottery of my destiny
Bars me the right of voluntary choosing;
But if my father had not scanted me,
And hedged me by his wit, to yield myself
His wife who wins me by that means I told you,
Yourself, renowned prince, then stood as fair
As any comer I have look’d on yet
For my affection.

(i) What ‘choice’ is Portia talking about?

Answer : Portia is talking about the ‘choice’ of a husband. She says that she had been denied the privilege of choosing a husband for herself by her father’s will, which says that a suitor must choose the right casket in order to marry Portia.

(ii) Why did Portia say that her father had bound her by his will?

Answer : The Moroccan Prince said that he could have won Portia easily as he was the most eligible suitor. However, Portia told him that she could not marry anyone who failed the casket test. Her father had devised a lottery to determine the right suitor for her. The suitor must choose the right casket out of the three caskets and only then he could have Portia as his wife.

(iii) Earlier, the Moroccan Prince had boasted about himself to present his claim that he was an eligible suitor. What had he said?

Answer : The Moroccan Prince said that though he had dark complexion, he was braver than any white man from the North. His blood was redder than others. He said this as it was believed that the blood of valiant men is the reddest. He further said that his complexion had made brave men fear him and he was much desired by Moroccan women.

(iv) Does Portia really mean the last three lines of the extract in which she says that the renowned prince had a fair chance?

Answer : In the last three lines, Portia claims that the Moroccan Prince stands a fair chance like all other suitors. However, later we see Portia saying that she was fortunate enough that the Moroccan Prince failed at the lottery. She did not like any of her suitors and wanted them all to lose the lottery if they made an attempt.

(v) How did the Moroccan Prince say that he did not have a fair chance at the lottery? What does Portia reply?

Answer : The Moroccan Prince said that winning Portia’s hand in marriage was dependent upon luck. He claimed that even Hercules, the mightiest demigod according to mythology, would lose to a servant if was dependent upon chance. Moreover, he would die thinking that some unworthy man had won Portia if it happened. Portia told him that it was the only way to win her, as she was bound to follow her father’s will.