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

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

“Certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnal; and, in my conscience, my
conscience is but a kind of hard conscience, to 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 command; I will run.”

(i) Who is the speaker of these lines? Who is the ‘Jew’ being referred to here?

Answer : Luncelot Gobbo is the speaker of these lines. The ‘Jew’ mentioned here is his master, Shylock.

(ii) What dilemma is the speaker currently facing?

Answer : Launcelot is facing the dilemma that whether he should continue working for Shylock or should he leave his duty. He wants to run away from his but his conscience is pricking him and stopping him from leaving. His conscience wants him to stay faithful to his master.

(iii) How does the speaker solve his dilemma?

Answer : Launcelot Gobbo gave in to the voice of the devil inside him. Though his conscience was giving him a hard time by telling him that he should stay loyal to his master, the devil inside him was powerful enough to make him run away from his master. He thought that ‘the fiend gives the more friendly counsel.’

(iv) The speaker says ‘I will run’. Where does he want to run? Is he trying to run away from something or someone?

Answer : Launcelot wants to get discharged from serving his master, Shylock. He thinks that he is the incarnation of the devil himself. He is running away from all Shylock’s tyranny and go to Bassanio to serve him.

(v) Why is the speaker calling the ‘Jew’ a devil incarnal? Do you agree with him?

Answer : Shylock has been called a devil incarnal; which means a devil in human form, by his own servant. Launcelot Gobbo is right in using these words because, as the story progresses, we wee the devilish deeds of Shylock. He has an evil mind and even his own daughter does not want to be related to him in any way. He is despised by all as he is shrewd enough to take the life of a man out of sheer hatred.

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

Bassanio :    One speak for both. What would you?

Launcelot :  Serve you sir.

Gobbo :         That is the very defect of the matter, sir.

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 is preferment
To leave a rich Jew’s service, to become
The follower of so poor a gentleman.

(i) What does Gobbo mean when he says that it was the very defect of the matter?

Answer : Old Gobbo, Launcelot’s father, accompanies him to meet Bassanio and makes the request that his son should be accepted as Bassanio’s servant. His words, “That is the very defect of the matter”, emphasise that it is the ‘effect’ or the gist of the matter at hand.

(ii) What had made Launcelot leave his old master and come to Bassanio?

Answer : Launcelot was not happy working for Shylock, his old master. He called him the very incarnation of the veil. It appears that he was fed up under his tyrant rule and thus left his service to work for Bassanio, about whom Launcelot had heard many charitable things.

(iii) Why did Bassanio say, “One speak for both”?

Answer : Bassanio was making preparations as he was soon leaving her Belmont. However, the two Gobbos stopped him and were wasting his time making confusing conversation. to deal with them quickly, Bassanio cut them short and told them that only one should speak for both of them.

(iv) Why had Launcelot preferred to work for Bassanio, who is not as rich as his old master?

Answer : It appears that Launcelot was not happy working for Shylock. He had earlier said that working for Shylock had starved him to death. He had become so thin that one could feel his ribs. He was so agitated against him that he wanted his father to gift Shylock a rope to hand himself.

(v) Bassanio says that Shylock himself had referred Launcelot to Bassanio. Why did Shylock want to get rid of Launcelot?

Answer : After hearing that Launcelot had come with a request that he wanted to serve Bassanio, he was remined that Launcelot’s master, Shylock had referred to him. Shylock wanted to get rid of Launcelot as he thought that he was lazy and just kept eating.