The Merchant of Venice Act 5 Scene 1 ICSE Questions and Answers

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

Portia :   If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
Or your own honour to contain the ring,
You would not then parted with the ring.

(i) To whom is Portia talking here? What is the point of their talk?

Answer : Portia is talking to her husband Bassanio here. They are talking about the loss of Portia’s ring which she had given to Bassanio with the instruction that he must never part with it.

(ii) Which ring has been mentioned here? What has happened to the ring?

Answer : The ring here is the ring that Portia gave to her husband Bassanio when their marriage was solemnised. She wanted Bassanio to keep the ring with him always. However, Bassanio was claiming that he had given it to a lawyer.

(iii) Portia appears to be very angry here. Is she really angry? Give reasons to support your answer.

Answer : It may appear that Portia was very angry with her husband. He had claimed that only death can part him from the ring. However she was playing the fool with him. She had demanded the ring, when disguised as a Doctor of Law in Venice, in return for the favour she had done by saving Antonio’s life. It was her own idea to tease her husband.

(iv) What does Antonio tell Portia to convince her?

Answer : Antonio tried to convince Portia by saying that Bassanio was not telling a lie and he had given the ring to the lawyer who saved Antonio’s life. He told her that it was he would persuaded Bassanio to give the ring to the lawyer.

(v) Earlier, Nerissa had taken the ring from her husband too. Why had their husbands given the rings back to them?

Answer : Nerissa and Portia had disguised themselves as men and went to Venice to help Antonio win his case. After they were successful, Bassanio wanted to give them a parting gift. Portia demanded the ring. Bassanio was reluctant to give the ring but Antonio persuaded him and Bassanio sent Gratiano with the ring to Portia. There Nerissa took her ring back from Gratiano on a similar pretext.