ICSE Merchant of Venice Questions and Answers PDF
ICSE Merchant of Venice Questions and Answers PDF
1. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
Mislike me not for my complexion,
The shadowed livery of the burnished sun,
To whom I am a neighbour and near bred.
Bring me the fairest creature northward born,
Where Phoebus’ fire scarce thaws the icicles,
And let us make incision for your love
To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.
I tell thee, lady, this aspect of mine
Hath feared the valiant. By my love
I swear The best-regarded virgins of our clime
Have loved it too. I would not change this hue
Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.
In terms of choice I am not solely led
By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes.
Besides, the lottery of my destiny
Bars me the right of voluntary choosing. [Act-II Sc. I] [ICSE 2018]
(i) Where is this scene set? Account for Morocco’s presence in this place.
Answer: This scene is set in one of the rooms in Portia’s house. The Prince of Morocco has come to Belmont to try his luck at the lottery of caskets which Portia’s father had devised.
(ii) What can you assess of Morocco’s appearance and character based on the given extract?
Answer: Morocco is dark complexioned, fierce- looking youngman. He is proud of his dark skin. He adds that his dark complexion has frightened many brave warriors and the best regarded virgins of his country also like him for his dark skin.
(iii) Mention any three actions that Morocco says he would be happy to perform in order to win Portia.
Answer: Morocco would be happy to perform these three things to win Portia :
• he would outstare the sternest eyes that look,
• he would pluck the young suckling from the she-bear,
• he would mock the lion when he roars for prey.
(iv) What does Morocco have to swear before he makes his ‘hazard’?
Answer: Morocco would have to swear that if he chooses wrong he would never speak to any lady afterwards by way of marriage.
(v) Portia speaks of ‘the lottery of my destiny’. What exactly is she referring to? What in your opinion are Portia’s feelings regarding this matter ?
Answer: Portia is actually referring to the lottery of caskets. According to the will of her late father, she would have to marry that man who chooses the right casket. That is why she calls the lottery of caskets the lottery of her destiny. I feel that Portia is a very sincere and faithful girl. She has a great regard for her father. In no case would she go against the wishes of her father.
2. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow :
Shall I not receive my principal ?
Thou shall have nothing but the forfeiture,
To be taken at thy peril, Jew. [Act IV Sc. I ICSE 2018]
(i) Explain what Portia means by the above words.
Answer: Earlier in the scene Portia had requested Shylock to be merciful, but Shylock had refused to do so. Portia has now turned the tables on Shylock. She has asked him to take a pound of flesh but he must not shed even a drop of blood. This is not possible. So Shylock wants to have his principal amount i.e., three thousand ducats. But Portia angrily says that he will have only the forfeiture of his bond.
(ii) How does Shylock respond to her words ?
Answer: Shylock angrily says that if they are not going to return him even the principal amount, then devil may take him. In other words, the amount may go to hell, he will not stay there any more.
(iii) What more does Portia tell Shylock about the laws of Venice as applicable to an ‘alien’ (foreigner) ?
Answer: Portia tells Shylock that according to the laws of Venice, if an alien (foreigner) plots against the life of any citizen of Venice directly or indirectly then that citizen will be entitled to seize one half of the alien’s property. The other half will go into the private treasury of the state.
(iv) What does Antonio propose to do with his share of Shylock’s goods ?
Answer: Antonio proposes to invest in business his share of Shylock’s goods and he wants to give it to Lorenzo and Jessica after the death of Shylock.
(v) What role does Portia play in this scene ? What does this reveal of her character ?
Answer: Portia plays a very significant role in this scene. As a doctor of law, she turns the tables on Shylock and saves Antonio from the clutches of the cruel Jew.
3. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
But little: I am arm’d and well prepared.
Give me your hand, Bassanio: fare you well!
Grieve not that I am fallen to this for you;
For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom: it is still her use
To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
An age of poverty; from which lingering penance
Of such misery doth she cut me off. [Act IV Sc I ICSE 2018]
(i) Where is this scene set? To whom are these words addressed? To what question does Antonio respond with the words, ‘But little:’ ?
Answer: This scene is set in a court of justice in Venice. These words are addressed to Portia. Portia has said, “You, merchant, have you any thing to say ?” Antonio says, “But little.”
(ii) What does Antonio mean when he says, “Grieve not that I have fallen to this for you”?
Answer: Antonia means to say that Bassanio should not feel sad after his death. He should not blame himself thinking that it was due to him that Antonio signed the fatal bond and fell a victim to the treachery of Shylock.
(iii) What does Antonio instruct Bassanio to do immediately after speaking these lines ?
Answer: After speaking these lines Antonio instructs Bassanio to convey his compliments to his honourable wife. He should also tell his wife the manner in which Antonio met his end. Above all, Bassanio should tell his wife how much he (Antonio) loved him (Bassanio).
(iv) What is Bassanio’s response to this speech ?
Answer: In response to this speech Bassanio tells Antonio that he is now a married man. He loves his wife very much. But at this moment his life, his wife and all the world are not of greater value to him than Antonio’s life. He would lose them all to save Antonio’s life.
(v) On what note does Antonio conclude his speech? What does this reveal of Antonio’s attitude to life and death?
Answer: Antonio concludes his speech telling Bassanio that he is making this sacrifice for him but he does not repent it. He adds that if the Jew cuts deep enough he will die, but he will be contented to think that he has paid Bassanio’s debt.
4. Read the following extract and answer the questions that follow :
As from her lord, her governor, her king.
Myself and what is mine to you and yours
Is now converted : but now I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen O’er myself; and even now, but now,
This house, these servants, and this same myself,
Are yours, my lord : [ICSE 2016]
(i) Where are Portia and Bassanio ? What has just taken place which makes Portia to speak these words ? What was the inscription given in the lead casket ?
Answer: Portia and Bassanio are in a room in Portia’s house. Bassanio has just chosen the lead casket which contained Portia’s portrait. Portia is overjoyed at this.
The lead casket had this inscription on it: “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”
(ii) What does Bassanio say in praise of Portia’s portrait ?
Answer: Looking at the portrait of Portia, Bassanio says that some semi-divine artist has made this portrait. It is so lifelike. The eyes seem to move and the lips seem to part to say something. It is really excellent.
(iii) What news saddens Bassanio on this happy occasion ? What does Portia ask him to do ?
Answer: On this happy occasion, Bassanio receives from Salerio Antonio’s letter. This letter informs him that Antonio’s ships have met with a disaster. His creditors have become .cruel as his means have fallen low. Antonio’s bond to Shylock has been forfeited.
When Portia learns about Antonio’s plight, she asks Bassanio to expedite all his business immediately and go to Venice to help Antonio.
(iv) Who is Balthazar ? What was the work assigned to him by Portia ?
Answer: Balthazar is the trusted servant of Portia. She asks him to go to Padua immediately and deliver a letter to her cousin Dr. Bellario. Moreover, whatever papers or garments he might give to him, he must bring them to her at a very fast speed.
(v) Where does Portia really plan to go ? What similarity do we find between Portia and Antonio ? What does this scene reveal about the character of Portia ? Give a reason to justify your answer.
Answer: Portia plans to appear in the court disguised as a representative of Dr. Bellario.
Both Portia and Antonio are very sincere. Both of them love Bassanio and are ready to do anything for him. This scence reveals Portia’s essential wisdom. As soon as she sends Bassanio, she decides to send Balthazar to Dr. Bellario to seek legal opinion and help from him in the case of Antonio.
5. Read the following extract and answer the questions that follow :
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy reasons justice. [ICSE 2016]
(i) Name the speaker. Why did the speaker appeal to the Jew for mercy ? Earlier who else in the play appealed for mercy ? Answer: The speaker is Portia dressed as a doctor of laws. The speaker appealed to the Jew for mercy to diminish the force of his demand for strict justice. She added that if he still insisted on his demand of a pound of flesh, the strict court of Venice would have to pronounce a judgement against Antonio.
Earlier the Duke himself had appealed to Shylock to show mercy.
(ii) What are the three qualities of mercy which the speaker has stated just before the extract ?
Answer: The speaker has stated that mercy is shown by human beings as naturally and spontaneously as the gentle drops of rain fall from the sky above down to the ground below. Secondly, mercy is the most powerful feeling in those who have the highest authority. It suits a king more than his crown. Mercy is greater than the worldly authority which is symbolized by the sceptre which he holds. Thirdly, mercy is the essential quality of God who is the supreme power of the universe. Earthly power acquires a divine quality when a man softens the rigours of the demands of justice by showing mercy.
(iii) Give the meaning of ‘But mercy is above this sceptred sway’. How does Shylock turn down Portia’s plea for mercy ? What does he insist on ?
Answer: The line “But mercy is above this sceptred sway” means that the king’s sceptre is the emblem of his worldly power. It is the symbol of fear which kingship inspires in others. But mercy is higher and greater than the worldly authority which is symbolized by rod. Shylock turns down Portia’s plea for mercy asking her to let him face the consequences of his actions. He takes full responsibility for his act. He persists in his demand. He asks Portia to enforce the law and let him have the penalty specified in the bond which Antonio has forfeited.
(iv) What is Bassanio ready to do for Antonio in the court ? Why is Bassanio snubbed . immediately by the disguised Portia ?
Answer: Bassanio is ready to pay twice the borrowed money. If that is not sufficient, he is ready to pay ten times that amount. If even this is not enough, he is ready to forfeit his hands and his heart.
Bassanio asks Portia (disguised as doctor of laws) to bend the law once and use the authority of the court to do what is morally right to save the life of Antonio. But Portia, snubs him saying that there is no power that can change the established law of Venice.
(v) Mention two prominent character traits of Shylock as highlighted through the scene from which the extract has been taken. Substantiate your answer with examples from the text.
Answer: The trial scene shows that Shylock is a revengeful and bloodthirsty man. He turns down the apeals of the Duke and Portia for mercy and insists on having a pound of flesh. He is offered ten times the amount of the borrowed money but he refuses it. He wants only revenge. Secondly, the scene shows that Shylock is firm in his resolve. He bluntly tells Portia that there is no power in the tongue of man to alter his . resolve to take a pound of flesh. He says, “My deeds upon my head.” Thus he . invokes the law to let him have the penalty as mentioned in the bond.
6. Read the following extract and answer the questions that follow :
Portia : …. But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband. O me, the word “choose” ! I may neither choose whom I would, nor refuse whom I dislike; so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse none ? [ICSE 2015]
(i) What test had Portia’s father devised for her suitors ? What oath did the suitors have to take before making their choice ? Answer: Portia’s father had devised a lottery of three caskets in one of which was the portrait of Portia. Only that suitor who loved her truly would choose the right casket . The suitors had to take an oath of secrecy and of celibacy in case they failed in the right choice.
(ii) Who is Nerissa ? What does she say to cheer up Portia ?
Answer: Nerissa is Portia’s companion. She cheers up Portia by saying that she should not worry as her father must have got right inspiration at the time of his death, and that the casket lottery designed by him would prove to be a sound one.
(iii) Why does Portia disapprove of the County Palatine ? Whom would she rather marry ?
Answer: Portia disapproves the County Palatine because he does nothing but frown, just as if to say, “I care little whether you want me or not.” He hears good stories without a smile. Portia says that she should rather marry a skeleton with a bone in his mouth.
(iv) How, according to Portia, can the Duke of Saxony’s nephew be made to choose the wrong casket ? What do these suitors ultimately decide ? Why ?
Answer: The Duke of Saxony’s nephew is a big drunkard. So in order to induce him to choose the wrong casket, Portia asks Nerissa to place a large glass of wine. He will choose that casket even if the devil be in the casket. So long as the temptation of wine is there, he will choose it. These suitors ultimately decide to leave without trying their luck with the lottery because they do not want to take any risk as they are not true lovers.
(v) Whom does Portia ultimately marry ? Who were the two other suitors who took the test ? Why, in your opinion, is the person whom she marries worthy of her ?
Answer: Portia marries young Bassanio ultimately. The other two suitors who took the test were the Prince of Morocco and the Prince of Arragon. Bassanio, a brave and generous fellow, was really worthy of Portia because he knew what love demanded. He was the one who could make the greatest sacrifice at the altar of love. True love knows to give but does not demand.
7. Read the following extract and answer the questions that follow :
What, is Antonio here ?
Ready, so please your grace.
I am sorry for thee : thou art come to answer
A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
Uncapable of pity, void and empty
From any dram of mercy [ICSE 2015]
(i) What are the terms of the bond that Antonio has signed ?
Answer: The terms of the bond that Antonio has signed are very harsh, according to which Shylock will be entitled to have a pound of flesh from any part of Antonio’s body if the latter fails to return the sum of three thousand ducats borrowed by Antonio.
(ii) Why does the Duke call Shylock ‘inhuman’ ? What does the Duke expect Shylock to do ?
Answer: The Duke calls Shylock ‘inhuman’ because he (Shylock) has a heart of stone, an inhuman wretch who does not know what pity is, quite lacking in the slighest quality of mercy. The Duke expects Shylock to be merciful, and not vindictive.
(iii) What reason does Shylock give for choosing rotten flesh over money ? What are the things hated by some people ?
Answer: Shylock prefers to have a quantity of dead flesh rather than three thousand ducats. For this he gives no other reason than his whim. People like or hate things out of their personal inclinations. There are certain men who have an aversion to a gaping pig, , there are others who fly into a rage at the sight of a cat. Still there are others who fail to keep their balance on hearing the sound of a bagpipe.
(iv) State three examples Antonio gives to illustrate Shylock’s stubborn attitude.
Answer: Antonio tells Bassanio that it is useless to ask Shylock to be merciful. He argues that as it is useless to ask the tide not to rise so high, similarly it is futile to ask Shylock to soften his stand. One might as well ask the wolf why he made the mother sheep mourn for the lamb he devoured. One might as well forbid the pine trees on the mountains to wave their high tops and to make a noise when disturbed by the winds of heaven.
(v) How is Shylock’s property distributed at the end by Antonio ?
Do you think Shylock deserves the punishment given to him ?
Give a reason to justify your answer.
Answer: Though the Duke orders half of Shylock’s property to go to Antonio while the other half will go to the state treasury, Antonio remarks that he does not want to claim half of Shylock’s property. He adds that he would like it to be given to Jessica and Lorenzo after Shylock’s death. I think Shylock has been harshly treated. He seems to have been more sinned against than sinning. The Christian charity should have been shown to him also.