The Merchant Of Venice Act 1 Scene 1 Extra Questions And Answers Class 9, 10
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Act I: Scene 1
Answer the following questions:-
1 . In reality what doesn’t Antonio know? How it worries him and others?
_ Here, Antonio confesses to his friends that he was suffering from a strange melancholy. Antonio in reality doesn’t know about the reason behind his melancholy. His sad, brooding nature makes him a weak character.
Antonio calls his sadness absent-minded fellow as it makes him so absent-minded that he sometimes forgets his own identity. Antonio’s friends Salarino and Salanio were worried about his strange melancholy and they suggested that it may be either because he was worried about the safety of his ships which were tossing on the ocean or because he has fallen in love but Antonio denies both the reasons.
2 . “ But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born, I am learn;”
What does Antonio want to learn and why?
_ Here, Antonio wants to know the reason behind his strange melancholy because this sadness made him so absent-minded that he sometimes forgets his own identity. This made him so depressed that he and his friends became worried about him. His sadness was neither because of his business nor because of his love affairs. Antonio’s melancholy may be the result of his spiritual loneliness and lack of emotional fulfilment.
3 . How this unknown sadness affected Antonio?
_ Antonio’s strange melancholy had no specific reasons. He called his melancholy an absent-minded fellow as it made him so absent-minded that he sometimes couldn’t identify himself. He views the world as a stage, where every man has to play a part and his part is that of a sad man. It makes him as well as his friends worried. Although being a wealthy merchant his sad, brooding nature makes him a person of weak and depressed character. Due to this strange melancholy, he lacks interest in his life and business.
4 . Comment on Shakespeare’s way of opening the drama.
_ The play begins on a street in Venice. The opening scene gives a comprehensive description to convey to the audience about the circumstances that unfold, leading up to the events of the play. In this scene, the central character of the play is introduced. Shakespeare builds up the interest of the audience by showing Antonio in a melancholic mood. He somewhere wanted to build curiosity among the audience by not specifying the reason for Antonio’s melancholy. His friends Salarino and Salanio tries to figure out his reasons for sadness but Antonio denies it all making the audience more curious.
5 . Where according to Salarino was the mind of Antonio tossing and why?
_ According to Salarino, Antonio’s mind was tossing on the oceans. This was because his big commercial ships( argosies ) were sailing across the sea like signiors ( gentlemen) and burghers ( important citizens). The small commercial boats were moving up and down as if they were showing respect to Antonio’s big commercial ships.
6 . What are argosies? With what are they compared? How are they great and grand in comparison to the smaller ones?
_ According to Greek legend, Argosy is a ship of Ragusa, a port on the Adriatic near Venice. It was built up by Argus for Jason.
They were compared with the signiors ( gentlemen), rich burghers( important citizens) on the sea. The big commercial ships were also compared with pageants( processions) of the sea.
When Antonio’s big commercial ships would pass across the sea, the small commercial boats which were compared with the petty traffickers would move up and down as if they were showing respect to the big commercial ship. Hence, they were said great and grand in comparison to the smaller ones.
7 . What does Salanio say he would do when his ventures would be abroad? And how does this connect to the sadness of Antonio?
_ Salanio says that if he had some business operations abroad, he would spend most of his time thinking about his business. He would hold up a blade of grass to check in which direction the wind was blowing. He would look thoroughly and carefully in maps for ports, harbors and channels. Thinking of every object that would bring misfortune to his business would make him terribly sad and depressed.
As Antonio’s big commercial ships were sailing across the ocean, any danger to the ships would be a great loss for Antonio. Salanio thought that thinking about the dangers to his ships was the reason for Antonio’s melancholy.
8 . How does Salarino reflect on the different dangers that might cause harm to the ships of Antonio?
_ Salarino gave a vivid description of the dangers of the sea. He said, cooling his soup with his breath would make him remind of the strong winds that would be dangerous for his ships. By imagining this he would get scared and fall ill . He wouldn’t even see the sand hour-glass as the sand in the apparatus would remind him of the dangers from hidden banks of the sand at sea, on which the ship may run aground, lowering her top of the mast. The dangerous rocks would bring a great loss to his business. By touching the side of the ship, it would scatter all her spices, valuable silk in water. These were the dangers reflected by Salarino that might cause harm to the ships of Antonio.
9 . How does Salarino connect the sadness of Antonio with the thought of merchandise and his sadness?
_ Salarino gave a vivid description of the dangers of the sea. He described how a strong wind, hidden dangers of sand at sea, the dangerous rocks would destroy his ship within few moments. This would be a great loss for Antonio. Salarino said that these might be the reason for Antonio’s strange melancholic mood.
10 . How does Antonio refuse the connection between his merchandise and sadness?
_ Antonio was a wealthy merchant of Venice. He commands great respect, popularity and leads a comfortable life. He denies the connection of his merchandise and sadness because by his god’s grace and good fortune he business enterprises were neither dependent on a single ship nor destined to any one place. His business ships were scattered all around the world. Moreover, his financial condition was not dependent on the business operations of that year so he was not at all worried about his merchandise.
11. Do you think one should be sad with the logic of Salarino and Salanio? Why? Why not?
_ According to me, the person who is rich and wealthy enough like Antonio and whose business is not dependent on a specific thing shouldn’t be sad with the logics of Salarino and Salanio. But the people who have no strong economic base and whose income are dependent on that specific thing should be sad and worried with the logic of Salarino and Salanio.
12 . What does Salarino says about the logic of being sad and merry?
_ Antonio rejects all the logic of Salarino and Salanio behind the reason for his melancholic mood. Then, Salarino concludes that he was sad because he was not happy. And it would be very easy for Antonio to laugh and leap and say he was happy as he was not sad. He refers to the two-headed Janus which indicates that there are two types of people; some that will laugh at the silliest jokes and the one that will not even show their teeth if the Nestor would confess a joke to be laughable.
13 . Who was Janus? How was he connected to Salarino’s logic?
_ Janus was a Roman god who had two heads looking in the opposite directions, one frowning and the other smiling. According to a legend, Janis had received the gift to see the future and the past from the god Saturn. Janus is an indication that nature creates two types of people one who is always happy and the other who is sad.
Salarino couldn’t find the reason for Antonio’s sadness and concludes that he was sad because he was not happy. He compares Antonio with the people who never showed their teeth even if Nestor would confess that the joke was funny.
14 . What does Salarino say about the two categories of people _ sad and happy?
_ Salarino said that nature creates two different categories of people with different outlooks _ one sad and the other happy.
The happy ones would laugh at anything like a parrot who laughs foolishly at everything which would make their face appear wrinkled when they laugh so that their eyes appear to be peeping through the folds.
The sad ones would not laugh at anything and show sour expressions. They would not show their teeth even if Nestor would announce a joke to be laughable.
15. Who is Nestor? How is Nestor connected with the logic of jokes and laughter?
_ Nestor was the king of Pylos. He was one of the greatest generals in the Trojan war. Also, he was famous for his wisdom. He was so grave that if he laughed at a joke it meant that the joke was funny.
Here, Salarino says that there are some people with sour expressions and would never show their teeth out of laughter even if Nestor announces the joke to be laughable.
16 . What does Antonio say about Salanio and Salarino’s departure? Who are the better company?
_ Antonio had many friends but he was not deeply attached to anyone of them except Bassanio. So, Antonio was quite relieved when he heard about Salarino and Salanio’s departure. He said that although Salarino and Salanio were very important to him they must take the opportunity to leave as it was their business call.
Since Antonio was not so deeply attached to Salarino and Salanio, Bassanio, Gratiano , and Lorenzo were Antonio’s better company.
17 . On what logic did Lorenzo leave the company?
_ Since Bassanio have found his better company that is Antonio so Lorenzo decided to leave their company and while departing he reminded Bassanio that he promised them to meet at dinner time.
18 . Explain “ You have too much respect upon the world. They lose it that do buy it with much care.”
_ Gratiano noticed that Antonio’s appearance have marvellously changed and he did not look quite well. In this context , Gratiano said that Antonio was too much concerned and anxious about worldly affairs and those who spent too much time thinking about worldly affairs can never really be happy and cheerful.
19 . What does Antonio mean when he says that the world is a stage? What role is he playing?
_ Antonio clarifies to Gratiano that he thinks of the world for what it is. He is not too much concerned about worldly affairs. He instead considers the world as a stage and every man is an actor and has a particular role in the play. Here, Antonio says that he was playing a sad part in the play. ( Here, Shakespeare wishes to portray that coming events cast their shadows before.)
20 . What kind of life and character does Gratiano wish to lead and why?
_ If the world is a stage and Antonio chooses to play the sad role then Gratiano chooses to play the role of a fool. He wants the wrinkles of old age to come on his face with mirth and laughter. He chose this because he felt that it was better to enjoy like a fool than to sit as still as a carved statue of grandfather cut in alabaster( pure white stone).
21 . What kind of life Gratiano doesn’t want to live and why?
_ Gratiano doesn’t want to lead a sad and depressed life with no motivation, encouragement. He wanted to heat his liver with the wine which would produce rich blood and a joyful personality ( Elizabethan belief) rather than sighing and groaning which were believed to take away blood from the heart. He did not want to sit as still as grandfather’s statue cut in alabaster and be motionless during the working hours.
22 . How does Gratiano reflect the people with sadness?
_ Gratiano said that the people with sadness had no motivation in their life. Their life is as motionless as a still carved statue of grandfather cut in alabaster. They are motionless during the working hours as if they are asleep and gradually pushed themselves to be in a jaundiced state by being irritable ( Elizabethan thoughts that jaundice was caused by jealousy and bad temper). He said that the people with sadness are like them whose faces are overcast with a set of pale expressions as constant as the scum that stands still on the surface of the water in a pool or as white cream on the top of milk.
23 . What does Gratiano say about the people who pretend serious attire? What does Gratiano meanwhile taking about Oracle?
_ Gratiano said that there is a group of people whose faces are overcast with a set of constant pale expressions who deliberately put on an attire of solemnity, seriousness, deep thought, gravity to create a reputation.
The Greek Oracle was believed to be the voice of God uttered through the mouth of priests. Here, Gratiano meant that those people who try to put on serious attire intentionally, consider themselves as Oracle and they expect pin drop silence when they open their lips to say something.
24 . What does Bassanio say about Gratiano’s habit of talking too much? How is it connected to “ Two grains”?
_ Bassanio says that Gratiano is a very talkative person. He speaks an infinite deal of absolutely nothing and no man in Venice could speak as much as Gratiano.
Bassanio compares Gratiano’s reasons with two grains of wheat hidden in two bushels of chaff which meant that his speech was like two grains of good sense hidden in two bushels of nonsense. One will waste all day finding them and when one gets them they are completely worthless.
25 . What is the secret pilgrimage Antonio is talking about? Who is the person talked about?
_ Antonio was talking about the lady with whom Bassanio had promised to visit secretly and he promised Antonio that he would tell him about the total incident.
The person about whom they are talking is a rich lady who lived in Belmont. Her name is Portia and she is gifted with both beauty and intelligence.
26 . Acquaint us with Bassanio’s extravagant way of life.
_ Bassanio is portrayed as a spendthrift young gallant who lives a luxurious life beyond his means. He was never thought of any consequences before spending money and took undue advantage of Antonio’s love and generosity. Although he knew he couldn’t afford such a luxurious life he never wished to give up his luxury. He borrowed money from Antonio and led an extravagant life. Bassanio owed Antonio the most in money as well as in love.
27 . How does Bassanio plan to pay the debt of Antonio? How does he connect this with “ shaft” and “ childhood”?
_ Bassanio owe the most to Antonio in money as well as in love. He borrowed money from Antonio due to which he could lead an extravagant and luxurious life. Bassanio says that when he was a schoolboy if he lost an arrow, he used to shoot another arrow in the same direction and succeeded in finding the first arrow, besides recovering the second one. Here, Bassanio will ensure that the second loan will be returned to Antonio but he will still owe Antonio for the original sum.
28 . Why did Bassanio connect the allusion of “Prodigal son”?
_ Bassanio was referred to as the “Prodigal son” because he was a spendthrift and did not care about the money which he had wasted. Bassanio belonged to a wealthy family but due to his spendthrift nature, he lost everything but to restore his position in society he borrowed money from Antonio and led a luxurious and extravagant life just like the prodigal son who squanders all his inheritance and returns home expecting that his father would forgive him.
29 . How did Antonio assure Bassanio about his support and help for Bassanio’s purpose?
_ Antonio requests Bassanio to say the matter clearly and assured him that he would stand by his side by any means. He said that if Bassanio’s plan or intention is as honourable as him then Antonio’s money, person and all the utmost resources are open for him all the time and he would help him at any cost.
30 . “Bassanio’s way of referring to the childhood practice of shooting arrow is a bit awkward way of asking Antonio’s help”. Discuss.
_ According to my, the way Bassanio asked for a second loan was quite awkward. This is because Bassanio knew that if he would ask directly for a loan from Antonio he would never deny him but still he preferred using several contexts unnecessarily exaggerating the matter. Antonio was so generous and loyal to Bassanio that he would give him all he had without having a second thought. So, it was quite foolish of Bassanio to exaggerate the matter by referring to the childhood practice of shooting arrows.
31 . How does Antonio react in the way Bassanio had asked for help?
_ Antonio said Bassanio that he knows him very well and it was not expected by Antonio that Bassanio would appeal to him in such a complicated way by doubting the fact that he can do everything for him. He also appeals to Bassanio that if he had destroyed everything that Antonio had he must order him something possible for Antonio to do and he was even ready to do that. This shows that Antonio was a generous and loyal friend.
32 . How does Bassanio compliment Portia ? Why did he bring the reference of “Cato” and “Portia”?
_ Bassanio says that in Belmont there is s rich lady whose name is Portia. She is fair even fairer than the word fair. She was beautiful as well as virtuous. Portia has not only outer beauty but also has the beauty of character and thought. She posses sharp intellect and understanding. Sometimes from her eyes, Bassanio received fair unspoken messages. Her bright hair which hanged on her temples were compared with the golden fleece. Overall Portia is a combination of beauty with brain.
Portia here is compared to the Portia in Julius Caesar, who was the daughter of Cato ( a Roman Statesman) and wife of Brutus ( a brave Roman general), the leader of the conspiracy against Julius Caesar. Portia was as beautiful and intelligent as Portia of Julius Caesar and that’s why he brings the reference of “Portia” and “Cato”.
33 . How do all the suitors pay a visit to Belmont to seek Portia’s hand by winning the casket game?
_ Portia’s beauty was famous across the world and many suitors from all around the world would come to see Portia and participate in the casket game to marry Portia. Her beauty, intelligence and wealth attracted most of the suitors.
34 . Acquaint us with “ golden fleece” and “Colchos strand”. What is the implication of this with Portia’s situation?
_ In Greek mythology, Golden fleece is referred to as the fleece of the winged ram, Chrysomallos. Phryxus and his twin sister escaped on ran over the sea to save themselves. Phryxus reached safely to Colchos a fabulously wealthy life which was located in a country in Asia bordering the Black sea. There he sacrificed the ram and the golden fleece was given to King Acetes and hung it on an oak tree where it was guarded by a dragon. A famous hero Jason went on a dangerous voyage to Colchos in search of golden fleece and ultimately obtained it with the help of his wife Medea.
Here, all the suitors from all around the world were coming to visit Portia because of her wealth, beauty and intelligence by overcoming all the dangers in their way just to participate in the casket game to marry Portia.
35 . How does Bassanio considers himself among the Jasons?
_ Bassanio says Antonio that if he had all the means to compete with the adventurous suitors then his insight foretells him that he might be fortunate this time and without any doubt would have a profitable success.
36 . What adverse information does Antonio give about lending money? What solution does he bring to the same?
_ Antonio gives the information that all his fortunes are dependent at sea and at this present moment, he neither have money nor goods which would be security for a loan to give Bassanio that money which was required. Instead, Antonio gives a solution. He says Bassanio to use his name in Venice and see how much he can borrow. He was quite sure that Bassanio would be able to borrow money either because of Antonio’s business credits or an account of his personal surety.