Act II. Scene I. - Belmont. A Room in
The Prince of Morocco is willing to take the challenge
set by Portia's father for Portia's hand in
Back at Belmont, The Prince of Morocco has
sought the fair Portia's hand in marriage. Unlike the
previous suitors, he is willing to take his chances
for the fair Portia.
Act II. Scene II. - Venice. A Street.
Meanwhile, Launcelot Gobbo, Shylock's servant has a
problem; he hates his boss. Bassanio arrives and after
some conversation, Launcelot becomes Bassanio's new
Act II. Scene III. - The Same. A Room
in Shylock's House.
Jessica, Shylock's daughter plans to elope
with Lorenzo against her father's wishes, were
he to know. Jessica reveals her shame for her father...
At Shylock's house, Jessica is planning to leave her
father. She tells Launcelot that "Our house is
hell, and thou [you, Launcelot], a merry devil, / Didst
rob it of some taste of tediousness" (our home
is hell and you, a merry devil, have at least robbed
it of some of its boredom for me), (Line 2).
Jessica also reveals that Launcelot will help her to
escape her father Shylock by conveying a letter to Lorenzo,
the man Jessica intends to marry by elopement.
She bids Launcelot, Shylock's servant good-bye
and privately expresses her shame of her father Shylock
and her intention to reject her father and his Jewish
religion, to become Lorenzo's wife and a Christian,
thereby rejecting all that her father Shylock believes
Jessica: "Alack, what heinous [terrible] sin is
it in me / To be asham'd to be my father's child! But
though I am a daughter to his blood, I am not to his
manners. O Lorenzo! If thou [you] keep promise, I shall
end this strife, [conflict] / Become a Christian, and
thy [your] loving wife" (Lines 16-20).
Act II. Scene IV. - The Same. A Street.
Lorenzo: "tell gentle Jessica I will not fail
her; speak it privately."
Lorenzo explains to his friends Gratiano, Lorenzo,
Salarino and Salanio, how they will help him help Jessica
run away from her father. Launcelot, Shylock's
former servant delivers to Lorenzo a letter from Jessica
explaining that Jessica will be waiting at her house
for Lorenzo and friends and that she has taken some
of her father's jewels and gold as well. The letter
also explains that Jessica will be disguised as a boy
to aid her escape from her father...
Gratiano, Lorenzo, Salarino and Salanio enter, Lorenzo
telling his friends what preparations are required of
them for their plan to help Jessica escape Shylock to
be with him.
Lorenzo explains that they will help Jessica escape
by disguising themselves, returning in an hour (Lines
1-3). Salarino makes reference to torch-bearers being
needed so Bassanio's party, a masque (masked ball)
to be held that night will be well lit.
Lorenzo explains that they have much to do adding that
is now "four o'clock:" and they have just
two hours left...
Launcelot enters, bearing a letter. Lorenzo reveals
to Gratiano that the letter comes from Jessica and tells
them how they will proceed...
Thanking Launcelot for conveying the letter, Lorenzo
tells Launcelot to return to Jessica and to "tell
gentle Jessica I will not fail her;" telling Launcelot
to tell Jessica this privately (Lines 20-21).
Jessica in her letter has told Lorenzo how he will
take Jessica from her father Shylock's house, Jessica
explaining that she will be bringing some of Shylock's
jewels and gold with her.
This "dowry" of sorts will help Lorenzo and
Jessica once they have eloped and are married. She also
explains that she has a "page's suit"
(Line 33) or the uniform of a male page ready which
she will wear to disguise herself as a boy.
Lorenzo speaks glowingly of his future bride by saying,
"If e'er [ever] the Jew her father [Shylock] come
to heaven, / It will be for his gentle daughter's
[Jessica's] sake;" (Line 34).
Lorenzo now tells Gratiano that it is Jessica who "shall
be my torch-bearer", a metaphor for her love always
guiding him (Line 39).
Act II. Scene V. - The Same. Before Shylock's
Shylock bumps into Launcelot, learning that Bassanio's
party which he will be reluctantly attending, will be
a masque. Shylock tells his daughter Jessica to stay
at home and to do her best to ignore the Christians'
revelry which Shylock despises.
Before his house, Shylock happens upon Launcelot who
is returning Lorenzo's message to Jessica that Lorenzo
will soon come for her. Shylock makes his lack of love
clear to Launcelot for working for Lorenzo by telling
him "thou [you] shalt not gormandize, / As thou
hast [has] done with me;" and to "sleep and
snore," as he has done whilst employed by Shylock
Shylock now announces that he is leaving for supper,
to go to Bassanio's party where Shylock intends
to "go in hate, to feed upon / The prodigal Christian"
by using his hospitality out of spite (Line 14). Shylock
reveals that he does not feel right, that "There
is some ill a-brewing towards my rest, / For I did dream
of money-bags to-night" (Line 17).
Launcelot now scares Shylock by telling him that Bassanio
and friends have decided to make Bassanio's party a
masque or a masked ball.
This terrifies Shylock who tells Jessica to "Lock
up my doors;" and to not "thrust your head
into the public street / To gaze on Christian fools
with varnish'd [the masks] faces, / But stop my
house's ears," so as to prevent the sounds
of these Christian activities from penetrating into
his house or as Shylock describes it, "the sound
of shallow foppery enter / My sober house" (Lines
32-34 and Line 35).
Shylock explains to Launcelot that he will go to the
party despite his misgivings, Launcelot then exiting
Shylock now remarks that his former servant Launcelot
"sleeps by day / More than the wild cat:"
(Line 47), reminding Jessica again to "Do as I
bid [tell] you; shut doors after you: / 'Fast bind,
/ 'Fast bind, fast find,' / A proverb never stale in
thrifty mind" (Lines 53-54).
Jessica who now is conveniently alone where she can
make her escape, ends the scene, bidding her father
farewell: "Farewell; and if my fortune be not crost,
I have a father, you a daughter, lost" (Lines 55-56).
Act II. Scene VI. - The Same.
Jessica escapes from her father's house to live
a new life as a Christian and as the wife of Lorenzo.
Jessica is embarrassed to be dressed as a boy. The masque
is canceled and Lorenzo and Jessica are to sail with
Bassanio instead of attending the masque...
Gratiano and Salarino, described as "masqued"
or masked in the text, are waiting anxiously for Lorenzo
at the "penthouse under which Lorenzo / Desir'd
[desired / wanted] us to make stand" or under the
extended (overhanging) roof of Shylock's house
They are surprised that Lorenzo is not already there
waiting for them for as Gratiano comments, "lovers
ever [always] run before the clock" (Line 4) or
are usually extremely punctual. Salarino agrees and
Lorenzo now enters (Line 21), thanking his friends for
their patience and explaining that "my affairs,"
have made them wait (Line 22).
Asking who is within Shylock's house, Lorenzo discovers
that it is his beloved Jessica, dressed in boy's clothes
who is waiting for them from above. Jessica asks if
she hears Lorenzo, Lorenzo replying that he is: "Lorenzo,
and thy [your] love" (Line 28).
Jessica now tosses down a casket to Lorenzo and company,
explaining that its contents (Shylock's jewels
and gold) are "worth the pains" or the trouble
of receiving it (Line 33).
Jessica now makes it clear that she is reluctant to
be seen in boy's clothes, saying that she is glad
it is night, "For I am much asham'd [ashamed
/ embarrassed] of my exchange [into a man];" (Line
35), famously adding "But love is blind, and lovers
cannot see / The pretty follies [silly things] that
themselves commit [do]; / For if they could, Cupid himself
would blush / To see me thus transformed to a boy"
Lorenzo now tells Jessica to descend or climb down
to him, asking Jessica to be his "torch-bearer"
(Line 40). Jessica is not so happy about this, asking
why she must "hold a candle [a torch] to my shames?"
a reference again to her wearing men's clothes
In Jessica's opinion, her appearance "should
be obscur'd" (Line 43) or covered from sight
and she makes it quite clear that she is reluctant to
be seen this way at Bassanio's masque.
Lorenzo however makes it clear he does not mind and
that she will be his "torch-bearer" at Bassanio's
party, which they will soon go to.
Before leaving. Jessica dutifully says that she will
"make fast the doors," or lock Shylock's house
as her father requested and then take some more ducats
(money) and return to Lorenzo immediately (Line 49).
Lorenzo now reaffirms his love for Jessica by saying,
"I love her heartily;" (Line 52) adding that
she is "wise," as well as "fair, and
true" and so "Shall she be placed in my constant
soul" (Always be in my heart or soul), (Line 57).
Jessica returns and we learn from Antonio that the
masque has been canceled, the wind has changed direction
and that Bassanio and his men will sail tonight; they
have sent twenty men to tell Lorenzo this. Gratiano
makes it clear that he is happier to be sailing than
at a masque.
Act II. Scene VII. - Belmont. A Room
in Portia's House.
The scroll within the gold casket: "All that glitters
is not gold; / Often have you heard that told...."
The Moroccan Prince undergoes the three-casket challenge
for Portia's hand in marriage, choosing the gold
casket and losing.
Back at Belmont, The Moroccan Prince reads the inscription
on the gold casket. The inscription says: "Who chooseth
[chooses] me shall gain what many men desire" (Lines
5-6). Obviously Portia is desired by many...
The second, a silver casket bears the inscription,
"Who chooseth (chooses) me shall get as much as he deserves"
The third casket is lead, bearing the inscription,
"Who chooseth [chooses] me must give and hazard [risk]
all he hath [has]" (Lines 8-9). The Prince dismisses
this. Why would anyone risk all they have "For
lead?" (Lines 16-22).
We are told the right casket bears Portia's picture.
The Prince hesitates between choosing the gold or silver
chests. He reasons that he deserves Portia as the inscription
says on the silver chest but decides on the gold casket
(Lines 36-62) and finds "a carrion Death [a human skull],
within whose empty eye / There is a written scroll"
The scroll famously says "All that glitters is not
gold; / Often have you heard that told:" (Lines 65-73).
In choosing the wrong casket, the Prince has failed
and must now depart empty handed, never to see Portia
again nor ever to marry...
Act II. Scene VIII. - Venice. A Street.
Salarino and Salanio comment that a ship has recently
floundered, hoping it is not one of Antonio's. We learn
that Lorenzo and Jessica escaped successfully from Shylock
who was too late to prevent his daughter's escape. Shylock
is furious at having lost his daughter, his gold and
his precious jewels to a Christian and knows that Antonio
was partially involved and swears revenge...
Meanwhile, back in Venice, Salarino and Salanio, friends
of Bassanio, Antonio, Gratiano and Jessica, comment
on news of a ship floundering "in the narrow seas that
part / The French and English,-" (Line 28).
They hope it isn't one of Antonio's ships. We also
learn of Jessica and Gratiano's escape; Shylock (Jessica's
father) attempted to find Jessica on Bassanio's ship
but "He came too late, the ship was under sail:" (Line
Antonio pledges to the Duke that, "They were not with
Bassanio in his ship" (Line 11). We also learn of Shylock's
immense anger at the loss of his daughter and her theft
of his ducats: "'My daughter! O my ducats! O my
daughter! Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!'"
Salarino ends this scene, commenting that Bassanio
has now departed for Belmont to woo the fair Portia:
I saw Bassanio and Antonio part: / Bassanio
told him he would make some speed / Of his return: he
answered 'Do not so; / Slubber [slur over, soil, ruin]
not business for my sake, Bassanio, / But stay the very
riping of the time; / And for the Jew's bond which he
hath [has] of me, / Let it not enter in your mind of
love: (Lines 36-45).
Act II. Scene IX. - Belmont. A Room in
The scroll inside the silver casket: "Who chooseth
me shall get as much as he deserves."
Meanwhile, at Belmont, another suitor has arrived,
The Prince of Arragon. Not blinded by the inscription
on the gold casket which bears the phrase, "Who
chooseth [chooses] me shall gain what many men desire"
(Line 24), he instead chooses the silver casket which
bears the inscription, "Who chooseth [chooses]
me shall get as much as he deserves" (Line 21)
since he believes that what many men desire is superficial,
the Prince realizing that those men who would choose
the gold casket are being led by appearances and nothing
more (Line 50).
Opening the silver casket, he finds a "portrait
of a blinking idiot," (Line 54), mocking him and
presenting a schedule or letter to him which he reads
(Lines 64-72), and realizing he has lost, The Prince
of Arragon heads home in failure.