Plot Summary / The Story-line
In this scene we are introduced to Jessica, Shylock’s daughter. She is speaking with Launcelot and expresses her sorrow because Launcelot has decided to leave the job of their house. According to Jessica their house is a gloomy house without Launcelot. Launcelot pleases her with humour.
She gives a letter to Launcelot to deliver secretly to her lover Lorenzo, his new master’s friend. Launcelot is in tears as he leaves his good kind mistress Jessica. She bids him goodbye.
Left alone, Jessica confesses that she is ashamed to be Shylock’s child. She is Shylock’s daughter only by blood and not by conduct. She is hoping to escape from Shylock by marrying Lorenzo and becoming a Christian.
“I shall end this strife,
Become a Christian and thy loving wife”.
Commentary on Act II, Scene 3
This scene is important for the development of the romantic plot. It hints about Jessica’s elopement with Lorenzo. It also throws light on the relationship between Shylock and his daughter and the true face of Jessica is revealed.
Here Shylock is sympathized with though he is not present in the scene. We see Shylock through the opinion of his closest persons. Though Launcelot and Jessica talk ill about Shylock, their complaints are rather vague and not proven.
Jessica is ashamed of being Shylock’s daughter, but at the same time, she feels guilty for thinking that way. She has no specific allegation against her father, and she mainly wants to escape from her father’s Jewishness just like Launcelot. Jessica’s thought and actions raise questions on her morality. It indicates to her youthful recklessness and selfish nature.