The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice – Act II Scene 4 Summary

Plot Summary / The Story-line

In this scene Gratiano, Lorenzo, Salarino and Solanio discuss their plans for Bassanio’s dinner party. They also discuss about the masque for the party. They are not well prepared and have got only two hours to get things ready. They have to find torchbearers for the evening so that the party will be brightly lighted.

While they are talking, Launcelot arrives. He delivers Jessica’s letter to Lorenzo. Lorenzo reads the letter and sends a reply by Launcelot. Lorenzo tells his friends that he finds a torchbearer. So, they should go and arrange for the masquerade.

After Solanio and Salarino exit, Lorenzo reveals to Gratiano that the letter was from Jessica. He tells Gratiano that Jessica will disguise herself as a torchbearer to elope with him. She has also written in her letter about the gold and jewels she will take with her while leaving Shylock’s house. Lorenzo praises Jessica for her goodness in contrast to her father, “a faithless Jew”.

Commentary on Act II, Scene 4

This scene adds more about Jessica to what we came to know in the previous scene. Unlike Portia, Jessica betrays her father. Not only does she discard her father (Shylock) but also plans to steal his wealth (gold and jewels). We are astonished to see how reckless Jessica is. She has already made all the plans for her elopement in disguise and informs that to Lorenzo in her letter.

Unlike other Shakespearean plays, here the masque is absent though the characters discuss about it.

However, this scene ends with a happy ending associated with the development of the romantic plot.

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