The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice – Act II Scene 5 Summary

Plot Summary / The Story-line

This scene is set at Shylock’s house. Shylock suggests Launcelot to judge if Bassanio is a good master than him (shylock). He also warns Launcelot that he will not get the chance to over-eat and sleep at Bassanio’s house.

Shylock calls Jessica and hands over the keys of his house. He instructs her to take care of his house. He informs Jessica that he will be attending Bassanio’s dinner party. He will attend the party only for business purpose not for friendship though.

Launcelot informs Shylock that there will be a masque party on the street at night. Hearing this Shylock asks Jessica not to peep through the window to look at the Christian fools. He also orders her to keep the doors and windows of his house locked so that the music of the masque party doesn’t enter into his serious house.

While departing, Launcelot tells Jessica that Lorenzo will be a member of the masque party and he will come for Jessica. After Launcelot exits, Shylock reveals that he is letting Launcelot go because he wants him to waste his new master Bassanio’s money.

Now, Jessica bids fare well to his father. After Shylock’s exit Jessica remarks – “I have a father, you a daughter lost”.

Commentary on Act II, Scene 5

This scene provides more dimension to Shylock’s character. Here the audience come to know that Shylock is not only a money grabbing person but also a villainous character. He wants to attend Bassanio’s dinner party. But he does not want the sound of Bassanio’s masque party to enter into his house. It is ironical and provides a negative aspect of Shylock’s character. His hatred and prejudice against the Christians are highlighted once again here.

Not only that, we see Shylock’s shallow mind in his mean utterances regarding the facilities like food, clothing etc. he provides Launcelot with.

Thou shalt not gormandize
As thou hast done with me…
And sleep and snore, and rend apparel out

On the other side, Jessica is waiting for Shylock’s exit to make arrangement for her elopement. The suspension of this incident is another outcome of this scene.

There is a classical dramatic irony where Shylock is concerned with his valuable things and Portia is one of them. But he has no clue that she is going to betray him. Moreover, Shylock entrusts the charge of his house and his wealth to her without any idea of her plan to get away with the jewels and other valuables.

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