The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice – Act II Scene 6 Summary

Plot Summary / The Story-line

The scene opens with Salarino and Gratiano dressed for the masque party. They are waiting for Lorenzo at their predefined place. Lorenzo comes late and thanks his friends for their endurance.

Outside Shylock’s house Lorenzo calls out Jessica who peeps through the window. She is disguised as a boy. Through the window she gives Lorenzo a box filled with gold and jewels. She returns back to lock the door of her house and also to take some ducats with her. Gratiano admires her. Lorenzo tells that he will love her heartily because she is “wise, fair and true”.

Then she joins with the group for the masque party. She feels uncomfortable for her disguise as a boy. But Lorenzo assures her that she is looking good and none can recognize her. Lorenzo, Jessica and Salarino go forth to meet the others waiting for the masque party.

Gratiano meets Antonio who informs him that there will be no masque party as Bassanio’s ship is ready for the journey to Belmont. The wind is blowing towards the right direction, so it’s the right time to start. Gratiano is pleased to hear this news.

Commentary on Act II, Scene 6

In this scene there is no real break. The departure of Shylock and the arrival of Gratiano and Salarino take place almost at the same time. The union of Lorenzo and Jessica sets up the romantic plot.

Jessica’s disguise as a boy reminds us of the popular Elizabethan stage convention where all the women’s roles were played by men. There is a touch of suspense too whether Jessica will successfully be able to elope with Lorenzo.

The audience’s feelings for Shylock are rather divided by now. On one hand, we feel bad for Shylock. He is presented as a real father who has deep faith on her daughter but she betrays him. On the other hand, we find it somewhat fitting treatment for his possessive, prejudiced and mean nature.

Jessica is depicted here as a true lover. Only for Lorenzo’s love she discards her father and also steals his money and jewels.

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