The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice – Act III Scene 5 Summary

Plot Summary / The Story-line

This scene opens at Portia’s palace. Launcelot points to the belief that children are punished for their father’s sins. So, he is worried for Jessica’s fate, as she would be damned for the Jew’s (Shylock’s) acts. But Jessica says that she is saved because of her marriage to Lorenzo who has transformed her to Christianity. Launcelot now says that the transformation of Jews to Christianity will increase the price of pork.

In the middle of their conversation, Lorenzo comes and rebukes him for impregnating a Moorish servant. Launcelot presents a brilliant series of pun as reply. Lorenzo tells Launcelot to order the servants to prepare dinner.

Lorenzo asks Jessica what she thinks about Portia. She replies that she is a woman without match and perfect in all respect. Lorenzo jokes that he is also as good a husband for Jessica as Portia is a wife for Bassanio. Then, they go to have their dinner.

Commentary on Act III, Scene 5

This scene provides light comic and romantic relief. It focuses on Launcelot’s waggery. He uses a series of pun and plays with words.

Here we see Jessica in a new form. She has changed and prospered in the environment of Belmont. She was born and brought up by a miser. But here we see her in new happiness. Jessica starts a new journey – a journey from hatred to love and immaturity to maturity.

Her admiration of Portia seems a bit too much for a short meeting they had and the little attention Portia paid to her. But it might be a result of her newfound love, joy and social acceptance in the Christian world in contrast to how life was at Shylock’s house.

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