About the passage

Read to understand

A. Answer these questions with reference to the context.

1. ‘I take full responsibility for my actions.’

a) Who said this? Who was he or she responding to?

b) What does his response reveal about his or her attitude?


2. ‘That can’t happen. There’s no power in Venice that can change an established law.’

a) Who spoke these words?

b) Who was the person responding to? Who was the response expected from?

c) What does ‘that’ refer to in the first sentence?

d) What reason does the speaker give for why ‘that can’t happen’?


3. ‘I beg your honour to declare the verdict.’

a) Who uttered these words?

b) When did the speaker make this request?

c) Why was the speaker in such haste for the judgement to be declared?


4. ‘Is that what the agreement says?’

a) Who asked this question?

b) Who was it addressed to?

c) What aspect of the agreement was the speaker referring to? Why did he or she ask this question?


B. Number these events in the order that they happened in the play.

1. Antonio could not repay the money because his ships sank.

2. Bassanio accused Shylock of being evil and malicious.

3. Half of Shylock’s wealth was willed to his daughter and son-in-law.

4. Portia punished Shylock for attempting to kill Antonio.

5. Shylock said there was no power in the tongue of man to make him change his mind.

6. Shylock agreed to take the principal amount.

7. Antonia borrowed a huge sum of money from Shylock.

8. Shylock took Antonio to court and refused to show mercy.

9. Shylock was offered three times the amount borrowed.

10. The court awarded a pound of flesh to be extracted without shedding a drop of blood.


C. Answer these questions.

1. Why do you think Shylock refused to have a surgeon attend to Antonio?


2. How did Portia use Shylock’s terms of agreement to save Antonio’s life?


3. Did Shylock’s opinion of Portia as the ‘most learned judge’ change? Why? When do you think this change of opinion would have come about?


4. Why do you think Portia insisted on ‘the penalty and the agreement’?


5. Do you think the Duke was just and merciful? Why?


Discuss and write

1. Who do you think showed the greatest mercy—the Duke, Portia, or Antonio? Justify your response.


2. Comment on the character of Portia based on the extract.


Last modified: Sunday, 8 September 2019, 2:36 PM