Act 3, Scene 2 Notes from Merchant of Venice

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Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 2

The scene begins in Portia's Belmont home. Bassanio, Gratiano, Portia, Nerissa, and numerous attendants enter. Portia asks Bassanio not to choose a chest just yet - she enjoys his company, and if he chooses the wrong chest, he'll have to leave her immediately and never return. Bassanio insists on choosing, because he can't bear the tension any longer.

Topic Tracking: Love 7
Topic Tracking: Fortune 7

Portia speaks to herself as he chooses, more anxious than she's ever been. Bassanio examines the chests closely, and comes to the conclusion that the more gaudy chests serve only to distract potential suitors from the goal of the exercise. He picks the lead chest. Portia is elated. He finds a beautiful picture of Portia along with a scroll, which reads: "You that choose not by the view, chance as fair, and choose as true! Since this fortune falls to you, be content and seek no new. If you be well pleased with this, and hold your fortune for your bliss, turn you where your lady is and claim her with a loving kiss." Act 3, Scene 2, lines 132-9.

Topic Tracking: Love 7

Portia exclaims her joy, and offers a ring to Bassanio to symbolize their love. Bassanio tells her that he'll never take it off. Gratiano announces that, coincidentally, he and Nerissa have also fallen in love. Everyone congratulates one another, then Lorenzo, Jessica, and a messenger, Salerio enter. They bring news of Antonio from Venice. All of his ships have failed to return, leaving him without the money to repay Shylock. Jessica tells them that Shylock cares nothing about the debt, that he would rather kill Antonio than have the money back. Portia suggests that they just use some of her fortune to pay Shylock off. Bassanio reads Antonio's letter. Antonio, sure that he is about to die, forgives Bassanio's debt. Portia tells Bassanio to rush to Venice and help his friend. He assures her that he'll be back as soon as he can.

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