Act 1, Scene 2 Notes from Merchant of Venice

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Merchant of Venice Act 1, Scene 2

The scene opens in a room in Portia's Belmont house. Portia and her maid, Nerissa enter. Portia is distraught about her lot in life, but Nerissa reminds her that despite her problems, she is still incredibly fortunate. Portia curses her luck that she's such a intelligent and capable woman, but finds herself without any control of her fate. A major plot point is revealed here - Portia's Father, has died, leaving Portia wealthy, but without a chosen husband. Before dying, though, he devised a game of chance to determine if a suitor was worthy of becoming her husband. They suitor would be offered the choice of three chests, and whoever chooses the correct chest would become her husband.

Topic Tracking: Fortune 1

Portia and Nerissa discuss her potential suitors, describing them in the least flattering terms possible. A Neapolitan Prince is dismissed as being uncouth and obsessed with his horse. Count Palatine is completely humorless. The French Lord, Monsieur Le Bon is a total buffoon. The English Baron Falconbridge is at a disadvantage, since he speaks only English, while Portia does not. The Scottish suitor is cheap and a mooch, while the German suitor is an obnoxious drunk. Portia is happy to hear that all of her suitors have decided to leave, refusing to take part in the chest-selecting game.

Nerissa reminds Portia of Bassanio, who she met back when her father was alive. Both of the women were rather impressed by him, as Nerissa says "he, of all the men that my foolish eyes looked upon, was the best deserving of a fair lady" Act 1, Scene 2, lines 129-31. A servant enters and announces that her current suitors wish to see her so they can say farewell. The servant also delivers the message that a new suitor, the Prince of Morocco will be arriving that very night. Portia isn't thrilled to hear about the approach of yet another suitor. Portia, Nerissa, and the Servant leave so that Portia might see the suitors off.

Topic Tracking: Love 3

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