Act 5, Scene 1 Notes from Merchant of Venice

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Merchant of Venice Act 5, Scene 1

The scene begins in Belmont on the street leading to Portia's house. Lorenzo and Jessica enter, taking a walk. As they enjoy the night they playfully discuss Greek mythology and tease one another. Stephano enters and announces that Portia and Nerissa will be arriving before dawn. Launcelot enters, and proceeds to annoy everyone again before announcing that Bassanio will also be back before morning. Launcelot leaves, and Lorenzo sends Stephano into the house to play some music for Portia's arrival.

Portia and Nerissa arrive, drawn by the sound of the music. Lorenzo welcomes them home. Portia asks Lorenzo and Jessica not to mention that she and Nerissa were ever away. Lorenzo agrees to keep the secret. Antonio, Bassanio, Gratiano and a train enters. Everyone greets one another, then Gratiano begins apologizing to Nerissa for giving away her ring. He tries to explain that he couldn't refuse the Clerk after all the Clerk had done for Antonio. Portia chides him, saying that she wouldn't forgive if she were in Nerissa's shoes. Bassanio makes an aside to the audience: "Why, I were best to cut my left hand off and swear I lost the ring defending it." Act 5, Scene 1, lines 176-7

Gratiano confesses that Bassanio too gave away his ring, but assure Portia that the Doctor more than deserved it. Bassanio assures Portia that if she knew the circumstances, she wouldn't take offense. Portia reminds Bassanio just how important the ring was, and tells him she'd die if she discovered he'd given it to another woman. Bassanio and Gratiano beg for their wives forgiveness, even Antonio tries to mend the problem: "I once did lend my body for his wealth, which, but for him that had your husband's ring, had quite miscarried. I dare be bound again, my soul upon the forfeit, that your lord will never more break his faith advisedly." Act 5, Scene 1, lines 249-253

Portia and Nerissa give their husbands back the rings. This confuses Bassanio and Gratiano, leading them to believe that their wives had cheated on them with the Doctor and the Clerk. Having had enough of the joke, Portia and Nerissa finally reveal their scheme. Portia also has a letter for Antonio, revealing that his other three ships made it to port - he's wealthy again, even without Shylock's money. Nerissa gives Shylock's deed is given to Jessica and Lorenzo, which pleases them. Portia offers to tell them the rest of the story, answering any questions they may have. Gratiano has the first question, and the last line of the play: "Let it be so. The first inter'gatory that my Nerissa shall be sworn on is whether till the next night she had rather stay, or go to bed now, being two hours to day. But were the day come, I should wish it dark, that I were crouching with the Doctor's clerk. Well, while I live I'll fear no other thing so sore as keeping safe Nerissa's ring." Act 5, Scene 1, lines 300-7

Topic Tracking: Love 10

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