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Summary of Act 3 of Merchant of Venice

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    SCENE 1- Act 3 begins on a street in Venice with Salanio and Salarino. Salanio and Salarino are concerned by news that Antonio has lost a ship. Shylock comes on the scene and Salanio and Salarino ask of news among the merchants. Shylock can only talk of his daughter’s betrayal. They express the opinion that she is very different from her father and it was time for Jessica to leave. They then question Shylock directly about the news of Antonio’s ship. Shylock states that he will need to remember his bond. Salanio and Salarino ask what good Antonio’s flesh will do Shylock to which Shylock answers it will serve the purpose of revenge.

    A servant comes by looking for Salanio and Salarino to ask them to come to Antonio’s house. Tubal, another Jew comes to talk to Shylock. Salanio, Salarino and the servant leave. Shylock asks about any news of his daughter. Tubal has heard talk of Jessica but has not seen her. Shylock laments about the jewels she took with her. Tubal has news that Antonio’s ship has wrecked along with news about Jessica spending 80 ducats and trading a ring for a monkey. Shylock asks Tubal to find the services of an officer to arrest Antonio the moment the loan is due.

    SCENE 2- This scene takes us back to Belmont with Bassanio, Portia, Gratiano, Nerissa, and other attendants. Portia asks Bassanio to wait a few days before choosing so she can spend time with him in case he chooses the wrong casket. Bassanio decides to choose immediately. While he is deciding a song plays in the background speaking of where love lies, is it in the heart or in the head? He chooses the lead box as that one has the least showing outward. The lead box contains Portia’s picture and a note that praises him for choosing not by outward appearances. Portia gives Bassanio a ring which Bassanio promises to wear always.

    Nerissa and Gratiano surprise the couple by announcing that they have fallen in love and also will marry. Lorenzo, Jessica, and Salerio enter the house. Salerio has a letter from Antonio for Bassanio. The letter bears the news that all of Antonio’s ships have been lost and that Shylock is insisting that the bond be carried out. Antonio is sure he will die and asks that Bassanio be there at his death. Portia insists that her money is Bassanio’s now and that they can save Antonio after the wedding. SCENE 3- Back in Venice, Shylock, Salarino, and Antonio are speaking with a Gaoler.

    Shylock insists that he will not show Antonio mercy. Antonio asks Shylock to hear him speak but Shylock refuses and leaves the scene. Salarino expresses hope that the duke will offer a reprieve. Antonio states that the duke must follow the letter of the law and uphold the bond. Antonio’s only hope is that Bassanio will be present to see the bond paid. SCENE 4- Back at Belmont Portia, Nerissa, Lorenzo, Jessica, and Balthasar are speaking in a room in Portia’s house. Lorenzo tells Portia of the goodness of Antonio. Portia asks Lorenzo and Jessica to manage her property in the absence of her husband and Gratiano.

    Portia and Nerissa tell the other couple, that they plan on staying at a monastery until their husbands return. Lorenzo and Jessica accept this offer and bid goodbye to Portia and Nerissa. Portia then asks Balthazar to go to her cousin Doctor Ballario with a letter and then take the items that Ballario gives him to the ferry that leaves for Venice. Once Balthasar leaves Portia tells Nerissa more of her plan. Portia states that they will soon see their husbands who will not recognize them because they will be dressed as young men. Portia promises to tell Nerissa the rest of plan on the way to the ferry.

    SCENE 5- This scene is still in Belmont in a garden with Launcelot and Jessica. Launcelot is teasing Jessica about being a Jew’s daughter saying that he hopes the Jew is not truly her father. Jessica states she will be saved by her Christian husband. Launcelot jokes that the price of pork will increase due to the conversions. Lorenzo enters the garden and teases Launcelot about being alone with his wife. They trade teasing back and forward before finally Lorenzo gets to the point that dinner needs to be served. After Launcelot leaves, Lorenzo and Jessica praise Portia.

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