The Merchant of Venice Act 4

What does the Duke expect Shylock to do? Why? The Duke thinks that Shylock should act out of human gentleness. He thinks that Shylock should love and forgive Antonio because he is so stricken.
What does Shylock mean by his reference to a pig, a cat and a bagpipe? There are men that can’t stand things like pigs, cats and bagpipes for no real reason – they just don’t like them. So he doesn’t need a reason why he wants Antonio dead.
What three things, according to Antonio, would be as difficult as softening Shylock’s heart? Three things that Antonio states would be as difficult as softening Shylock’s heart are …1. Standing on a beach and telling the tide not to come in.2. Getting an answer from the wolf about why he ate the lamb.3. Making treetops in the mountains not make a sound in the wind
What connection does Shylock make between slaves and the pound of flesh? Both slaves and the pound of flesh are bought and paid for and owners can do what they want with them.
What possible explanation does Gratiano give for Shylock’s cruelty? Gratiano believes that the spirit of a wolf entered Shylock. Pythagoras believed that the souls of animals and humans could be interchanged.
What does Portia say about the nature of mercy? Portia says that …-Mercy cannot be forced but given freely like rain.-Mercy benefits both the giver and the receiver.-A God like quality that men can exhibit (it is a great power) so men are like Gods when they show mercy.
What does Bassanio mean by, “To do a great right, do a little wrong”? Why does Portia refuse? Bassiano asks Portia (who he thinks is really the judge) to bend the law to prevent a greater wrong (killing Antonio). Portia says that it cannot be done because it would set a precedent.
Describe the irony of the statements made by Bassanio and Gratiano regarding their wives. Bassanio and Gratiano say they would give up their wives/sacrifice them to save Antonio. They say their wives would not appreciate it (dramatic irony).
What curve does Portia throw at Shylock regarding the bond? What is Shylock’s reply? Portia finds a loophole in the contract. Shylock can take the pound of flesh but he cannot take any blood. He would forfeit all of his goods to Venice. Shylock says he will take three times the money but Portia refuses.
What other detail must Shylock contend with regarding the collection of his bond? Shylock can take only one pound of flesh (no more and no less). If he takes more or less, he will be executed and all of his goods confiscated.
What legal “hold” does Portia place on Shylock? Shylock is a foreigner and if he tries to kill a Venetian, half his goods go to the state and half to his victim. The Duke can have Shylock executed.
What act of “mercy” does Antonio render until Shylock? Is it really mercy? Antonio’s “mercy” is that he won’t take half of Shylock’s goods but he must will them to Lorenzo when Shylock dies. He must become a Christian and leave everything to Lorenzo when he dies.
Do you think Shylock gives in too easily to these demands? Explain. Answers will vary. The part about converting to Christianity is incredibly anti-Semitic. This likely highlights how defeated Shylock was at this point. Perhaps he knew that there is no way he could fight it.
What does Bassanio offer to Portia in payment for her services? What happens? Bassanio offers Portia the 3,000 ducats that should have gone to Shylock. Portia asks for Bassanio’s gloves and ring but he says no (remember the promise over the ring?!). Antonio later convinces him to do so he gives up the ring.
What do you foresee happening when Bassanio and Gratiano return to their wives in Belmont? Answers will vary. Hmmm … they gave up their wedding rings …
What does the fact that both Bassanio and Gratiano give their rings away say about relationships between men and relationships between men and women? Is it saying that marriage/love fleeting? Is it saying that the friendship between men is more important? Answers will vary.
How serious will the consequences of giving the rings away be? How do you know? Well, this is supposed to be a comedy. Portia has to stay with Bassanio according to her father’s will.
What is Shakespeare’s intent in bringing in the ring plotline here? What purpose does it serve? Comedies end in marriage. Society is healed. The circle will be healed. Bonds are broken but set right again.