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O that estates, degrees, and offices,
Were not derived corruptly, and that clear honour
Were purchased by the merit of the wearer.
How many then should cover that stand bare?
How many be commanded that command?
How much low peasantry would then be gleaned
From the true seed of honour? And how much honour
Picked from the chaff and ruin of the times,
To be new-varnished? Well but to my choice.
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.
1. Who speaks these lines and on what occasion?
The Prince of Arragon; at Portia’s house in Belmont when he is about to make his choice of the caskets.
2. Where does the speaker read the last line of the passage; what has he said previously to show that this line makes an especial appeal to him?
On the silver casket; that he believes he genuinely deserves the best, and there is no point in pretending otherwise.
3. What is meant by “gleaned from the true seed of honour” (lines 6-7) and “O that estates, degrees, and offices, were not derived corruptly.” (lines 1-2)?
“picked out, like chaff from corn, from those who are truly the children of noble parents.”
“I wish that places of high rank and social standing and important positions in the government were not obtained unworthily.”
4. What does the speaker choose when it comes to his “choice” (line 9)? What does his choice tell us about his character?
The silver casket. In assuming that he deserves Portia he shows himself too proud.
5. Mention two consequences which follow the speaker’s choice.
He finds inside this casket the portrait of an idiot, but keeps his oath to leave at once without saying anything further.


A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew.
Now infidel I have you on the hip.
Why doth the Jew pause? Take thy forfeiture.
Give me my principal, and let me go.
I have it ready for thee, here it is.
He hath refused it in the open court.
He shall have merely justice and his bond.
A Daniel still say I, a second Daniel
I thank thee Jew for teaching me that word.
Shall I not have barely my principal?

1. Where does this episode occur? Say briefly what is taking place.
In a court of justice in Venice; Shylock is claiming his right to receive from Antonio the penalty agreed between them, even though Portia as the judge has set him impossible conditions.
2. Portia asks “Why doth the Jew pause ?“ (1. 3). What was Shylock hesitating to do? Give one reason which made him pause.
To cut a pound of flesh from nearest Antonio’s heart. If he were to shed one drop of Antonio’s blood he would lose his own possessions and life.
3. What was the “principal” (1. 4)? What offer had Bassanio made earlier, relating to this “principal”?
Three thousand ducats; to pay to Shylock twice the sum.
4. What does Gratiano mean by “I have you on the hip” (1. 2)? Refer briefly to an earlier passage in which the same metaphor is used by Shylock.
“I have you at a disadvantage, as if, in wrestling, I have you in the right position to throw you down.” When asked to lend the ducats, and just before suggesting his “merry” bond, Shylock says quietly to himself how much he hates Antonio and how, if he can catch him once upon the hip, he will “feed fat” the grudge he bears him.
5. What is Gratiano alluding to when he says “A second Daniel” (1. i)? Give one other instance from this scene of his taunting of Shylock.
To a story in the Bible about the trial of Susanna, when Daniel, a wise young man acting as judge, was able to turn against the Elders their own words of accusation; so Portia has turned against Shylock the words of his bond. Also to Shylock’s praise of Portia, earlier in this scene, as “A Daniel come to judgment”. When all Shylock’s possessions are forfeited, Gratiano taunts him with not having even the cost of a rope left to hang himself.