The Merchant of Venice: Act 2, Scene 1 to 9 - Summary

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Act 2, Scene 1

      Back at Belmont, Morocco, a king from northern Africa, arrives to try his hand at solving the puzzle of the chests.

Act 2, Scene 2

      In Venice, Launcelot Gobbo, a servant to Shylock, decides to leave Shylock's service and prepares to ask Bassanio to employ him. Launcelot meets with his old father, whom he has not seen in many years and asks him to go with him to Bassanio's. There, the father offers some of his wares to Bassanio, enticing him to hire his son. Bassanio agrees to do so.

      Next, Gratiano appears. He is a friend of Bassanio's. Gratiano begs Bassanio to take him to Belmont. Antonio tells Gratiano that he is too wild, rude, and bold. Bassanio, who enjoys Gratiano at Venice's parties, is concerned that Gratiano will not make a good impression on Portia in Belmont. Gratiano promises to behave, and Bassanio agrees to take Gratiano with him.

      To stay away from the windows and to lock the doors. Launcelot whispers to Jessica that she should look out for a masked Christian who will come calling for her.

Act 2, Scene 3

      At Shylock's home in Venice, Jessica, Shylock's daughter, says good-bye to Launcelot. But before the servant leaves, Jessica asks him to deliver a letter to Lorenzo, a friend of Bassanio's. Later, while Jessica is thinking out loud, she claims that if Lorenzo truly loves her and comes for her, she will become a Christian.

Act 2, Scene 4

      Lorenzo and Gratiano plan a small entertaining skit and a party for Bassanio that night. But when Launcelot delivers Jessica's letter, small revisions in their plans must be made. Lorenzo and Gratiano plan how they will go into the Jewish quarters that night and steal away Jessica from her father.

Act 2, Scene 5

      At Shylock's house, Launcelot returns to invite Shylock to eat with Bassanio. Shylock agrees, this time. Before Shylock leaves, he tells Jessica.

Act 2, Scene 6

      Gratiano and Salerio arrive at Shylock's house later that evening. They wait for Lorernzo to appear. Lorenzo calls out for Jessica, who is dressed like a boy. She goes with Lorenzo, stealing a large portion of her father's money as a dowry. The two young people profess their love for one another.

Act 2, Scene 7

      At Belmont, Morocco, the prince from northern Africa, is with Portia and is about to take the test. He must choose one chest among three. The first chest is made of gold. It has a note attached to it that reads: "Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire." Morocco then reads the note on the silver chest. "Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves." The chest made out of dull lead also has a note. It reads: "Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath." Morocco analyzes the three notes. Then he chooses the gold chest, the only chest worthy of Portia's beauty, he assumes. However, Morocco has chosen the Wrong one.

Act 2, Scene 8

      In Venice, Salerio and Solanio relate the events of the past night. The audience learns that Bassanio has set sail for Belmont and has taken Gratiano with him. Shylock has discovered that Jessica is missing. He went to the duke to try to have Bassanio's shipped searched. Antonio swears to the duke that Jessica is not with Bassanio.

      Solanio then states that he heard Shylock wailing in a very strange way in the streets that night. First Shylock cried for his daughter; then he cried for the loss of his money. Shylock moans that if he finds his daughter, he is sure he will also find his money. Salerio says that he heard a rumor that a ship from Venice has capsized. He hopes it is not one of Antonio's.

Act 2, Scene 9

      In Belmont, the prince of Arragon arrives to try his luck in winning fair Portia. He chooses the silver chest, and he chooses wrong.

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