. What are argosies with portly Sail? To what does Salarino compare Antonios argosies?
The argosies are large merchant ships with their stately sails unfurled.
Salarino compares Antonios argosies to the great lords (signiors) and wealthy citizens (rich burghers) who look down upon lesser men as they walk along street. He also says that they look like grand spectacles or pageants as they go in procession on the street.
2. How are other ships capered with those of Antonio? Explain.
The other ships which are small trading vessels are described as bowing low (curtsy) to the large vessels just as the small shopkeepers of Shakespeares time used to bow down to the nobles and great merchants to reverence.
The small ships bob up and down under the influence of the rolling wave and so appear to bow the big steady merchant ships of Antonio.
3. How would Salanio have behaved if he had ships like those of Antonio at sea?
If Salanio had ships like those of Antonio at sea, he would be always plucking the blades of grass and casting them in the air to see which way the wind blew, to see whether it was blowing in a direction favourable to the course of his vessels or not Secondly, he would be always looking into maps for harbours, wharfs and even open road-steads near to the shore where his ships could anchor in case of need.
4. Explain: Vailing her high-top lower her ribs/To kiss her burial.
The above lines mean Lowering the high top sails (which are on the top of the ships masts) till they lay on the sand.
Her side (ribs) would stand above them. As she sank and heeled over, she would bend (kiss) and touch the ground where she would be buried. The ship is compared to a person who is taking off his hat (the topsails) out of respect. Then he is lowering it to below his ribs (the sides of the ship). Lastly, he is bowing low to kiss the ground (the sandbank) as a token of homage.
5. How does Antonio reply to Salarinos remark that he is sad thinking of his merchandise? What does this reveal about him?
When Salarino remarks that Antonio is sad thinking of his merchandise, Antonio replies that such is not the case. One ship does not carry his entire merchandise. All his ships are not bound for one place and his entire fortune is not dependent upon what happen this year. Even if he has some losses this year, he will not be entirely ruined. Therefore, it is not anxiety about his commercial concerns which is making him unhappy.
Antonios reply reveals that he is a shrewd and prudent merchant, because his fortune does not depend on his investment in one business venture alone, nor on the business rick taken in one year.
6. What does Salarino conclude when Antonio denies that he is sad because of love?
When Antonio denies that he is sad because of love, Salarino concludes that he is sad because he is not happy. Antonio might as well begin to cut capers and give as his reason that he is happy because he is not sad. He continued to remark that there are some curious creatures in the world. He swear by Janus, the two headed Roam god, that some people have merry natures and are continually laughing whether the things they see are subjects for mirth or not. Again, there are other with the sourest countenance, who will not even open their lips to laugh at anything, though the gravest old warrior Nestor himself, were to vow that the joke was most amusing.
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes
And laugh like parrots at a bag piper;
The above lines mean that there are some people who look with eyes half shut with laughter. They laugh wildly and foolishly even at a bag-piper as parrots laugh at anything and everything without rhyme or reason. When people laugh in fun, their faces are puckered with laugher, so that their eyes appear to be peeping through the folds.
8. Explain: Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable
Nestor was the King of Pylos. He was the oldest and wisest of the Greek heroes who took part in the Trojan War. His advice was always sought as it was considered to be equal to that of the gods. He was famous for his wisdom, his justice and his knowledge of war. He is now proverbial for wisdom and profound gravity.
Salarino suggests that there are some men who are so sour and cross- grained that they would refuse to smile at any joke, even if the joke were so humorous as to cause the grave, sober and wise Nestor to laugh on hearing it.
9. Explain: There are a sort of men, whose visages/ Do cream and mantle like a standing pond; / And do a wilful stillness entertain,
The above lines mean that there are a certain type of people who restrain every emotion, and repress every show of feeling, in order that their faces may be grave, solemn and sedate. Their faces are overcast with a pale expression as unchanging as the cream that forms on the surface of milk and as the scum that forms on the surface of a stagnant pool. They maintain an obstinate silence (wilful stillness) not to disturb the solemnity of their countenances.
10. What comments does Bassanio make about Gratiano after the latter leaves the scene?
After Gratiano leaves the scene Bassanio tells Antonio that Gratiano can pour out an endless stream of talk on the flimsiest subjects better than anyone else in all Venice. If anyone tries to find the gist of his speeches, it is like hunting for two grains of good corn in two bushels of chaff. In other words, Gratiano speaks a lot of nonsense. At times a little sense may be found in an immense quantity of nonsense. On e will have to spend the whole day to find it, and when one finds it at long last, one will discover that it is not worth the search.
11. What experience of his school day does Bassanio relate to prove that he will repay a fresh loan?
To prove that he will repay a fresh loan, Bassanio relates an experience of his school days. He says that when he was a boy at school, and he went shooting, if he lost one of his arrows he took another exactly like it. Then he shot it in the same direction, and watched it more careful than the first. By thus risking the second, he was often enabled to regain both. So, if Antonio shoots another arrow (gives him a fresh loan) in the direction in which he shot his first arrow (gave him former loans) he has good hope of recovering them (both the loans). Bassanio has no doubt that by carefully watching the expenditure of the second sum, he will be able to pay off all his debts, or at least pay off the second debt. He will remain ever grateful to Antonio for his former loans.
12. Who is the rich lady referred to here? Whom is she compared to? Who are Brutus and Cato?
The rich lady is Portia. She is compared to Portia, the wife of Brutus and daughter of Cato. Bassanios Portia is in no way inferior to her namesake. Portia was the daughter of the great philosopher Cato. She married Marcus Brutus, the assassin of Julius Caesar, in 45 B.C. She inherited all her fathers republican principles, as well as his courage and firmness of will. Shakespeare makes her the heroine of his play Julius Caesar. He represents her as a model woman, as a devoted, attached, courageous wife, stimulating her husband to act worthy of the illustrious name of Brutus, the family name. Brutus, the husband of Portia, was the chief of the conspirators against Caesar. He was remarkable for his morality and uprightness, unlike the other Roman nobles.
13. To what is Belmont compared? Explain.
Belmont is compared to the shores of Colchis towards which come modern Jasons to win Portias hand in marriage. Colchis is a country of Asia, bordering on the Black sea and lying south of the Caucasus. The Golden Fleece was the fleece of a ram. Phrixus sacrificed the ram and gave the Golden Fleece to the King of Colchis. He fastened it to an oak tree in the grove of Ares. Here it was guarded day and night by a sleepless dragon.
Portias golden hair is compared to the golden fleece. Her golden riches and her golden hair make her house at Belmont like the beach of Colchis.
14. Explain: And many Jasons come in quest of her
The above line means that many adventures and suitors including Bassanio, come to seek and win Portias hands in marriage. Jason was a Greek hero. He was the son of Aeson of Iolcus. He was sent by Pelias, his uncle, who had usurped the throne, to fetch the golden fleece from Colchis. Pelias thought that he would get rid of Jason in this way. Jason went with all the great heroes of the age, the Argonauts, on a perilous voyage to Colchis. Medea, the daughter of the king of Colchis, who had fallen in love with Jason, helped him. By her magic powers, she sent to sleep the dragon who guarded the golden fleece and helped Jason to gain possession of it.
Bassanio compares Portia to the golden fleece. He compares himself in his quest of Portia to Jason on his voyage in search of the golden fleece. He refers to all other suitors as many Jasons.
15. What reason does Antonio now give for not being able to help Bassanio directly? How does he propose to help him?
Antonio tells Bassanio that his wealth is contained in his ships at sea. At that moment, he has no money in hand. He also had no merchandise on which he can raise money to give Bassanio immediately.
He proposes to help Bassanio, however as, he has tremendous good will and he is sure that people will lend money against his credit. He empowers Bassanio to find out the merchant who is ready to give money against his name. He will stretch his credit as far as it will reach to equip Bassanio to go to Belmont to woo Portia. He says that they should both make inquiries immediately and see who can lend them money. Antonio has not slightest double that he will be able to obtain it, either on the security of his name or from feelings of personals friendship.