The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice
by William Shakespeare
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The Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 9 Summary

  • At Portia's house in Belmont, yet another suitor, the Prince of Arragon, has come to try his hand at the casket game.  Portia welcomes the man half-heartedly, and all are reminded that this particular recreation has some rules.
  •  The Prince of Arragon lists the rules so we all know what's up: first, he can never tell anyone which casket he chose; second, if he picks the wrong casket, he can never woo a woman in the way of marriage; and third, if he picks the wrong casket, he has to go away immediately. No sticking around to cry about it – and no stalking either!
  • The Prince then goes through a line of reasoning like the Prince of Morocco's. Arragon says the lead casket needs to be better looking before he'd risk anything for it.  Arragon then rules out the gold casket as something that would only appeal to those deceived into valuing appearances more than actual value.
  • Arragon then hems and haws about the silver casket's inscription about getting what he deserves.  He says if people were better at judging what was deserved, some great men would be knocked down, and some poor men raised up.  Still, he's weighed it and decided he deserves Portia – so he picks the silver casket.
  • He's wrong.  There's a picture of a fool's head inside. Portia and Nerissa are, again, glad to see him go, but Portia then gets news from a messenger about a man she'd like to see come.
  • Apparently, a man full of sweet manners has shown up in Belmont.  He says he's here to announce that his lord, another Venetian, is soon to follow.  Until the lord gets there, however, the man brings his apologies, courtesies, and gifts of great value.  The messenger who saw the guy (who we can guess is Graziano) comments that the visiting Venetian is awfully sweet and generally makes a good showing in preparation for the lord who's on his way.  Portia teases the messenger for being full of such high praise, but she rushes Nerissa out to take a look at the man playing Cupid for the Venetian gentleman.  Nerissa hopes that the soon-to-arrive Venetian will be Bassanio, the guy she and Portia like more than any other.
Next Page: Act 3, Scene 1
Previous Page: Act 2, Scene 8

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