Study Guide

The Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 5

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Act 3, Scene 5

Read the full text of The Merchant of Venice Act 3 Scene 5 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • At Portia's garden in Belmont, Lancelot (Shylock's deserting clown) talks with Jessica (Shylock's deserting daughter). Always a riot, Lancelot says that Jessica is damned to hell because she's the daughter of a Jew. There's hope for her in the possibility that she's not actually her father's daughter, but Jessica points out that if that's true, she'd be punished for her mother's sins instead.
  • Lancelot agrees that Jessica is damned either way. But she points out that she'll be saved by her husband, who will make her Christian when he marries her. The trouble with this, says Lancelot, is that there are enough Christians already, and more Christians will mean more pork-eaters, which will raise the price of pork, regardless of who has come around to a different view of God.
  • Lorenzo then enters and fakes concern over Lancelot getting cozy with Jessica, his wife. He jokes that Lancelot has already gotten too comfortable with a Moorish woman, who now carries the clown's child. Lancelot, unfazed, says the girl is so promiscuous that anybody could be the father.
  • Then we get lots of quipping about Lancelot calling the house to prepare dinner, and some talk about how the clown never speaks straight. Lancelot leaves and Lorenzo asks Jessica what she thinks of Portia.
  • Jessica is full of praise for the girl, whom she claims has no equal on earth. Lorenzo is a little taken aback by Jessica's warm words and teases that Jessica has in him a husband as worthy as Portia is a wife. They have a crude back-and-forth about Jessica's willingness to praise Lorenzo before dinner, as she won't be able to stomach praising him after. Finally they exit together to go eat dinner.

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