The Merchant of Venice: Scene Notes – Act II, scene vii




Act 2.6  - Jessica escapes from her father

            - Leaves with Lorenzo


Act 2.7  - The 3 caskets are revealed

            - Morocco picks the gold casket

            - Discovers a skull with a scroll and leaves


Act 2.8  - Solerio and Solanio talking about Shylock

                 - “My daughter! O my ducats!”

            - Antonio also mentioned, may have lost his ship.

            - Scene is humorous when talking about Shylock

            - Mood changes to anxiety when talking about Antonio’s ships.



Motifs & Connotations


·             Repeated Casket Task throughout the play > Appearance and Reality & Men’s Control over women Casket task > Portia is controlled by the casket and her father), She is unable to choose her own husband > her life is controlled by her father & the casket

·             Casket also mentioned when Jessica escapes from Shylock’s house > Money and wealth: “Here, catch this casket” [Act 2.6, line 33]


Gods & Heavens:

·             Morocco refers to gods more than once. First in Act 2.1, then again in Act 2.7: “Some god direct my judgment!” [Act 2.7 [line 13]

·             Morocco also refers to heavens when he talks about Portia and her beauty




Appearances as deceiving:

·             Casket task reinforces that what looks good on the outside may not be the same on the inside: the Gold casket contains a skull and scroll that condemns his judgment on the casket he picked. The message is that one should not judge based on exterior as the interior may be different from what is expected.

·             Other examples reinforced through the Silver and Lead caskets

·             Also when Jessica, Portia and Nerissa dress up as men




Gold, Silver and Lead:

·             Materials, Outward appearance.

·             Gold         > beauty, angels, wealth and goodness

·             Silver        > Not as valuable as gold

                        > “Virgin Hue” associated with the colour silver

                        > “Virgin Hue” also associated with the goddess of the moon, Diana > Purity

                        > “Immured” - shut away, silver is not good enough

·             Lead         > Ugly and unworthy




Prince of Morocco:

·             His character judges based on appearance, shown through the choosing of the Gold casket. He is very arrogant and is the stereotype of a macho man. He compares himself to Phoebus, the sun god [Act 2.1 line 5]. He is also humorous as he is supposed to be wooing Portia but instead uses violent imagery [fire, blood]. His character does not change or progress throughout the play. He makes a big entrance in Act 2.1 and also makes a big fuss when he leaves at the end of Act 2.7 “Cold indeed and labour lost; Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost! Portia, adieu!...” [Act 2.7 lines 74 onwards]. Although violent imagery is more discreet in Act 2.7, his arrogance is shown through his choice of the golden casket, as he states that he should deserve more than what he deserves (in reference to the silver casket).



·             Portia’s character is more developed in Act 2.7. First impression of Portia is that she is under control of men (her father), although her power over Belmont is evident, she is not seen as a strong character. Her power and wit are more evident when Morocco arrives in Act 2.1 She uses her words with an underlying meaning that is undetected by the prince. In Act 2.7 her character is not shown to be powerful nor weak. She has little to say but seems to be confident that Morocco will not choose the right casket and marry her.




Belmont, A room in Portia’s house.

·             Associated with Love and fantasy > contrast with Venice

·             Where the women live

·             The Women only have power in Belmont as Venice is associated with men, money and prejudice.



Narrative Style

Morocco talks throughout the whole scene, with an exception of a few lines when Portia answers his questions. He speaks in verse (indicating high status).



Relation of Part to Whole

The casket task is introduced earlier in act 1 scene 2. In between Act 1 scene 2 and Act 2 scene 7, Bassanio travels to Belmont from Venice in order to pursue Portia. Act 2 scene 7 shows how the casket task works. This scene builds tension as the audience is revealed to other suitors while they are waiting for Bassanio to arrive. As Bassanio travels, trouble is brewing in Venice between Shylock (whom he borrowed money from) and Antonio, as well as between Shylock and Lorenzo (who Jessica just escaped with). Therefore Act 2 scene 7 breaks the tension in Venice as we are focused on the activity in Belmont.