The Merchant of Venice Short Summary of the Play in English
(Act and Scene wise)
Act I (अंक प्रधम )
Scene I : The scene, opens in a street of Venice. Antonio is suffering from an unaccountable fit of melancholy, he is troubled with a foreboding of evil. In the meantime his close friend Bassanio arrives. Antonio inquires about the progress of his love affairs. Bassanio tells him his desire for the hand of Portia, a rich heiress of Belmont. But he needs three thousand ducats to equip himself suitably and requests Antonio to lend him the money. Antonio tells him that all his fortunes are at sea. So he should raise a loan upon his credit.
Scene II : The scene shifts to Belmont where Portia, the heroine of the play, is also unaccountably sad. She is surrounded with all kinds of luxuries, she is most beautiful and is attracted by many suitors. But her future has been placed at the mercy of chance and fate by the will of her dead father. Whoever chooses aright from among three caskets of gold, silver and lead, is to have her as his wife.
Scene III : The scene shifts to a public place in Venice. Antonio reaches the most notorious money lender Shylock who was a great enemy of Antonio due to racial, religious and professional causes. So it is a moment of triumph for Shylock when Bassanio comes to borrow money from him for three months on the credit of Antonio. Shylock is thinking over the matter, in the meanwhile Antonio reaches the scene. Both talk in taunting and filthy way remembering the past events of insults and grudges. Antonio still mocks Shylock but Shylock remains calm. Then Shylock changes his mood and makes them a friendly offer of lending money without interest but on the execution of a bond of taking one pound of Antonio’s flesh in the event of non payment of loan within three months, Antonio was over confident of the return of his ships, so he agrees. They go to a lawyer and a bond is executed as suggested by Shylock.
Act II (अंक पद्रुतिया)
Scene I : The scene shifts to Portia’s residence in Belmont. The Moorish Prince, one of the suitors of Portia introduces himself to Portia. He boasts of his physical power beyond limit. Portia is not impressed by such a boastful, self conceite
nceited person. Yet he is ready to contest the lottery.
Scene II : The scene shifts to a street of Venice. Here Launcelot Gobbo, the clown of the play amuses the audience by his merry tricks. Bassanio also arrives. Launcelot and his father press their case to Bassanio who employs Launcelot on the spot.
Scene III : Now, we are taken to Shylock’s house in Venice. Launcelot bids good bye to Jessica, Shylocks daughter. Jessica sends through him a letter to Lorenzo with whom she is in love. It is a romantic love and she longs to elope with him and marry him.
Scene IV : Scene is laid in a street of Venice. Lorenzo receives Jessica’s letter in which he has been informed that she is prepared to leave her father’s home. She will bring with her some of her father’s gold and jewels. Reading it Lorenzo is delighted.
Scene V : Scene is laid in a street infront of Shylock’s house. Shylock has accepted Bassanio’s invitation to the feast which Bassanio is giving to his friends before his departure to Belmont. He is now getting ready to go there. He had a dream last night and he regards it as a bad omen. Yet he gives the keys to Jessica and asks her to be very careful. It shows his utmost confidence in his daughter. Launcelot informs Shylock that a masque is going to be performed that night by the friends of Bassanio in order to bid him farewell. Shylock does not know that his own daughter disguised as a boy is going to play a part of the torch bearer in this masque.
Scene VI : Lorenzo’s arrangements to steel Jessica are ready. His friends are waiting at the appointed place. Lorenzo joins them. Jessica also disguised as a boy comes out of the house. At this moment Antonio comes to inform Gratiano that the masque they intend to perform must be dropped for Bassanio must start atonce on his voyage as the winds have suddenly turned favourable.
Scene VII : Scene shifts to Belmont a room in Portia’s house. Prince of Morocco is the first suitor to try his luck. He chooses golden casket and finds a death’s head, i.e., a skull instead of Portia’s picture.
Scene VIII : Salarino and Salanio inform that Bassanio has set sail for Belmont. They also inform that Shylock has discovered the elopment of his daughter and the theft of his jewels. So he has put the law in motion against run away. But no trace of Jessica has been found.
Scene X : Scene takes place in Portia’s residence. Prince Arragon the second suitor tries his luck. He chooses the silver casket and finds the portrait of a blinking idiot in place of the picture of Portia.
Act III (अंक तृतीया)
Scene I : The scene shifts to a street of Venice. Salanio and Salarino are talking about one of Antonio’s ships has been wrecked. They irritate Shylock also by taunting him with Jessica’s elopment. They also ask him his opinion about the penalty to be taken from Antonio. Shylock confirms to take the penalty positively… Salanio and Salarino both leave and Tubal one of Shylock’s friends arrives. In his presence Shylock curses his daughter very much. Tubal tells him that Antonio is threatened with complete financial ruin. He exults and asks Tubal to engage for him a lawyer, a fortnight before the bond falls due.
Scene II : The scene again shifts to Portia’s room in Belmont. Bassanio has arrived to try his luck. Portia who has already given her heart to Bassanio cannot hide her agitation. But her mental agitation is quite clear. Now Bassanio comes forward to choose the casket. Bassanio rejects gold as well as pale silver caskets. The lead, the symbol of poverty appeals to the plain, straight forward soldier. When Portia sees him choose the leaden casket, her joy knows no bound. Though she controls her emotions and does not express them in words, their love was true and so it has succeeded. When Bassanio has made his choice and read the scroll in the casket, he comes forward and kisses Portia as was directed by the scroll.
As Gratiano and Nerissa congratulate Bassanio and Portia and declare their own love for each other. Jessica and Lorenzo arrive on the scene. Their arrival at Belmont links up the Lorenzo Jessica story with the story of caskets. With Lorenzo comes Salanio with a letter from Antonio. Before Bassanio has recovered from the rapture and joy of love, he is shocked by the news of complete ruin of Antonio. All his ventures have failed, his bond to the Jew is forfeited and his only desire is to see his friend before death.
In this way the two main stories–the Bond story and the Casket story—are brought into vital relation with each other. Bassanio’s love for Portia has been the cause of Antonio’s fall. Now Portia’s love for Bassanio is going to be the means of his deliverance.
Knowing about ill luck of Antonio, Portia atonce asks Bassanio to hurry to help his noble friend. So first they are married and then Portia gives him gold to repay the debt twenty times over. Antonio must be saved at any cost. As Bassanio and Gratiano leave for Venice, Portia and Nerissa give them rings with instructions that they should not give the rings to anybody else under any circumstances.
Scene III : The scene takes place in the street of Venice. Shylock has put Antonio in jail and is bent upon exacting the penalty laid down in the bond. Antonio has prevailed upon his jailor to take him out, so that he may talk to Shylock and appeal to his sense of humanity. This is indeed, a moment of triumph for Shylock. Antonio who had always insulted him and held him in contempt is now at his mercy. But Shylock remains unmoved by his entreaties—he will have his bond, he does not speak even to Antonio.
Scene IV : Scene takes place again in Portia’s residence. She is restless. She thinks of a bold plan. She gives the charge of her household to Lorenzo till her husband’s return. Her plan is to go to Venice with Nerissa disguised as a lawyer and plead the case of Antonio.
Scene V : This scene takes place in the garden of Portia’s residence. Portia and Nerissa have started for Venice and Lorenzo and Jessica are in charge of the house. Nothing more happens in this scene.
Act IV (अंक चतुर्थ)
Scene I : Trail Scene (In the Court of Venice) This scene is so important that it has made the play immortal. We are taken to the court of justice full of audience. Shylock is firm on his bond and nothing could soften his heart. Antonio has left all hopes and boldly prepares himself to meet his doom. At this moment Portia enters the court disguised as a lawyer with Nerissa as her clerk. The Duke permits her to plead on behalf of Airconio. Portia pleads the case as an impartial pleader and gives Shylock a number of opportunities to retreat from the position he has taken up. All the efforts even the appeal to be merciful have been rejected.
Now Portia calls upon Antonio to express his last wishes. Antonio calmly welcomes his death. Now Portia asks Antonio to be prepared to give flesh and Shylock to come with knife and take the flesh. As soon as Shylock comes forward—Portia warns him not even a single drop of blood should be shed and exactly one pound of flesh should be cut neither more nor less as the bond says.
Now everybody is overwhelmed by the plea. Now Shylock is perplexed. He leaves his adamancy and agrees to take the thrice of money of the loan. But the advocate grants him nothing against the bond. Then Shylock appeals for mercy. Even then Shylock’s life is pardoned on the condition that he would hand over one half of his fortune to Antonio‘in use’ for Lorenzo and Jessica and would leave to them the other half of his wealth at death. This is the cruelest blow that could have been given to the Jew. Shylock leaves the court, a broken old man, perhaps he goes from the court only to his death bed.
Secne II : This scene laid in a street of Venice, merely shows that Gratiano over takes Portia and gives her the ring of Bassanio which she herself had given to him. Nerissa also manages to wheedle her own ring out of her husband, Gratiano. In this way, develops the ring episode, source of so much fun and humour in the last act of the play.
ActV( अंक पंचम)
Scene I : This scene takes us to Portia’s garden in Belmont. Lorenzo and Jessica are seated together in lovely garden. Happy couple are in the love talk. Soon Portia and Nerissa and Antonio and Bassanio come and are welcomed.