Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 7
From The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Felix E. Schelling. New York: American Book Co.
In this scene the Prince of Morocco proceeds to his choice of the caskets and is discomforted.
4. who is occasionally used referring to an inanimate object as
its antecedent, as here. Compare Pericles, i. I. 45: "A mirror
Who tells us life's but breath."
8. blunt, dull.
14. back again, in inverse order.
20. shows, appearances.
30. disabling, depreciation.
40. mortal-breathing, endowed with human life. Compare mortal-living in Richard III, iv. 4. 26.
41. vasty, desolate.
41. Hyrcanian deserts. Hyrcania was a desert region lying
south of the Caspian sea.
43. come [to] view. A common idiom. See Hamlet, ii. 1. 101:
"I will go seek the king."
50. it were too gross, etc. It would be too gross a thing to wrap
the burial cloths of such a saint in an obscure grave, i.e. in a casket
made of so common a substance as lead.
51. rib, cover, wrap.
51. cerecloth, waxed cloth used in burial.
53. undervalued, inferior in value to. Compare above, i. I. 165.
At the date of this play the proportionate value of gold to silver was
as about ten to one.
56. an angel, was a gold coin worth at most ten shillings; it was
so called from the figure of St. Michael slaying the dragon, on one
57. insculp'd upon, engraven on the outside of the coin. Here,
on the contrary, an angel [the picture of Portia] lies all within the
golden bed, [its casket].
59, 60. key ... may, a rhyme in Shakespeare's day.
63. A carrion Death, a skull or death's head from which the
flesh had rotted away.
63. Death, Death's head.
65. glisters, glitters.
73. your suit is cold. A proverbial expression. Compare The
Two Gentlemen of Verona, iv. 4. 186: "I hope my master's suit
will be but cold."
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Felix E. Schelling. New York: American Book Co., 1903. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2011. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/merchant_2_7.html >.