Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 9
From The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Felix E. Schelling. New York: American Book Co.
This scene represents the discomfiture of another suitor of Portia, the solemn and deliberate Prince of Arragon; and concludes
with the heralded arrival of Bassanio.
18. to [the] hazard. Compare Henry V. iii. 7. 93.
19. address'd me, prepared myself.
19. Fortune now, etc., may good fortune now attend the hope of
25. that 'many' may be meant By, etc. By was used commonly
after the verb to mean, where we should use for.
27. fond, foolish.
28. martlet, swallow.
30. force, power.
32. jump, agree with.
38. cozen, cheat.
43. purchased, acquired, won.
44. cover, wear their hats as maters.
51. I will assume, etc. This line is an Alexandrine, as frequently where the sense is broken. Arragon pauses after desert;
and turning to Portia says, "Give me the key for this [the silver
48. ruin, rubbish.
53. Portia (Aside). This reading, which is approved by Dr. Furness, seems necessary to the preservation of Portia's kindliness
and courtesy of spirit. The lips that uttered the beautiful words on "the quality of mercy" could never have taunted a losing but
honest lover to his face in the moment of his defeat. The asides were by no means always marked in the old editions of plays.
61. distinct, accented on the first syllable.
68. i-wis, assuredly.
69. Silver'd o'er. The idiot's picture was silver'd o'er, being
contained in a silver box.
70-71. Marry whom you will, you will always have me, a fool,
for your head.
74. By the time, in proportion to the time.
79. singed the moth, evidently rhyming with Arragon's preceding couplet and in mockery of it.
81. wit, knowledge, power of mind.
85. my lord, a sportive rejoinder to the servant's deep bow and
tone of pompous respect in addressing Portia as "my lady." It is
by the mockery of Portia's rhyme to the couplet of Arragon, and by
this merry answer to her servant that the author makes clear to us
how delighted Portia is to have escaped another suitor.
89. sensible regreets, evident salutations. The strange word regreet is used elsewhere. Compare King John, iii. 1. 241: "Unyoke this seizure and this kind regreet." It is not unlikely that the
fine language of the servant is the cause of Portia's mockery.
91. Yet I have not, I have never yet.
98. high-day wit, holiday terms. Compare The Merry Wives
of Windsor, iii. 2. 69: "He writes verses, he speaks holiday."
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_9.html >.