The Merchant of Venice is an important topic in the ICSE syllabus for class 9 and 10. It accounts for most of the weightage in the exam. There are five acts and several scenes in the play. It is difficult to find the complete Guide of questions and answers and as a result, students lose marks. We provide you with Act 1 , Scene 2 questions and answers written in accordance with the CISCE guidance pattern.


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The Merchant of Venice Question Answers Act 1, Scene 2

Who is Nerissa? What is her relationship with Portia? Where are Portia and Nerissa speaking? What is the special significance of that place?


Nerissa is Portia’s waiting woman. Her relationship with Portia is not one of mistress and servant but of two friends who are free and frank in their exchanges.

Nerissa and Portia are speaking from Belmont, Portia’s city of residence. Many suitors are coming to this place in the hopes of marrying this beautiful lady. For them to win the lady’s hand, they must win the game of lottery by choosing the right casket.

How does Nerissa explain why Portia’s body is “a weary of this great world? Where does the happiness lie according to Nerissa?”


According to Nerissa, Portia is a weary of this world in spite of her good fortune. She draws the conclusion that those who have too much of everything are as sick of the world as those who have nothing. It is no small happiness therefore to occupy a middle position.

Explain briefly why Portia is sad in light of what is said after this except?


Portia is worried because she has to marry according to the will left by her father. He has devised a lottery of caskets. Her marriage depends upon her suitor’s choosing the right casket. Portia is not free to choose her husband. She cannot choose the person she likes, nor is she free to reject him whom she dislikes. The will of her dead father imposes a restraint upon her free choice of a husband. It is this that makes her a weary of this great world.

What is the difference between Antonio’s weariness and that of Portia?


Antonio is weary without knowing why he is weary. Perhaps his heart is sad because he sees a crisis coming. The future may hold suffering for him. The signing of the bond will land him in the greatest trouble of his life. His life is in danger.

Portia’s fatigue is understandable. The reason can be identified by her. Her marriage will be decided at this time. Although her father is dead, she must follow his instructions when choosing a husband. Her freedom of choice is restricted, so she feels insecure.

What are two lines of witty dialogue between Portia and Nerissa?


There is an exchange of witty dialogue between Portia and Nerissa. When Nerissa comments on Portia’s weariness that is a boom of excessively prosperous condition, Portia remarks that she has said some smart words. These are good maxims spoken impressively. Here Nerissa retorts that the value of these words would depend upon the condition whether these are acted upon or not.

What light does Portia’s reply throw on her character?


Portia’s reply shows her deep attachment to her father. She respects his will and wishes only to be married in accordance with it. She is determined not to violate her father’s will even if it means remaining unmarried. We learn that Portia is also kind in her character traits. She bears no grudge towards her suitors and prays to God to grant them all a safe departure.