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Act 5 workbook

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare


Act 5 Scene 1

1. In lines 1-24 Lorenzo and Jessica give examples of classical lovers. Each of these stories
shows actions for love but each story ended badly.

Fill in the details below:

Character Action Ending

Troilus

Thisbe

Dido

Medea

Extension question

Why does Shakespeare include all these stories at this point in the play?

2. Portia and Nerissa return (line 89). What do Lorenzo and Jessica think Portia and Nerissa
have been doing?

3. What do each of the characters say about music?

Lorenzo: .....................................................................................................

Jessica: ......................................................................................................

Portia: ........................................................................................................

4. At line 142 the formal welcome of Antonio is interrupted by Gratiano and Nerissa. What are
they arguing about?

5. Look at lines 166-177. What would Bassanio be doing during these lines? Try acting out this
part of the play. If you can’t, think about the staging of this part of the play. How can you
make it funny?

6. How does Shakespeare end the play? Do you think the couples will be happy? What about
Antonio?

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Act 5 workbook
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Revise Act 5

1. Judi Dench said ‘I loathe the play, I think it is terrible, everyone behaves so frightfully
badly.’ Do you agree?

2. Do we need Act 5 at all? What would the play lose if it had finished at the end of Act 4?

Essay question

How does Shakespeare present love in ‘A Merchant of Venice’?

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Act 5 workbook
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Act 5 Scene 1
1. In lines 1-24 Lorenzo and Jessica give examples of classical lovers. Each of these stories
shows actions for love but each story ended badly.
Fill in the details below:

Character Action Ending


Climbed the walls of the city of Troy to be with
Troilus She betrayed him.
Cressida, his lover.
She failed to meet her lover
Was on her way to meet Pyramus when she was
Thisbe who killed himself in grief; she
chased away by a lion.
then killed herself.
Tried to encourage her lover to come back to her
Dido He left her there, abandoned.
by standing on the seashore.

She gathered fragrant plants and herbs for her


Medea Jason later deserted her.
lover Jason’s father as a means of refreshment.

Extension question

Why does Shakespeare include all these stories at this point in the play?

To show how fickle love is while they are yet declaring their love for each other.

2. Portia and Nerissa return (line 89). What do Lorenzo and Jessica think Portia and Nerissa
have been doing?
They think they have been praying at a nearby convent.

3. What do each of the characters say about music?


Lorenzo: sees music as a reflection of the harmony of heaven where angels sing. Music
can calm the wildest person and heal their bad tempers.
Jessica: describes music as sad.
Portia: says music is sweeter by night than by day.

4. At line 142 the formal welcome of Antonio is interrupted by Gratiano and Nerissa. What are
they arguing about?
The loss of his ring.

5. Look at lines 166-177. What would Bassanio be doing during these lines? Try acting out this
part of the play. If you can’t, think about the staging of this part of the play. How can you
make it funny?
He might try to hide his hand, avoid looking at Portia. It is funny as the audience know
the truth.
How does Shakespeare end the play? Do you think the couples will be happy? What about
Antonio?
There are many possibilities to explore here. Antonio is left alone. We are expected to
see the ending as happy but Shylock and Antonio are outside of this. The talk of
.
betrayed love and the giving away of the rings may hint at the fickleness of love

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