Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 5
From The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Felix E. Schelling. New York: American Book Co.
This brief scene, which shows us Lorenzo and Jessica in charge of Belmont in the absence of Portia, produces the necessary effect of a lapse of time between Portia's departure and the day of trial.
3. I fear you, I fear for you.
19. A line from the Alexandreis of Philip Qualtier written in
the thirteenth century which became proverbial: Incidis in Scyllam cupiens vitare Charibdim.
21. I shall be saved by my husband. Perhaps an allusion to
1 Corinthians, vii. 14: "The unbelieving wife is sanctified by the
28. a rasher on the coals, a favorite dish of the time.
34. are out, have fallen out.
57. 'cover.' Launcelot plays on the word which means to lay
covers on the table, that is set the table, and also to put the hat
on the head. I know my duty, and do not wear my hat in the
presence of my superiors.
60. quarrelling with occasion, quibbling with words at every
70. O dear discretion [sober sense and fair meaning], how
[absurdly] his words are suited [matched to the thought].
73. A many fools. The a thus inserted before a numeral indicates that the objects enumerated are regarded collectively as one.
Compare the expressions: "This nineteen years," "This many
years"; and Tennyson in The Miller's Daughter: "They have
not shed a many tear."
74, 75. for a tricksy word Defy the matter, for the sake of playing on the word set the meaning at defiance.
82. And if on earth he do not mean it. Mean is the reading of
all the old editions, and various emendations, such as merit it and
earn it have been offered. If the reading of the text is to be
retained, perhaps the best explanation is that which gives to mean
it the force of, "to observe the mean, enjoy blessings moderately."
95. set you forth, describe you to advantage.
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_3_5.html >.