List iconThe Merchant of Venice:
Act 2, scene 2
List icon

The Merchant of Venice
Act 2, scene 2



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Antonio, the merchant in The Merchant of Venice, secures a loan from Shylock for his friend Bassanio, who seeks to court…

Act 1, scene 1

Antonio, a Venetian merchant, has invested all his wealth in trading expeditions. Bassanio, his friend and kinsman, asks him for…

Act 1, scene 2

At Portia’s estate of Belmont, Portia and Nerissa talk over Portia’s frustration at being unable to choose her own husband….

Act 1, scene 3

In Venice Bassanio goes to Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, to borrow, in Antonio’s name, 3,000 ducats. Shylock hates Antonio but…

Act 2, scene 1

At Belmont the Prince of Morocco greets Portia, who tells him the terms of the contest: if he chooses the…

Act 2, scene 2

In Venice Shylock’s servant, Lancelet Gobbo, debates whether he should find a new master. Lancelet’s father comes in search of…

Act 2, scene 3

Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, says good-bye to Lancelet and gives him a letter for Lorenzo, a friend of Bassanio. In a…

Act 2, scene 4

Lorenzo, Gratiano, Solanio, and Salarino try to arrange a masque for Bassanio’s dinner that night. Lancelet brings Lorenzo Jessica’s letter…

Act 2, scene 5

Lancelet brings Shylock an invitation to dinner at Bassanio’s. Shylock grudgingly accepts and commands Jessica to guard their house carefully….

Act 2, scene 6

Gratiano and Salarino wait for Lorenzo near Shylock’s house. As soon as Lorenzo arrives, he calls Jessica, who throws him…

Act 2, scene 7

At Belmont the Prince of Morocco attempts to choose the right chest and win Portia. He picks the gold one…

Act 2, scene 8

In Venice Solanio and Salarino discuss the latest news: Shylock’s torment over the loss of his daughter and the treasures…

Act 2, scene 9

At Belmont the Prince of Arragon attempts to win Portia by choosing the silver chest, but finds in it the…

Act 3, scene 1

In Venice Solanio and Salarino have learned that the Italian ship wrecked in the English Channel was Antonio’s. Shylock enters…

Act 3, scene 2

Portia advises Bassanio to postpone choosing for fear he should make the wrong choice. Bassanio declares himself unable to live…

Act 3, scene 3

Antonio seeks out Shylock in an effort to get the moneylender to listen to him. But Shylock insists that the…

Act 3, scene 4

Portia entrusts the management of her household to Lorenzo and pretends to leave with Nerissa for a house of an…

Act 3, scene 5

Lancelet, the clown, makes jokes at the expense of Jessica and then Lorenzo. Jessica praises Portia and jokes with Lorenzo.

Act 4, scene 1

In court at Venice, Shylock demands that the terms of his bond be fulfilled. Portia enters as a doctor of…

Act 4, scene 2

Gratiano gives the disguised Portia Bassanio’s ring. Nerissa decides to try to obtain from Gratiano the ring that she had…

Act 5, scene 1

Portia and Nerissa return to Belmont. When Bassanio and Gratiano also return, bringing Antonio with them, Portia and Nerissa “discover”…

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Scene 2
Enter Lancelet Gobbo the Clown, alone.

LANCELET Certainly my conscience will serve me to
 run from this Jew my master. The fiend is at mine
 elbow and tempts me, saying to me “Gobbo,
 Lancelet Gobbo, good Lancelet,” or “good Gobbo,”
5 or “good Lancelet Gobbo, use your legs, take
 the start, run away.” My conscience says “No. Take
 heed, honest Lancelet, take heed, honest Gobbo,”
 or, as aforesaid, “honest Lancelet Gobbo, do not
 run; scorn running with thy heels.” Well, the most
10 courageous fiend bids me pack. “Fia!” says the
 fiend. “Away!” says the fiend. “For the heavens,
 rouse up a brave mind,” says the fiend, “and run!”
 Well, my conscience, hanging about the neck of my
 heart, says very wisely to me “My honest friend
15 Lancelet, being an honest man’s son”—or rather,
 an honest woman’s son, for indeed my father did
 something smack, something grow to—he had a
 kind of taste—well, my conscience says “Lancelet,
 budge not.” “Budge,” says the fiend. “Budge not,”
20 says my conscience. “Conscience,” say I, “you
 counsel well.” “Fiend,” say I, “you counsel well.”
 To be ruled by my conscience, I should stay with the
 Jew my master, who (God bless the mark) is a kind
 of devil; and to run away from the Jew, I should be
25 ruled by the fiend, who (saving your reverence) is
 the devil himself. Certainly the Jew is the very devil
 incarnation, and, in my conscience, my conscience
 is but a kind of hard conscience to offer to counsel
 me to stay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more
30 friendly counsel. I will run, fiend. My heels are at
 your commandment. I will run.

Enter old Gobbo with a basket.

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 2

GOBBO Master young man, you, I pray you, which is
 the way to Master Jew’s?
LANCELET, aside O heavens, this is my true begotten
35 father, who being more than sandblind, high gravelblind,
 knows me not. I will try confusions with him.
GOBBO Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is
 the way to Master Jew’s?
LANCELET Turn up on your right hand at the next
40 turning, but at the next turning of all on your left;
 marry, at the very next turning, turn of no hand,
 but turn down indirectly to the Jew’s house.
GOBBO Be God’s sonties, ’twill be a hard way to hit.
 Can you tell me whether one Lancelet, that dwells
45 with him, dwell with him or no?
LANCELET Talk you of young Master Lancelet? Aside.
 Mark me now, now will I raise the waters.—Talk
 you of young Master Lancelet?
GOBBO No master, sir, but a poor man’s son. His
50 father, though I say ’t, is an honest exceeding poor
 man and, God be thanked, well to live.
LANCELET Well, let his father be what he will, we talk
 of young Master Lancelet.
GOBBO Your Worship’s friend, and Lancelet, sir.
LANCELET 55But I pray you, ergo, old man, ergo, I beseech
 you, talk you of young Master Lancelet?
GOBBO Of Lancelet, an ’t please your mastership.
LANCELET Ergo, Master Lancelet. Talk not of Master
 Lancelet, father, for the young gentleman, according
60 to Fates and Destinies, and such odd sayings, the
 Sisters Three, and such branches of learning, is
 indeed deceased, or, as you would say in plain
 terms, gone to heaven.
GOBBO Marry, God forbid! The boy was the very staff
65 of my age, my very prop.
LANCELET, aside Do I look like a cudgel or a hovel-post,
 a staff or a prop?—Do you know me, father?

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 2

GOBBO Alack the day, I know you not, young gentleman.
 But I pray you tell me, is my boy, God rest his
70 soul, alive or dead?
LANCELET Do you not know me, father?
GOBBO Alack, sir, I am sandblind. I know you not.
LANCELET Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might
 fail of the knowing me. It is a wise father that
75 knows his own child. Well, old man, I will tell you
 news of your son. He kneels. Give me your blessing.
 Truth will come to light, murder cannot be hid
 long—a man’s son may, but in the end, truth will
GOBBO 80Pray you, sir, stand up! I am sure you are not
 Lancelet my boy.
LANCELET Pray you, let’s have no more fooling about
 it, but give me your blessing. I am Lancelet, your
 boy that was, your son that is, your child that shall
85 be.
GOBBO I cannot think you are my son.
LANCELET I know not what I shall think of that; but I
 am Lancelet, the Jew’s man, and I am sure Margery
 your wife is my mother.
GOBBO 90Her name is Margery, indeed. I’ll be sworn if
 thou be Lancelet, thou art mine own flesh and
 blood. Lord worshiped might He be, what a beard
 hast thou got! Thou hast got more hair on thy chin
 than Dobbin my fill-horse has on his tail.
LANCELET, standing up 95It should seem, then, that
 Dobbin’s tail grows backward. I am sure he had
 more hair of his tail than I have of my face when I
 last saw him.
GOBBO Lord, how art thou changed! How dost thou
100 and thy master agree? I have brought him a present.
 How ’gree you now?
LANCELET Well, well. But for mine own part, as I have
 set up my rest to run away, so I will not rest till I

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 2

 have run some ground. My master’s a very Jew.
105 Give him a present! Give him a halter. I am
 famished in his service. You may tell every finger I
 have with my ribs. Father, I am glad you are come!
 Give me your present to one Master Bassanio, who
 indeed gives rare new liveries. If I serve not him, I
110 will run as far as God has any ground. O rare
 fortune, here comes the man! To him, father, for I
 am a Jew if I serve the Jew any longer.

Enter Bassanio with Leonardo and a follower or two.

BASSANIO, to an Attendant You may do so, but let it be
 so hasted that supper be ready at the farthest by five
115 of the clock. See these letters delivered, put the
 liveries to making, and desire Gratiano to come
 anon to my lodging.The Attendant exits.
LANCELET To him, father.
GOBBO, to Bassanio God bless your Worship.
BASSANIO 120Gramercy. Wouldst thou aught with me?
GOBBO Here’s my son, sir, a poor boy—
LANCELET Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew’s man,
 that would, sir, as my father shall specify—
GOBBO He hath a great infection, sir, as one would say,
125 to serve—
LANCELET Indeed, the short and the long is, I serve the
 Jew, and have a desire, as my father shall specify—
GOBBO His master and he (saving your Worship’s
 reverence) are scarce cater-cousins—
LANCELET 130To be brief, the very truth is that the Jew,
 having done me wrong, doth cause me, as my
 father being, I hope, an old man, shall frutify unto
GOBBO I have here a dish of doves that I would bestow
135 upon your Worship, and my suit is—
LANCELET In very brief, the suit is impertinent to
 myself, as your Worship shall know by this honest

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 2

 old man, and though I say it, though old man yet
 poor man, my father—
BASSANIO 140One speak for both. What would you?
LANCELET Serve you, sir.
GOBBO That is the very defect of the matter, sir.
BASSANIO, to Lancelet 
 I know thee well. Thou hast obtained thy suit.
 Shylock thy master spoke with me this day,
145 And hath preferred thee, if it be preferment
 To leave a rich Jew’s service, to become
 The follower of so poor a gentleman.
LANCELET The old proverb is very well parted between
 my master Shylock and you, sir: you have “the
150 grace of God,” sir, and he hath “enough.”
 Thou speak’st it well.—Go, father, with thy son.—
 Take leave of thy old master, and inquire
 My lodging out. To an Attendant. Give him a livery
 More guarded than his fellows’. See it done.
Attendant exits. Bassanio and Leonardo talk apart.
LANCELET 155Father, in. I cannot get a service, no! I have
 ne’er a tongue in my head! Well, studying his palm
 if any man in Italy have a fairer table which doth
 offer to swear upon a book—I shall have good
 fortune, go to! Here’s a simple line of life. Here’s a
160 small trifle of wives—alas, fifteen wives is nothing;
 eleven widows and nine maids is a simple coming-in
 for one man—and then to ’scape drowning
 thrice, and to be in peril of my life with the edge of a
 featherbed! Here are simple ’scapes. Well, if Fortune
165 be a woman, she’s a good wench for this gear.
 Father, come. I’ll take my leave of the Jew in the
 twinkling.Lancelet and old Gobbo exit.
 I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on this.
Handing him a paper.

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 2

 These things being bought and orderly bestowed,
170 Return in haste, for I do feast tonight
 My best esteemed acquaintance. Hie thee, go.
 My best endeavors shall be done herein.

Enter Gratiano.

GRATIANO, to Leonardo Where’s your master?
LEONARDO Yonder, sir, he walks.Leonardo exits.
GRATIANO 175Signior Bassanio!
BASSANIO Gratiano!
GRATIANO I have suit to you.
BASSANIO You have obtained it.
GRATIANO You must not deny me. I must go with you
180 to Belmont.
 Why then you must. But hear thee, Gratiano,
 Thou art too wild, too rude and bold of voice—
 Parts that become thee happily enough,
 And in such eyes as ours appear not faults.
185 But where thou art not known—why, there they
 Something too liberal. Pray thee take pain
 To allay with some cold drops of modesty
 Thy skipping spirit, lest through thy wild behavior
190 I be misconstered in the place I go to,
 And lose my hopes.
GRATIANO  Signior Bassanio, hear me.
 If I do not put on a sober habit,
 Talk with respect, and swear but now and then,
195 Wear prayer books in my pocket, look demurely,
 Nay more, while grace is saying, hood mine eyes
 Thus with my hat, and sigh and say “amen,”
 Use all the observance of civility
 Like one well studied in a sad ostent
200 To please his grandam, never trust me more.

The Merchant of Venice
ACT 2. SC. 3

BASSANIO Well, we shall see your bearing.
 Nay, but I bar tonight. You shall not gauge me
 By what we do tonight.
BASSANIO  No, that were pity.
205 I would entreat you rather to put on
 Your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends
 That purpose merriment. But fare you well.
 I have some business.
 And I must to Lorenzo and the rest.
210 But we will visit you at supper time.
They exit.