The Merchant of Venice

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The Merchant of Venice Act 4, scene 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Portia, still dressed as "Balthazar," instructs Nerissa, still dressed as the pageboy, to go to Shylock's house and bring the deed for him to sign, giving half of his property to Antonio. Then they will have to speed to get back to Belmont before their husbands. Portia comments that the deed spells good news for Lorenzo, who is now going to inherit all of Shylock's wealth, not just what he and Jessica managed to steal.
Portia's remark on Lorenzo's luck in inheriting Shylock's wealth once again mixes money and financial incentives with love.
Themes
Law, Mercy, and Revenge Theme Icon
Greed vs. Generosity Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Gratiano enters, carrying the ring from Bassanio. He tells Portia that Bassanio has sent the ring and asks him to join them at Antonio's house for dinner. Initially startled, Portia recovers her composure. She takes the ring and tells Gratiano to thank Bassanio for it, but declines the invitation to dinner. Then she asks him to show Nerissa to Shylock's house.
Portia's gift of the ring came out of love. Now Bassanio has given the ring out of friendship. Generosity and gift giving introduce economics into the realms of love and friendship.
Themes
Greed vs. Generosity Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
In an aside, Nerissa tells Portia that she will try to trick her husband into giving her his ring. Amused, Portia looks forward to hearing their husband's excuses when they return to Belmont without their rings. Nerissa leaves with Gratiano.
Nerissa also joins in the ring subplot: this will be the main thread of the play after the climax of the trial. In looking forward to the men's excuses for giving away their rings, Portia implicitly contrasts Bassanio's flighty behavior with her obedience of her father's will.
Themes
Law, Mercy, and Revenge Theme Icon
Greed vs. Generosity Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon