Merchant of Venice

Examine the end rhymes of Portia’s song as well as the images it includes. How might these be construed as hints?

Act 2 scene 3

Asked by
Last updated by Aslan
Answers 1
Add Yours

Portia's songs are meant to give Bassanio a little heads up pointing to the correct casket. "Beshrew your eyes, they have o'erlooked me" (14-15) has a double meaning here. One idea means that Portia has fallen under the spell of Bassanio's eyes. An underlying second meaning is that Bassanio can look beyond her outer self and see inside her hence what might be underneath the lead casket.

Another line that is a hint is, "I am locked in one of them. If you do love me, you will find me out." (40) Portia is hinting that if Bassanio looks at the casket's with the eyes of love that he looks upon her with, he might find the right one.

Finally while Bassanio is deciding on the caskets, Portia is suspiciously humming in the background:

"Tell me where is fancy bred,

Or in the heart or in the head?...

It is engendered in the eyes

With gazing fed, and fancy dies"

She says that beyond eyes of "fancy", what is left is real love. Of course the lead casket is the least fancy of the lot.