Launcelot Gobbo wants to leave Shylock
The scene takes us back to Venice where we are introduced to Launcelot Gobbo, the servant of Shylock. He is seen talking to himself. Apparently, he wants to leave the service of his Jew master. A ‘devil’ in him is urging him to run away while conscience is telling him to stay. He calls Shylock the ‘very devil incarnation’ and finally decides to leave him.
Launcelot fools his father
On his way, Launcelot encounters his father, Old Gobbo, who is blind. He asks Launcelot directions to Shylock’s house. Launcelot realises that his father has not recognised him and he decides to have some fun with him. He gives Old Gobbo odd directions so that he gets confused.
Launcelot is Dead
Gobbo asks if Launcelot lives at that place. Launcelot tells him to address Launcelot as Master Launcelot. But Gobbo says that his son doesn’t deserve such praise. The joke continues and Launcelot tells Gobbo that his son is dead. Gobbo is in a state of utter shock now. However, Launcelot reveals the truth to him. But then Gobbo refuses to recognise him. He thinks that Launcelot cannot be his son. Somehow, Launcelot is able to convince him that he is the son whom Gobbo was searching for.
Launcelot wants to work for Bassanio
Gobbo tells Launcelot that he has brought a present for his Jew master. However, Launcelot informs him that he has decided to leave the services of Shylock. He says that he has been starved while working for Shylock. Now, anyone can count all his ribs by feeling them with a finger. Hence, he wants to work for Bassanio who Launcelot thinks will be a better master.
Bassanio accepts Launcelot’s services
The two Gobbos meet Bassanio and inform him that Launcelot wants to work for him. They even try to persuade him by giving the present Old Gobbo had actually brought for Shylock. Bassanio readily accepts Launcelot as his servant and also tells them that Shylock has recommended Launcelot as he was not happy with him. Launcelot also says that he has been ill-treated by Shylock. However, Bassanio tells him that he is not as rich as his earlier master.
Gratiano wants to accompany Bassanio
After both the Gobbos leave, Gratiano arrives at Bassanio’s home and makes a request to him that he wants to accompany Bassanio to Belmont. Bassanio is a bit apprehensive about the offer as he knows about the wild nature of Gratiano. Bassanio tells him that he must behave if he wanted to come with him. Gratiano promises to behave but asks him to permit him to enjoy the party that Bassanio was giving to his friends. Bassanio agrees.
Act 5 : Scene 1