Question 1 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
(i) Before this, what had Jessica and the listener been doing?
Answer : Portia had asked Jessica and Lorenzo to guard her house while she was gone. Jessica and Lorenzo had obliged. Presently they were in the garden of Portia’s house. Earlier, they were also accompanied by Launcelot who had impressed them by his puns.
(ii) Which ‘lady’ has been addressed in these lines? Why is she being called a blessing?
Answer : The ‘lady’ referred to in the above lines is Portia. She is being called a blessing because she is a genial and understanding being. She sent Bassanio to help Antonio on the very day that her marriage was solemnised with Bassanio. She had understood the bond between Bassanio and Antonio very well. Jessica feels that Bassanio was fortunate enough to have a wife like her.
(iii) What tone has been adopted by Jessica here? Why does she say ‘past all expressing’?
Answer : The tone of Jessica here is of admiration. She has respect for what Portia has done by sending her husband to help his best friend. Lorenzo asks her what is her opinion of Portia and she says that words cannot explain how much she admires her.
(iv) What can you infer about the ‘lady’ mentioned in the extract?
Answer : Portia, the lady mentioned in the extract, appears to be a very understanding woman. She sent her husband to help his best friend as she realised that her husband was many times helped by Antonio. She felt that it was Bassanio’s duty to help him. She is also kind and sympathetic and thinks practically. Who else would have sent her husband right away on the day of their wedding to help someone?
(v) Who is Jessica? Where is she at this time? To whom is she talking? What is the point of their conversation?
Answer : Jessica is Shylock’s daughter, Shylock being the villain of the play. At this time, she is in Belmont at Portia’s house. She is talking to her beloved husband, Lorenzo in the garden. The point of their conversation is the relationship between Bassanio and his wife Portia.