The Merchant of Venice | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero. "The Merchant of Venice Study Guide." February 27, 2017. Accessed September 29, 2023.


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Act 2, Scene 3

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 2, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice.

The Merchant of Venice | Act 2, Scene 3 | Summary



Jessica bids Launcelot Gobbo goodbye as he prepares to leave her father's service. She tells him he has been a source of fun in their serious house and sends Launcelot to Bassanio's dinner with a letter for Lorenzo. Launcelot predicts she will marry a Christian, and they both cry at parting. Once Launcelot is gone, Jessica hopes Lorenzo will get her message and come to take her away and marry her.


It is possible to question Launcelot Gobbo's reliability as a judge of Shylock's character in Act 2, Scene 2, because Launcelot is a silly character whose primary purpose is to serve as comic relief in the play. But Jessica's judgment of her father is more reliable. She describes her house as "hell" and credits Launcelot with bringing some merriment into it. If the only other person who lives in her house is Shylock, he must be the source of her unhappiness. Unlike the Christian characters in the play, Jessica has no prejudice against her father. Quite the opposite, she should be predisposed to love her father, so whatever she feels for him is based entirely on his actions toward her throughout her life. Her desire to escape from her father's house is the clearest evidence against Shylock's character presented thus far in the play.

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