Merchant of Venice Glossary and Character Sketch

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Glossary—The Merchant of Venice
Act I, Scene II

1. “By my troth”—a mild oath like “Upon my word” 2. aught—anything
3. surfeit—overindulge
4. superfluity—excess
5. Hare—to run fast
6. “overname them”—say their names over
7. colt—a young, or inexperienced person
8. Death’s-head—skull
9. a-cap’ring—dancing
10. pennyworth—a small amount
11. doublet—a close-fitting outer garment, with or without sleeves and sometimes having a short skirt, worn by men in the Renaissance; an undergarment, quilted and reinforced with mail, worn beneath arm.

12. round hose—very full short breeches which varied in length from the upper thigh to just above the knee, giving a rounded look to the hips and showing off the leg.

13. surety—a person who assumes legal responsibility for the fulfillment of another's debt or obligation and himself becomes liable if the other defaults.

14. viley—highly offensive, unpleasant, disgusting
15. Sibylla—the Sybil of Cumae, to whom Apollo granted as many years of life as there are grains in a handful of sand

16. Diana—goddess of chastity

Character Report—Nerissa

What does your character want in this scene?
Nerissa wants to know whether Portia has feelings for any of her suitors and whether she will consider disobeying her father’s will.

What is your character’s motivation for doing what he or she does? She is Portia’s waiting-gentlewoman and friend, who is concerned about Portia’s future. Also, she shows some eagerness for Bassanio to arrive with her future husband, Gratiano. 

What obstacles stand in his or her way?
Portia’s independence and defiance of her father’s will that causes Portia to show distaste toward all her suitors.

What happens when your character confronts these obstacles?
Nerissa finds that the heiress might be interested in Bassanio. 

Are there any distinctive elements in your character’s way of speaking? (Is his of her language elaborate,...
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