Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Close Reading for Act 2, Scene 1

This close reading assessment features 9 text-dependent, high-order questions to promote improved reading comprehension and analysis of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (Act 2, Scene 1). By engaging in this exercise, students will analyze character motivations, examine word choices to discern meaning, analyze details to draw reasoned inferences, apply knowledge of literary devices, and articulate ideas in writing with clarity and precision. An answer key with detailed rationale for each correct option is included, as are Word Document and PDF versions of the assessment.

This resource aligns well to Academic Literacy Project teaching principles and may serve as the basis for small-group discussions. Through these discussions, students decode language and pose/respond to questions relating to plot, broad topics, and character development, demonstrating an ability to analyze how complex characters transform and advance the plot and themes by applying logic and citing compelling, meaningful textual evidence. They will also evaluate their peers’ reasoning and use of rhetoric to advance claims, clarifying or challenging unclear ideas. Using this resource for structured guidance, students, ultimately, will present information, conclusions, and supporting textual evidence clearly, concisely, and appropriately, thereby helping their peers comprehend their thinking.

In addition to helping students gain deeper understanding of the material and greater confidence in their ability to read and comprehend complex texts, this resource was designed to prepare students for ACT-style questioning.

Specifically, questions pertain to the following:

  • Discerning what the text says both explicitly and implicitly
  • Analyzing the text to discern Morocco’s motivations for emphasizing aspects of his physical appearance
  • Analyzing the text to discern the significance of an allusion to Phoebus as it relates to Morocco’s characterization
  • Defining complex words and phrases in context, taking into consideration denotative definitions and connotative associations
  • Isolating accurate statements from false statements
  • Applying knowledge of hyperbole to the text
  • Considering the motif of the guest-host relationship and arguing whether Portia conforms to the expectations of a good host, or whether she fails to meet expectations to become a bad host
  • Writing with clarity, logic, and precision
  • Citing textual evidence in support of claims
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Created: Jan 19, 2020

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