Character Sketch of Lorenzo in Merchant of Venice – ICSE Class 10, 9 English


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His Achievement in Winning the Heart of a Jewish Girl

Lorenzo is a Christian young man who is able somehow to capture the heart of Jessica, the daughter of Shylock the Jew. He seems to be a smart and dashing young man with a handsome appearance and an active mind. He must, of course, have taken the initiative in making Jessica’s acquaintance and then’ winning her heart. Indeed, for a Christian to win the heart of a Jewish girl in those days was like , conquering a fort or a citadel because of the bitter antagonism which existed between the two races. Lorenzo may be regarded as a romantic hero, though on a much smaller scale than Bassanio.

An Adventurous man, Truly in Love, But Not Very Scrupulous

Lorenzo is an adventurous young man and is prepared to face danger for the sake of his love. He readily agrees to Jessica’s plan to run away from home and join him when he would be leading a masked procession through the city streets at the time of night. No timid young man can take such a risk. Lorenzo shows himself to be a fearless young man willing to take risks for the sake of the girl with whom he has fallen in love. Nor does he discourage Jessica from stealing as much of her father’s money and jewels as she can. There is certainly a worldly and even mercenary ingredient in his love for Jessica. Beautiful she is; sincere she also seems to be; and she is wise too. If, in addition to being fair, wise, and sincere in her love, she can also bring a rich dowry with her, so much the better. Such is • Lorenzo’s line of reasoning with regard to Jessica. Money is welcome to him, just as it is welcome to Bassanio. But we must also acknowledge the fact that Lorenzo is lacking in moral scruple. A strictly conscientious man would not have encouraged Jessica to run away from home with him because the whole affair would most probably be regarded as a case of a Christian young man’s abduction of a Jewish girl. But, in the Elizabethan age, such conduct on the part of Christian in luring a Jewish girl away from her home and her father was thought to be a commendable action rather than an immoral or obnoxious one.

His Sense of Humour; His Wit; His Artistic Temperament

Lorenzo has a keen sense of humour and also a capacity for making witty remarks. When Gratiano describes the silent kind of man, Lorenzo says that he certainly belongs to the class of such silent men because Gratiano himself talks so much that he does not allow him (Lorenzo) to talk at all. “I must be one of these same dumb wise men”, says Lorenzo. He also gives evidence of his wit when he tells his- friends that, when their turn comes to meet their beloveds, he would wait for them with the same patience which they have shown in waiting for him. Besides being a witty man, Lorenzo has an artistic nature which he reveals in the moonlight scene at Belmont when, in the course of his conversation with Jessica, he recalls the love-affairs of Cressida and Dido, and describes them in a most fanciful that scene, he speaks in a poetical style of which he gives further evidence when he describes the music of the spheres and the effect of music on animals and on human beings.

His Praise of Antonio; and Portia’s Favourable Impression of Him

Lorenzo expresses a high opinion about Antonio, telling Portia that Antonio is a true gentleman and a dear friend of Bassanio. He also wins Portia’s confidence by his apparent good nature and trustworthiness. Portia leaves her house and her property in his charge when she leaves Belmont to preside over the legal proceedings in a Venetian court of law. Lorenzo is a good judge of character too. He not only appreciates the character of a fine gentleman like Antonio and a lovable young woman, namely Jessica, but also understands the temperament and nature of the clown, Launcelot. He rightly calls Launcelot a “wit- snapper’’. and says that “the fool hath planted in his memory an army of good words”, He correctly perceives the fact that Launcelot tries to amuse him and others by his punning and his persistent play upon words.                                         .

A Likeable Young Man, Romantic and Witty

On the whole, Lorenzo is a very likable young man who contributes greatly to the romantic atmosphere of the play by his love-affair with Jessica and who contributes also to the comedy of the play by his wit and humour.

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