What is the business of Act V?
How is it linked to the preceding Act? Since reunion and rejoicing are
not alone the business of the plot; since recognition and declaration
to the two husbands, and to Anthonio, especially, are needed, as well
as to the others, of the part played by the wives in solving the
difficulties of the plot, the Ring scenes constitute the due dramatic
conclusion of the Play. Note that the threat of quarrel over the
reluctant but requisite giving away of the rings in the preceding Act
makes a deceptively serious difficulty. It is happily to be solved as
a result of the wives' preceding action. This difficulty and this
solution at this final stage of the plot constitute a little character
play that is an epitome of the action. The whole is the more happily
and amusingly solved that the Audience is wise and the characters
still in the dark are really perplexed.
Point out the value of the exchange of Rings as made clear in these
two ways, by bringing out the characters of Gratiano, Bassanio, and
especially of Anthonio as peace-maker; and by bringing out to them the
fact that to the wives' love and skill the victory over the
difficulties they suffered is due.
Are the rings the sole test of this?
What other news adds to the general denouement of all difficulties?
Is the summing up of the Play a victory of love and intelligence over
hate and narrow-mindedness?
Show how the rings symbolize this, and music and moonlight provide the
proper atmosphere for its operation. The appropriateness of the
moonlight for a calm out of strife, brought about by women, is matched
by the fitness of music and the reference to the harmony of the
spheres to suggest that earth-harmony to which Portia was presiding