Merchant of Venice Overview

In The Merchant of Venice, Antonio is the merchant, and complains to his friends about how depressed he is and he cannot explain why. His friend Bassanio is in desperate need of money to court Portia, wealthy women of Belmont, so Bassanio asks Antonio for a loan. However, Antonio cannot give Bassanio the loan because he has just invested all of his money into a number of ships that are still at sea. Antonio advises Bassanio to go and meet with Shylock, a Jew who is a moneylender. Bassanio takes Antonio’s advice and the both of them go to meet with him. When Bassanio and Antonio meet with Shylock, Shylock has nothing but a long-term grudge against Antonio, who had made a habit of talking about him and the way he ran his business. But, Shylock decides to give Bassanio three thousand ducats with an exception that should the loan go unpaid, he will be entitled to a pound of Antonio’s flesh. Antonio agrees, and Shylock gives Bassanio the loan.
Back at Shylock’s home Launcelot; Shylock’s servant, decides to leave him and work for Bassanio. While all of this is going on, Jessica Shylock’s daughter elopes with Antonio’s friend Lorenzo. In Belmont, Portia is upset over her father’s wish, which stipulates that she must marry the man who correctly chooses one of the three caskets. Bassanio and his friend go to to court Portia. Bassanio and Portia declare there love for one another and Portia takes Bassanio to pick out the casket. Bassanio chooses the correct casket and Portia’s father accepts him into the family.


However, not everyone is happy because Antonio finds out that he has lost his ships, and that he has to forfeit his bond to Shylock. When Bassanio and his friend find out that Antonio is in trouble they go to try and save Antonio’s life. Portia and Nerissa are with the two men when they here the news and follow them to Vencie. Shylock and Antonio are side by side when Antonio pleads for his life. Shylock pays no attention to him.
They all then go to trial where the Duke of Venice rules and announces that he has sent for a legal expert, who is Portia. Portia asks Shylock to be considerate of Antonio’s harm, but Shylock insists that he give him a pound of flesh. At the same time Bassanio tells Shylock that he will give him twice the amount of money due to him, but Shylock still insists on getting the pound of flesh. Portia then examines the contract and declares that Shylock is entitled to the pound of Antonio’s flesh, but may not draw blood when doing it. Shylock then agrees to Bassanio’s money, but Portia explains that he may not go back on his word and that his is guilty of wanting to take someone’s life. Shylock had to give up half of his wealth to Antonio with two exceptions that Shylock convert to Christianity, and that he must give his entire estate to his daughter Jessica and son in law Lorenzo when he dies. Shylock sadly agrees and leaves the trial.

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