Shakespeare Reading Series
The Merchant of Venice
Bassanio wants some money so he can ship to try his luck at winning the beautiful Portia, whose father set up an elaborate scheme to decide her husband.
Bassanio goes to Antonio to ask for money. Antonio has all his ready cash tied up on shipping business ventures, so he must go to the Jewish money lendor, Shylock. Antonio has spit at Shylock and denounced him in the past, so Shylock agrees to lend the money provided that, if the money is not repaid on time, Antonio will give Shylock a "pound of flesh". To further complicate things, Shylock's daughter, Jessica, steals Shylock's jewels and money, and runs off with Bassanio's friend Lorenzo.
Thus starts this tale of luck, revenge, and the quality of mercy.
Some good references for the play are:
Text of the play
SparkNotes summary of the play
Shake-Sphere - The Merchant of Venice
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Last updated: 2/5/2006