When Bassanio is in need of money to court his lady love, Portia, he approaches his friend Antonio, a prominent Venetian merchant. Unable to help him financially, Antonio offers to become a guarantor to Bassanio’s moneylender.
Together they go to Shylock, a miserly Jewish moneylender, who agrees to lend him the sum of money on one condition:
If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Expressed in the condition, let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me.
What happens when Antonio is unable to repay Shylock?
With memorable and true-to-life characters, Shakespeare’s the Merchant of Venice explores bigotry, prejudice, humanity and justice. Regarded among his great comedies, this bittersweet drama with surprising twists and turns is an anti-Semitic work. Having undergone several adaptations, the play continues to be staged around the world.