The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

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The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

The famous play 'The Merchant of Venice' by William Shakespeare

concerns several plot lines, including the bond, the ring, the caskets

and the elopement. The bond is the main plot and usury is a key part

of this. It is because Shylock is a moneylender who lends money to a

Christian. Shylock is crucial because he is a crucial character to 2

plots including the main one.

When Antonio first meets Shylock he is immediately unkind to Shylock

because he is a Jew. "Shylock, albeit I neither lend nor borrow, by

taking nor by giving of excess, yet to supply the ripe wants of my

friend, I'll break custom" Meaning he will borrow money although he

doesn't like to because most moneylenders were Jews and Antonio

disliked all Jews. Shylock try's to be civil with Antonio to get a

deal. He say's "How like a fawning publican he looks, I hate him for

he is a Christian" The audience immediately feels that Shylock is

evil. When the merchant was first shown in the 16th century everyone

hated Jews and therefore they would hate him more than nowadays

because Jews aren't hated as much.

Antonio's attitude to Shylock is not a very good one. The audience

begins to feel sympathy for Shylock when we find out he is treated

badly by all Christians who are the majority of the population of

Venice at the time. Shylock tells us later in the play that he is only

human in probably the most famous speech in any Shakespeare play. "If

you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you

poison us do we not die?" Shakespeare uses language here to show both

sides of Shylock. "If you Poison us do we not die" "Fed with the same


Finally, Shylock suggests the bond on the condition that if Antonio

doesn't pay up on time he shall have to pay the penalty "as merry

sport". He goes on to say that the penalty shall be "an equal pound of
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