Title: The Merchant of Venice
Author of the Book: William Shakespeare
First published in year: 1597
Genre of the Book: Play
One of Shakespeare “short” and “easier to understand” plays. The language is comparatively easy than most of his plays. The play is basically put under the category of comedy, but with the passage of time, modern readers take it more as a tragedy than comedy, because it actually depicts Christian and Jewish racialism of the era when the play was written.
Main characters of the play are:
* Antonio – a Venetian merchant
* Bassanio – Antonio's friend, in love with Portia; suitor likewise to her
* Lorenzo – friend of Antonio and Bassanio, in love with Jessica
* Portia – a rich heiress
* Balthazar – Portia's disguise as a lawyer
* Shylock – a rich Jew, moneylender, father of Jessica
* Jessica – daughter of Shylock, in love with Lorenzo
* Duke of Venice – Venetian authority who presides over the case of Shylock's bond
The first scene of The Merchant of Venice opens on a street in Venice, where Antonio, the merchant of Venice, seems to be depressed. Apparently he is sad because his ships are facing poor weather conditions, but this reveals later that he is actually sad for his very good friend Bassanio, who wants his financial help in order to marry a rich heiress, Portia in Belmont.
Since all his money is invested in business, Antonio is not able to help Bassanio himself. And therefore, asks Shylock – a Jew, for a loan of three thousand ducats. Shylock agrees to give loan without interest but on a condition that if Antonio failed to pay back on time then he shall have a pound of Antonio’s flesh! Antonio agrees with him and signs the bond (contract).
“This kindness will I show.
Go with me to a notary, seal me there
Your single bond; and, in a merry sport,
If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Express’d in the condition, let the forfeit