Book Review


SYNOPSYSIS Moneylander Shylock The tragic comedy was composed in 1596 . the rhen richest city of Europe Loan to Bassanio  Failure to pay Forum Payment: amount of money or a pound of Antonio's flesh closest to his heart Portia’s speech Shilock’s loss and forced religious conversion .98 at Venice.

Portia) confirms that the contract is in order but tells Shylock should have mercy on Antonio. a Christian merchant who hates Jews. wealthy heiress living in Belmont decides to marry the suitor who picks the right casket out of three that contains her picture. Portia sends Bassanio to Venice with six thousand ducats to pay Shylock and cancel the contract. After Bassanio has left.a. thinking this is a "merry sport. • Bassanio receives a letter from Antonio informing that he has lost all his money and must forfeit a pound of flesh to Shylock. as mercy is a higher order quality than justice. • A young. . Shylock insists on justice and refuses to accept Bassanio’s offer for six thousand ducats. a Venetian aristocrat who has lost all his money asks his friend Antonio. Antonio." accepts the condition of the bond (contract) and signs it. effeminate-looking. who pleads with Shylock to forgive and let Antonio go free. Portia makes Bassanio promise never to part with their engagement ring. a beautiful. Portia departs for Venice disguised as a man.In a nutshell… • Portia. delivered through a pound of Antonio's flesh. • Shylock has Antonio arrested and brought before the Duke of Venice. • Bassanio. • Bassanio selects the correct casket containing Portia’s portrait.k. to loan him money to woo Portia. a Jewish moneylender who hates Antonio for his antiSemitic feelings. Shylock suggests an unusual condition for loan of three thousand ducats only if Antonio would give a pound of his flesh in case the money is not returned in three months. Bassanio says he wishes he could trade his wife and his life for Antonio's. Since all has his money is tied up in seafaring ventures. But Shylock won't hear reason and wants justice . learned lawyer called Balthazar (a. Antonio approaches Shylock.

. When Antonio points out that he nearly lost his life for Bassanio. Balthazar says the bond entitles Shylock to a pound of flesh . • Balthazar decides that Shylock may have Antonio’s pound of flesh. Bassanio is shocked to see it is the same ring he gave Balthazar. Antonio decides that as punishment. the penalty for which is losing everything he has. then he'll be guilty of plotting to murder a Venetian Christian. all his money will go to Shylock’s daughter Jessica and her new Christian husband. Shylock must convert to Christianity.In a nutshell…contd. • After the trial Balthazar asks Bassanio for the ring Portia had given him as a token of their love. Shylock leaves a broken man. Bassanio pulls off the ring and hands it to Balthazar. When overjoyed Shylock is ready to cut into Antonio's breast. • Portia reveals that she had got a letter that says some of Antonio's ships have come home with cash after all. . and she pledges to sleep with this learned man too. ………HAPPY ENDING……. • Later. breaking her marriage vows like Bassanio did by giving up her ring. The play ends with happiness for most of the characters in the play – all except Shylock. Shylock has to sign an agreement saying that when he dies. She asks Bassanio about the ring (which he had given to Bathazar). Portia complains about the man breaking faith for this lawyer. Balthazar says since he conspired to kill a Venetian he actually has to forfeit everything he owns and beg for his life. Portia gives Antonio a ring to give to Bassanio. • Portia manages to return to Belmont before Bassanio. Also.nothing more and nothing less. • Finally holding the upper hand. • When Shylock declares that he'll leave. If he spills even a drop of Antonio’s blood.

• As the symbol of Christian warmth. • a rather lackluster character . and prosaic figure Antonio • • • • titular protagonist of the play : The Merchant of Venice a mercurial figure.Principal characters Shylock • • • • • • • stereotype of the Jew in Elizabethan times comically caricatured as a greedy miser believes that his profiteering is not a sin eloquently expresses his hatred of Christian Venetians alienation causes his bitterness and humiliation makes him seek revenge well versed in the Bible has a cold and calculating mind . generosity. ideal of nobility in friendship . kind and generous to friends and the poor even merciful to sworn enemy (albeit with conditions) • Christian of Elizabethan times – feels money should be lent for charity. and love.attempts to revenge the wrongs done to him by murdering his persecutor • has quick and agile thought processes • a powerful personality beneath a cruel. truly receives his just reward during the play when all turns out well for him. often inexplicably melancholy Anti Semite with incorrigible dislike of Jews. kindness.

but does not possess the powerful individuality of Portia and Shylock.clever with words and quick-wit • perfect example of Elizabethan nobility : ideal of mercy is unselfish generosity and money to be used for helping loved ones. a worthy suitor .typical of young men • uncalculated generosity and concern – rushes to save Antonio • strength of character in not implicating Antonio while pleading to Portia for giving away the ring • more fully drawn than Antonio's.Bassanio • ineffectual businessman . she is not passive. • impulsive by nature .squandered his wealth on pleasures of good living and extravagant expenditure • graceful with words. . shifting from a wealthy heiress to a learned lawyer orchestrating victory of good over evil • her extraordinary beauty is matched only by her intelligence . • unlike Antonio. but displays boundless energy and strong determination • authority and control over life are exemplary .the model of a romantic hero.ability to make the law work for her both in choosing her husband and saving husband’s friend from certain death. Portia • most multi-dimensional character in the play.

clownish servant of Shylock who is especially adept at making puns and starts work for Bassanio • Old Gobbo – father of Lancelot • Leonardo – servant of Bassanio • Duke of Venice – presides over case of Shylock’s bond • Prince of Morocco. charming with a strong sense of humour and poetical nature • we wonder if her sale of a ring given to her father by her mother is excessively callous • Solanio. Gaolor. Officers of the Court of Justice. • Beautiful.o Other characters Gratiano • coarse and garrulous young man • most vocal and insulting critic of Shylock • Bassanio’s friend. Salarino. • Portia’s lady-in-waiting and confidante • escorts Portia to Venice by disguising herself as Stephano . • A friend of Bassanio and Antonio • Elopes with Jessica to Belmont Nerissa Lorenzo Jessica • Jessica hates life in her father’ (Shylock) s house. servants of Portia and other attendants . a Jew • Lancelot Gobbo – a comical. falls in love with Nerissa. Prince of Arragon – failed suitors of Portia • Magnificoes of Venice. Salerio – friends of Bassanio & Antonio • Tubal – Shylock’s friend. wise.Balthazar (aka Portia) ‘s law clerk.

heal'd by the same means. If a Jew wrong a Christian. and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. subject to the same diseases. do we not die? And if you wrong us. what is his humility? Revenge. senses... scene I Did Shakespeare intend to attract the sympathetic sensibilities among modern readers. fed with the same food. do we not bleed? If you tickle us. organs.Sympathetic interpretation Play as a plea for tolerance Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands. If a Christian wrong a Jew. —Act III. . hurt with the same weapons. The villainy you teach me. passions. do we not laugh? If you poison us.. affections. what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why. I will execute. we will resemble you in that. warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us. shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest. dimensions. revenge.

1600 Wealth Interpretation of the play • Money plays is a very big role in this play. Antonio.1. • the play dramatizes 16th century racial stereotypes that are deeply unsettling. mercantilism. • opportunity for two men to become more secure in their friendship. • a mythological quest • a chance for an unhappy daughter to escape her father's home • a way for a father to transmit his wealth to the man of his choosing. in money and in love" (1. is accused of caring more for his ducats than Contrast between the human mercy relationships. especially for modern audiences. literary critics are divided over the question of whether or not the play itself endorses racism.Inherent Themes Race • Judaism and Christianity aren't just religions – they're constructed as racial (and even national) identities as well.4) • Friendship is valued above all other relationships – Antonio loves Bassanio enough to give his life for him . / I owe the most. Venice. • the characters' attitudes toward wealth. The money-grubbing Shylock. Marriage • Marriage is portrayed in several different ways • as a risky business venture. • While the play depicts anti-Semitism. . and usury (lending money with interest) function as a way to differentiate between Christians and Jews. on the other hand. Shylock forced conversion of Christian characters and Friendship the vengefulness of a Jew as a “happy ending” • "To you. • Christians are portrayed as generous and even careless with their fortunes.

built on rocky foundations Interpretation of the play Isolation Contrast between the mercy • • Shylock forced conversion riddled with feel a deep ofcharacters Christian who characters and sense of asisolation. • Women happy to give love.contd.between family members. Venice had laws to protect their legal rights In implementation of a contract. a “happy ending” Shylock is isolated because he is Jewish – his religious beliefs and the vengefulness of a Jew cultural values different from fellow Venetians. on the other hand. between friends. between lovers. and family. love is more notable for its absence than its presence in the play. betrayed. • Still. • Antonio chooses to deprive Shylock of his livelihood and his religion. • Judaism is associated with the Mosaic code with its strict emphasis on justice and following the letter of the law. personal comfort and societal norms. • Christianity. • Bassanio is faced with choosing correctly or permanent celibacy • Antonio must choose between preserving his personal happiness as Bassanio's closest friend and enabling Bassanio to marry Portia • Shylock chooses to doggedly pursue his pound of Antonio's flesh because Antonio. Justice • To protect foreign businessmen’s interest. friends... • Antonio is isolated by his relationship with Bassanio Choices • characters must choose between lovers. . sacrificed.. and of course. but they do so with a shred of cynicism.Inherent Themes. among others.. 1600 • Love comes in a variety of forms . Love Venice. is associated with the New Testament's emphasis on God's mercy and offer of salvation. has chosen to treat him like a dog. • Love is regulated..

A Literary review • The play is a touching and challenging one with several fascinating interwoven plots • Shakespeare’s insight into the human character is impressive and the passion involved rivets the readers’ attention • Two well-known speeches are often quoted – • Shylock’s defense of Jews against the prejudices of Venetians & • Portia’s statements on quality of mercy Venice. ready to enhance personal wealth through any heinous means • The religious intolerance . moral values and justice.which is a major theme of this play – bares its fangs off and on in all countries . the play assumes great significance • We can easily find people around us like Shylock – the vengefulness of a Jew materialistic to the core. 1600 throughout Interpretation of the play • In this play Shakespeare has been successful in being relevant Contrast between the mercy Shylock forced conversion of Christian characters and as a “happy ending” even though four hundred years have elapsed • In today’s time when there is want of sincerity.