1. Discuss the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio. What does their friendship reveal about their characters?
2. Examine Shylock’s rhetoric. Pay special attention to the quality of his language—his use of metaphor and repetition, for instance. How do his speeches reflect his character as a whole?
3. Compare and contrast Venice and Belmont. What is the significance of these distinct settings in the play?
4. Analyze the way that time passes in The Merchant of Venice, paying special attention to conflicts between time in Venice and Belmont. Are there any inconsistencies, and if so, how does the play handle them?
5. To what extent is Shylock defined by his Jewishness? To what extent is he defined by his profession?
6. Discuss Portia’s character. How does she compare to the men around her? Is Bassanio a worthy husband for her?
7. Discuss how the trial scene reveals a conflict between justice and mercy. Is the conflict resolved? If so, how?