Why does Antonio agree to Shylock’s terms for the loan?

When Shylock states the terms he proposes for the loan, Antonio immediately accepts without any questions and agrees to offer a pound of his flesh if he cannot pay the loan back. Bassanio is the one to hesitate, urging his friend not to accept these dangerous terms, but Antonio is confident that the terms of the loan are irrelevant because he will easily be able to repay it. As he explains, “I do expect return / Of thrice three times the value of this bond” (I.iii.157-158). Because Antonio has always been prosperous and enjoyed good returns on his investments, he is lured into a false sense of security and does not worry about the risks he assumes. His intense devotion to Bassanio also makes him willing to accept almost any risk in order to help his friend, whom Antonio has an almost romantic obsession with.

Why does Shylock demand Antonio’s flesh instead of money?

Bassanio offers large sums of money to Shylock in exchange for Shylock’s forfeit of the original conditions of his bond. Shylock refuses to accept this offer, and he also refuses to justify his decision. As Shylock explains, “You’ll ask me why I rather choose to have / A weight of carrion flesh than to receive / Three thousand ducats. I’ll not answer that / But say it is my humour” (IV.i.40-43). Shylock argues that he does not have to explain or justify his decision because he has the force of law on his side. However, some of his extreme insistence on Antonio’s flesh likely comes from his desire to have revenge against a member of the Christian community that he blames for discriminating against him and stealing his daughter. As he tells Salarino in Act III, Scene i, “If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge.”

Who does Bassanio give Portia’s ring to?

Bassanio gives Portia’s ring to someone he believes is a lawyer named Balthazar, but who the audience knows is actually Portia herself in disguise as a man. Balthazar/Portia asks for the ring as a thank-you gift in exchange for having saved Antonio from Shylock, but Bassanio is initially reluctant because he promised Portia never to take the ring off. However, after Balthazar/Portia rebukes him and Antonio encourages him to give the ring away, Bassanio relents.

How does Bassanio win the right to marry Portia?

As her dead father’s will stipulates, Portia cannot decide for herself whether to take a husband, and her suitors must choose between three caskets in the hopes of selecting the one that contains her portrait. Bassanio wins the right to marry Portia because he solves the riddle and correctly chooses the right casket. While the other suitors have incorrectly chosen the gold or silver casket, Bassanio chooses the lead casket and finds a picture of Portia inside, signaling that he can claim her as his bride. Bassanio’s choice indicates that he is clever and not easily distracted by superficial charms. As the scroll inside the lead casket explains, “You that choose not by the view / Chance as fair and choose as true” (III.ii.135-136). Portia, who has already fallen in love with Bassanio, is delighted when he chooses correctly.

Why can’t Antonio pay back his loan?

After a series of accidents, all of Antonio’s ships are reported as wrecked. As Bassanio laments, “Have all his ventures failed? What, not one hit? . . . And not one vessel ’scape the dreadful touch / Of merchant-marring rocks?” (III.ii.274-279). Therefore, Antonio does not have the money to pay back Shylock and is in danger of having to pay the penalty of a pound of his own flesh. Antonio was initially confident that his investment was guaranteed, but he learns the hard way that nothing is ever certain. Thanks to Portia’s generosity, Antonio gains enough money to pay back the loan, but by then, Shylock is insistent on claiming the penalty that he is technically owed.

Why did Portia’s father devise the casket contest?

The casket contest is meant to ensure that Portia gains a worthy husband, and allows her father to extend patriarchal control even after his death. The contest reflects the socio-political environment of Venice, wherein both Christians and non-Christians coexist, and the nature of the contest ostensibly means each suitor has an equal chance, despite their disparate backgrounds. However, as in keeping with the Venetian culture of the time, while the contest is intended on its face to be fair, its inherent bias is still designed to favor the Christians due to the Christian values it evokes.

What is the meaning of each casket’s inscription?

The gold casket says, “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire,” and the silver casket says, “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.” Both reflect, and are designed to smoke out, suitors who favor personal gain and wealth. The lead casket, the most humble of the three, says “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath,” which may divert suitors who are inclined to favor material accrual. The lead casket is correct because any suitor who chooses it eschews desire and greed in favor of humility, a fundamentally Christian value, which implies the contest is skewed to favor the suitor most aligned with this belief system.

How does Portia save Antonio?

After Antonio loses his ships and forfeits his bonds to Shylock, Bassanio and Gratiano return to Venice to save him. Secretly, Portia decides to go too, along with Nerissa, both dressed as men. At the trial, the disguised Portia intercedes, playing the part of a lawyer’s apprentice named Balthazar. Thus granted the necessary authority, she exploits a legal loophole—though she accepts that Shylock is entitled to Antonio’s flesh, as per their agreement, she explains that nowhere in the contract does it say Shylock is entitled to Antonio’s blood. If he spills any, it will be Shylock who is liable, causing Shylock to change his mind.

Why do Portia and Nerissa trick Bassanio and Gratiano into giving away their rings?

The deception proves Portia to be cleverer and more competent than any of the other characters, and it allows the play to return to a comparably lighter and more comedic tone after the emotional intensity of the trial. For her part, Portia views this plan as a way to test the loyalties of Bassanio. That he fails this test suggests the play’s happy ending is tempered somewhat by the possibility of future strife between the lovers.

Why does Portia dislike the Prince of Morocco?

Portia makes it clear she’s opposed to most of her suitors, as it’s Bassanio she wishes to marry. But she makes a special point to tell Nerissa that even if the Prince of Morocco were a saint, she’d still object to the marriage because he’s Black—she says he has the “complexion of a devil,” referencing the fact that blackness was associated with devils in Shakespeare’s time and indicating her objection is rooted in racism.

Why is Antonio melancholy at the beginning of the play?

Despite his friends trying to assess the cause of Antonio’s melancholy, he ascertains that he isn’t able to explain the origin of his mood. Solanio first suggests that Antonio is worried about his investments, and after that is dismissed, posits that Antonio is in love. Though Antonio never ultimately names the issue and dismisses Solanio’s suggestion, his symptoms suggest a form of depression, and his actions and words do allude to unrequited love, most likely for Bassanio.

Why does Jessica run away with Lorenzo?

Jessica is aware that Shylock would never approve of her marrying Lorenzo, a Christian, and that the only way they can be together is if they run away together and she converts to Christianity. She often speaks of her unhappiness at home and of Shylock’s controlling ways, while simultaneously noticing how open and affectionate Lorenzo is. This offers a stark contrast to Shylock’s cruelty and disinterest.

Why do the other merchants detest Shylock?

The other merchants claim to hate Shylock because he charges interest on his loans, characterizing him in their view as unreasonable and greedy; however, this conflict is merely a manifestation of the merchants’ more general antisemitism. Time and time again, the Christian characters use Shylock’s religion as justification for why he acts as he does, confirming and perpetuating their ongoing bigotry and prompting Shylock, the only Jew in a sea of Venetian Christians, to seek his revenge.

What is the significance of much of the play taking place in Venice?

In Shakespeare’s time Venice had long served as a point of commerce and trade, with merchants traveling there from all over the world, most notably between residents of Western European lands and nations further in the East. Then an independent city-state, Venice was home to many nationalities and religions, and played host to a large Jewish population. This mixture of cultures, along with the city’s many waterways, giving ships easy access and merchants many opportunities to make or break their fortunes, makes it an ideal setting for the play.

How is Shylock punished at the end of the play?

Shylock is the recipient of several punishments by the end of the play, and is left in a rather bereft state. He loses his daughter Jessica, who not only leaves home but does so to marry a Christian, and even converts to Christianity herself. To avoid losing his estate, Shylock must pay a fine to the duke and convert to Christianity as well. The final humiliation is that his estate will be left to Jessica and Lorenzo after he dies.