The Merchant of Venice

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The Merchant of Venice is a tragic comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1596 and 1598. Though classified as a tragic comedy in the First Folio and sharing certain aspects with Shakespeare's other romantic comedies, the play is perhaps most remembered for its dramatic scenes, and is best known for Shylock and the famous 'pound of flesh' speech.

The title character is the merchant Antonio, not the Jewish moneylender Shylock, who is the play's most prominent and most famous character. This is made explicit by the title page of the first quarto: The moſt excellent Hiſtorie of the Merchant of Venice. With the extreame crueltie of Shylock the Iewe towards the ſayd Merchant, in cutting a iuſt pound of his fleſh: and the obtayning of Portia by the choyſe of three cheſts.

Contents

Characters

  • Antonio - a merchant of Venice;
  • Bassanio – Antonio's friend, in love with Portia;
  • Gratiano, Solanio, Salarino, Salerio – friends of Antonio and Bassanio;
  • Lorenzo – friend of Antonio and Bassanio, in love with Jessica;
  • Portia – a rich heiress
  • Nerissa – Portia's waiting-maid
  • Balthazar – Portia's disguise
  • Stephano – Nerissa'a disguise
  • Shylock– a rich Jew, father of Jessica
  • Tubal – a Jew; Shylock's friend
  • Jessica – daughter of Shylock, in love with Lorenzo; Jewess,
  • Lancelot Gobbo – a foolish man in the service of Shylock
  • Old Gobbo – father of Lancelot
  • Leonardo - servant to Bassanio
  • Duke of Venice - Venetian authority who presides over the case of Shylock's bond
  • Prince of Morocco – suitor to Portia
  • Prince of Arragon – suitor to Portia
  • Magnificoes of Venice, officers of the Court of Justice, Gaoler, servants to Portia, and other Attendants

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