Merchant of Venice: Act 1

A street in Venice What is the location of Act 1, Scene 1, in which Antonio discusses his sadness with Salerio and Solanio?
Scene 1 What Scene is this? Antonio, a merchant of Venice, talks of his sadness with his friends Salerio and Solanio, who believe that his heavy investments at sea must cause him worry. When he says that doesn;t bother him since his wealth isn’t invested in just one ship, they claim he must be in love. Antonio shrugs this off as well. When Bassanio enters, he tells Antonio of Portia, a rich and beautiful woman he has fallen in love with, and, although he has borrowed money from Antonio before and hasn;t paid it back, he asks to borrow money again so that he may court her, and thus have enough money to pay Antonio back completely. even though Antonio’s money is tied up in the ships, he allows Bassanio to see what kin do loan he can secure with Antonio’s credit.
Antonio does not know why he is sad. He says that if he can’t figure out his sadness, he must not know himself very well. Salario and Solanio think he is sad because he is worried about his ships, cargo, and finances, or maybe he is in love.Joking and talking with Bassanio and the rest of his friends helps him to feel better. [1.1] Antonio seems to have it all. Why, then, is Antonio sad? Why doesn’t he know the cause of his sadness? What guesses do Solanio and Salerio have about the causes of his depression? What lifts his depression?
He talks about how he loves Portia and plans to try to court her. He also claims he wants to pay back his debt to Antonio and discusses how he plans to do so. [1.1] What does Bassanio come to tell Antonio?
He sets his sights on Portia because she is beautiful and has recently inherited a lot of money. She has many suitors who are both rich and famous, and hard to out-do. He plans to overcome this by obtaining enough money to out-do the suitors, and he will do this by borrowing from Antonio… again. [1.1] Why does Bassanio set his sights on Portia? What stands in his way? How does he plan to overcome those barriers?
He lends money to him because they are friends, and Antonio cares deeply about Bassanio. Further, Antonio is well-off and more than financially stable. [1.1] Bassanio lives well beyond his means. why, then, does Antonio continue to lend him money willingly, even though Bassanio has yet to pay him back?
If all goes as planned for Bassanio, and he ends up marrying Portia, he will pay Antonio back using Portia’s large sum of inheritance money. [1.1] what plan does Bassanio have to pay Antonio back?
Obviously, money is not a problem for Antonio, so when a friend he loves and cares about is in need, he doesn’t have a problem with aiding them. Out of granting the loan, he could either get all of his debt back, or simply the money from the loan. Either way, he receives Bassanio’s satisfaction in return. [1.1] Although he has condemned usury in the past, Antonio doesn’t need much convincing to go into debt for Bassanio. Why? What would he get out of granting him the loan?
Friendship, and happiness because he makes Bassanio happy. [1.1] What does Antonio get from his relationship with Bassanio?
The city of Belmont, in Portia’s house. What is the location of Act 1, Scene 2, in which Portia and her waiting-woman, Nerissa discuss Portia’s suitors?
Portia’s waiting-woman Who is Nerissa?
a close friend to Antonio who frequently borrows money from him, without paying it back. Who is Bassanio?
a rich heiress that Bassanio intends to marry. Who is Portia?
they are all good friends to him. Who are Gratiano, Lorenzo, Salerio, and Solanio to Antonio?
Scene 2 What Scene is this? In Belmont, Portia complains to her servant Nerissa, that she cannot choose her own husband; her dead father has stipulated in his will that Portia’s suitors must pass a test in which they must choose among three caskets- one lead, one silver, one gold- to find which one contains her portrait. the one who chooses correctly will become Portia’s husband and inherit her fortune, but if suitors fail, they may never marry. Portia and Nerissa discuss the faults of suitors who have come and gone and remember Bassanio as one who might be worthy to be her husband.
Shakespeare placed these scenes next to each other because in Act 1, Scene 1, Bassanio and Antonio discuss Bassanio’s love for rich Portia but how her suitors stand in the way, and how he plans to overcome this and marry her. In Act 1, Scene 2, Portia and Nerissa discuss how she dislikes all of them but likes Bassanio. This placement was done to show how the scenes mirror each other, and they tell both sides of the story. [1.2] Shakespeare often juxtaposes (placing seeming opposites near one another) scenes (and therefore characters, settings, ideas) for a purpose. Read Act 1, Scene 2 carefully to see what purpose Shakespeare had in placing these scenes next to one another.
Venice is a bustling business city centered around markets and money, whereas Belmont is a relaxed rural city centered around recreation and the arts. [1.2] How does Venice differ from Belmont?
Portia and Nerissa’s relationship and Antonio and Bassanio’s relationship are similar because they both care about each other and often converse with one another. One of them always cares for the other (Antonio and Nervosa) while the other asks things from the other (Bassanio and Portia). They are different because Nerissa is employed to Portia, which is why they are friends, whereas Bassanio and Antonio are friends by choice. Their dialogue also conveys their personalities and social status through the way they talk about life and money, and their attitudes towards certain events. [1.2] How does Portia and Nerissa’s relationship differ from Antonio and Bassanio’s? How is it similar? Look at the way they speak. How does Shakespeare show differences in their personalities and social stature through dialogue?
Her mood is similar to Antonio’s because they are both depressed. They are different because Portia can pin-point the cause of her sadness- the suitors- whereas Antonio cannot. [1.2] How is Portia’s mood similar and different from Antonio’s at the start of Act 1, Scene 1?
Portia dislikes her father’s method, and feels it is unfair since she does not get a say in which suitor to choose or refuse. So far, he has been too successful- all of the suitors also dislike his method and plan to return home. [1.2] How does Portia feel about her deceased father’s method of selecting a husband for her? So far, how successful has it been in eliminating inappropriate suitors?
She dislikes all of the suitors based on their personalities, but with the Prince from Morocco, she dislikes him for his dark skin, and because of this his personality does not matter to her. This reflects Elizabethan viewpoints on other cultures, because people were ok with and accepting of other European cultures (although they may have had stereotypes) but mostly disliked people outside of Europe. [1.2] Portia mocks each of her potential suitors in turn. What faults does she see in each one? How do those faults reflect the Elizabethan viewpoints of each of these cultures? What is different about her criticism of Morocco?
Portia first met Bassanio when he accompanied the marquess of Montferrat. Portia and Nerissa both think highly of him, and think he is worthy of a beautiful wife. His social status is upper-middle class (most likely) since he is a Venetian scholar and soldier. [1.2] How does Portia first encounter Bassanio? What kind of social status does he have?
Portia’s racism initially shocked me, but then I was no longer shocked since people during this time period were almost always racist and ignorant towards other cultures [1.2] Reread lines 126-130. Does Portia’s racism shock you?
It describes Portia’s father decision on how her suitor will be chosen. What does this quote from ‘No Fear Shakespeare’ describe? NERISSA:’Your father was an extremely moral man, and religious people get odd ideas on their deathbeds. Your father’s idea was to have a game with three boxes. The suitor who can figure out whether to pick the gold, silver, or lead box will solve your father’s riddle—and that suitor’s the man for you. No one will ever choose the right box who doesn’t deserve your love. But tell me. Do you like any of the princely suitors who’ve come?”
A public place in Venice What is the location of Act 1, Scene 3, in which Antonio, Bassanio, and Shylock discuss business?
Scene 3 What Scene is this? Shylock agrees to lend Bassanio three thousand ducats for three months based on Antonio’s credit but is skeptical, since all of Antonio’s assets are tied up at sea. He confesses in an aside that he hates Antonio because he is a Christian who lends money 1without interest, which makes Shylock’s profession as a moneylender difficult. Shylock has also been offended by Antonio’s public physical and verbal assaults against him for usury, which is considered a sin by Christians. When Shylock points out Antonio’s hypocrisy, Antonio points out he makes the exception for Bassanio, not for himself.
He wants to contrast the different lifestyles, atmospheres, and daily events in both Belmont and Venice. In Belmont, the environment is less serious and money centered, and the biggest issue revealed to readers is Portia’s dilemma with her suitors. In Venice, the main issue in this scene is that of money and loans, as shown in the repetition of the words ‘ducat’, ‘loan’, ‘lend’, ‘borrow’, ‘pay’, etc. [1.3] Again, Shakespeare places a scene in Belmont against one in Venice. What contrasts doe he want us to see in these locations? What are the main concerns/issues of importance in Belmont? Look for repeated word choices in this scene. How does the language reflect this?
The terms of the loan are 3 thousand ducats to Shylock for 3 months. To be bound to a loan means to guarantee a loan, which is what Antonio will do. If Bassanio defaults, Antonio will pay Shylock. The definition of a ‘loan guarantee’: “a promise by one party (the guarantor) to assume the debt obligation of a borrower if that borrower defaults”. [1.3] Bassanio contacts Shylock regarding the loan. What are the terms of the loan? What does it mean for Antonio to be “bound” to a loan?
Bassanio at first thinks he is being sarcastic, or ingenuine. But Shylock means that he is a good man because he has enough money to guarantee` him the loan. This shows a distinction between the two men in terms of their priorities and states of mind because Bassanio is focused on character, so when Shylock (who has a bad history with Antonio) says Antonio is a ‘good man’, Bassanio is confused, whereas Shylock is money focused, so he defines people by their monetary value, which is why he says Antonio is a ‘good man’. [1.3] What does it mean when Shylocks says, “Antonio is a good man” (1.3.12)? How does Bassanio take his meaning? What distinction does this show between the two men in terms of their priorities or states of mind?
The risks are that since Antonio’s business is that off ships + trade, there is a high-risk factor of his ships being destroyed or lost, which would financially harm him and he would be unable to pay back the loan. Shylock outweighs these risks by saying that even if this happens, Antonio would still be wealthy enough to pay him back. [1.3] Shylock does a risk analysis of Antonio’s ability to repay the loan in this act. what are the risks? What does Shylock say outweighs those risks for him?
Shylock refuses because Bassanio and Antonio are Chrisitains, whereas Shylock is Jewish. Therefore, Shylock refuses to eat drink or pray with them, but he will buy, sell, talk, and walk with them. He is suddenly bitter because Bassanio is crossing a line by asking Shylock to eat with them since the underlying rancor is the inequality between Jews and Christians. Jews were treated as inferior to Christians, so Shylock is bitter to Christians. [1.3] Bassanio invites Shylock to eat with Antonio and him, but Shylock refuses.What reason does he give? Why does he seem so bitter all at once? What underlying rancor is there?
Shylock dislikes Antonio because he is a Christian and because he lends money without interest. His views reflect the political position of Jews in Elizabethan society because Jews had to pay a special tax that Christians did not, which is why Shylock charges interest and Antonio doesn’t. this also shows why Shylock dislikes Christians because in Elizabethan society there was a lot of anti-semitism which angered the Jewish. This could make Antonio less inclined to pay the loan back. [1.3] Once Antonio enters, Shylock’s aside gives us insight into why he dislikes Antonio. How would his feelings reflect the political position Jews held in Elizabethan society? How would his attitude towards the merchant influence his risk analysis?
He tends to use a lot of repetition, metaphors, and similes to stress what he is saying. [1.3] Examine Shylock’s speech patterns. What patterns do you notice? What figures of speech does he tend to use?
Shakespeare’s words display him as a mean, selfish, grumpy, greedy old man, which is more or less how Jews were portrayed. They were stereotyped as mean and grumpy but were also stereotyped as poor, which Shylock defies because he appears to be somewhat successful. [1.3] Describe Shylock. What stereo typical characteristics do you notice in the way Shakespeare’s words present Shylock’s character? What do you see that defies stereotypes?
Shylock believes that ‘profit is a blessing, as long as you don’t steal it’, meaning that his interpretation of the story is that Jacob made the sheep spotted so he would have more of an inheritance, which is synonymous for charging interest. This the message he wants to get across, but Antonio instead interprets the story to have no correlation with business/ interest, that God willed it to happen and that Jacob had no control over it. [1.3] Shylock’s love of money is undeniable. Wy does Shylock tell the story of Jacob and Laban? How does Shylock interpret the story? How does Antonio?
He most likely dropped the discussion to avoid an argument, or because he thinks he can’t prove Antonio wrong. Antonio compares Shylock to the devil, a criminal, a liar, and a rotten apple since he believes Shylock is quoting Scripture for his own use. This reflects the view of Jews (and therefore Shylock) in Venetian/ Elizabethan society because Jews were viewed as bad, untrustworthy, and evil. [1.3] Why does Shylock drop the Biblical discussion as soon as Antonio challenges him? What does this say about Shylock’s place in Venetian society? How do Antonio’s words in 1.3.93-98 reflect this Elizabethan perception of Jews?
He has insulted Shylock’s money and business practices in the Ritalo; he has called Shylock a misbeliever and a cutthroat dog; and he has spit on and kicked Shylock. [1.3] Shylock directly confronts Antonio regarding the way Antonio has treated Shylock in the past. What wrongs has Antonio committed against Shylock?
Antonio says he will probably do all of those things again, but it shouldn’t matter since Shylock should still do business with him anyway since they are friends and not enemies. Since they are enemies, it is all the more reason to lend the loan because if Antonio goes bankrupt, it will be easier for Shylock to take his penalty from Antonio (1.3.130-135) [1.3] How does Antonio react to the charges against him? How does he reconcile that apparent hypocrisy? Why does he say this, even more, reason to grant the loan? Give proof from the text (including line numbers) in your answer.
He actually wants to charge 0 interest. He then goes on to say that if Antonio doesn’t repay him on the day they choose, eh will have to give Shylock 1 pound of his flesh. He is serious, but he states this in a joking manner. Antonio takes it jokingly, saying that he agrees and even says that Jews are nice (1.3.150-151). Bassanio takes it seriously, and tells Antonio not to agree, and that he would rather go without the money (1.3.152-153) [1.3] What are Shylock’s terms of the loan? He says he grants it in terms of a “merry sport” (1.3.144). Is he joking or serious? How does Antonio take it? How does Bassanio? Give proof from the text (including line numbers) in your answer.
Antonio agrees to the terms because he knows he can easily pay Shylock back in 2 months (1.3.154-157), whereas Bassanio is unsure and doesn’t want to take the risk. Bassanio is not used to taking financial risks like Antonio is, since Antonio has his ship business. Bassanio would not od the same for Antonio since he usually asks Antonio for things and not vice versa. Bassanio only is generous when it is easy and convenient for him. [1.3] What is the difference between Bassanio’s and Antonio’s perceptions of the loan terms? What accounts for those differences? Give proof from the text (including line numbers) in your answer. Would Bassanio have done the same for Antonio?
Shylock’s loan to Antonio differs from Antonio’s loan to Bassanio because Antonio must pay Shylock back, and it is a formal business deal. with Bassanio, it is a casual deal between friends, and Bassanio pays Antonio back when he feels like it/ whenever he can. [1.3] How does Shylock’s loan to Antonio differ from Antonio’s loan to Bassanio?
Money is important in Venice, as shown in the repeated use of the words ‘bond’, ‘ducat’, ‘Ritalo’, ‘money’, ‘offer’, ‘interest’, and ‘sum’. This language reflects the value system because it offers insight into the dialogue of common Venetians, showing what life is like there. [1.3] Given this scene, what is important in Venice? Look for repeated word choices for evidence. How does the language reflect that values system?
A Jewish money-lender whom Antonio and Bassanio ask for a loan from. who is Shylock?

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