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end named Bassanio. Bassanio is in love with a beautiful heiress, Portia. But, he needs money in order to win her hand in marriage.
Portia is in love with Bassanio, but she is not free to choose her own husband. Her father's will stipulates that she must marry whoever chooses the right one among three caskets. These three caskets, one of gold, one of silver and one of lead, each bear an inscription on it.
Shylock is a Jewish moneylender. He is a bitter man, his hard nature made more so by the attitude of the Christian community towards Jews. One of his most hated opponents is Antonio. He has made no effort to hide his dislike of Shylock, not just as a moneylender, but also because he is a Jew.
When Bassanio seeks Antonio's help, Antonio does not have cash ready at hands. He has it all tied up in his investments in his ships out at sea. So, he asks Bassanio to borrow the money, and to name him as the guarantor.
Bassanio approaches Shylock with a request for a loan. Shylock sees a way to get back at Antonio for all the insults he had inflicted on him. He agrees to lend the amount to Bassanio, and says he will charge no interest. But, he draws up a bond that says if Antonio does not pay the money by the stipulated date, he is entitled to a pound of Antonio's flesh.
Despite Bassanio's warning, Antonio agrees to this condition. Bassanio gets the loan and soon marries Portia. Meanwhile, Antonio's ships are reportedly lost at sea and he is unable to repay the loan. Shylock takes him to court to extract the pound of flesh, literally.
It now rests with Portia's quick wit and ingenuity to see if she can extract her husband's friend from the peril that threatens him.
The Merchant Of Venice has been adapted into operas and films numerous times.
About William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare is considered as the greatest playwright in the English Language.
Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, and All's Well That Ends Well are some of his other highly popular plays.
He composed in blank verse form, set in the iambic pentameter. This style and the variations he introduced in it helped him effectively convey the emotions and the thoughts of his characters. His imageries were perfectly crafted to suit the needs of his plays.
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in England in 1564. At the age of 18, he married an older woman, Anne Hathaway. Their first child was a daughter, followed by twins, one a boy and the other a girl. Not much is known about Shakespeare's life after this, until his plays began to appear on the London stage. He wrote several comedy, history and tragedy plays. He died in 1616. Textual editions of his plays appeared only after his death.