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The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
By: (1564-1616)

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice was probably written between 1596 and 1598, and was printed with the comedies in the First Folio of 1623. Bassanio, an impoverished gentleman, uses the credit of his friend, the merchant Antonio, to borrow money from a wealthy Jew, Shylock. Antonio pledges to pay Shylock a pound of flesh if he defaults on the loan, which Bassanio will use to woo a rich heiress, Portia. A subplot concerns the elopement of Shylock's daughter Jessica with a Christian, Bassanio's friend Lorenzo. In its focus on love and marriage, the play shares certain concerns with Shakespeare's other comedies. Yet its depiction of the tensions between Jews and Christians in early modern Venice - and its highly dramatic trial scene in Act 4 - create darker currents in the play.

First Page:

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

by William Shakespeare

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

THE DUKE OF VENICE THE PRINCE OF MOROCCO, suitor to Portia THE PRINCE OF ARRAGON, suitor to Portia ANTONIO, a merchant of Venice BASSANIO, his friend SALANIO, friend to Antonio and Bassanio SALARINO, friend to Antonio and Bassanio GRATIANO, friend to Antonio and Bassanio LORENZO, in love with Jessica SHYLOCK, a rich Jew TUBAL, a Jew, his friend LAUNCELOT GOBBO, a clown, servant to Shylock OLD GOBBO, father to Launcelot LEONARDO, servant to Bassanio BALTHASAR, servant to Portia STEPHANO, servant to Portia

PORTIA, a rich heiress NERISSA, her waiting maid JESSICA, daughter to Shylock

Magnificoes of Venice, Officers of the Court of Justice, Gaoler, Servants to Portia, and other Attendants

SCENE: Partly at Venice, and partly at Belmont, the seat of Portia, on the Continent

ACT 1.

SCENE I. Venice. A street

[Enter ANTONIO, SALARINO, and SALANIO]

ANTONIO. In sooth, I know not why I am so sad; It wearies me; you say it wearies you; But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born, I am to learn; And such a want wit sadness makes of me That I have much ado to know myself... Continue reading book >>


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