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The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare Summary for Act 1 Scene 1

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Introduction

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare Summary for Act 1 Scene 1 Opens with Antonio, a wealthy merchant of Venice, discussing his sadness with Salerio and Solanio. The two friends try to guess at his unhappiness, but they can't. Bassanio enters with Lorenzo and Gratiano. All of the characters in this scene are Christians. Bassanio speaks with Antonio privately. Antonio's first question to Bassanio is about a woman Bassanio had mentioned at some prior meeting. Antonio trusts Bassanio, using this trust Bassanio tells Antonio that his intentions are to try and win a woman who has been left riches from her father in Belmont (Portia). ...read more.

Middle

Summary for Act 1 scene 2 Here we are introduced to Portia and her waiting-woman, Nerissa. The are discussing the terms of her father's will which state that the decision of whom she shall marry will be based on a riddle. Three boxes, one gold, one silver, one lead, and each with a meaning have been set up for each suitor to choose from. He who guesses right marries Portia. Portia reflects upon the unfairness of this, but Nerissa assures her that only a man worthy of her will solve the riddle. She points out the problems with all of the suitors so far and then Nerissa mentions Bassanio, whom they have met at some prior time and Portia remembers his as, "worthy of praise." ...read more.

Conclusion

When Shylock confronts Antonio about his mistreatment of him in the past, Antonio says he will continue to disrespect Shylock. It is Antonio's belief that the money is better lent to an enemy than a friend. The final agreement is at Shylock's suggestion; the forfeiture if the loan is not repaid within three months will be one pound of Antonio's flesh, taken by Shylock. Antonio agrees to this freely, expecting over three times the sum he owes to return with his ships within two months. Antonio's final comment is that the Hebrew will turn Christian, suggesting that his "kindness" was a Christian attribute. ...read more.

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