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Merchant of Venice Summary

Last updated date: 17th Apr 2024
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The story of Merchant of Venice is properly explained in the Merchant of Venice Summary. The Merchant of Venice is perhaps one of the best plays created by William Shakespeare. It tells the story of a merchant called Antonio who owes some money to a spiteful moneylender, Shylock. Antonio takes this money for his friend Bassanio so that the latter can court a lady named Portia and marry her. When his trading ships were wrecked, Antonio was not able to pay his loan back. Hence, Shylock demands to have a pound of Antonio’s flesh for repayment, as was mentioned in the contract. However, during the trial in court, Portia, who is present there dressed as a man is able to save Antonio. Hence, Shylock is asked to convert to Christianity and Antonio has his wealth restored from his ships. 

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Merchant of Venice

Students can read this article to know more about the story and The Merchant of Venice main characters. 

Merchant of Venice Summary

The merchant of Venice plot opens with Antonio who is a Venetian Christian merchant, sitting in a state of depression. All his friends try to cheer him up but fail to do so. Finally, Antonio is greeted by one of his dear friends Bassanio, who wants to borrow some money from Antonio. However, Antonio has all his money tied up on his ships. 

Unable to provide his friend with a direct loan, Antonio decides to approach Shylock, a Jewish moneylender for taking the loan in Antonio’s name. Shylock decides to waive the interest in the loan but states a very unusual condition. Should Antonio fail to pay the money back, Shylock will be entitled to a pound of Antonio’s flesh. Antonio happily signs the contract of the loan. This is a part of the Merchant of Venice explanation which shows how Antonio is willing to help his friend out. 

Bassanio is given the money and then he visits Portia to marry her in Belmont. Portia remains unmarried because of her father’s strange test for the men who want to marry her. The men are asked to choose between 3 caskets made of lead, silver, and gold. One amongst these caskets has Portia’s picture in it. The man choosing the right casket will be allowed to marry her. Several princes failed to choose the right one according to the Merchant of Venice plot. 

In the next part of the Merchant of Venice analysis, Bassanio arrives in Belmont and chooses the right casket. He is allowed to marry Portia while Graziano, Basaanio’s companion, decides to marry Nerissa, who is Portia’s friend. 

Upon receiving a message regarding Antonio’s failure to repay the loans, both Bassanio and Graziano leave for Belmont. Portia provides them with 6000 ducats so that they can repay the loan and save Antonio. Shortly after their departure, the ladies Portia and Nerissa plan to dress themselves up as men and follow their suitors to Venice. Antonio is arrested and brought to the Duke of Venice for a trial. 

In the next act of Litcharts Merchant of Venice, Portia and Nerissa arrive in the court dressed as the doctor of law that everyone was waiting for in order to give the results of the trial. She pleads with Shylock to forgive Antonio, but Shylock states the authenticity of the contract and refuses to take money from Bassanio on behalf of Antonio. Portia agrees but states that Shylock can have the pound of flesh without making Antonio bleed since it is not written anywhere in the contract. Caught in his own tricks, Shylock is forced to let go of the loan and turn to Christianity to pay for his evil deeds. All is well in the end and Antonio’s wealth is restored as well. 

Characters of the Merchant of Venice 

According to the Merchant of Venice paraphrase, here are the main characters. 

  • Antonio: A Christian Venetian merchant who agrees to take a loan on his name for his friend Bassanio. 

  • Bassanio: He is Antonio’s friend who wants to take a loan in order to marry Portia. 

  • Leonardo: He is a servant of Bassanio. 

  • Lorenzo: Antonio and Bassanio’s friend. He is also Jessica’s lover.

  • Graziano: Antonio and Bassanio’s friend who is accompanying Bassanio on his trip to marry Portia in Belmont. 

  • Shylock: A Jewish moneylender. His daughter Jessica elopes with Lorenzo. He demands to have a pound of Antonio’s flesh if the loan is not paid back. 

  • Jessica: She is the daughter of Shylock. 

  • Portia: She is a Christian woman from Belmont who is supposed to marry according to the wishes of her father. She arrives in the court of Venice dressed as a man to save Antonio from the trial. 

  • Nerissa: She is the friend of Portia.

The supporting characters include Salerio, Solano, Gobbo, Lancelot and the Duke of Venice. 

This article is a short summary of Merchant of Venice. The students can learn a lot about the themes of the story from this article. 

FAQs on Merchant of Venice Summary

1. Describe the character of Portia in the Merchant of Venice analysis?

With a thorough studying of the merchant of Venice, one can attempt Portia character Analysis. She is seen as the heroine in the play. She married Bassanio and also helps to save the life of his friend Antonio who is under trial. The character growth of Portia is really something to behold in the entire play. First seen as a melancholy bachelorette whose life is under the control and wishes of her own father, she quickly changes avatars and turns into a witty and persuasive character when she is in court dressed as a man and is trying to argue with Shylock to spare Antonio’s life. 

2. Provide a merchant of Venice explanation?

According to the Merchant of Venice paraphrase, it is the story of a Venetian Christian merchant Antonio who takes a loan from a Jewish moneylender Shylock for his friend Bassanio. The reason behind taking the loan was that Antonio wasn’t able to give the loan himself since his money was all tied up in ships. Bassanio wanted the money to go and marry a woman named Portia in Belmont. When Antonio’s ships are wrecked, he is unable to pay the loan and is brought under trial. However, Portia, dressed as a man of law is able to save Antonio from Shylock’s contract and everything turns out to be well in the end. 

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