Shylock cares for money more than anything else. Yet in an often
forgotten moment when Shylock finds out his daughter traded his
wife's ring for a monkey he cares only for its sentimental value.
"Out upon her! Thou torturest me, Tubal: it was my turquoise; / I
had it of Leah when I was a bachelor: / I would not have given it
for a wilderness of monkeys".
The main reason he hates Antonio is
financial: "I hate him for he is a Christian; /
But more, for that in low simplicity / He
lends out money gratis".
• Regarded as an
monster by the
mock him for
• Angered by his mis-treatment by the Christians
in Venice, particularly Antonio, he aims
to get revenge by demanding a pound of
Antonio’s flesh as a penalty is he doesn’t return a
Bent on revenge
He cleverly argues in Act III, scene 1 that he is as much a man as a Christian is and so will follow the
example the Christians set by seeking revenge. "The villainy you teach me I will execute".
Is very confident that he will win, telling Antonio while he is in prison, "Thou call'dst me dog ... But
since I am a dog, beware my fangs". He knows that the Venetian justice system will have to support
him and so relishes beating Antonio at his own game.
He resolutely refuses to listen to all the pleas for mercy during the trial scene
(from the Duke, Bassanio and Balthazar), insisting all the time on justice and his
pound of flesh. Do you think this is this a sign of strength or foolishness? He could
have pardoned Antonio and shown himself to be morally superior - but would this
have done him any good in the long run?
VICTIM OR VILLAN?
His daughter hates him and calls him a "devil".
We see him being impatient with her and ordering
her around. When she runs away, he seems as
upset about the loss of his money as her: "My
daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter! ... My
ducats and my daughter!"
• He also comes across as an entirely
human character who is angry at his
daughter’s betrayal and the way he is
Described by Bassanio as
rich, beautiful and full of
wondrous virtues. The Prince
of Morocco calls her "the
fairest creature northward
Beauty matched by intelligence
Is bound by her dead fathers will that forces her to marry
whichever suitor chooses correctly out of three caskets,
though she still wants to marry her true love, Bassanio
Loves Bassanio and when he chooses the right casket and appears worried that she will not come up to
Bassanio's expectations: "I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends, / Exceed account". She literally
gives herself to him: "Myself and what is mine, to you and yours / Is now converted". Why does she
now not seem as independent as she was before?
Disguises as a man
Becomes Balthazar- a very well educated and important lawyer to
Show no mercy to Shylock when she tells him that he must not draw blood. She is ruthless: she first
forbids Shylock to retract the bond and then goes on to enact an ancient Venetian law against him
for having threatened Antonio's life, that could result in Shylock's death
In control- tricks Bassanio to give her the ring to mock him
She causes everyone to be happy at the end: herself and Bassanio, Nerissa and Gratiano, Jessica and
Lorenzo (by telling them that they will inherit Shylock's fortune) and Antonio - she tells him that
three of his ships are safe. There is mystery surrounding this news: she tells him, "You shall not know
by what strange accident / I chanced upon this letter".
Play is named after him
At the start of the play he is depressed.
The reason for this is never made clear.
He says the world is "A stage where
every man must play a part, / And mine
a sad one"
Friend to Bassanio
Signs Shylock’s contract and almost dies
When news comes of his lost ships, Antonio asks Bassanio to come home, but does not force him.
He writes, "use your pleasure".
When he believes he is going to die, he tells Bassanio, "Say how I loved you," and seems glad to be
paying Bassanio's debt with his life.
Whilst in prison, he recognises that
Shylock hates him because he lent
money to people to help them pay their
debts to Shylock - yet makes no mention
of other reasons why Shylock would
hate him, such as all the verbal abuse he
has given him!
Shylock describes how
"many a time and oft / In
the Rialto have you rated
me / About my money and
Just and loyal-
law has to be
upheld even if
he may die
Gentleman of Venice, kinsman and dear friend of
His love for Portia leads him to borrow money from Shylock with Antonio as his
In debt 'in money and love' to
Lost all of his own money and previous loans from Antonio
Madly in love with
His motives - he seems more interested in her money than anything else
when he describes her to Antonio: "In Belmont is a lady richly left, / And she is fair".
When he sees her portrait inside the lead casket, he praises her highly and calls her a "demi-god
He is very reluctant to give 'Balthazar' the ring that Portia gave him, yet does so when Antonio
asks him to. He gives an honest account of why he gave the ring away and swears heartfelt and
lifelong devotion to Portia - "by my soul" - at the end of the play.
Prejeduced to Jews and Shylock
Portia's maid and confidante
Escorts Portia on her trip to Venice by
disguising herself as Portia’s law clerk
Joker- 'let me
play the fool'
during the trial
When Shylock is humiliated and
delights in throwing Shylock's
words back at him: "O upright
judge! / Mark, Jew - O learned
He marries Nerissa very quickly, when Portia marries Bassanio
Jew and Shylocks Daughter
Hates life with her father in his house therefore elopes with the Christian Lorenzo and becomes a Christian herself
Portia leaves Jessica and Lorenzo to look after Belmont while she is away in Venice. She seems to
admire Portia a great deal, saying she likes her "Past all expressing".
He is a Christian who falls in love with Shylock's daughter Jessica
and elopes with her. We hear of them travelling through Italy, rashly
spending huge amounts of money
He talks passionately to Jessica about "the
sweet power of music" - but does not seem to
do much that is practical to help her.
Friend of Bassanio and Antonio
Shylocks servant then leaves his service to work for Shylock
Friend of Jessica and helps her to escape and elope with Lorenzo
Comical, clownish figure who is especially adept as making puns
Prince of Arragon
Chooses wrong by picking the silver casket, which calls him an idiot rather than offering him Portia’s hand in marriage
Arrogant Spanish nobleman
Prince of Morocco
Picks gold casket- to mirror her beauty and stature
Black- begs Portia not to judge him by
Wealthy Jew and Shylocks friend
Wealthy Paduan lawyer and Portia's cousin, never appears in play but gives Portia's servant the letter
of introduction needed for Portia to make her appearance in court
He does not want to see Antonio killed, yet he will not bend the laws to save him, as that would
undermine the rule of law. He is happy for Balthazar to deal with the case.