Plot overview

The Merchant of Venice is a clever and controversial comedy. Bassanio, a poor nobleman in Venice, needs money to woo the beautiful heiress Portia. He asks his friend Antonio for a loan, but Antonio has invested his funds in ships overseas. The moneylender, Shylock, offers the cash on the condition that he will take a pound of Antonio’s flesh if the loan is not repaid within three months. Antonio goes bankrupt and Portia steps in, disguised as a young male lawyer, to save the day.


  • Bassanio asks his friend Antonio for a loan.
  • Portia is bound by her father’s will and cannot marry who she chooses.
  • Shylock lends the money to Antonio with some slightly gory conditions.
  • Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, runs away from home to be with Lorenzo.
  • Antonio’s investments are sunk and Shylock demands his arrest.
  • Bassanio wins Portia as his wife.
  • Portia, disguised as a lawyer, saves Antonio from his bond to Shylock.
  • Bassanio and Portia argue about the loss of a wedding ring.