The Merchant of Venice
play on a page
When businessman Antonio borrows money to help his friend win the lady of his dreams, he is pleasantly surprised by the infamous Shylock's generosity. Owing no interest, and using his absent ships as collateral, he's helping out Bassanio seemingly for nothing -- until the ships fail to return and he's suddenly faced with the reality of a rather gruesome clause in the contract. Named for Antonio, Shakespeare's play is really about Shylock, the man so stereotypical he gave his name to an entire profession. Is he really just an anti-semitic caricature or a sympathetic victim of hostile sixteenth century European prejudice? Does he not bleed? And has he met his match in the wits of the beautiful Portia?