Here is a brief plot summary of The Merchant of Venice:

A young Venetian, Bassanio, needs a loan of three thousand ducats so that he can woo Portia, a wealthy Venetian heiress. He approaches his friend Antonio, a merchant. Antonio is short of money because all his wealth is invested in his fleet, which is currently at sea. He goes to a Jewish money lender, Shylock, who hates Antonio because of Antonio’s anti-semitic behaviour towards him.

Shylock nevertheless agrees to make the short-term loan, but, in a moment of dark humour, he makes a condition – the loan must be repaid in three months or Shylock will exact a pound of flesh from Antonio. Antonio agrees, confident that his ships will return in time.

Because of the terms of Portia’s father’s will, all suitors must choose from among three caskets, one of which contains a portrait of her. If he chooses that he may marry Portia, but if doesn’t he must vow never to marry or court another woman. The Princes of Morocco and Arragon fail the test and are rejected. As Bassanio prepares to travel to Belmont for the test, his friend Lorenzo elopes with Shylock’s daughter, Jessica. Bassanio chooses the lead casket, which contains her picture, and Portia happily agrees to marry him immediately.

Meanwhile, two of Antonio’s ships have been wrecked and Antonio’s creditors are pressurising him for repayment. Word comes to Bassanio about Antonio’s predicament, and he hurries back to Venice, leaving Portia behind. Portia follows him, accompanied by her maid, Nerissa. They are disguised as a male lawyer and his clerk. When Bassanio arrives the date for the repayment to Shylock has passed and Shylock is demanding his pound of flesh. Even when Bassanio offers much more than the amount in repayment, Shylock, now infuriated by the loss of his daughter, is intent on seeking revenge on the Christians. The Duke refuses to intervene.

Portia arrives in her disguise to defend Antonio. Given the authority of judgment by the Duke, Portia decides that Shylock can have the pound of flesh as long as he doesn’t draw blood, as it is against the law to shed a Christian’s blood. Since it is obvious that to draw a pound of flesh would kill Antonio, Shylock is denied his suit. Moreover, for conspiring to murder a Venetian citizen, Portia orders that he should forfeit all his wealth. Half is to go to Venice, and half to Antonio.

Antonio gives his half back to Shylock on the condition that Shylock bequeath it to his disinherited daughter, Jessica. Shylock must also convert to Christianity. A broken Shylock accepts. News arrives that Antonio’s remaining ships have returned safely. With the exception of Shylock, all celebrate a happy ending to the affair.

 

See The Merchant of Venice translated to modern English >>

See summaries of Shakespeare’s other plays >>


Please take a moment to review this content!

  • Readers Rating
  • Rated 2.9 stars
    2.9 / 5 (1512 )
  • Your Rating



117 replies
« Older Comments
  1. Birendra Samal
    Birendra Samal says:

    However, we are going to Venice in May, 2019 to see the city which prompted Shakespeare to have this Drama

    Reply
  2. Adarsh
    Adarsh says:

    In this summary, some points at last is missing after the hearing there is a conversation between lawyer and Bassanio. Bassanio asked the lawyer shat should I give you as a present the lawyer dressed up as a Portia and her maid Nerissa as a clerk asked for the wedding ring from Antonio and Bassanio. First and the foremost the refused it then they agree afterward Portia and her maid rushed up to the kingdom before Antonia and Bassanio arrival and both of them pretended to fool their husbands and asked them about the wedding ring. Bassanio and Antonia told that the had given the ring to a lawyer because he saved Antonio life and told the full story to Portia, at last, she says to Antonio that she had dressed up as a male lawyer and saved Antonio life after a great drama she told the story and convenience Antonio and gave back the ring and started a wonderful life

    Reply
« Older Comments

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *