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The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice - 2013


Antonio cannot explain his melancholy mood. True, his money is tied up in business ventures that depend on the safe passage of his ships at sea, but he is confident of their return.

His spendthrift friend Bassanio has fallen in love with Portia, a wealthy heiress living at Belmont, some distance from Venice. If Bassanio can win Portia's hand in marriage he will be able to repay his debts, but to do so Bassanio must borrow yet more money from his friend. Unable to raise the sum himself, Antonio sends Bassanio out into Venice to secure a loan which Antonio will guarantee.

Bassanio borrows three thousand ducats from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender whom Antonio has in the past insulted for his practice of lending money for interest. Despite Antonio's refusal to apologise for his past behaviour, Shylock accepts his bond and offers to waive his usual requirement for interest. Instead, if Antonio cannot pay Bassanio's debt, Shylock will be entitled to a pound of Antonio's flesh.

Meanwhile, in Belmont, Portia is bound by the terms of her late father's will to marry the man who can correctly choose which of three caskets of gold, silver and lead contain her portrait. The Princes of Morocco and Arragon arrive to make their choices before Portia and her lady-in-waiting, Nerissa, hear of the arrival of a young Venetian and his companion, Gratiano.

Back in Venice, Shylock's servant Launcelot Gobbo decides to leave his master and is engaged as servant to Bassanio. As the date for repayment of Shylock's loan approaches, Bassanio's friend Lorenzo makes plans to elope with Shylock's daughter, Jessica.

Just when happiness and wealth are within his reach, news reaches Bassanio that all Antonio's ships have been lost at sea. Unable to pay his debts, Antonio has been thrown into jail to await trial. The Duke of Venice will decide whether Shylock can enforce the bond and claim his pound of flesh. Antonio's life - and everyone else's fate and fortune - now rests on the arrival of the mysterious young lawyer who will try the case...