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Professor Garber wrote: "From first to last this play is quintessentially about interpretation, about the act of decipherment: the casket choice with its three metals and three mottoes, Shylock's reading of the bond, Portia's recourse to an even more literal interpretation of the contract concerning the pound of flesh." So, when Portia says "Of a strange nature is the suit you follow"(4.1.173 or so), even if she has heard that the terms of the bond were first proposed "in a merry sport"(1.3.141 or so), the author, one might say, is asking the audience or reader to consider seriously the subject matter and the commentary.
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