Homework Help

In William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, why does Shylock agree to attend...

user profile pic

mcfox1948 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted October 24, 2013 at 2:59 PM via web

dislike 1 like

In William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, why does Shylock agree to attend Bassanio's feast when he refused to eat with Bassanio and Antonio earlier? He said earlier he did not wish to be exposed to pork and a house that certainly would not keep kosher. If he feared spiritual contamination then, why did he not later, particularly since he said he did not wish to attend the feast anyway?

1 Answer | Add Yours

Top Answer

user profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 24, 2013 at 7:06 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

It is interesting in Act I scene 3 that Shylock is emphatic about his refusal to eat in a Christian household with such individuals as Bassanio and Antonio. Note how he responds when Bassanio asks him if he would dine with them:

I will buy with you, sell with you, walk with you, talk with you, and so following: but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you.

However, even after making this very clear statement, Shylock in Act II scene 5 then suddenly declares that he will go to eat with Bassanio and Antonio, but for a very different motive. Even though he knows he has not been invited sincerely, "in love," he still goes "in hate, to feed upon / The prodigal Christian." Even though he is in no mood to go out and eat, and he certainly doesn't want to eat with Christians who bear him no love, what drives him to go is his hatred of them, and the way that he is planning his revenge through hoping to gain the pound of flesh he has managed to make Antonio agree to. What seems to explain his apparent change of heart therefore is that now his plan to gain revenge against Antonio for his discrimination towards Shylock, he is willing to dine with them because whilst they are rude towards him, he is able to gloat and contemplate the revenge he hopes he can have over them. Shylock's decision to change his mind therefore reveals the extent of his obsession to gain some form of revenge, which of course foreshadows his determination to extract his pound of flesh later on in the play.

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes