List of Characters
Master List of Characters
Antonio—a merchant of Venice and intimate friend of Bassanio.
Salerio—friend to both Antonio and Bassanio.
Solanio—friend to both Antonio and Bassanio.
Bassanio—a young gentleman of Venice in financial difficulty; suitor to Portia and intimate friend of Antonio.
Lorenzo—friend of Bassanio and Antonio; Christian lover of the Jewish woman, Jessica.
Gratiano—friend of Bassanio and Antonio; joins Bassanio’s expedition to Belmont; romancer of Nerissa.
Portia—a wealthy heiress of Belmont; she approves of Bassanio’s suit to her.
Nerissa—Portia’s waiting woman and confidante; approves Gratiano’s advances.
Shylock—a Jewish moneylender of Venice.
Morocco—an African Prince and suitor to Portia.
Launcelot Gobbo—a clown (comical member of the lower class); ex-servant of Shylock who enters into Bassanio’s service.
Old Gobbo—Launcelot’s father; nearly blind from age.
Leonardo—servant of Bassanio.
Jessica—daughter of Shylock; Jewish lover of the Christian man, Lorenzo.
Aragon—a prince; suitor to Portia.
Tubal—a friend of Shylock; a Jew of Venice.
Jailer—holds Antonio prisoner.
Balthasar—a servant of Portia.
The Duke of Venice—the highest authority in Venice.
Stephano—a messenger sent by Portia to Lorenzo and Jessica.
Various Magnificoes of Venice, Officers of the Court, Musicians, Servants, Messengers, and Attendants
Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Shylock (SHI-lok), a rich Jewish moneylender. He hates Antonio for often lending money at lower interest than the usurer demands; hence, when Antonio wishes to borrow three thousand ducats to help Bassanio, Shylock prepares a trap. Seemingly in jest, he persuades Antonio to sign a bond stating that, should the loan not be repaid within three months, a pound of flesh from any part of his body will be forfeited to Shylock. Next, Shylock has bad news when he learns that his daughter, Jessica, has eloped with Lorenzo, taking with her much of his money. He gets good news when he learns that Antonio’s ships have been lost at sea. Antonio being ruined and the loan due, Shylock brings the case before the duke. He refuses Bassanio’s offer of six thousand ducats and demands his pound of flesh. Portia, Bassanio’s wife, disguised as a lawyer, claims that Shylock must have the flesh but can take not a single drop of blood with it. Further, she maintains that Shylock, an alien, has threatened the life of a Venetian; therefore, half of his fortune goes to Antonio, the other half to the state. Shylock is allowed to keep half for Jessica and Lorenzo if he will become a Christian. The character of Shylock has become one of the most controversial in Shakespearean drama. Is he a villain or a tragic figure? Does the author intend the audience to regard him as an example of Jewish malevolence or to sympathize with him as a persecuted man?
Portia (POHR-shuh), an heiress whose father had stipulated in his will that any suitor must...
(The entire section is 670 words.)