Does Shylock actually convert to Christianity?

enotes | Student

Toward the end of the trial scene (Act IV, scene i.), Antonio's exoneration would seem to bring the play's main plot to its final resolution, but Portia extends the proceedings by commanding "Tarry Jew." Still in her lawyer's disguise, Portia first asserts that the statutes of Venice call for the execution of false accusers and the confiscation of the worldly goods. Antonio displays Christian mercy by suggesting that Shylock be spared and allowed to keep half his wealth on two conditions: that Shylock arrange for Jessica and Lorenzo to inherit his worldly goods upon his death and that he convert to Christianity. Confronted with these hard choices and prompted by Portia's "What say?" Shylock replies "I am content" (IV, i., l.393). Yet we do not see the usurer's conversion, and no further mention is made of it. Instead, Shylock claims to be ill and assures his judges that he will sign a new will if they send it after him. In light of all this, we must question not just the sincerity, but the validity of Shylock's conversion to Christianity.