In The Merchant of Venice, how does Antonio feel about Shylock, being a christian and how does Shylock feel about Antonio, being a Jew?Act I scene iii.

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is clear that there is little love lost on both sides of this relationship. Clearly Shakespeare intends Shylock to be a representative of the Jews, and likewise, to Shylock, Antonio becomes a representative of Christianity and the way that it has consistently mistreated Jews down through the ages. Note what Antonio says to Bassanio after Shylock tells the story about Jacob:

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

An evil soul producing holy witness

Is like a villain with a smiling cheek...

He goes on to say to Shylock that he should lend the money to "thine enemy" rather than to his friend.

Shylock is even more overt about his feelings towards Antonio. Note how, as he watches Antonio draw near, he says, in an aside:

I hate him for he is a Christian.

He plans immediately to "feel fat the ancient grudge I bear him" and somehow to get his own back for the way that he lends money without charging interest and also for the personal wrongs that Antonio has committed against him.

In this scene, therefore, Shakespeare introduces us to the main conflict of the play and we can see its roots and its development in the "merry bond" that Shylock proposes and Antonio accepts.

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The Merchant of Venice

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