The Merchant of Venice Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What are the differences between Belmont and Venice in The Merchant of Venice?

The significant differences between Belmont and Venice in The Merchant of Venice coincide with the settings that are characteristic of each town. The Italian port of Venice is a vibrant city, ripe with crowds, tourists, merchants, and foreign visitors. Belmont is a distant region with all the splendor of the Italian countryside. The stark differences affect the personalities and actions of the key players in the drama.

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William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is a romantic comedy about the efforts of a Venetian merchant to assist his best friend in his quest to marry a beautiful heiress. In return, the merchant is saved from a ruthless moneylender by the couple he helps.

Antonio is the Venetian merchant who is troubled at the opening of the play. He is saddened by the fact that his friend Bassanio is planning to leave Venice for the distant region of Belmont where he hopes to marry Portia. Bassanio is deeply in debt, and in order to make the trip to Belmont, he asks Antonio for a loan to finance his journey. He believes that once he gains access to Portia’s wealth, he will be able to repay Antonio. Antonio does not have the funds on hand because his merchant ships are out to sea, so he arranges a loan from Shylock , a vengeful moneylender who hates Antonio for a variety of reasons. Shylock agrees to the loan with the outrageous provision that failure to repay it in a timely fashion will entitle him to...

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In Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare uses two contrasting settings, Venice and Belmont. The two settings vary in several ways. Shakespeare describes Venice as an economic city where currency flows in and out with every docking ship. More so, Venice is also a cosmopolitan city that is bordered by the Ottoman empire. The male gender predominates the Venice society. In the play Jesicca, a single woman, is locked up at her house and the only way she can step outside is by disguising herself as a man.

In contrast, Belmont, known as the home to Portia is a city full of festivity and romance. Shakespeare portrays Belmont as a green land where ruthlessness does not exist. In addition, women have the upper hand in Belmont society.