What are Bassanio's motives for inviting Shylock to dinner in Act II, Scene 5 of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice?
First of all, in Act 1, Scene 3, Bassanio meets with Shylock in order to secure 3,000 ducats on Antonio's credit so he can court and marry Portia. The contract is drawn up at that time, but Bassanio needs to meet with Shylock again to obtain the money. Before leaving to meet up with Bassanio, Shylock tells his daughter, Jessica, to lock up for the night after he leaves. During this discourse, Shylock speaks aloud his concerns aloud about lending money to Christians who despise him. He wonders why he is even going to the dinner with Bassanio because he could just as well hand the money to Bassanio without socializing with him at dinner. Shylock concludes that the only reason that Bassanio has invited him to dinner is the mere fact that Bassanio flatters him. Shylock sees the invitation as one backed by an ulterior motive—probably to soften his heart so he won't demand a pound of Antonio's flesh if he can't pay the debt in three months. As a result, Shylock says that he will go to the dinner "in hate, to feed upon / The prodigal Christian" (II.v.14-15).