What does Shylock's observation that it is ironic that Antonio daily insults him but will still borrow money from him reveal about Shylock?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Shylock sees an opportunity when Antonio, who has insulted him and even spit at him in public, arrives with a business proposal in Act 1, Scene 3 of “The Merchant of Venice”. Shylock is quick to calculate an advantage, and also very good at separating his business interests from his personal feelings. He doesn’t like Antonio any more than Antonio likes him, and based strictly on that animosity it would be understandable for Shylock to refuse to do business with him. Shylock swallows his pride, though, because he’s a good businessman and Antonio’s proposition is a good investment, and he recognizes especially that it would benefit him to have Antonio in debt to him, and if in the unlikely event that Antonio defaults and can’t pay back the loan, the opportunity of having Antonio at his mercy would be worth the loss of capital. Shylock is calculating, in every sense of the word, and despite his personal feelings will always pursue opportunities that calculate in his favor.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial