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Antonio has extended surety to Shylock covering his friend's loan of 3000ducats [Bassanio] from Shylock.
In the event Bassanio is not in a position to return the sum on a specified date ,Shyloch will legally remove a pound of flesh erom Antonio's person.
1. Shylock and Antonio resent and dislike one another. Firstly, Shylock hates Antonio because he is a Christian; secondly, because Antonio is a Christian and therefore not allowed to charge interest, Antonio undercuts Shylock’s business by lending money without charging interest. The fact that Shylock does loan money and charges interest is another reason for Antonio not to like him. As a businessman, Antonio must resent Shylock's ability to earn extra money by charging interest.
We know that Shylock drops this false front when alone, and that Antonio drops it when with Bassiano and Gratiano. When Antonio is with Bassiano, we see different motives for investment. Shylock lends money almost maliciously; he seeks to have people (at least Antonio) at his mercy. Bassiano asks for money due to friendship, and Antonio stands for it. They have, therefore, different motives in all of this.
Because Shylock is a Jew and lends money charging interest, Antonio feels morally superior towards him. He uses any opportunity to show his scorn and publicly humiliate Shylock. This leads to Shylock resenting and hating Antonio even more.
Antonio for example has publicly spit on Shylock. When Shylock sees an opportunity to take revenge on Antonio he takes it. The both engage in trying to annoy the other. For example, to close the deal with Shylock, Antonio invites him dinner. Shylock refuses with the reason that he is Jewish and the food would not be kosher (Jews don't eat pork) however, it is seen as a social slight to not even come and be present.
1. Hmm. The relationship between Antonio and Shylock stretches beyond Act I, but if we limit ourselves to that act, we see the following:
Antonio needs Shylock, and, to a lesser degree, Shylock needs Antonio. There is therefore some degree of mutuality. They are also similar in that Antonio makes a point of saying he has not put all of his investments aboard one boat, but has spread the risk. Likewise, Shylock loans to many people. In these areas they are similar.
However, they are also similar in their dislike for one another, which is based in part on their religions, or at least, on the prejudices their time educates into them regarding their religions. Both also put on something of a false front when dealing with one another.
Shylock hate Christians. When he meets Antonio the first time when he says; "I hate him for he is a Christian" and find that he hates Antonio even more because he lends out money with no interest charge which puts people who do charge interest like Shylock, out of business; "he lends out money gratis(free), and brings down the rate of usance here with us in Venice" and because Antonio mocks on him in public he says that his "tribe" will be "cursed" if he forgives him. Shylock takes his time with the bargain slowly repeating and asking the price and conditions as if to keep Antonio and Bassanio on edge. This shows he is a clever and careful man, especially when it comes to money. Then we start to see the other more sinister side of Shylock. Antonio tells him that he should lend him the money as "enemies" that way Shylock could demand whatever penalty he liked if the money were not returned. Shylock agrees to this and the penalty that he would induce would be that he would be able to cut a pound of flesh from anywhere on Antonio's body, so basically he would kill him. Act two sees Shylock deserted by Launcelot (his servant) and Jessica (his daughter). Shylocks impression to the audience is worsened still when his servant Launcelot refers to him as a "fiend" or "devil" numerous times, or as the devils "incarnation". Shylocks daughter, Jessica, dose not want to stay with her own father. She refers to him as
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