What are Shylock's feelings after meeting Antonio and being ill-treated by him?  

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Noelle Matteson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several reasons why Shylock hates Antonio. He believes Antonio to be a self-righteous Christian, “a fawning publican,” who is bad for business because he lends money without charging interest, undermining those who make their living that way. Not only that, Antonio openly opposes usury and “rails against our sacred nation.” Shylock takes Antonio’s actions and antisemitism as a personal insult that he does not plan to forgive.

After all this, Antonio ends up turning to Shylock for money to give to his friend Bassanio. When Shylock justifies charging interest by quoting the Bible, Antonio counters, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” Obviously Shylock is not easily inclined to lend him money with this attitude. He recounts the times Antonio called him “misbeliever, cut-throat dog,” spat on “Jewish gaberdine,” and kicked him. Shylock sarcastically asks what he should say to such a man:

'Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
You spurn'd me such a day; another time
You call'd me dog; and for these courtesies
I'll lend you thus much moneys'?

Shylock is so angry that he lends him the money at the cost of a pound of Antonio’s “fair flesh, to be cut off and taken / In what part of your body pleaseth me,” if he does not pay him back on time. He claims that he writes this “in a merry sport,” but Shylock’s hatred for Antonio is very real. When Antonio has shockingly bad luck with his money and Shylock’s daughter steals from him and runs off with a Christian, Shylock clings to the only thing he thinks he has: his bond. Shylock refuses to take money or listen to reason, endangering Antonio’s life and bringing about his own downfall, indicating that his feelings towards Antonio are very negative indeed.

Read the study guide:
The Merchant of Venice

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