What is the significance of the bond in The Merchant of Venice?I understand the reasons for why the bond was made, and I know it is significant.........but how?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The bond or the "pound of flesh" that Shylock traps Antonio into pledging as security for his loan is very significant to the play. Crucially, it highlights the closeness of two of the central relationships of two of the play, whilst at the same time exposing Shylock's pedantic rigidity to the law.

It is clearly significant that Antonio agrees to pledge his actual flesh as security for his love of Bassanio: there relationship is so close and so strong that they are almost one. Likewise after Jessica has run away with Lorenzo, Shylock's fixation and desire on collecting the bond only increases: it is if he is trying to compensate for losing his own flesh - his daughter - by taking the flesh of his enemy. Particularly in the court scene we can see him almost working himself into a frenzy by saying "My bond, I shall have my bond!"

Secondly, the bond, or the pound of flesh, highlights an aspect of Shylocks character. Shylock is obsessed by numerical calucations which he turns to to analyse even the most serious situations. Shylock is very precise and exact in his demands for a pound of flesh. Wheras other characters show their nature in descriptive metaphors and long verse, Shylock shows his nature in his mathematical brain.

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The Merchant of Venice

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