When Shylock proposes a "merry bond" isn't he trying to trick the Christians by appearing to speak their language?When Shylock proposes a "merry bond" (1.3.169) isn't he trying...

When Shylock proposes a "merry bond" isn't he trying to trick the Christians by appearing to speak their language?

When Shylock proposes a "merry bond" (1.3.169) isn't he trying to trick the Christians by appearing to speak their language--a language of forgiveness of debts, a language that seems to him to make "sport" of the law and bonds and contracts?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You are right in your analysis.  Shylock is a shrewd businessman, and that is why he is willing to enter into the bond with Antonio--his enemy--in the first place.  He is sure that Antonio is wagering too recklessly on the success of his investments and that he will be able to collect on his macabre contract.

Shylock also uses the "Christian" language because he has made a living off of knowing how to deal with and talk to Christians.  After all, the majority of his customers are Christians because he is limited to what he can do for a living and because their "friends in the faith" are forbidden to practice usury.  More specifically, Shylock stresses "merry" because he needs Antonio to see the wager as harmless and humorous.  Shylock's unnaturally jovial attitude in this scene should have been a warning to Antonio, but instead it serves Shylock's purpose of convincing Antonio to seal the deal.

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The Merchant of Venice

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