The Merchant of Venice Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Start Your Free Trial

Why did Antonio go to Shylock and borrow money from him?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write10,629 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Antonio is a very close friend to Bassanio. Bassanio needs money to woo Portia as his bride. Bassanio knows Antonio is a rich merchant and is very attached to him, so he asks him for a loan.

Unfortunately, all of Antonio's assets are tied up in three merchant ships that are out at sea, bringing in cargos that Antonio can sell at a handsome profit. But right now, he is illiquid or cash poor. He simply doesn't have the money at the moment to help his friend.

Therefore, he goes to Shylock, the moneylender, for a loan. Jews were the moneylenders in those days, as Christians were not allowed to charge interest on loans. Antonio knows Shylock resents him for insulting him (Shylock) for being a Jew, but Antonio needs money. When Shylock demands a pound of flesh if the repayment is not made on time, Antonio agrees. He reasons that there is very little chance that all three of his ships will be lost at sea. Therefore, he assumes he will have the cash to pay back the loan when the time comes.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Madelyn Truitt eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write926 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Shylock the moneylender and merchant is known as someone who doesn't charge unreasonable interest for lending money. Antonio goes to him despite his personal dislike for Shylock. But Antonio wants to help Bassanip, who has asked Antonio for a loan because his own financial hardships have drained his accounts. Bassanio wants the money so that he can woo Portia, a wealthy noblewoman who is allowing suitors to try their hand at guessing from among three caskets for the chance to win her hand in marriage. Antonio cares deeply for Bassanio (it is hinted that he may harbor romantic feelings for him or at least jealousy of Bassanio's interest in Portia) and so does what he can to help by borrowing the money from Shylock.

 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial