Why does Shylock nurse a grudge against Antonio in The Merchant of Venice?

Expert Answers

Want to remove ads?

Get ad-free questions with an eNotes 48-hour free trial.

Try It Free No Thanks
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shylock is a Jewish usurer who makes profits on his loans, so he resents the merchant Antonio, who lends money interest-free to people, which undercuts Shylock.

How like a fawning publican he looks!
I hate him for he is a Christian,
But more for that in low simplicity
He lends out money gratis and brings down
The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
If I can catch him once upon the hip,
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him (Act I, Scene 3, lines 41-47).

As a Jew in Venice, Shylock is restricted to a certain area of the city called the ghetto, a crowded neighborhood where all Jews are required to live. During the Renaissance, Jews were perceived as a threat to Christians, so they were isolated in this city. There was also resentment toward their skills in medicine and banking, so they were prevented from entering such fields. As a result, Shylock is resentful because he feels he could rise much higher in Venetian society if he were not prohibited from certain opportunities and places, avenues open to someone like Antonio.

Read the study guide:
The Merchant of Venice

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question