In The Merchant of Venice in Act 2, Scene 5, why does Shylock accept the invitation to dinner? On what grounds did Shylock refuse to accept an invitation to dinner earlier in the play?
Give the significance of the word prodigal.
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Shylock refused to go and dine with Bassanio and Antonio earlier on in the play because he stated that it was impossible for Jews and Christians to dine together because of the various religious differences that they have. Here, in this scene, it is clear that Shylock has changed his mind now that he has made a deal with Bassanio and Antonio and agreed to lend them money. It is obvious, however, that his change of mind has nothing whatsoever to do with politeness as the following quote describes:
I am bid forth to supper, Jessica:
There are my keys. But wherefore should I go?
I am not bid for love; they flatter me:
But yet I'll go in hate, to feed upon
The prodigal Christian.
Shylock recognises that he is invited not out of "love," but only because they desire to "flatter" him because he is the one lending them money. He determines therefore to go "in hate," so that he can benefit from the "prodigal" or wasteful Christians that he despises so much. For a moneylender such as Shylock, who is so careful with his money, he cannot understand by Christians are so wasteful. His act of going to dinner with Bassanio is therefore something he does out of hatred, determined to profit from the Christians and their prodigal and wasteful ways.
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