The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

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How do Antonio and Shylock feel about each other's religions in act 1, scene 3 of The Merchant of Venice?

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Antonio, in contrast to his warm and generous feelings toward Bassanio, feels hatred and contempt for Shylock's being a Jew. We learn from his conversation with Shylock that Antonio has a history of speaking in a cruel and derogatory way toward Shylock. He's even spit on Shylock. As Shylock notes:

Signor Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances.
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog,
And spet upon my Jewish gaberdine.
Shylock also notes that Antonio has kicked him and humiliated him, as well as called him a dog.
Antonio doesn't deny Shylock's words or offer any apology for the treatment, stating that he will probably do it again:
I am as like to call thee so again,
To spet on thee again, to spurn thee too.
If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
As to thy friends, for when did friendship take
A breed for barren metal of his friend?
But lend it rather to thine enemy,
Who, if he break, thou mayst with better face
Exact the penalty.
Antonio makes it clear that he considers Shylock an enemy and holds him in contempt for charging interest on a loan. The loan he wants from Shylock is nothing more than an unpleasant business deal.
Shylock has earlier expressed his hatred of Antonio, both for Antonio's being a Christian and for Antonio's lending money for free ("gratis"), rather than charging interest. He says that Antonio's loans lower the interest rates he can charge. He also says that he has a long-lasting grudge against Antonio:
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.
Shylock later says he would do his whole Jewish tribe wrong if he didn't attempt to get revenge on Antonio.
In this scene, Shakespeare shows how deeply the animosity between the two men runs. We also see tribalism at work here. Antonio is kind within his own tribe of fellow Christians but takes out his aggressions in cruel ways against the Jewish Shylock, merely for being ethnically different. We can understand why Shylock would feel rage at his abuser.
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It is clear that there is little love lost on both sides of this relationship. Clearly Shakespeare intends Shylock to be a representative of the Jews, and likewise, to Shylock, Antonio becomes a representative of Christianity and the way that it has consistently mistreated Jews down through the ages. Note what Antonio says to Bassanio after Shylock tells the story about Jacob:

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

An evil soul producing holy witness

Is like a villain with a smiling cheek...

He goes on to say to Shylock that he should lend the money to "thine enemy" rather than to his friend.

Shylock is even more overt about his feelings towards Antonio. Note how, as he watches Antonio draw near, he says, in an aside:

I hate him for he is a Christian.

He plans immediately to "feel fat the ancient grudge I bear him" and somehow to get his own back for the way that he lends money without charging interest and also for the personal wrongs that Antonio has committed against him.

In this scene, therefore, Shakespeare introduces us to the main conflict of the play and we can see its roots and its development in the "merry bond" that Shylock proposes and Antonio accepts.

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