The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

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In The Merchant of Venice, what is Shylock's motive for the bond with Antonio?

Quick answer:

Shylock sets up the bond between Antonio and himself because he hates Antonio and hopes to hurt him. Analysis of answer: It is not clear what Shylock's motive is. It may be that there is no motive, that Shylock does this because he is crazy or insane. Or it may be that he does this out of hatred for Antonio. It seems likely that the latter is true.

Expert Answers

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I assume that your question is asking why Shylock loans Antonio the money and why he makes this deal where the collateral will be a pound of Antonio's flesh.  If so, the motive is Shylock's hatred for Antonio.  Shylock is hoping that the ships will not come in and he will be able to hurt (and probably kill) Antonio.

As to why Shylock hates Antonio, that is less clear.  Shylock himself says various things.  He says that he hates Antonio because he is Christian.  He says he hates Antonio for lending money without charging for it.  He says he hates Antonio for no clear reason.  All of these may be true.  However, it seems likely that he hates Antonio because Antonio has treated him badly.  This is the most likely reason for Shylock to hate Antonio.  It is this hatred that causes him to set up the bond between Antonio and himself.

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