Shylock, the Jew : Money lender and very cruel man in Venice
: Merchant of Venice , a very kind hearted man
: A good friend of Antonio
: A rich heiress , lives in Belmont
: waiting maid of Portia
: Son in law of Shylock
: Name of Portia when she acted as a male counsellor in disguise
Shylock,the Jew lived in Venice. He does money lending business and amassed an immense fortune. Shylock exacted his money with such severity that every one disliked him. Antonio is a merchant of Venice, a very kind hearted man, lends money to the people who are in distress and takes no interest. He is very kind, beloved by all the citizens. Hence he is much disliked by Shylock who secretly meditated to take revenge on Antonio.
Bassanio, a noble venetian is a good friend of Antonio. Bassanio has nearly spent all the money received from his parents. Antonio, being a friend assisted him with money whenever he needed. One day Bassanio told Antonio, that he loved one lady who has inherited large fortune from her father who has died recently and that he wants to marry her. But has no money to approach her properly, in good dress and to give good presents and he needs 3000 ducats for that. Antonio has no money with him at that time but as he is expecting his ships to arrive in short time. He told Bassanio that he will take loan from Shylock and give him.
Both of them approached Shylock and Antonio asked for a loan of 3000 ducats. Shylock thought this is the correct occasion when he can take revenge on Antonio. Shylock is ready to lend the money without interest if Antonio enters into a bond that if he did not repay the money by a certain day, he would forfeit a pound of flesh, to be cut off from any part of his body that Shylock pleased. Though Bassanio objects to this condition, Antonio thinking that his ships will return by that day enters into the bond.
Bassanio with this money went to Belmont with lot of followers and attended by a gentleman called Gratiano. Bassanio confessed to Portia that he had no fortune but a noble ancestry and a high birth. Portia says that she got a lot of fortune and wants a good hearted, noble man like Bassanio and agrees to marry him and gives a ring as present. Bassanio vowed never to part with it. Gratiano and Nerissa, the lady in waiting of Portia also wants to marry. Portia has agreed for their marriage.
At that moment, a messenger has come with a letter from Antonio, saying that all his ships were lost, his bond to Shylock is forfeited, he has to die as Shylock takes the flesh and wanted Bassanio to be by his side at that time.
Bassanio explained to Portia that his friend Antonio at the cost of life has lent him the money and he is now to die as he has not repaid within time. Portia sends Bassanio to Venice by giving lots of money and asks to plead with Shylock to take whatever money he wants and release Antonio. Portia immediately married Bassanio saying that the marriage will give lawful right to him on the properties of Portia. After Bassanio has left, Portia thinks to go to Venice with her maid. She takes the advise of her friend, Bellario a good counselor and reaches Venice in a male counselor clothes on the day of the trial.
The cause was just going to be heard before the duke of Venice and senators in the senate. Portia in disguise as a male counselor is defending Antonio. She told Shylock that he has got every right as per law of Venice to execute the bond but requested him to show mercy and take instead whatever money he wants . Shylock only answered her by desiring to have the penalty forfeited in the bond. Bassanio offered to take payment as many times as the Jew wanted. Portia said that laws once established must never be altered. Portia said to Shylock a pound of Antonio's flesh is thine. The law allows it, and the court awards it. You get ready to cut the pound of flesh from his breast. When Shylock is ready with his knife, Portia said , this bond here gives you no drop of blood: the words expressly are a pound of flesh, not a pinch extra nor less. If a drop of blood comes, your lands and goods are by law to be confiscated to the state of Venice. Shylock having defeated in his foul act agreed to take the money. Portia again said Jew, by the laws of Venice your wealth is forfeited to the state, for having conspired against the life of one of its citizens and your life lies at the mercy of duke.
The duke proclaimed that he is pardoning his life but half his wealth goes to Antonio and other half comes to the state. Antonio said that he will give up his half share if Shylock promises to give that to his daughter who married Lorenzo against his wish. Shylock agreed. The court is closed. The duke offered the young counselor to have dinner with him, but she politely refused as she wanted to reach Belmont before Bassanio. As per the advise of the duke, Bassanio offered Portia 3000 ducats or more. But she has not accepted but asked him to give the ring that he is wearing. As Bassanio has promised to Portia not to part with the ring at any cost, he asked to take any thing but the ring. But she does not agree. Hence on the word of Antonio, he gives the ring to Portia who is in the disguise of young counselor. Nerissa who also gave her ring to Gratiano asked for it and he gave it to her.
After returning to their home, Portia and Nerissa waited for Antonio and Bassanio. When they returned during discussions Nerissa asked Gratiano for the ring and as he said that he gave it to the clerk , Portia asked Bassanio for the ring and he said that he gave it to the young counselor. Portia, hearing this seemed very angry , and reproached Bassanio for giving away the ring. After reproaching Bassanio for some time she gave the ring to him and Bassanio recognized it and Portia that she is the young counselor and Nerissa her clerk. Meanwhile it has come to be known that the ships of Antonio were not lost but have reached the port safely and he again became very rich.
Thus the drama of Merchant of Venice ended on a very happy note.