Bassanio, needing money to woo Portia, heiress of Belmont, asks his friend Antonio for a loan. With no ready funds and all his ships at sea, Antonio seeks out a Jewish moneylender. Shylock, who hates the merchant for his Christian contempt of usury, proposes a 'merry bond' by which, if the money is not repaid within three months, he may take a pound of Antonio's flesh; foolishly Antonio agrees.
Set in the most celebrated and multi-cultural mercantile city of Renaissance Europe. The Merchant of Venice compares the Christian, Judaic and Hermetic traditions of 16th century Italy and England and weighs them in the balance.