The beautiful Portia has many suitors within Venetian society, among them the young nobleman Bassanio, who has squandered his fortune. Desperate to win Portia’s heart, Bassanio borrows money from Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, and turns to Antonio, a wealthy merchant who has helped him in the past, to guarantee the loan. Shylock agrees, only with harsh terms—if Antonio does not repay the loan by the due date, Shylock will take a pound of Antonio’s flesh.
Known as “The Bard of Avon,” William Shakespeare is arguably the greatest English-language writer known. Enormously popular during his life, Shakespeare’s works continue to resonate more than three centuries after his death, as has his influence on theatre and literature. Shakespeare’s innovative use of character, language, and experimentation with romance as tragedy served as a foundation for later playwrights and dramatists, and some of his most famous lines of dialogue have become part of everyday speech.
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