Act 1 Scene 1
- Antonio is depressed. He is a merchant with ships at sea.
- He has many friends; Salerio, Solanio, Bassanio, Gratiano and Lorenzo
- Gratiano tries to cheer him up
- Bassanio wants to marry a rich heirress in Belmont, Portia. He needs to borrow money from Antonio to compete with the other suitors,
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Act 1 Scene 2
- Portia talks to Nerissa about her dissatisfaction with the selection of suitors:a Neopolitan prince, a County Palatine, Falconbridge - a young baron of England, a Scottish lord,a young German who is the Duke of Saxony's nephew and Prince of Morroco is on his way.
- We learn that her late father left a choice of 3 caskets, Gold, Silver and Lead, which will determine who she marries.
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Act 1 Scene 3
- Bassanio asks a Jewish moneylender, Shylock, to lend Antonio three thousand ducats for three months. Shylock says he would buy with Christians, sell with them, talk with them, walk with them but not eat with them, drink with them or pray with them.
- Antonio spits on Shylock, calls him cur and infedel. Shylock is undertably very angry about this and wants revenge so makes the forfeit of the bond a pound of Antonio's flesh.
- Bassanio does not want Antonio to agree to the bond but he assures him that his ships will come back in with 'thrice three times the value of this bond', 'a month before the day'
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Act 2 Scene 1
- The Prince of Morocco is about to try his luck at the caskets to marry Portia. He must pick the correct one or he is not allowed to marry another woman again. He thinks she does not want to marry him because of his dark skin, but she says he is 'as fair as any other comer I have looked on yet for my affection.'
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Act 2 Scene 2
- Lancelot Gobbo is having an internal argument over whether or not to leave Shylock and find work elsewhere. He tells his father that he is 'famished in his service: you may tell every finger I have with my ribs'.
- He teases his father pretending that he is not his son, Old Gobbo, as he is blind and does not recognize him. It is comical and lighthearted to break up from the serious plot.
- Lancelot gets Old Gobbo to ask Bassanio if he may work for him. Bassanio says yes and Lancelot then has to tell Shylock of the news of his depature.
- Gratiano asks Bassanio if he may come to Belmont with him. Bassanio says he is too loud and wild and if he wants to come he must prove himself by behaving at the evening's dinner party. Gratiano complains that he wants to have fun tonight and Bassanio agrees that he has 'friends that purpose merriment' so would rather Gratiano 'put on his boldest suit of mirth'.
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Act 2 Scene 3
- Jessica, Shylock' is mortified that Lancelot is leaving to work for Bassanio. She tells him that he 'didst rob the house of some taste of tediousness'. She gives him a ducat and says farewell.
- Lancelot cries and claims it 'drowns my manly spirit'.
- Jessica tells the audience she is 'ashamed to be my father's child'. She wants to 'become a Christian' and Lorenzo's 'loving wife.'
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Act 2 Scene 4
- Lorenzo, Gratiano, Solerio and Solanio are organizing how they can rescue Jessica from her house. Lancelot delivers a letter from her to Lorenzo. He goes to invite Shylock to dinner, so that they house is empty when Jessica escapes.
- She has told Lorenzo she plans to steal from her father, saying she is 'furnished with' 'gold and jewels'. He tells Lancelot, 'she hath directed how I shall take her from her father's house'. They shall run away together to get married.
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Act 2 Scene 5
- Shylock appears pleased Lancelot is leaving as he says he 'gormandizes' and 'sleeps and snores'.
- He tells Jessica he 'dreamt of money-bags' last night which he worries about.
- He accepts the invitation to dinner with Bassanio and friends but tells Jessica to 'look to the house' and that she must 'clamber not to the casements' 'nor thrust' her 'head into the public street to gaze on Christian fools'.
- When Shylock leaves, Jessica says to herself that if her fortune 'be not crost', she will lose he father and he will lose a daughter.
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Act 2 Scene 6
- Salerio and Gratiano laugh about Lorenzo being late to run away with Jessica
- Lorenzo, in his masque, comes to rescue Jessica who is disguised as a boy.
- Bassanio is ready to embark on the journey to Belmont with Gratiano.
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Act 2 Scene 7
- Prince of Morroco chooses from the caskets.
- Gold's inscription says 'Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire'
- Silver's inscription says 'Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves'
- Lead's inscription says 'Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath'
- Morocco claims Portia's portrait could only be in the gold casket, 'an angel in a golden bed' but he is wrong. All that is in the casket is a rotting corpse and a manuscript that says image is not everything. He must depart, 'to take a tedious leave, thus losers part'.
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Act 2 Scene 8
- Solario and Solanio laugh about Shylock losing Jessica and his ducats claiming he ran down the street shouting 'my daughter! Oh my ducats! Oh my daughter!'
- Salerio heard from a Frenchman that a ship has sunk in the English Channel and they resolve to tell Antonio, lest it were one of his.
- When they had parted, Antonio had cried and shook Bassanio's hand. Solanio says that Antonio 'only loves the world for' Bassanio.
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Act 2 Scene 9
- Prince of Arragon comes to choose his casket.He has had to take an oath that, if he fails to choose the right casket, he will 'never unfold to any one which casket 'twas I chose', 'nerver in my life to woo a maid in a way of marriage' and 'immediately leave you and be gone'
- He picks Silver because he believes everyone should get what they deserve; 'Let none presume to wear an undeserved dignity.'
- He is wrong.
- Portia is relieved. Her servant enters and says they have not seen 'as likely an ambassador of love' than the 'young Venician' who is at the gate. Nerissa says, 'Bassanio, lord Love, if they will it be!'
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Act 3 Scene 1
- Solario and Solanio mock Shylock for his daughter having run away with his money.
- Shylock is angry and vengeful. He says his 'if you pr1ck us do we not bleed' speech, outlining the fact Jews and just the same as Christians and wonders why they must be treated so differently. He wants revenge for his daughter running away.
- Tubal, Shylock's Jewish friend, comes to tell him that Antonio's ships have run aground. Shylock is pleased. He also tells him of Jessica spending fourscore ducats in one sitting and giving away Shylock's late wife's ring for a monkey. Shylock is angry and goes to find an officer who can arrest Antonio, ready to give his forfeit. He tells Tubal he would rather Jessica were dead than had run away with his money and marry a Christian.
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Act 3 Scene 2
- Bassanio chooses the correct casket, lead, for he believes ad things are often covered up with an attractive facade. Portia is thrilled.
- Gratiano becomes engaged to Nerissa.
- Bassanio hears news that Antonio is to pay Shylock's forfeit. Portia tells him he must go to help his friend, giving him the money to settle the bond saying to him, 'never shall you lie by Portia's side with an unquiet soul'
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Act 3 Scene 3
- Antonio is arrested and Shylock insists he must have his bond, unwilling to listen to his pleas.
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Act 3 Scene 4
- Lorenzo commends Portia for her faithfulness to Bassanio.
- She says it is a small price to save a good friend of his but quickly changes the subject, worrying she sounds like she is 'praising of' herself.
- She asks Lorenzo to take care of the house while she and Nerissa go to a nunnery whilst their husbands are away.
- She tells Nerissa they will 'see their husbands before they think of them', but they will be dressed as men.
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Act 3 Scene 5
- Lancelot tells Jessica he hopes Shylock is not her real father as otherwise his sins will be 'laid upon her children'.
- Lorenzo says he is jealous of Lancelot spending so much time with her but she says they are not friends because of what he said to her.
- Lancelot makes jokes when Lorenzo tells him to prepare the dinner.
- Jessica and Lorenzo flirt with eachother on the way to dinner.
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Act 4 Scene 1
- In the court room, The Duke of Venice and Bassanio beg mercy of Shylock. Antonio tells them to give up, it is pointless to argue with him. They 'may as well go stand upon the beach and bid the main flood bate his usual height'.
- Portia and Nerissa enter dressed as the judge and his clerk. Portia also begs mercy of Shylock but he will not take anything but the bond since he has 'an oath in heaven'.
- Portia says that as it is not in the bond, Antonio must not lose a drop of blood and that the flesh must be exactly a bond or 'thy lands and goods are by the laws of Venice confiscate unto the state of Venice'. Shylock agrees at this point to take the money but Portia says he shall 'have nothing but the penalty'.
- He attempts to leave and Portia tells him that because he tried to kill a Venician citizen he must have his goods 'seized' and he must face the death penalty. Antonio decides that instead, Shylock must become a Christian and give one half of his money to Lorenzo and Jessica and the other half Antonio will keep.
- Bassanio and Gratiano are persuaded by the 'judge' and 'clerk' and also by Antonio to give their wedding rings to the 'men', not realising the pair actually are their wives.
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Act 4 Scene 2
- Gratiano runs after Portia, still dressed as the judge, and gives her Bassanio's ring.
- Nerissa tells Portia she will get her ring off her husband too.
- Shylock must sign the documents that say he must give his money to Lorenzo and Jessica.
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Act 5 Scene 1 (1)
- Lorenzo and Jessica exchange romantic words, commenting on the beauty of the night. The compare themselves to famous couples such as Troilus and Cressida.
- They prepare the house for Portia's return.
- Lancelot comes with good news for Bassanio.
- Jessica says that the sweet music makes her not merry. Lorenzo says that it is not the music making her unhappy, even the most savage beast could be calmed by music, referencing her conversion to Christianity from Judaism, often portrayed as 'savage'. He says that a man who does not like music is 'fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils', alluding to the Shylock's dislike of music.
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Act 5 Scene 1 (2)
- Portia comments on how the moonlight blocked out the candlelight of her house. She says that 'greater glory dim the less' and that a deputy may look regal until a king comes along and his status is diminished. Possibly a reference to Bassanio and his bright light, despite him not being like the other suitors who were rich and in a higher class.
- She also compares him to the wren having just as good a voice as the nightingale in the right setting.
- Nerissa pretends to be annoyed with Gratiano for giving away his ring. He undermines it, talking down it's value and she accuses him of giving it to a woman. Portia says her husband would never do that but of course he has. They pretend they slept with the doctor and clerk to obtain the ring but admit they are only joking later.
- Antonio's ships come in loaded with gold
- Lorenzo learns of his new fortune from Shylock.
- All is well.
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