The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice – Act III Scene 3 Summary

Plot Summary / The Story-line

In Venice Antonio is allowed to leave jail accompanied with his jailer. He wishes to talk with Shylock and request for mercy. But Shylock refuses to listen to him. While Antonio urges Shylock to let him speak he says, “I’ll have my bond”.

Shylock wants to take revenge because Antonio lent out money without charging interest and caused loss to his money-lending business. Moreover, Antonio openly called him a dog, insulted him before others. So, he insists that justice is carried out according to the term of the agreement.

Solanio hopes that the duke does not execute this cruel bond. But Antonio knows the duke of Venice will judge according to the law. Venice is a universal city of business. If the duke disregards the law, it will threaten the security of all foreign merchants in Venice.

He must pay his debt according to his contract. He knows very well that Shylock will take his life and the law can not save him. He is also ready to die. But he wishes that Bassanio arrives to see him – “Pray God Bassanio come / To see me pay his debt, and then I care not”.

Commentary on Act III, Scene 3

Here the action of the bond plot reaches towards its climax. Shylock has uttered the word “bond” several times. It indicates his obsession. Shakespeare shows us how cruel Shylock is. He also vexes us and keeps us in suspense; will Shylock be satisfied with Portia’s money, double the sum?

The audience here finds it difficult to sympathise with Shylock. Though the harsh treatment of the Christians has forced Shylock to be so cruel and merciless, his pursuit for a pound of flesh is not acceptable in any sense.

The contrast between Shylock and Antonio is highlighted in this scene. We see Antonio’s righteous and generous nature on more than one occasion. He does not support the idea that Shylock should be denied the execution of his bond. He also has no complaint against anyone for this situation. He is ready to die if mercy is not shown. But his only wish is to see Bassanio before his death. It shows his strong love for Bassanio. But this love is romantic or platonic is not clear.

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