Synopsis of Act 1 Scene 3 of The Merchant Of Venice by William Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice Act 1 (Scene 3) Plot Summary with Word Meanings

Again, the scene shifts to a public place in Venice. The audience is brought back to the world of business and hard talk. Shylock, one of the most complex characters in English Literature, is introduced here. The scene completes the exposition that started with the bond story when Antonio agrees to Shylock's demand of a pound of flesh.

Bassanio meets Shylock and asks for a loan of three thousand ducats on Antonio's credit. Shylock considers that since Antonio's riches are at the mercy of the sea, he's a good man' and if fortune wills, he can make some money. When Bassanio invites him to dine with Antonio, Shylock refuses as it's his principle not to dine with Christians.

Antonio makes his appearance and at the very sight of the merchant Shylock is filled with loath. Antonio has always criticized him for taking interest on the money lent. Many a time Antonio has insulted the Jew, spat on him and called him a dog. Shylock considers it as a good opportunity to take his revenge against the Christians. So he says, he wants Antonio's friendship and will advance the money without interest. But he wants to make the transaction a 'merry sport' and a penalty clause is to be inserted by way of a bond. If Antonio is unable to repay the borrowed money, Shylock would cut a pound of flesh from any part of his body. Bassanio is worried about Shylock's intentions, but Antonio expresses his happiness as the usurer is turning into a Christian. Antonio is confident that his ship's cargo will be sold by that time, and he will be able to settle the debt.

Word - Meanings

ducats - Venetian gold coins,
be bound - will stand as guarantee,
stead - supply,
imputation - allegation,
in supposition - at risk,
argosy - merchant ship,
Rialto - Venetian Stock Exchange,
squandered - scattered lavishly,
bethink – think it over,
fawning - servile,
publican - tax collector,
gratis – free of interest,
bethink - think it over,
sacred nation - Jewish tribe,
rails - abuses,
congregate - gather,
bargains - business deals,
debating - calculating,
present store - ready money,
gross – full amount,
Hebrew - Jew,
furnish - supply,
albeit - although,
excess - interest,
ripe - pressing,
wrought - schemed,
third possessor - third in line of possession,
compromis'd - agreed,
eanlings - new born lambs,
streak'd and pied - with fleeces of two colours,
thrive - succeed,
thrift - profit,
swayed and fashioned - controlled and shaped,
holy witness – biblical arguments,
goodly - pleasant,
beholding - indebted,
rated - abused,
usances - money deals,
sufferance - long suffering,
badge - characteristic,
gabardine - loose cloak,
void your rheum - spit,
cur - stray dog,
bondman's key - like a bond man in the tone of a slave,
bated breath - holding breath in a suppressed manner,
spurn'd - rejected,
exact - take,
doit - interest,
notary - lawyer for drawing up contracts,
nominated - named,
forfeiture - penalty,
adieu - good-bye,
merry bond - a pleasant joke,
unthrifty knave - irresponsible servant,
dismay - reason for anxiety.

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