Act I Scene II in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

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Act I Scene II in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare The overwhelming impression from Act I, scene iii, is of the tension between the two main characters, Shylock and Antonio. We learn that this tension is owing to the way Shylock has been treated by Antonio in the past, and yet in their verbal battles Shylock appears unable to take full advantage of Antonio needing his help and the unique power this should give him. Throughout this scene whenever Shylock wishes to rub in the change in their positions, Antonio sticks to his principles and resists, and it is Shylock who has to change tactics. However, at the close of the scene Shylock has succeeded in drawing Antonio into a deadly trap…show more content…
He starts off by being honest, spelling out that though he doesn't lend nor borrow money for interest, he will 'break a custom' to help his friend Bassanio (line 61). When Shylock will not give a direct answer and quotes the biblical story of Jacob to justify charging interest Antonio becomes sarcastic, he calls him 'sir' and mocks him by asking 'is your gold and silver ewes and rams?' (lines 88; 92). With Shylock's crude joke about these breeding Antonio interrupts him with an angry insult 'The devil can cite Scripture' and says he is 'like a villain' (lines 95; 97). After Shylock rubs in that Antonio 'now appears' to 'need my help' (line 111) and lists Antonio's past insults, Antonio appears to lose patience. He naively tells Shylock nothing will change and he should lend him the money as an 'enemy' and then 'Exact the penalty' (lines 132; 134). Finally, Antonio again naively agrees to Shylock's bond despite Bassanio's warnings. He listens instead to Shylock and is deceived by his claims of 'friendship' and even that 'The Hebrew will turn Christian' (lines 165;175). This is proved by his farewell to Shylock 'Hie thee, gentle Jew' (line 174). This change to a positive attitude towards Shylock is perhaps owing to the fact that he has succeeded in getting the loan to help his friend Bassanio. His judgement seems clouded because despite Shylock listing
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