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144900014490001449000144900014490001449000144900014490001449000144900014490001449000144900014490001The play as the title suggests is set in Italy Venice in the popular imagination of Elizabethan society was a place of fabulous wealth royal merchants richly attired gentlemen and refined culture Antonio is very much a part of this society But this is not the only part of the Venetian picture that is portrayed in the play another less romantic view is also given It is the cruel commercial and legal side of Venice where ships are sunk at sea fortunes are won and lost moneylenders haggle for increased interest on the loans needed by businessmen and the law is interpreted literally without mercy In contrast to this business-like picture of Venice Belmont is the ideal romantic world filled with music happiness harmony and love It is here that Portia lives and where Bassanio and Gratanio come to find happiness 2MAJOR CHARACTERS Antonio - a merchant of Venice He is a model Christian gentleman He is esteemed and loved by his many friends though his outward appearance is sad His dignity and generosity have earned him many admirers A philosophical man he is tired of frivolous activities and tends to be reflective His early cruelty towards Shylock is partly evened out by the mercy he later shows the man He has every desired virtue of nobility Shylock - a Jewish moneylender in Venice He is shown as being oppressed by his private torments The times have him constantly humiliated and scorned He hates all Christians and the feeling is mutual His vengeful temperament leads him to seek the life of Antonio He is ultimately trapped by the law which is used against him In the end he is a betrayed father and a despised citizen Bassanio - a beloved friend of Antonio
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