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Characters

Meet the Cast

Shylock

How to Play ShylockShylock is a Jewish moneylender, father to Jessica, enemy to Antonio, and one of the most complex characters of The Merchant of Venice – and arguably of all of Shakespeare's wo...

Antonio

Antonio is a rich Venetian merchant, Bassanio's BFF, Shylock's archenemy, and the guy who puts up a pound of flesh as collateral so Bassanio can borrow money in order to woo Portia in style....

Portia

Before we even meet Portia, we hear about how desirable she is: "In Belmont is a lady richly left, / And she is fair" (1.2.4). Translation: Portia is rich AND hot, which makes her the most eligibl...

Bassanio

Bassanio is Antonio's best pal and the lucky guy who lands Portia, the richest and cutest girl in Belmont. The thing to know about Bassanio is that he loves his lavish lifestyle, but he's really b...

Jessica

Jessica is Shylock's only daughter. She breaks her dad's heart by running off to marry a Christian (Lorenzo) and helps herself to her dad's ducats and some treasured family heirlooms. Being Shylo...

Lorenzo

Lorenzo is pals with Antonio and Bassanio. More important, however, he's the guy who hits the jackpot when he elopes with Jessica. Remember how Jessica loaded herself up with her dad's ducats and...

Graziano (a.k.a. Gratiano)

Graziano is a friend of Antonio and Bassanio. He's also quite the party animal. When Bassanio travels to Belmont to win Portia, Graziano wants to tag along, but Bassanio warns him to behave himse...

Nerissa

Nerissa is Portia's woman in waiting (read: her sidekick). At the beginning of the play, she acts as a sounding board to Portia. She listens to Portia complain about her life and the unfairness o...

The Duke of Venice

The Duke of Venice is, well, the Duke of Venice. His role in the play is to uphold the law, which is why Shylock (so we're told) goes running to him after Jessica robs him blind (2.8.1) and when h...

Lancelot

Lancelot is a clown and a servant – first Shylock's and then Bassanio's. Like all Shakespearean clown figures, Lancelot's job is to fool around, make smart-alecky comments, and bag on all the ot...
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