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The Merchant of Venice Characters

Meet the Cast

Shylock

(Click the character infographic to download.) How to Play ShylockIt's a twist on "don't hate the player; hate the game." Don't hate the actor that plays Shylock, hate (or, hey, maybe love) the way...

Antonio

(Click the character infographic to download.) 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 borro...

Portia

(Click the character infographic to download.) Before we even meet Portia, we hear about how desirable she is: "In Belmont is a lady richly left, / And she is fair" (1.2.168-169). Translation: Por...

Bassanio

(Click the character infographic to download.) 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...

Jessica

(Click the character infographic to download.) 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...

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) and when he...

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 othe...
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