The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice
by William Shakespeare

Shylock Timeline and Summary

  • 1.3: Shylock discusses the possibility of lending Bassanio 3,000 ducats for three months. He seems to be thinking out loud to himself about whether he's willing to trade on Antonio's credit, but then announces Antonio is a good man.
  • 1.3: Shylock hears Bassanio take this the wrong way. He explains that all he meant by "good" is that Antonio is financially reliable. Shylock goes over all the ships Antonio will potentially have coming in soon and decides that, though it's on Antonio's credit, he'll lend Bassanio the money. Still, he wishes to speak with Antonio.
  • 1.3: Shylock rudely refuses Bassanio's invitation to dinner. He says he'll buy, sell, and talk with Christians, but he won't eat, drink, or pray with them.
  • 1.3: As Antonio approaches, Shylock delivers an aside explaining why he hates him. First, he says it's because Antonio is a Christian, but he goes on to explain that Antonio hurts him in his business by lending money free of interest. He also says Antonio hates Jewish people and never spares an opportunity to criticize Shylock and his method of lending with interest.
  • 1.3: Shylock continues in his aside. He doesn't have all the money to lend right now, but he can borrow it from his Jewish friend Tubal. When Antonio shows up, Shylock stops talking to himself and greets him politely.
  • 1.3: Shylock says he's willing to lend the money but brings up the fact that Antonio has always said he's against borrowing or lending with interest.
  • 1.3: Shylock tells the biblical story of Jacob and his Uncle Laban's sheep, where Jacob's thrift brought him a blessing of extra income. He says this illustrates that profit through shrewd business dealings is not a sin but rather a blessing, so long as one isn't stealing.
  • 1.3: Shylock begins to calculate what the interest would be on the sum but is cut off by Antonio.
  • 1.3: Shylock points out that the whole situation (that is, Antonio asking for a favor of sorts) is a little absurd. After all, Antonio has constantly berated him in the Rialto (where business is done) because of his method of lending with interest, though he has always borne the harassment patiently. Shylock then brings up the all the times Antonio has scorned him, spit on him, and even called him a dog. He finds it odd that Antonio would now come to borrow money from him. He wonders (facetiously) whether he should bend down and thank Antonio for all of his meanness. Should he not consider all past wrongdoings now that Antonio wants something from him?
  • 1.3: Shylock backtracks as Antonio points out that this is a business dealing, not about being friends. Shylock says he'd quite like to be friends with Antonio and put the past behind them. He'd even be willing to lend the money gratis – that is, without interest.
  • 1.3: Shylock explains the catch to his generosity. He'd like Antonio to go with him to a notary and "in a merry sport" sign away a pound of his own flesh, from whatever part of his body Shylock chooses, if he doesn't pay back the borrowed money on the date specified.
  • 1.3: Antonio insists that's really not necessary, but Shylock seems to sigh at him. He says Antonio shouldn't think he wishes any evil on him. He's a straight-shooter. Christians, on the other hand, are a suspicious lot because they behave so badly. Shylock points out that there's not much he can do with a pound of Antonio's flesh; it isn't a very valuable thing, after all, and it's certainly not worth as much as the flesh of lambs, cows, or goats.
  • 1.3: Antonio accepts the deal and Shylock tells him to meet him later at the notary's place. He's going back home to look after his house and gather all the money in for lending.
  • 2.5: Shylock chats with his former servant and clown, Lancelot. He says Lancelot will soon find out the difference between being in his service as opposed to Bassanio's.
  • 2.5: Jessica arrives and Shylock explains that he's received an invitation to go to dinner with some Christians – not out of love, but out of flattery. He'll attend the dinner, out of hate. He tells Jessica to look after the house while he's out, and adds that something wicked is surely brewing, as he dreamed of moneybags in the night, a definite bad sign.
  • 2.5: Shylock tells Jessica to lock up the doors and keep her head inside while the masque festivities are going on outside. Not only does he not want her going out, he doesn't even want the sound of the raucousness coming in. Though he says he's not in the mood to go a-feasting right now, he'll go anyway. Shylock sends Lancelot ahead of him to announce his arrival.
  • 2.5: Shylock almost hears Lancelot's directions to Jessica to look out for Lorenzo that night, but his daughter distracts him. Shylock comments obliviously that Lancelot is OK as far as people go, but he's lazy and sleeps too much. He says he doesn't mind losing him to Bassanio, especially as it will help Bassanio spend his borrowed money more quickly. On that note, Shylock is off to dinner. He reminds Jessica before he leaves to lock up the house, perhaps to prevent her and his stuff from being stolen or infected by marauding good-for-nothing Christians.
  • 3.1: Shylock runs into Salerio and Solanio just after he's received the news that Jessica has run away. They ask him for the latest gossip, and he says of course they know, better than anybody, that Jessica has run off.
  • 3.1: Shylock damns Jessica for her disobedience. He is shocked that his own flesh and blood would rebel against him.
  • 3.1: Shylock delivers some news he's heard: Antonio's ships are not doing so well, to the point that Antonio won't even be able to show his face at the Rialto. Shylock does the whole rub-his-hands-together-in-glee thing: the guy who used to publicly deride him is now indebted to him for a pound of flesh. Shylock keeps repeating that Antonio should look to his bond (that is, remember what he owes).
  • 3.1: Shylock says he'll find a use for Antonio's flesh – even if it's only as fish bait. The important thing, he says, is that Antonio's flesh will feed his desire for revenge, in particular for all the nastiness Antonio has displayed toward him and Jews in general. Shylock then delivers a passionate and beautiful speech about how Jews are human and experience the same ills and joys anyone else does. He says he's learned about revenge from the Christians, and now he's happy to go act on this lesson.
  • 3.1: Shylock meets with Tubal and asks what news there is from Genoa – specifically, if Tubal has found Jessica. Shylock then delivers a pretty awful speech where he rails against his daughter, not because of her personal desertion of him, but mostly because she took his money when she left. He wishes she were dead so he could pluck up his wealth from her coffin. Shylock feels he's getting the shaft; even searching for the girl has cost him money.
  • 3.1: Shylock is overjoyed to hear that Antonio's ventures are failing. But he goes right back to despairing about his daughter once he hears that she spent 80 ducats in one sitting in Genoa. His rage is then redirected to Antonio: Shylock asserts that the man will get no mercy from him. He'll happily plague and torture the indebted merchant.
  • 3.1: Shylock hears that Jessica traded his turquoise ring for a monkey. He bemoans that this is the ring Leah (presumably his dead wife) gave him when they were still courting. He says he wouldn't have given it up for an entire wilderness of monkeys.
  • 3.1: Shylock is determined to have Antonio's flesh, and comments that with this guy out of the way, he can bargain as he likes in the lending business. He tells Tubal to meet him at the synagogue later.
  • 3.3: In Venice, Shylock meets with Antonio and a jailer. He says he wants the jailer to look to Antonio immediately – he will hear nothing of mercy.
  • 3.3: Shylock brushes off Antonio's attempts to explain himself. He says he's sworn an oath to this bond, and now it's time to pay the piper. Referring to past grudges, he says Antonio once called him a dog, and now it's time to show his fangs. He continues to insist in this fashion that he won't be swayed by their arguments of "Christian mercy."
  • 4.1: Shylock speaks before the Duke and argues that the bond must be fulfilled or the city's laws will be shown to be worthless. He claims he doesn't need to justify his desire for Antonio's flesh; he just wants it, and that's that. He says he hates Antonio, and that should be enough of an answer.
  • 4.1: When Bassanio criticizes Shylock, he retorts that this is none of his business. It's not Shylock's job to please him. He argues that a man has a right to want to kill what he hates.
  • 4.1: Shylock insists that he won't take money, no matter how much, in repayment for the loan. What he's come for is his bond: Antonio's flesh.
  • 4.1: Shylock says he doesn't fear judgment because he hasn't done anything wrong. He points out that the men of Venice are all slave owners. Shylock is only using the same justification they do – his ownership of Antonio's flesh. In fact, he is even more justified than they are, since Antonio agreed to have his flesh purchased and the slaves didn't. He insists that if they don't follow through with his bond, it will render the law of Venice worthless.
  • 4.1: It looks like Shylock actually sharpens his knife. He says it's to cut the forfeiture from "that bankrupt there" (meaning Antonio).
  • 4.1: After Portia's big speech about mercy, Shylock asks her why on earth he should be merciful. He says he's willing to suffer for his deeds later – right now, he wants the law to deliver him his flesh.
  • 4.1: As it seems like Portia is coming around to Shylock's side, he praises her for her wisdom. Still, he continues to refuse her offers for multiples of the sum of the debt. He says "Balthazar" (Portia) is clearly a worthy judge, but he is just not going to settle for anything less than his whole bond.
  • 4.1: Shylock practically rejoices as Portia tells Antonio to ready himself for the knife. He praises Balthazar/Portia for being older and wiser than he/she appears.
  • 4.1: Shylock insists on sticking to the literal terms of the bond, which specified that the flesh had to come from next to Antonio's heart. He's got the scales as specified, and he refuses to provide a surgeon to stop Antonio from bleeding to death. That was not part of the agreement.
  • 4.1: Shylock wryly notes Bassanio and Graziano's offers of their wives for Antonio's freedom. He notes they are Christian husbands (implying that Jewish husbands would never do such a thing), and laments that his daughter was stolen by a Christian instead of married to an upstanding Jewish man. But then he reminds himself that these questions of marriage are just a distraction from the real issue.
  • 4.1: Shylock is shocked when Portia plays her ace: the contract didn't say anything about blood, and it's against the law for a Christian's blood to be spilt. Shylock is now in the position of having to defend himself. He quickly backpedals, offering to accept three times the bond and forget the whole matter.
  • 4.1: As the situation worsens, Shylock asks if he won't at least get back his original 3,000 ducats.
  • 4.1: Portia responds in the negative. Fine, Shylock says, he'll forget about his money and leave.
  • 4.1: After learning that the law intends to strip him of all his wealth, Shylock remarks that they might as well just kill him now. If he can't support himself, his life is worthless.
  • 4.1: Defeated, Shylock says simply that he is content with the terms: he will convert to Christianity and leave all his wealth (after his death) to his daughter and her good-for-nothing Christian husband.
  • 4.1: As Portia pours salt in his wounds, Shylock asks them to send him the deed willing away his goods to Jessica and Lorenzo. He'll sign it, but right now he'd just like to go.
Next Page: Antonio Timeline

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