| Quote #4
O my Antonio, had I but the means
Bassanio thinks Portia is the answer to his financial problems, but he's worried that he's too broke to court her. (Apparently, dating in the 16th century was pretty expensive, and Bassanio doesn't think ordering off the dollar menu is an option when you're trying to hook up with an heiress.) If only there were a solution to poor Bassanio's problem....
| Quote #5
Thou know'st that all my fortunes are at sea;
Wow, the wealthy Antonio sure does love his BFF. Here he says he'd loan Bassanio the money he needs to woo Portia in style, but he can't because all his dough is tied up "at sea." As an alternative, Antonio says Bassanio can use his (Antonio's) good credit in order to secure a loan. (Basically, Antonio's going to be a kind of co-signer.) This is a really generous and risky offer for Antonio to make because, as we know, Bassanio is terrible at managing his money, which is why he's always sponging off his friend.
| Quote #6
Here Shylock says he hates Antonio because the guy is 1) a Christian and 2) he lends out money free of interest, which has a negative impact on Shylock's money-lending biz. As we know, one of the biggest bones of contention between Christians and Jews in this play is the practice of usury (lending out money and charging interest). The Christian characters think it's wrong to charge interest and make money off of loans, which is a reflection of 16th century English attitudes about usury.
The Church believed that interest should never be charged when one Christian loaned money to another Christian. This idea comes from Deuteronomy 23:19-23: "You shall not lend upon interest to your brother, interest on money, interest on victuals, interest on anything that is lent for interest. To a foreigner, you may lend upon interest, but to your brother, you shall not lend upon interest." Christians in England were allowed, however, to borrow money (with interest) from foreigners. Since Jews were classified as "foreigners" in England, they were encouraged to set up banks when they arrived in England.