->''I am a Jew! Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?''
-->-- '''Shylock''', 3.1.58-67

''[[LongTitle The most excellent Historie of the Merchant of Venice. With the extreame crueltie of Shylocke the Iewe towards the sayd Merchant, in cutting a iust pound of his flesh: and the obtayning of Portia by the choyse of three chests]]'' is a play by Creator/WilliamShakespeare, believed to be written between 1596 and 1598. It is one of his most controversial.

Bassanio is of noble blood, but has spent all his money and is deeply in debt. His solution is to marry [[OldMoney wealthy heiress]] Portia, whom he has visited before and wooed successfully. But his suit itself will require substantial funds, so he approaches his [[HomoeroticSubtext close friend]] Antonio, the eponymous merchant, who has lent him money in the past.

Antonio's wares are out at sea, and he has no money on hand. But he's devoted to Bassanio and is eager to lend him anything he can get, and plans to use his reliable reputation to borrow money somewhere else. Bassanio finds Shylock, a wealthy Jewish moneylender.

Shylock hates Antonio, partly for being a Christian, but mainly because Antonio publicly insults him and spits on him for being a usurer. So he agrees to the loan, and won't even charge interest--but if the debt isn't repaid by the specified date, he gets a pound of Antonio's flesh. Antonio's ships are set to return a full month before the money is due, so, despite Bassanio's entreaties not to, he signs the bond in a combination of antagonism, [[DeathSeeker suicidal]] [[BullyingADragon bravado]], and [[HeroicSacrifice desire to prove his devotion to Bassanio]].

Bassanio returns to Belmont to woo Portia, but he's got to get in line; half the single men in Europe want to marry her. Her father's will decrees that [[EngagementChallenge her suitors must choose from three caskets]]: one silver, one gold and one lead, as a test of character. The princes of Morocco and Aragon choose the first two and are sent away unhappy. Bassanio chooses the lead one, which is of course right. All is happiness as Portia agrees to marry him right away.

But during the celebrations, Bassanio receives a letter from Antonio: [[FinaglesLaw all his ships have been wrecked]], leaving him unable to repay the loan. To make matters worse, Shylock's daughter Jessica has eloped with Bassanio's (Christian) friend Lorenzo, and taken most of her father's money with her--so Shylock is royally pissed off and out for revenge. Antonio has been arrested and awaits his trial.

Seeing Bassanio's grief at Antonio's plight, and impressed by the deep love between the two, Portia insists that her new husband return to Venice with three times the value of the bond (from Portia's inheritance) in the hope of dissuading Shylock. Unbeknownst to Bassanio, she follows him to Venice and disguises herself as a young male lawyer to aid in Antonio's trial . . .

''The Merchant of Venice'' is officially classed as a comedy. While during its original production it would have been seen as pretty funny (with a pantomime Jew as a villain who gets his comeuppance in the end), it was a comedy in the classic sense of having a happy ending, rather than the more modern humourous one. These days, it tends to be played and interpreted more as a straight drama, focusing on the racial prejudices against Shylock.

!! Tropes in ''The Merchant of Venice'':

* AloneAmongTheCouples: Antonio's eventual fate, with Bassanio/Portia, Gratiano/Nerissa, and Lorenzo/Jessica happily paired off.
* {{Allusion}}: There are allusions to Myth/ClassicalMythology and TheBible sprinkled throughout the play. Most notable in Act V, when Lorenzo and Jessica spend several minutes comparing themselves to various mythical couples. Whether they realize the irony--all the stories to which they allude end tragically--is unclear.
* AmbiguouslyGay: Antonio. His devotion to Bassanio is intense enough that he's eager to sacrifice his life for him, and he explicitly parallels his love for Bassanio with Portia's during the trial scene. In modern productions, it's rarely all that ambiguous.
-->'''Antonio:''' ''[to Bassanio]'' My purse, my person, my extremest means\\
Like all unlocked [[note]]And [[EngagementChallenge where else in the play]] does this metaphor show up, I wonder?[[/note]] to your occasions.
* AnArmAndALeg: Parodied by Bassanio when Portia demands the ring he has given away.
-->'''Bassanio:''' ''[aside]'' Why, I were best to cut my left hand off\\
And swear I lost the ring defending it.
* AntiVillain: When it comes down to it, Shylock is still trying to kill Antonio (with law!), but the play spends a lot of time showing the audience where he's coming from; see IneffectualSympatheticVillain.
* ArbitrarilyLargeBankAccount: Portia's inheritance. While the rest of the cast is falling over themselves trying to pay back Antonio's bond to Shylock, when Bassanio tells Portia about it, her reaction is "Three thousand ducats? Is that ''all''? Here, give Antonio the money. No, have twice as much. You know what? Just to be on the safe side, let's triple it."
* ArcNumber: The number 3 appears frequently.
** The flesh bond plot involves three characters (Antonio, Bassanio, and Shylock), three thousand ducats, and a duration of three months.
** Portia's EngagementChallenge hinges on three caskets.
** There are three significant rings (the two from Portia's ring plot and the one Jessica supposedly exchanges for a monkey), one for each of the three female characters.
** The play opens with three characters on stage and concludes with three rhyming couplets.
** Three marriages (Bassanio and Portia, Grantiano and Nerissa, Lorenzo and Jessica).
** One can argue that the flesh bond, the EngagementChallenge, and Jessica and Launcelet's escape from Shylock constitute three main plotlines.
** Portia, Antonio, and Bassanio split the role of protagonist three ways between them. Launcelet, Lorenzo, and Jessica divide the subplot similarly.
* AssholeVictim: Traditionally, Shylock. To modern audiences, often Antonio.
* AsYouKnow: "'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio..."
* AudienceSurrogate: Gratiano, especially in the courtroom scene.
* {{Beta Couple}}s: Nerissa and Gratiano and Lorenzo and Jessica, to OfficialCouple Portia and Bassanio
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled: Invoked by Gratiano: "Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself!"
* BittersweetEnding: In many adaptations, including the Creator/AlPacino film version. Almost everyone is married and happy, but Shylock has lost everything, both material and spiritual, and Antonio is alone, with his best friend married and living his own life. The film goes one step further and suggests that Shylock and Antonio are NotSoDifferent. Jessica often gets one of these, where it's hinted that she misses her father.[[note]]The 2017 Bell Shakespeare performance in particular actually ends the play with her [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone breaking down in hysterical tears of grief in Lorenzo's arms when she realises what she has brought on her father]], and Lorenzo remorsefully tearing up the deed that entitles him to inherit all of Shylock's estate on his death.[[/note]] Shylock's own ending is somewhat improved when you consider the ValuesDissonance (the play ''was'' written in the Elizabethan era, after all) and realize that Antonio was actually trying to ''save'' Shylock's soul when he asked the court to force Shylock to convert to Christianity.
* BlindMistake: Old Gobbo is half-blind. As a result, he fails to recognize his own son and then mistakes his son's hair for his beard.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Launcelot does this pretty shamelessly, actually asking the audience to pay attention while he plays this awesome prank on his dad.
-->'''Launcelot''': Mark me now; now will I raise the waters.
* BrokenAesop: As noted by many commentators, right after Portia's "Quality of Mercy" speech which criticizes Shylock's KnightTemplar devotion to literally interpreting the law, she uses the same legalese justifications to not only deny Shylock the twice-over restitutions Bassanio was giving him (and to which Shylock does have a legal right to) but to accuse him of murder, and then allowing Antonio to demand the seizure of his property as a dowry for his Christian son-in-law and then Shylock's forced conversion. So much for mercy.
* BumblingDad: Old Gobbo.
* ButNotTooBlack: According to one of the stage directions, the Prince of Morocco is a "tawny moor", as opposed to a "black" moor. Justified in the sense that, in Shakespeare's time, both sub-Saharan Africans and North African Arabs were referred to as "moors" and the adjective was necessary to distinguish between them. For instance, a painting of the [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/MoorishAmbassador_to_Elizabeth_I.jpg Moroccan ambassador to Elizabeth I's court]], from the same time period (and who, incidentally, Shakespeare probably met) is entitled ''The Moorish Ambassador in England''.
* CityOfCanals: Part of the play takes place in Venice.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Launcelot.
* ConvertingForLove: Jewish Jessica turns to Christianity for Lorenzo.
* CreateYourOwnVillain: Antonio and Shylock have been at loggerheads because Antonio made repeated anti-semitic remarks to him and mocked him for being greedy simply because he wasn't an irresponsible businessman like Antonio. This makes what should have been a mild grudge into a psychopathic obsession for Shylock:
--> '''Shylock''': "He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,\\
Even there where merchants most do congregate,\\
On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift,\\
Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe\\
If I forgive him."
* {{Crossdresser}}: First Jessica, with some chagrin, then Portia and Nerissa, with less.
* CruelMercy: Let Shylock live, but only if he gives up his religion and signs his worldly goods over to the daughter that betrayed him.
* DeathByAdaptation: Shylock sometimes falls victim to this when directors want to turn him into an all-out tragic figure; one notable production had him stab himself upon exit from the court scene.
* DeconstructedCharacterArchetype: The "merchant" figure was a common stock character of Shakespeare's day. He was one-dimensional and entirely preoccupied with his wealth and the jeopardy that wealth was inevitably placed in. In the first scene, Antonio is shown to be a deconstruction of this: he is not overly concerned with his fortune (though perhaps [[{{Foreshadowing}} he should be]]), but is melancholy for other, more complex reasons.
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: Used for drama in Shylock's speeches and comedy in Launcelot's. Portia also does this while {{lampshad|eHanging}}ing the fact that she's stalling.
-->'''Portia''': I speak too long, but 'tis to pheaze the time,\\
To eke it and to draw it out in length...
* DeusExMachina
** In-universe: When the laws of Venice are at a loss to save Antonio, a mysterious young lawyer suddenly appears and saves the day. The audience knows it's Portia, but the court sees it as miraculous.
** In the final scene, Portia suddenly announces to Antonio that three of his supposedly lost merchant ships have returned and he is no longer bankrupt.
* DidYouThinkICantFeel: One of the most famous examples:
-->'''Shylock:''' Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
* DisproportionateRetribution: Shylock decides to enforce his bargain in the most gruesome way possible because of Jessica eloping with Lorenzo, something Antonio had nothing to do with (and even if he did, that's still excessive). Antonio is a douchebag to Shylock, there's no denying, but that's hardly a capital crime. Some productions have attempted to justify it by having Lorenzo steal Jessica (and Shylock's money) away while he had been invited out to dine by Bassanio, giving him good reason to suspect that Antonio had arranged it so as to set him up to be robbed and betrayed.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: [[GetTheeToANunnery In Shakespeare's time]], the rings (and circles in general) were suggestive of female genitalia.
-->'''Portia:''' You were to blame, I must be plain with you,\\
To part so slightly with your wife's first gift:\\
A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger\\
And so riveted with faith unto your flesh.
* DramaticIrony: Rampant in the courtroom scene, when the audience knows that the mysterious young lawyer Balthazar and his clerk are in fact Portia and Nerissa in disguise.
** When Antonio implores Bassanio to tell his story to Portia: "And when the tale is told, bid her be ''judge'' . . . "\\
She is in fact judging.
** Slightly later, after Bassanio swears he would sacrifice his wife to save Antonio:
--->'''Portia:''' ''[aside]'' Your wife would give you little thanks for that\\
If she were by to hear you make the offer.
* {{Elopement}}: Jessica runs away from her father to marry Lorenzo.
* EngagementChallenge: Portia's suitors must choose between three caskets to win her hand. If they choose incorrectly, they must leave Belmont, swearing to never again court a woman.
* EntitledToHaveYou: Morocco and Arragon both feel this way about Portia, mostly because they're princes and on her social level. This is why they're both tempted to chose the silver casket, labeled "Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves". Morocco doesn't, but Arragon does--they both get sent home, and Portia marries the far poorer Bassanio instead.
* ExactWords: Shylock demanded one pound of Antonio's flesh, and compounds this trope by insisting that he is under no obligation to provide a doctor to stem Antonio's bleeding as "it is not in the bond". It is arguably this insistence on following the bond to the absolute letter that inspires Portia to, while posing as a judge, inform him that he is entitled only to that one pound, no more or less, and only to Antonio's flesh - no blood can be spilled, otherwise the deal is void.
* {{Expy}}: Launcelot Gobbo is ''very'' similar, in name and nature, to Launce from Shakespeare's earlier play, ''Theatre/TwoGentlemenOfVerona.'' This could be an ActorAllusion, as the two Launces were almost certainly played by the same comic actor, Will Kemp.
** Some theatre critics and Elizabethan scholars argue that Shylock is inspired by [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roderigo_Lopez#Trial_and_execution Roderigo Lopez]], the Portuguese New Christian ("converted Jew") who served as Royal Physician in Elizabeth's day, whose trial and execution was tinged with anti-semitism despite Lopez's insistence that he was innocent and a Christian.
* FaceDeathWithDignity: Starting from the line, "I'll follow him no more with bootless prayers," Antonio is bent on doing this. Unless, of course, [[DeathSeeker he secretly wants]] [[{{Unishment}} to pay the bond]].
* FinalSpeech: Antonio gets one, directly after Portia says, "You, merchant, have you anything to say?" [[NotSoFinalConfession Subverted when he doesn't end up dying at all.]]
* TheFool: Launcelot.
* FreudianThreat:
-->'''Salario''': Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh: what's that good for?\\
'''Shylock''': To bait fish withal.
* FreudianTrio:
** Antonio: Superego. He's the most sensible of them and a voice of reason (when he's not being an ass to Shylock).
** Bassanio: Ego. He drives both the plots and tends to be a little self-absorbed.
** Gratiano: Id. He's known for not censoring his emotions and desires.
* FriendVersusLover: A major theme of the main plot and in sub-plots.
** During the trial scene, Bassanio and Gratiano swear that, if they could save Antonio's life, they would give up everything, even their new wives. Little do they know that their wives are standing right there. Later, Bassanio refuses to give away his wife's ring... until Antonio talks him into it, and it's nicely tied up when Portia refuses to give Bassanio ''back'' his ring -- until ''Antonio'' talks her into it.
** In the subplot, there seems to be a bit of tension going on between Lancelot and Lorenzo as to which of them gets to spend time with Jessica.
* FunnyForeigner:
** All of Portia's suitors, the Italian Bassanio excepted.
** Shylock has been played as this in the past, though it's very rare to play him for comedy now.
* GenreShift: The first three acts are [[{{Dramedy}} a mix of drama and comedy]] split almost evenly between the Portia and Shylock plots, while the fourth act is straight drama (despite some snarking from Portia and Nerissa) and the fifth act is almost farcical.
* GoodAngelBadAngel: Launcelot's comedic moral struggle, in which he parodies morality plays of the time. In the end, he sides with the devil.
* GreedyJew: Shylock is a TropeCodifier in the western tradition. Within the play, Shylock is framed as a grudge-holding LoanShark by other characters but it's clear that he hates Antonio because the latter is an open anti-semite who abused him even when Shylock did nothing to him. And he is so obsessed with revenge, that he refuses double repayment of the debt from Bassanio and Portia, in favor of being able to carve a pound of flesh out of Antonio.
* GreekChorus: Salarino and Solanio frequently impart crucial information via discussions with one another and interviews with the other characters.
* HaremSeeker: At one point Launcelot reads his palm and discovers that he's going to have fifteen wives. He feels cheated; he wanted twenty, at ''least''.
* HeelFaithTurn: When given the opportunity to start anew as a Christian, a broken Shylock takes that opportunity at once, though his final lines say that he wants to go home and that he isn't felling well, which suggests that he is quite reluctant about it.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Antonio and Bassanio. (...[[HoYay Arguably]]. These days, the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon itself portrays them as being in a romantic relationship, with full consent and approval from Portia.)
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: It's Shylock's insistence on claiming his bond no matter what that leads to his undoing when Portia puts impossible conditions on him claiming it- when he attempts to back down and just take his money, Portia points out that he has already repeatedly refused the money in open court and may only have his "justice". When he gives up on that, Portia then uses his plan to accuse him of ''attempted murder.'' Also, her demand that he take [[ExactWords EXACTLY one pound of flesh and not even the tiniest amount more or less, nor even a single drop of blood]] is based on Shylock's refusal to provide a doctor for Antonio on the grounds that the bond didn't specify he had to.
* HollywoodLaw: A contract that gives you the right to murder another person is not enforceable by law. This was true in Elizabethan times as well. Of course the play is set in Venice (the codes of theater forbade representation of the Elizabethan court system and other institutions). In the end, the contract is rendered moot: Shylock may have his pound of flesh, but without shedding blood, and for having plotted to murder Antonio, he is subject to punishment.
* HotBlooded: Gratiano is sometimes portrayed this way. At any rate, he's the most animated of the male cast.
* HumiliationConga: At the play's end Shylock has lost, in short order, his daughter, his fortune, his property and his religion. But every cloud has a silver lining, and considering the ValuesDissonance...
* HurricaneOfEuphemisms / UnusualEuphemism: "...for indeed my father did something smack, something grow to, he had a kind of taste..."
* HypocriticalHumor:
-->'''Solanio:''' But it is true, without any slips of prolixity, or crossing the plain highway of talk, that the good Antonio, the honest Antonio--oh, that I had a word good enough to keep his name company--\\
'''Salarino:''' Come, the full stop.\\
'''Solanio:''' Hah! what sayest thou?
** If Launcelot is saying something like "To be brief..." or "I have ne'er a tongue in my head," you can count on it that he's about to go off on a tangent. Not to mention that he criticizes his dad for not being "honest". This either means "honest" in the modern sense of the word (and the line happens right before he runs into his dad and starts lying to him) or "honest" in the secondary Elizabethan sense of "chaste" (which he clearly isn't, either--he later criticizes ''the girl he got pregnant'' for not being honest).
* IGaveMyWord: Shylock claims he swore a solemn oath that he'd have Antonio's heart in revenge for the wrongs done him as his justification for refusing even several times the money he is owed.
-->'''Shylock:''' An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven.\\
Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?\\
No, not for Venice.
* IncrediblyLamePun:
-->'''Lorenzo''': ...the Moor is with child by you, Launcelot!\\
'''Launcelot''': It is much that the Moor should be more than reason, but if she be less than an honest woman, she is indeed more than I took her for.\\
'''Lorenzo''': How every fool can play upon the word!
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain: Shylock is very easy to portray this way, though it's not really clear if it was intentional. See FairForItsDay.
* InsistentTerminology: Launcelot uses this a lot.
* IronicEcho / OverlyLongGag: Gratiano starts jubilantly quoting Shylock after the tables turn in the court scene. For context, Shylock was referring to the Biblical story of Daniel preventing innocent blood from being shed by using his God-given wisdom to expose the two judges that had blackmailed a young woman named Susanna, who was on her way to execution, but not quite there, when Daniel intervened.
-->'''Gratiano''': A Daniel still say I, a second Daniel!\\
I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.
* TheJester: Launcelot Gobbo, who may become a literal jester during the course of the play. (Arguable because, after he's given his special "guarded" livery, his punning becomes more deliberate and he's repeatedly referred to as "the fool".) Either way, he tells Jessica that she's "damned" and complains that converting Jews will raise the price of pork, and nobody seems to him too seriously.
* JobTitle: Spoiler: it's about a merchant of Venice.
* KillHimAlready: Gratiano, when the tables are turned and Antonio gets to decide Shylock's fate: "A halter gratis! Nothing else, for God's sake!"
* KissingCousins: Debated. Bassanio is referred to once as Antonio's "kinsman" (which could denote any distant family relationship) in 1.1. Such a relationship is never mentioned again, and some scholars believe it to have been a mistake, especially since Bassanio and Antonio are necessarily of different classes.
* LoanShark: Already an established trope that Shakespeare is riffing on. In a bit of a MemeticMutation, the term "Shylock" is now synonymous with loan sharks.
* LysistrataGambit: Portia and Nerissa vow never to go to bed with their husbands until they see the rings. Of course, they're the ones who ''took'' the rings.
* MadnessMantra: "I will have my bond..."
* MaidAndMaiden: Nerissa is the Maid to Portia's maiden. They both even go undercover together as men and keep the same dynamic. Nerissa is also officially Portia's waiting maid.
* {{Malaproper}}: Both the Gobbos constantly use the wrong words.
* MamasBabyPapasMaybe: Launcelot argues that Jessica might not be her father's child.
* MatzoFever: Lorenzo has it bad, although he (and all the other guys) seem to regard Jessica's lovable qualities as existing in spite of her Jewishness.
* MeaningfulName:
** Portia is the "port" towards which many merchant-like princes venture in an attempt to claim the "goods", her money and herself. It also implies a "portal" or means to an end, which her riches ultimately render her.
** She may also have been named after Portia, the beautiful and clever wife of [[Theatre/JuliusCaesar Brutus]], to whom Bassanio compares her.
** The name "Shylock" is possibly derived from ''shallach'', a Hebrew word for "cormorant" which was also used to describe usurers.
** The name Shylock could also mean that he's shy and locks his feelings inside. He is shy because of his tormentors.
** "Gratiano" means ''grace,'' and can also be taken to mean "gratuitous", because he's said to speak "an infinite deal of nothing".
** "Launcelot" means ''servant,'' which is, well, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin exactly what he is,]] and in some productions his last name, "Gobbo" (Italian for ''hunchback)'' is taken as an indication that he has curvature of the spine.
*** His name in the quartos and folios is spelled as "Launcelet" or "little lance", possibly referring to his sharp tongue or his sharp wit. Or to [[TeenyWeenie exactly what you'd imagine]].
** "Nerissa" is Italian for ''black-haired''. Shakespeare may have intended to contrast her, a more traditional Italian beauty, with the exotic golden-haired Portia.
** "Belmont" means ''Beautiful Mountain'', and is viewed as an earthly paradise, the place where the characters are happiest and (literally and figuratively) closest to Heaven.
** "Jessica," a name Shakespeare coined, is likely meant to invoke the "jesses," or ties, by which captive hawks are secured.
** Antonio's ship, according to Salarino, was wrecked on "the Goodwins"... which means ''good friends''. Bonus points for Shakespeare in the sense that [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodwin_Sands the Goodwins]] are actually a real place, where there have been over ''2000 shipwrecks.'' British people play cricket on them when the tide is low enough.
* MeaninglessVillainVictory: Former TropeNamer. The court finds that Shylock's contract with Antonio is legally binding, so he is entitled to a pound of Antonio's flesh. The court goes on to say that Shylock is ''not'', however, entitled to any of Antonio's blood. Since he couldn't take any flesh without also spilling blood, Shylock's "win" is rendered moot.
* MoralDissonance: You'll find that the Christian protagonists do not act with any of the Christian values they so preach. This is {{lampshade|Hanging}}d by Shylock in his famous monologue.
* MortonsFork: Used as a theme. Launcelot describes being tempted by the devil to run away from Shylock. He then reasons that Shylock is "the very devil incarnation", so whether he runs or not, he'll be getting bossed around by the devil. Later, he breaks it down for Jessica: she's either going to hell because her father is a Jew, or else she's not really his daughter, in which case she's going to hell because her mother was unfaithful.
* MotiveRant: Shylock's famous "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech.
* MurderTheHypotenuse: Inverted. Instead of letting Antonio die, thus clearing Bassanio of all his outstanding debts (both fiscal and romantic), Portia saves his life. As sacrificing himself for Bassanio seems to be all Antonio truly wants, this salvation is Portia's way of establishing control over Antonio and Bassanio's relationship--effectively neutering the hypotenuse.
* MythologyGag: Lorenzo and Jessica's plotline approaches a downright parody of Shakespeare's earlier ''{{Theatre/Romeo and Juliet}}''.
* NotSoDifferent: There's a lot of literary theory on Antonio and Shylock as this.
* NotSoFinalConfession: Antonio's heckuva FinalSpeech is an implied if not explicit AnguishedDeclarationOfLove for Bassanio. But then he doesn't die like he expected.
* OffTheTable: Both Shylock's refusal to take twice the money and Balthazar's refusal to let him take the money once he's been [[MeaninglessVillainVictory refused the pound of flesh]].
* OlderThanSteam: This play is the first instance of the given name "Jessica."
* ThePenance: If Antonio [[AmbiguouslyGay is indeed homosexual]], his eagerness for death could be due to guilt, either conscious or subconscious.
-->'''Antonio:''' I am the tainted wether [[note]]a male sheep castrated at a young age[[/note]] of the flock,\\
Meetest for death.
* PluckyComicRelief: Gratiano, Nerissa, and Launcelot all qualify.
* PragmaticAdaptation: The film version starring Creator/AlPacino as Shylock opens with a montage to illustrate how the Jewish community is appallingly mistreated enough for Shylock to want revenge.
* ThePromise: Antonio swears he will "be racked even to the uttermost" to finance Bassanio's pursuit of Portia. Needless to say, he is.[[note]]with a special pun on "racked," as a string of shipwrecks (sometimes called ship''wracks'') is what undoes him.[[/note]]
* PungeonMaster: Launcelot, much to Lorenzo's annoyance.
* RecursiveCrossdressing: Shakespeare was very fond of this trope. Male actors play women--Portia, Nerissa, and Jessica--who disguise themselves as men.
* ReturningTheWeddingRing: Inverted. Portia and Nerissa give rings to their new husbands as [[{{Symbolism}} symbols]] of their love and fidelity, then disguises themselves as young men and trick their husbands into giving them the rings. Later they confront their husbands and revel in their stammering excuses before [[InternalReveal revealing]] that they were the young men all along. Portia then returns her ring to Bassanio (through Antonio, [[HiddenDepths oddly]]) as a symbol for their ''renewed'' commitment to each other--though it's also a deliberate [[HenpeckedHusband power play]].
* RevengeBeforeReason: In the courtroom scene, Shylock turns down the complete value of the bond - even doubled and doubled again - in favor of getting to enact revenge on Antonio. Can be played as a VillainousBreakdown, where the injuries Shylock has suffered are driving him to irrationality.
* RichSuitorPoorSuitor: "Rich Suitors, Poor Suitor" in this case; the whole plot revolves around the fact that Bassanio, a "poor...gentlemen", has had to borrow money in order to woo Portia.
* RichesToRags: Happens to Antonio when ''all'' his merchant ships are lost in a not-at-all contrived manner. The effect is reverted at the end when three of them unexpectedly return in an even less contrived way.
* SadClown: Launcelot. When you get right down to it, he hates his job (although that problem is soon solved), his relationship with his father is strained (apparently his dad fooled around with other women), and, by the end of the play, he's fathered an illegitimate child with a racial outcast who he probably doesn't even like. Of course, he constantly cracks jokes about all of these things. Some stagings take this a step further by implying that Launcelot likes Jessica and that his ranking-out of her and her new husband disguises his bitterness.
* SayMyName: Shylock says his daughter Jessica's name a lot in their first scene. One gets the feeling he likes her a lot, but he's somewhat overprotective and possessive. "What, Jessica!" "What, Jessica!" "Why, Jessica, I say!" "Jessica, my girl." "Hear you me, Jessica."
* ScrewySquirrel: Launcelot appears to be this in his first scene, but as the play goes on he leans back into a more standard comedy-relief role.
* SecretTestOfCharacter:
** Sure, you can have the ring that my wife (to whom you [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial bear absolutely no resemblance]]) made me swear to never take off. Bassanio pretty much fails the test.
** The caskets are a test of character too, though not exactly "secret."
* ServileSnarker: Launcelot.
* SmallRoleBigImpact: Lorenzo and Jessica's elopement is what arguably pushes Shylock over the edge.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS:
** Depending on the editor, it's "Lancelot" or "Launcelot". Just to make it even more complicated, the original folios spelled it "Lancelet" or "Launcelet", leading some to think that's the name Shakespeare intended--and while his father is "Old Gobbo" in the stage directions, he refers to himself as "La(u)ncelet Iobbe" or "La(u)ncelet Job".
** This type of confusion also determines the presence or absence of a ''whole character''. Either, as in the first quarto, Antonio has two friends--Salarino and Solanio--and a third, Salerio, who delivers a message from him to Bassanio later in the play, or Salerio and Salarino are one and the same, in which case either the copier messed up or Shakespeare forgot how the name was spelled. (Which is plausible, since Shakespeare was notorious for never spelling his ''own'' name the same way twice.)
* SpitefulSpit: Shylock notes that Antonio would literally spit on him as a way of showing contempt.
* SweetPollyOliver
** Jessica dresses as a boy to elope with Lorenzo.
** Portia and Nerissa later dress as young men to aid in Antonio's trial.
* {{Symbolism}}: Since this is Shakespeare, any object used is pretty much guaranteed to carry plenty of connotations.
** The rings Portia and Nerissa use to entrap their new husbands, like rings in general in Shakespeare's time, [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything are symbolic of female genitalia]], in addition to their more obvious function as symbols of marital loyalty.
** Gloves in Shakespeare's time held a manifold significance. Like rings, they carried sexual connotations. [[HighClassGloves They were status symbols]]; and as such a pair of gloves was a common courtship gift, so came to symbolize romantic initiative. And, of course, gloves and gauntlets were used to issue challenges. So it's very interesting that disguised Portia, directly after preventing Antonio from sacrificing himself for Bassanio, commands:
--->'''Portia:''' Give me your gloves; ''I'll wear them for your sake''.
* TakeAThirdOption: Instead of running away (thereby committing a sin) or continuing to serve his hated master, Launcelot enlists his father to help him switch jobs.
* TakeThat: Portia makes snarky comments about various contemporary European nationalities as personified by her suitors...including [[TakeThatAudience her English suitor]], who borrows fashions from other countries but has none of his own (a common caricature of the English at the time).
* TemptingFate
** Antonio's general attitude while signing the flesh-bond.
--->'''Antonio:''' I will not forfeit it:\\
Within these two months, that's a month before\\
This bond expires, I do expect return\\
Of thrice three times the value of this bond.
** Bassanio at the beginning of the ring plot:
--->"when this ring / Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence: / O, then be bold to say Bassanio's dead!"
** During the trial scene: of ''course'' Shylock's impassioned declaration, "My deeds upon my head! I crave the law," comes back to bite him.
* ThemeNaming: Solanio, Salerio and (if he exists at all and isn't just Salerio with his name spelled differently) Salarino.
* ThenLetMeBeEvil: Summed up with a memorable line, spoken in response to Antonio's pleading: "Thou call'dst me dog before thou hadst a cause/But since I am a dog, beware my fangs."
-->'''Shylock''': If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
* TheyCallMeMrTibbs: A large portion of Act II, Scene II is devoted to comedy based on Elizabethan usage of this trope.
-->'''Launcelot:''' Talk you of young Master Launcelot?\\
'''Old Gobbo:''' No master, sir, but a poor man's son; his father, though I say it, is an honest exceeding poor man, and, God be thanked, well to live.\\
'''Launcelot:''' Well, let his father be what 'a' will, we talk of young ''Master'' Launcelot.\\
'''Old Gobbo:''' Your worship's ''friend'' and Launcelot, sir.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Salerio and Solanio. Although their existence as two separate characters is justified (it further isolates Antonio), they are virtually interchangeable.
* TookALevelInBadass: Portia, at first the typical love interest, goes on to save the day as the smartest lawyer in Venice.
* TranslationConvention: {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d heavily when Portia complains that she can't understand the English baron: "...he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian, and you will come into court and swear, I have a poor penniworth in the English."
* UsedToBeMoreSocial: According to Gratiano, Antonio was not always this melancholy. Indeed, he has a loyal following of friends and acquaintances who are just now beginning to get sick of his gloom.
* UnbuiltTrope: It plays very much like one would expect a deconstruction of Panto tropes to. The villain is unpleasant and mean in all the ways you expect a panto-villain to be, but he's also the most put-upon character in the play: he begins the underdog and ends stripped of everything, his money, his daughter, even his religion. With the exception of his murderous intent all other characters treat him far worse than he treats them, and they largely hate him simply for being a Jew.
* UngratefulBastard: Jessica not only runs away from home and abandons her father to a solitary life, she also robs him of much of his money and to twist the knife further, sells a ring he gave her that belonged to his wife- her mother- for a ''monkey''. She somewhat implies that Shylock is a less-than-decent father and a greedy, boorish {{Jerkass}} she's glad to be gone from, but that's still a pretty heartless list of crimes to commit against anyone, let alone your own parent.
* {{Unishment}}: It starts to seem that paying the flesh-bond (sacrificing himself for Bassanio) is [[DeathSeeker exactly what Antonio wants]]. His extreme eagerness to hasten the trial and give Shylock his forfeit goes beyond FaceDeathWithDignity or GetItOverWith.
-->'''Antonio:''' I do beseech you\\
Make no more offers, use no further means,\\
But with all plain and brief conveniency\\
''Let'' me ''have'' judgement and the Jew his will.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse:
** In a comedy relief scene, Lorenzo and Launcelot are bantering and it turns out that Launcelot got a Moorish woman pregnant. Launcelot makes a joke about it... and it's never mentioned again. A few scholars have suspected that the line is the final remnant of a [[WhatCouldHaveBeen lost subplot.]]
** Solanio disappears completely after Act III (and so does Salarino if he isn't Salerio), being displaced as Antonio's companion once Bassiano and the others return to Venice.
* WhereDaWhiteWomenAt: One of the noblemen who tries to win Portia is the Prince of Morocco. She's relieved when he chooses the wrong casket and gets sent home, not least because of his dark skin. Later in the play, it turns out that Launcelot's been having some kind of offscreen affair with a "Moor" (and gotten her pregnant).
* YourMom: Launcelot comes up with a whole bunch of these when he and Jessica discuss her parentage.