Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, hates Antonio. Bassanio, in need of money, approaches Antonio for a loan so that he can pursue Portia, as he is in love with her, and wants to marry her. Antonio at that time cannot afford the amount of the loan, and instead he advises Bassanio to approach Shylock for the loan on the security of an approaching shipment on Antonio's ships.

Shylock agrees to extend the loan to Bassanio. The loan amount is to be repaid in three months and no interest will be charged, but in case of failure to repay the loan, Shylock asks for a pound of Antonio's flesh. Portia, as a lawyer, saves Antonio from having a "pound of flesh" cut off his body, using her clever wit.

The phrase "pound of flesh" means something which is owed that is required to be paid back: a lawful but unnecessary repayment. In the phrase meaning the words "unnecessary repayment" are included. Had SHYLOCK DECIDED BEFOREHAND AND WAS DETERMINED TO KILL ANTONIO. Does this clause also say "lawful", The phrase has a double meaning which could have been made use in the court? Who helped Antonio from behind with the one who pleaded for Antonio? Perhaps Shylock did not want to thwart Portia's marriage with Bassanio either. He was concerned with Jessica's future too. So the bond was cleverly drafted. I am sure Shylock saved the case in favor of Antonio from behind. What Bassanio did with the huge amount of money, spent with Portia, spent on luxurious living or kept a big part for repayment of the loan. Maybe there was a playful attempt of the three, even four persons even though not a conspiracy but is the plot. It is hard to believe that Shylock, a seasoned moneylender, had not gone through the bond. So I have referred to the word "Humor": Shylock was not unaware of it, whose only aim was to insult Antonio. A fine comedy play though.

My question is how Antonio saved his pound of flesh? Was it that the bond and deed were cleverly drafted, so execution was nearly impossible?

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    The question in the title seems to be different than the question in the body (and I'm not sure what that one is saying). Could you rephrase exactly what you are actually asking?
    – Kitkat
    Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 19:28
  • Thi@Kitkat- If I have to comment in response to your comment. The phrasal meaning of"pound of flesh" is what is owed should strictly be paid at every cost. He wanted his money back, but clauses relating to human flesh[Antonio's flesh] embarrasses every reader. what human flesh means to SHYLOCK? Shylock was a money lender like Antonio, draft, deed, the document was perhaps cunningly drafted. This is humor. though Shylock was vengeful against Christians, a pound of flesh should seem nothing to him. But in the last, the amount owed was paid. William Shakespeare wrote the play as a playwriter.
    – user37920
    Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 20:08
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    I did a little bit of cleanup of your question. I'm assuming the all-caps was meant to highlight changes, but you really don't need to do that. The history is clearly visible to all of us. If you do need to highlight something, using italics or bold is a superior choice. And, just to be clear, are you asking what the pound of flesh meant to Shylock, or are you asking whether your theory that Shylock was trying to help Bassanio and Antonio from the start is valid? Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 13:18

2 Answers 2


Perhaps your confusion arises from the fact that a "pound of flesh" meaning something required to be paid back more or less originates from the play (there were earlier predecessors, including the 14th-century tale Il Pecorone by Giovanni Fiorentino, which was published in Milan in 1558, but Shakespeare is the primary example these days). Shylock requested the pound of flesh both as an indicator that the debt truly must be paid back, by providing a second additional consequence, and possibly also because it provided a way of Shylock getting revenge on those who exploited him by having a legal way of enacting violence on them.

And, as you are most likely familiar with from the play, the protagonists welsh on their agreement. The Duke, with Portia's help, negates the debt by claiming that Shylock would be murdering a Christian by insisting on this debt (not only taking a pound of flesh, but also spilling Christian blood), something criminally punishable by death, and demanding that Shylock not only forgive the debt, but also forfeit all of his wealth. One way of reading this is that an offer was made to Shylock to provide financial recompense in the courts and he instead insisted on vengeance, leading to him losing everything. Another is that he is a tragic figure within a rigged system. Antonio borrowed money from him knowing that Shylock could not demand recompense (Jewish people historically being stuck with moneylending due to usury laws and tradition, and a history of them being murdered to eliminate a debt), and when Shylock insisted on payment, those he opposed leaned on the legal system to instead brand Shylock as the criminal.

As far as I can tell, there is no indication in the text of the play, or in what marginalia we have from scripts, that Shylock is to be seen in an favorable way as someone trying to help the protagonists. Rather he is cast as a villain, albeit a tragic one who is undone by his hubris and a society where he is at a great disadvantage.


In 1600 AD or before such a case was possible. The court case seems to be a farce at the present age. The court case filed was in keeping with the usual practice at that time. Portia saved Antonio using her clever wit and judgement was in favor of Antonio. And solution of the case was also keeping with usual practice prevalent at that age. The judgement was proper. Above all, court judges and specified standards of judgement reigns.

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    I have several questions about this answer. (1) What is the basis for the claim that such court cases were possible? (2) Where were such court cases supposed to be possible? In Shakespeare's England or in Italy? (3) What is the basis for the claim that the verdict was in keeping with legal practice at that age? (And where?) (4) How does any of what you have written even answer the question?
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 12:51
  • @Tsundoku-THis is a plot, the main sequence of events in a comedy play-The merchant of Venice. I have written answers like we answer questions of a story or novel. but I have written in an answer that the judgment was proper judgment. Above all, court, judges, and specified standards of judgment are followed. user-37920
    – user37920
    Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 1:17
  • @Rand al' Thor-I have answered differently in two answers. Which is the final one I have stated, Court, Judge And judgment which is the accepted practice and Law as well? Does "add another answer" is not applicable in my case. user-37920
    – user37920
    Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 11:00
  • @Rand al' Thor-The bond is written with a loophole. Antonio could have won without service of portea .perhaps she wanted to be an important figure in moneylending business permanently. user 37920
    – user37920
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 4:25
  • @Rand al' Thor-Bassanio loved Portea wanted to marry her. But Portea did not express my opinion about his love. Portea appeared in the court as a lawyer, her status as a lawyer brought her into bindings and restrictions.user 37920
    – user37920
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 5:18

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