Approved for All Ages
The Merchant of Venice – Edited
There are many different subplots in this movie, much like any other Shakespeare play or movie. One of the main characters is Antonio, a leading merchant of Venice, a wealthy, respected, and popular man. Among his many friends is a young man named Bassanio, who owes Antonio a large portion of money. Bassanio is having a hard time paying him back. He thinks that he has figured out a way to repay the loan but he has to have another one for start up capitol for his plan. In Belmont, Bassanio tells Antonio, there lives a beautiful and young and wealthy heiress. Bassanio feels sure that he can win her hand in marriage, but he cannot court her as a commoner. If he is to make a good impression, he has to appear at least as well off as her other wealthy suitors. Antonio tells Bassanio that he would gladly lend him however much money he needs but he himself doesn’t have any on hand. However, Antonio knows of a moneylender who will probably lend him the necessary amount, and Bassanio can use Antonio's good name as security for the loan.
Portia is the wealthy heiress of whom Bassanio speaks. At Belmont, Portia speaks to Nerissa, her confidante, telling her how she hates all of her suitors and how she wants to be able to choose a man herself. Portia cannot choose her own husband; she can marry only the man who chooses the correct one of three caskets—one gold, one silver, and one lead; one contains her portrait and that one is the lucky casket. So far, none of her suitors have chosen right, which is OK to Portia because she doesn’t like any of them anyway. However, when Nerissa mentions the name of Bassanio, a possible suitor, Portia's mood brightens. He was once a visitor at Belmont, and Portia was impressed with him.
Meanwhile in Venice, Shylock, a rich Jewish moneylender who harbors a secret hatred for Antonio, has agreed to lend Bassanio three thousand ducats for three months, on Antonio's bond. Foregoing his usual high interest rate, Shylock demands instead that if the day for payment falls due and the money is not returned, he may cut off one pound of flesh from Antonio's body. Antonio agrees because all of his ships are due back in Venice a full month before the bond falls due. A romantic subplot develops when Lorenzo, a close friend of Antonio and Bassanio, falls in love with Shylock's daughter, Jessica. He manages to elope with her by disguising her as a boy, and she manages to take with her a goodly amount of her father's ducats. Of course, this infuriates Shylock, and he vows revenge. Bassanio chooses the right casket. Both he and Portia are overjoyed, and they make plans to be married at once, along with Nerissa and Gratiano, who have also fallen in love. Happiness reigns in Belmont until Bassanio is brought a letter from Antonio bidding him farewell since his ships have been lost at sea and since it is impossible that he will live after Shylock collects his pound of flesh. Horrified, Bassanio leaves instantly for Venice with money which Portia gives him to pay the bond.