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Examination Questions on The Merchant of Venice

Question: Does Shylock already look forward to compassing Antonio's death when he proposes the pound of flesh forfeiture? Your reasons.

Answer: I think not. As Shylock himself stated, Antonio had already hindered him from gaining half a million; and, prompted by business motives, his great object in exempting Antonio from the payment of interest was to place him under an obligation and so get him in his power. The condition of a pound of flesh was, I think, little more than a sudden thought, prompted by his animosity toward the Christian as affording possibly, but not probably, a chance of feeding fat the ancient grudge he bore him. It was quite natural that he should, as Jessica declared, often express his desire for revenge upon his business enemy without having the least belief that his opportunity for revenge would ever come. As it seems to me, the most cogent necessity for the presence of Jessica in the play is that her flight with a Christian lover may arouse the fiend within her father to the pitch requisite for the prosecution of Antonio.

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How to cite this article:
Miller, Bessie Porter. Shakespeare Examinations. Ed. William Taylor Thom, M. A. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1888. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

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