The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice


William Shakespeare

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The Merchant of Venice Characters

Read our modern English translation.


A Jewish moneylender in Venice who has been embittered by years of abuse at the hands of Venetian Christians and Antonio, the merchant, in particular. Shylock's anger and bitterness lead him to sign a… read analysis of Shylock


A prosperous Venetian merchant, liked and admired by his fellow citizens. To help his friend Bassanio woo Portia, Antonio signs a contract with Shylock, guaranteeing a loan with one pound of his own flesh… read analysis of Antonio


A beautiful, clever, and wealthy noblewoman who lives in the country estate of Belmont, outside Venice. Portia is bound by a clause in her father's will, which obligates her to marry whoever solves the so-called… read analysis of Portia


A nobleman from Venice, who is a kinsman, close friend, and longtime debtor of the merchant, Antonio. Because he wants to woo the noble Portia, but cannot himself afford to do so, Bassanio… read analysis of Bassanio
Minor Characters
A notoriously vulgar Venetian and friend of Bassanio. While Bassanio courts Portia, Gratiano falls in love with and eventually marries her servant, Nerissa.
Shylock's daughter, who moves from merely disdaining her father to actually robbing him, eloping with a Christian Venetian, Lorenzo, and converting to Christianity.
A Venetian and friend of Bassanio and Antonio, who is in love with Shylock's daughter Jessica. Lorenzo elopes with Jessica, taking money and precious items that she has stolen from her father.
Portia's servant and confidante, Nerissa ultimately marries Bassanio's companion, Gratiano.
Launcelot Gobbo
A clownish servant, who leaves Shylock in order to work for Bassanio.
A Venetian nobleman, friendly with Antonio, Bassanio, Gratiano, and Lorenzo.
A Venetian nobleman and good friend of Salerio.
Prince of Morocco
A Moorish prince who comes to woo Portia at Belmont. He asks Portia not to judge him by the color of his skin, but incorrectly picks the gold casket.
Prince of Aragon
A Spanish nobleman who woos Portia at Belmont. He incorrectly picks the silver casket.
Duke of Venice
Presides over the trial of Antonio. Although the Duke attempts to persuade Shylock to show Antonio mercy, he knows that Venice's commercial interests depend on a consistent application of its laws, so he can't make an exception to help Antonio.
Old Gobbo
Launcelot's blind father.
A Jew in Venice, and Shylock's sole friend and confidante during the course of the play.
Doctor Bellario
Portia's cousin and a well-respected lawyer in Padua. He never appears on stage.
The servant Portia sends to obtain her letters of introduction and costume from Bellario. Balthazar is also the name Portia takes when she impersonates a lawyer at court.