Merchant of Venice

ACT III SCENE 3: Portia finds a loophole in Shylock’s bond. He may take a pound of flesh, but what can’t he do? & What could happen to Shylock?

SHYLOCK: When it is paid according to the tenor. It doth appear you are a worthy judge. You know the law. Your exposition Hath been most sound. I charge you by the law, Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar, Proceed to judgment. By my soul I swear There is no power in the tongue of man To alter me. I stay here on my bond. PORTIA: A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine. The court awards it, and the law doth give it. SHYLOCK: Most rightful judge! PORTIA: Tarry a little. There is something else. This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood. The words expressly are “a pound of flesh.” Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh, But in the cutting it if thou dost shed One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods Are by the laws of Venice confiscate Unto the state of Venice. SHYLOCK: Is that the law? I take this offer then: pay the bond thrice And let the Christian go.

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The loophole is found in the wording of the contract. Shylock can have a pound of flesh, but he cannot have any blood. If Antonio bleeds, the courts of Venice will confiscate all of his property and land.


The Merchant of Venice