Merchant of Venice :: Characters

The Merchant of Venice Characters

The Duke of Venice knows that he cannot risk Venice’s livelihood by denying Shylock’s suit, but is less than happy at the fact.


The Prince of Morocco is a suitor to Portia’s hand. 


The Prince of Arragon is a prince of Spain and a suitor to Portia’s hand. 


Antonio is a merchant of Venice who has invested deeply in overseas ventures, to the extent that he no longer has any ready money left. 


Bassanio is a young gentleman of Venice who has squandered all his fortune and is therefore in dire need of a rich wife. 


Solanio is a friend of Antonio’s, who once mercantile concerns are dismissed as a cause of the man’s melancholy leaps on love as the reason why.


Gratiano is a friend of Bassanio. A great talker, he is almost impossible to shut up, and can be unmannerly, to the extent that Bassanio only allows him to accompany his trip to Belmont on condition that he keep himself under control. 


Salerio is a well-connected merchant of Venice, and a friend of Antonio and Bassanio. 


Lorenzo is a friend of Bassanio. In love with Shylock’s daughter Jessica, he helps her run away from her father’s, with the aid of Graziano and Salerio.


Shylock is a Jewish moneylender in Venice, who detests and despises Christians. 


Tubal is a wealthy Jew of Venice, who lends Shylock enough to make up the full three thousand ducats the latter lends to Antonio. 


Launcelot Gobbo is a quick-witted young fellow who is originally Shylock’s servant. 


Old Gobbo is an old man, blind or as well as, and not entirely comfortable with long words. 


Leonardo is one of Bassanio’s servants. He is sent out to do some shopping for his master when the latter receives the money from Shylock.


Balthazar is one of Portia’s servants. 


Stephano is a servant of Portia’s. He announces her return to Belmont, supposedly from her religious retreat.


Portia is an extraordinarily rich heiress of Belmont constrained by her father’s will to accept in marriage whichever suitor successfully passes the test of the three caskets. 


Nerissa is Portia’s lady-in-waiting, verbal sparring partner, and friend. She is a merry wench.


Jessica is Shylock’s daughter. She does not have the happiest of home-lives with her father, finding it only relieved by Lancelot’s jesting. 


The Jailer is charged with keeping an eye on Antonio to prevent him from running away before having paid his debt to Shylock. 


Portia’s Servant announces to her that various of her suitors have decided not to risk having to swear never to marry if they choose wrongly in the casket trial, and are therefore leaving.


Antonio’s Servant is sent to fetch Salerio and Solanio when Antonio learns of the extent of his losses.


The Singer sings a song containing a remarkable number of words rhyming with ‘lead’ while Bassanio is making his choice over the caskets.



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