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.
When Shylock complains to him of his daughter’s abduction, he does his best to find her again, but to no avail. When it comes to Shylock’s suit against Antonio, the Duke hopes that the moneylender is merely playing for effect and that he will relent; even more optimistically, he hopes that Shylock will be kind to Antonio and halve the amount of the debt. Though knowing Shylock to be hard-hearted, he is still shocked by the moneylender’s intransigence. Though he knows he has the power to dismiss the court, he does not know enough law to find a loophole for Antonio. When Shylock is confounded and finds himself in danger of Venetian law, the Duke makes a point of pardoning him.