A GOOD FRIEND

In the day when the city of Venice was rich and famous, one of the chief citizens there was a merchant named Antonio. He was a very rich man. He owned many valuable ships and traded with many different foreign countries. He was well known for his kindness, and had many friends. Amongst them was a young Venetian nobleman called Bassanio.

Although he was a nobleman, Bassanio was quite poor. He often spent more money than he had, so he could live the way he liked, and always lent money when needed it.

Bassanio was in love with a wealthy and noble young lady named Portia, whose father has just died. Portia was not only wealthy; she was beautiful and clever too.

Princes and Nobleman were continuously asking her to marry them. These men were able to show their wealth and rank by arriving at her house with many servants and giving her expensive presents. Bassanio did not have enough money to do this. He was afraid Portia would not consider marrying him because he was so much poorer than the others.

So, one day Bassanio went to his friend Antonio to ask for his help. He told Antonio That Portia seemed to like him. Bassanio thought that if only he could go visit her dressed in the finest clothes, with lots of servants, and with some beautiful presents for Portia, he might be successful. If Antonio would lend him enough money, Portia might agree to marry him.

“I am always willing to help you’’, Bassanio, said Antonio, ‘’but I have no money to give you just now. I have used it all to trade with foreign countries. My ships are away are away at the sea at the moment. However, I shall have plenty of money when they come back until then I shall borrow some for you, from Shylock.’’ Shylock was a Jew who was well known in Venice.

GOOD FRIEND

He was money lender, and he had become very wealthy. He loved making more and more money. But he hated spending it. He was popular in the in the city because he was so mean. People who could not pay back the money they owed (due) him got no mercy from Shylock.

Antonio had often made it clear to other people that he had no respect for Shylock, because of the way he treated those in dept to him.

Antonio had himself many times lent money without asking for any interest, and this spoilt Shylock’s business. For these reasons, Shylock hated Antonio, and was waiting secretly to harm him. Bassanio went with Antonio to see Shylock.

Antonio asked him to borrow him 3000 ducats: a very large amount of money. “I shall be able to pay it back.’’ He said to Shylock, ‘’ when my ships return to Venice. They are now at sea and will soon arrive home with valuable cargo.

As you know, I never lend money for profit myself, or borrow it either, because Bassanio is my great friend, I will do this for him.”

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At first Shylock seemed unwilling to lend the money. He knew that what Antonio had said was the truth. “Your ships may be destroyed by storm before they reach Venice,” he said, and then you will be unable to repay me.” Then he decided to offer Antonio a bargain. ‘’ I am willing to be friend with you, and lend you this money for no profit at all.

This will show you that I too can be kind and generous, in spite of what have you said about me. I have an amusing idea, and I hope you will agree to it. If you can not repay me in time, then you must let me cut a pound of your flesh from any part of your body I choose.”

Bassanio was suspicious of Shylock’s intentions, and told Antonio not to accept this plan. But Antonio laughed, and agreed to the joke.

Then the men wen to the lawyer to sign the agreement. Antonio took the money from Shylock and gave it to Bassanio, who got ready to visit Belmont, where Portia lived.

 

THREE BOXES

Portia’s father had been very anxious that she should choose the best person to be her husband. Before, he died invented a plan to help her to do this. He had three small metals boxes made. Each one was made of a different metal.

The first box was of gold, the second box was of silver, and the third box of lead. One of the boxes contained the picture of Portia. Her father wished her to merry the first men to guess which box contained the picture.

Men must make a promise; if guessed wrongly, he must never, after that asks any women to merry him. Portia felt she must be obedient to her father, even after his death. She was worried that a man she did not like would find the picture, but still she intended to do what her father had asked.

When they heard about this plan many men did not dare to guess at all. And they went away. They were afraid to lose, because that would mean they would stay unmarried for the rest of there life. This placed Portia, for she had not liked any of the man who had come to see her. She told her servant, Nerissa, that they were all rather uninteresting, or had no sense of humor, or were always cross.

One of the men who dared to choose was prince Morocco. He chose the gold box. He thought that only a gold box would be good enough for Portia’s Picture. Also, there was some writing on the outside of the box. It said, “the man who chooses this shall get what many men wish for.” “Why, that; means the Lady”, the prince said to himself. “All the worlds desire her.

They come from the four corners of the earth, across seas and deserts, just to look at the beautiful Portia. So it I choose what many man wish for, they surely must mean picture will be in the box.” But when he opened it, he found only a picture of skull, to remind him of death, which is what many people wish for when they are old and sick and sad. The prince was very unhappy.

The next to guess was the prince of Aragon. In Spain. He did not choose the gold box because he thought the words “many man” meant all the ordinary people in the world. The prince of Aragon was proud man. He would never want what everybody else wanted. Instead he chose the silver box. On the silver box these words were written: “the man who chooses this box will get what he deserves.” This seemed fair, thought the prince.

He knew that there were people coming to see Portia who were not as good as they seemed. Those people did not deserve to marry Portia, but he was not like them.

He was the prince of Aragon, a very important, rich, young man, and was sure he deserved a wife as good, beautiful and rich as Portia.

The prince was very hopeful when he opened the box. However, inside was not the beautiful picture of Portia that he expected, but the picture of a mad fool. He too went away disappointed.

The Portia had heard that Bassanio had arrived; he had brought with him a friend called Gratiano who was in love with Nerissa, Portia’s servant, and hoped to persuade Nerissa to marry him while Bassanio was asking Portia to be his wife

When Bassanio Appeared, Portia welcomed him very kindly. She was pleased he had come as she wanted to merry him.

She was very worried that he would choose the wrong box, as the other had done. Portia went to help him to the right one, but she knew that must not. She asked Bassanio to wait some time before he chooses, so that they could be together for a while.

She knew if he made a mistake and choose the wrong box, they could never be married, and she would never see him again. But Bassanio would not wait; he was anxious to know what would happen. So he was shown the three boxes of gold, silver and lead.

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Bassanio thought for a long time. Finally, her decided. Gold and Silver looked precious and beautiful, but many things that were evil, or had no value, could be made to look beautiful and precious. Lead was a plain (common), ordinary metal.

It did not pretend to be better than it was, he thought it was honest. On the box these words were written: “the man who chooses this box will be taking a great chance: he might lose everything he has.” That was honest too, thought Bassanio. So, he chose the lead box.

Portia watched him make the right guess with delight. Bassanio opened the box, and in side it, he saw the picture of Portia. He turned to Portia and saw that she was as pleased and as happy as he was. She immediately told him that she loved him very much.

She then took a ring off her finger and gave it to Bassanio. Portia said that the must never give the ring away; if he had, there love would end. Bassanio accepted the ring happily, and promised never to lose it or give it away. Thus, Portia and Bassanio promised to be faithful to each other.

 

THE TRAIL OF ANTONIO

Gratiano and Nerissa were in the room it the same time and had been watching what was happening Gratiano now came forward and said he hoped Portia and Bassanio would be happy.

He said that he and Nerissa would like to be married at the same time. Portia and Bassanio were very pleased, and agreed at once.

But then something happened which worried them all a great deal. A messenger arrived with a letter for Bassanio from his friend Antonio, who had borrowed money from Shylock for him.

Bassanio’s face became pale as he read the letter. It contained very bad news. Portia quickly asked what had happened and, for the first time, Bassanio told her about the money that Antonio had given him. He told her about the Antonio agreement Shylock.

In this letter Antonio said that his ships had not come on the port; they had been wrecked at sea and all valuable goods on them had been lost.

Antonio had no money to pay back Shylock, and the date for him to do this had already passed. he would have to give shylock a pound of his flesh. “I am now certain to die, and want to see you.” Antonio wrote.

The messenger told them that Shylock had gone to the Duke (King) of Venice to ask him to deal with the matter, Shylock wanted Antonio to pay him his pound of flesh immediately. And so poor Antonio was now in prison, waiting for his trail.

When Portia heard this trouble story, she wanted to help in anyway she could. She offered to Shylock much more the, 3000 ducats he was owed. She told Bassanio to go and help his friend as quickly as possible.

However, Portia insisted on the thing that they must be married before Bassanio left Belmont. Portia, Bassanio, Nerissa and Gratiano went at one to the church and where married. Bassanio and Gratiano than left their ways and went straight back to Venice.

Portia thought a great deal about the problem. She wanted to save Antonio’s life because he had been so generous to her husband, Bassanio.

Finally, she wrote a letter to a cousin of hers, who was a well known and clever lawyer. His name was Dr. Bellagio. She asked him for his advices, and she also asked him to lend her some lawyer clothes. Dr. Bellagio, immediately send her clothes and told her how Antonio should be defended at his trail

Portia Decided what she would do. She told her friend and servant that she was Going away from a few quite days until her husband returned. Then she told Nerissa about her plan. She had decided to go to Venice and she wanted Nerissa to go with her.

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However, Portia did not want any one recognize her when she was there, so she and Nerissa dressed themselves in men’s cloths. They set off for Venice looking two young men.

Bassanio and Gratiano arrived in Venice, where the trail would soon begin, under the direction of the Duke of Venice. Antonio and Shylock were brought before the Duke.

The Duke asked Shylock to up his cruel demand, and not to take a pound of Antonio’s flesh. But Shylock would not agree. “Antonio had made the promise, and so he must keep it.” He said. Then Bassanio offered to pay Shylock twice as much as he owed. Still Shylock would no let Antonio go. “The law of Venice allows me to demand a pound of Antonio’s flesh, because he has broken out agreement. I hate Antonio, and I would not be persuaded. I would rather have Antonio’s flesh than any money I am offered.” Turning to the Duke Shylock said, “Will you permit me to do what I have a right to do, or have you no respect for the law of Venice?”

 

THE YOUNG LAWYER

The Duke had to admit that the law did allow Shylock to refuse the money instead of Antonio’s flesh. He liked Antonio, but did not deer to treat him differently rom any other citizen. The law said that anyone who makes an agreement must keep it.

If Shylock insisted, Antonio would have to die. Shylock did insist. He thought to himself, “at last I shall be able to treat Antonio in the way he deserves. I do not pity him at all. This pound merchant always hated me and made others hate me too. I will not forgive him.”

The Duke had already written to a famous lawyer asking him to come to Venice to advise him about this difficult problem. The man to whom he had written was Dr. Ballarino Portia’s cousin, who had shown her how Antonio could be defended.

As Shylock would not show any mercy to Antonio, the Duke decided to wait for Dr. Ballarino. “perhaps this clever lawyer can find away to save Antonio’s life.” He thought.

Just as the Duke decided to do this, a clerk came in. he said he had brought a letter from doctor Ballarino. In this letter, Dr. Ballarino wrote that he was ill, and would not be able to come to the trail. However, he asked if a young lawyer friend of him could come instead. The Duke agreed to do as Dr. Ballarino asked, and he invited to young lawyer in.

The clerk who brought the letter for the Duke was really Nerissa, dressed as a man. The young lawyer was really portia, who was dressed in the lawyer’s cloths. The Duke was surprised when he saw how young the lawyer was, but he asked him to defend Antonio.

Portia turned to Shylock and asked him to show mercy on Antonio. “Mercy”, “she said, “reward not only the man who receives it, but also the man who gives it we pray to God hoping he will show us mercy, and should show mercy to the other people.” But Shylock would not listen to her. “I only asked to be paid what I am owed” he said. “Can he pay back the money you lent him?” asked Portia.

At this movement, Bassanio quickly said, “he can pay it, and he is willing to pay more. I can pay ten times as much for Antonio.” Bassanio begged the lawyer to forget about the exact words of law in order to save a life. “No, “said Portia. “I cannot allow that.

If we do not insist that this man obeys the law now other people may follow his bad example in the whole country will suffer”.

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Shylock was delighted when he heard this answer. “Oh, what a wise judge! “ He cried happily. He excepted the trail to end very soon. He prayed the young lawyer and laughed at Antonio. Portia then asked to see the Portia agreement Antonio and Shylock had signed.

She read it; and agreed that Shylock could have his pound of flesh. Then Portia turned to Antonio and Commanded him to uncover his chest. Shylock was ready to kill Antonio. He called out, “Oh, noble judge! Oh, wonderful young man!”

Antonio thought that he was going to die. He said goodbye to his friend Bassanio, and asked him to tell Portia why he had died. Bassanio was very unhappy, and he replies that he would give anything to save Antonio if he could.

He would even be willing to loose his own life instead of Antonio. But nothing paid a lot. “Now, said Portia to Shylock, “take the pound of flash that is owed to you. Cut it from this man’s chest.” Shylock had his knife in his hand as he moved forward.

He was ready to cut out Antonio’s heart. “Oh, wise judge! Oh wise young Judge!” he cried. To Antonio he said, “Prepare Yourself”.

 

Shylock Defeated

Before he could use his knife to make even the smallest cut in Antonio’s skin, Portia stopped hi “Wait!” she said.” “I have something else to say.

The words of agreement clearly say that you may take” a pound of flesh”. But there is nothing in it to say you may take one drop of his blood. Antonio’s flesh you may take, but if you spill a single drop of blood, then all your property must be given to the state. That is the law in Venice.”

Shylock stood completely still. He was so surprised and annoyed that he could hardly speak. “Is it what law commands?” he asked. Portia Offered to show him the law in Subject.

Gratiano could see how angry Shylock and Now he cried out, “Oh, wise judge! See, Shylock what a wise judge he is!” Shylock then remembered that Bassanio.

Had offered to pay back the money, and even to pay him more. “I will accept your offer.” He said to Bassanio. “Pay back offered to pay back the money, and even pay him more. “ I will accept your offer.” He said to Bassanio. “pay back three times as much as I lent Antonio, and then I will let him go.”

“Here it is,” said Bassanio, holding out the money. But Portia would not allow this. A little while ago, shylock had refused the money, so now he should have nothing, she said. Shylock, very angry, was about to leave, when Portia called him back. “Wait,” she said. “There is another law, we must remember.

If anyone plans to kill a citizen of Venice, half of his property must be given to the citizen. The other half must be given to the state. And the Duke may order any other punishment, he thinks is right; Kneel in front of him and pray for mercy.”

Shylock had so recently refused mercy to Antonio that he could not now accept mercy for himself. But the Duke was not as cruel as the money lender. “I will show you that man can be much kinder to each other than you think.

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You will not lose your life; I will tell you this even before you ask me to save you. But you might give half of your money and property to Antonio, and half to the state.”

And now Antonio showed mercy to Shylock. “I will note take my share of Shylock’s wealth. But he must be Christian.” He said. Shylock was also forced to sign a will. This will said that Jessica, his daughter, and his Lorenzo, her husband, should receive all of shylocks money when he died.

Lorenzo was a good friend of Antonio’s not long ago; Jessica had run away from her father and married Lorenzo, A Christian. She had taken some money and jewels with her when she left home, and Shylock had been very angry. At first he could only shout, “My money, My Daughter!” Shylock seemed to be just worried about his money as he was about his daughter.

Shylock had said that he would not leave Jessica any money when he died, and he would never forgive her. The Jew now knew that must obey Portia’s and Antonio’s commands. “I am ill” he cried, “Let me go home. Send the agreement to my house. I will sign it.” So the Duke let shylock go and the trail ended.

 

PORTIA’S TRICK

During the trail, everyone had been surprised to see how young and wise the lawyer was. But no one had suspected that the lawyer was really Portia, even Bassanio had not guessed. Portia had changed her appearance and voice so cleverly that her own husband could not recognize her.

Bassanio and Antonio wanted to show the young lawyer that they were very grateful for his help. “Please accept the 3000 ducats owed to Shylock,” Antonio said. But Portia would not accept the money, Bassanio was also very anxious to give the lawyer something. So Portia thought she would trick her husband, for joke. “if you insist, give me your loves,” she told Bassanio.

Took off his gloves, showing the ring on his hand. “As sign of your thankfulness, give me that ring on your finger.” Bassanio immediately drew his away. The ring was the one Portia had given him when she promised to merry him. He had promised never to give it away.

He pretended that the ring had no value, and was too small to give as a present. But Portia asked or it again. Bassanio then told her it was his wife’s ring, and she had made promise never to give it away.

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“That is a common excuse,” replied Portia. “this is what men say when they do not want to give a present. Your wife will not be angry with you for long. You can tell her how much deserved the ring.” Portia and the ring.

Bassanio felt ashamed to seem ungrateful, so he it to Portia. Nerissa also cleverly managed to persuade Gratanio to give her the ring that she had given to him. He too had promised never to give it away.

Before there husbands returned. When they got back to Portia’s house, they changed there clothes at once. Soon they were sitting down, dressed in their ordinary cloths waiting for their husbands to come back to them. Not long after, the two men arrived, with Antonio.

Bassanio introduced Antonio to his wife “this is the friend,” he told her who had helped me so much.” So Portia welcomed Antonio to her house. While she was doing this, she saw Gratanio and Nerissa quarrelling in the corner of the room. “what is happening?” cried Portia. “Are you quarrelling already? What is the matter?”

“we are arguing about the ring which Nerissa gave me,” Gratanio Explained “ the ring had these words written on it : “ Love me and never leave me”.

I am annoyed Gratanio promised faithfully that he would keep it,” Nerissa said, “and he had given it away to lawyer clerk. It does not matter whether it was valuable ring or not. He should not have given it away.”

 

Everything Put Right

Portia was now determined to enjoy the trick she had played on her husband. “Of course Gratanio was wrong to give his wife’s first present. I, too, gave my husband a ring, and made him a promise to keep it.

If he gave that ring away his wife, I would be very angry with him indeed.” Then Gratanio replied, “But Bassanio did give his ring away-he gave it to the young lawyer who asked me for my ring,” when she heard this, Portia pretended to be very angry.

She asked Bassanio, “Which ring did you give him? I hope it was not the ring that you accepted from me,”

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Bassanio felt very unhappy when he saw how angry his wife was. But he had to admit the truth, and tell her that had given the ring away “I wish you knew how unwilling I was to give the ring to this man, why I gave it to him,” But Portia still pretended to be angry.

She accused him of the ring because he was so grateful to him for saving Antonio’s life. “if you had been there,” she said,” I think you would have told me to give him the ring.”

Then Antonio turned to Portia and said,” these unhappy quarrels have all been caused by me!” “Do not treat this attar so seriously,” replied Portia.

She took the ring from her bag and said, “Give him this ring, and tell him to keep it better than he kept the last one” Antonio passed the ring to Bassanio, who looked it.

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He surprised to see that it was the one he had given away, Portia then then showed her husband the letter from Dr. Bellario, and do discovered that the clever lawyer was really Portia, his wife. Bassanio realized that his own wife’s courage and cleverness had saved the life of his dear friend Antonio. He was surprised and delighted.

Soon afterwards, Antonio received good news about his own affairs. Portia handed some letters which had just arrived. These told Antonio that the ships which he thought were lost had returned to Venice, and had brought back their valuable cargo.

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Antonio was a wealthy man again. Thus, the story of the merchant of Venice ended with good news for the merchant and with laughter between the husbands and wives over the jokes about the ring.

                                     Muhammad Ismail (Writer JahaSoft)