Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice: Portia’s Speech

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In Shakespeare’s comedy The Merchant of Venice, the merchant Antonio has taken a loan from the money-lender Shylock who dislikes him very much. The terms of the loan say that if Antonio does not pay the loan back on time, Shylock may take a pound of Antonio’s flesh which would certainly disable, if not kill, Antonio. Antonio loans the money in turn to his friend Bassanio so Bassanio may marry Portia. As the play progresses, Bassanio can’t repay Antonio. Antonio does miss the loan deadline, and Shylock demands the pound of flesh. Antonio appeals to the Duke of Venice, who refers the case to court. Portia disguises herself as a man and presents herself to the court as a lawyer in order to defend Antonio. In this activity, students read her speech to Shylock and answer related questions.