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The Merchant of Venice | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Act 3, Scene 3

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 3, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice.

The Merchant of Venice | Act 3, Scene 3 | Summary



Shylock and Salarino accompany Antonio to jail. Shylock mocks Antonio for lending money without interest. Antonio wants to talk to Shylock, but Shylock refuses to listen to anything Antonio says. Shylock is confident the Duke of Venice will uphold his claim and leaves Antonio alone with Salarino.

Salarino tells Antonio Shylock is "an impenetrable cur," a stubborn dog. Antonio acknowledges why Shylock hates him for interfering with his business in the past. He also says, "These griefs and losses have so bated me,/That I shall hardly spare a pound of flesh." Antonio is certain the Duke of Venice is powerless to stop Shylock. His only wish is that "Bassanio come/To see [Antonio] pay his debt."


Shylock's stubbornness prevents him from acknowledging anything Antonio might say to him. As a result, the audience does not know what kind of plea Antonio might make to Shylock. His comments to Salarino demonstrate that he knows why Shylock hates him, but they stop short of revealing any remorse for his past actions toward Shylock. Antonio offers no apology or repentance to Shylock, so it is difficult to know if Shylock might be swayed by an act or word of atonement from his enemy. Instead, Salarino calls Shylock a dog again, and Antonio doesn't correct him. Antonio's inability to express full remorse or regret for his wrongs toward Shylock or even to make clear whether he believes his past behavior was wrong shows that Shylock may not be the only "impenetrable" figure in this situation.

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