Act One, Scene One
Antonio, a wealthy merchant in the city of Venice, is met by his friends, Salarino and Solanio. Antonio is in a bad mood, and his friends speculate that it is because he is worried about his business ventures; three of his shipments have recently gone to sea, and perhaps Antonio is picturing them sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Antonio rejects the idea, saying that his business is strong enough to withstand any hardship. The men then suggest that he must be in love, and that’s the reason for his sadness, but Antonio brushes that off as well.
Three more young men of Venice arrive on the scene: Bassanio, Lorenzo, and Gratiano. Bassanio is in love with a beautiful heiress, Portia, but - although he and Portia share a mutual affection - he cannot compete with her other wealthy suitors. He asks Antonio to loan him a large sum of money - 3,000 ducats - in order to improve his chances in his suit. Antonio cannot make the loan himself, since all of his cash is tied up
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