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Merchant of Venice Notes on Setting, Objects & Places

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Merchant of Venice Objects/Places

Venice: A nortthern Italian port city, famous for its canals.

Belmont: Another Italian city near Venice.

Chests: Three chests, one made of gold, one made of silver, one made of lead. If one of Portia's suitors can pick the chest that her father inteded, he will become Portia's husband.

Ducats: Italian money of the 12th century.

Usance: The practice of lending money and charging interest for it. At the time of the play, it was legal to do this, but against the doctrine of the Catholic Church for Christians to lend money at usance. This led to the money-lending profession being dominated by Jews, heightening tensions between the religions.

Ring: The ring Portia gives to Bassanio as a symbol of their love. He swears he will never part with it, and she uses it to test which of his loves is stronger, his love for her, or his love for his friend Antonio.

Deed: This is the document that Shylock signs agreeing that upon his death, all of his money will go to Lorenzo and Jessica. It also states that he has converted to Christianity.

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