Book Description: "The Merchant of Venice" is the story of Antonio, the drama's title character, and his friend Bassanio. Bassanio is in need of money so that he may woo Portia, a wealthy heiress. Bassanio asks Antonio for a loan and Antonio agrees to this loan, however all his money is tied up in shipping ventures. Together the two go to Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, to request a loan for Bassanio to be guaranteed against Antonio's shipping ventures. Shylock agrees to the loan at no interest in the condition that if the debt is not repaid Shylock may collect a pound of Antonio's flesh. At the same time Portia, who is being wooed by various suitors, is upset over a curious stipulation in her father's will regarding the man that she may marry.