Shylock is a character in William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice (c. 1600). A Venetian Jewish moneylender, Shylock is the play's principal antagonist.

Shylock is a Jew who lends money to his Christian rival Antonio, setting the security at a pound of Antonio's flesh. When a bankrupt Antonio defaults on the loan, Shylock demands the pound of flesh. This decision is fueled by his sense of revenge, as Antonio had previously insulted, and also inflicted massive financial losses on him. Meanwhile, Shylock's daughter, Jessica, falls in love with Antonio's friend Lorenzo and converts to Christianity, leaves Shylock's house and steals vast riches from him, which add to Shylock's rage and harden his resolve for revenge. In the end – due to the efforts of Antonio's well-wisher, Portia – Shylock is charged with attempted murder of a Christian, carrying a possible death penalty, and Antonio is freed without punishment. Shylock is then ordered to surrender half of his wealth and property to the state and the other half to Antonio. However, as an act of "mercy", Antonio modifies the verdict, provided that he keeps two promises. First, Shylock has to sign an agreement bequeathing all his remaining property to Lorenzo and Jessica, which is to become effective after his demise, and second, he is to immediately convert to Christianity. Shylock is forced to agree to these terms, and he exits citing illness.

More Info: