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Portia, a wealthy heiress of Belmont, is forced to set her suitors a challenge. The winner will win her hand in marriage; the losers will lose her hand and much more. In Venice, the epicentre of consumption, speculation and debt, Bassanio borrows money from his friend Antonio to finance his attempt. Antonio, in turn, takes out a loan from the moneylender Shylock. The loan will be repaid when Antonio’s ships return to the city. But if the ships fail to return, and the money cannot be repaid, Antonio will give to Shylock a pound of his own flesh. And they do fail. And Shylock will have his ‘bond’.