The plot of The Merchant of Venice, which draws on ancient folktales, centers on the vengeful moneylender Shylock trying to exact a-figurative and literal-pound of flesh from the wealthy merchant Antonio, who borrows money from him for his friend Bassanio. The latter needs it to court the rich heiress Portia. The play's famous document is brought about when Portia, disguised as a lawyer, successfully defends Antonio from Shylock's vicious legal suit.Modern readings of The Merchant of Venice have seen its possible anti-Semitism as a major problem. However, Shakespeare's villain is a complex character, and his plight-of marginalisation in a Christian society-is treated with sympathy. The issues that the play discusses hold great relevance in contemporary society.William Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest English playwright ever, was born in 1564. By 1592 he was sufficiently established as a playwright to be criticized in print. He was a leading member of the Lord Chamberlain's Company, which became the King's Men on the accession of James I in 1603. He died in April 1616 and is buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon.