This chapter argues that the The Merchant of Venice depicts business as something as general and equivocal in its powers as what Shakespeare calls “nature.” There are no purely economic bonds at work here, any more than there are purely erotic bonds. Such bonds are always tangled up with something else, and their very liability to be so tangled is what gets explored so subtly. The quality of Shylock's emergent attachment to his bond is also considered. He takes up or is taken up by the idea of his bond to the point that he speaks of it almost as the sole cipher of his identity and the sole vehicle of his agency in the world. It is a void into which all other significations fall.
Keywords: Shylock, The Merchant of Venice, bond, business, nature