Shylock has grown wealthy through money-lending, the only profession open to Jewish businessmen of the time, but faces indignity and danger when he ventures beyond the Jewish quarter. In the same city, though in a different world, lives Antonio, a Christian merchant beset by worry over the fate of his trading vessels and his increasing isolation from his best friend Bassanio. The younger man has fallen in love with the beautiful Portia, and seeks to go abroad to win her hand. When Antonio takes a loan from Shylock, a bond is sealed, the risk of which is one pound of Antonio's flesh. So when Antonio goes into debt to Shylock, the angst-ridden moneylender demands a pound of his flesh.