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In analyzing Shakespeare's dramatization of his age's materialist processes and contradictions in The Merchant of Venice, readers find themselves typically focusing on the subject of usury, tending not to give due recognition to the presence of another very important commercial and legal metaphor-surety. Surety is an important concept, and there is much literature in the period warning against its practice. Shakespeare's Antonio, the merchant of Venice, is one character who obviously does not heed this warning. Why? This essay offers a response by analyzing how the dramatization of surety in The Merchant engages with important pressures exerted by the realities of globalized capitalism upon early modern English economic and cultural life.