The Merchant of Venice is described both as a comedy and as one of Shakespeare's early "problem plays." The first of its two plots involves the vengeful moneylender, Shylock, and his insistence on exacting "a pound of flesh" from the Venetian merchant, Antonio, to fulfill a business deal. The resulting clash of ethnic and religious cultures makes for a stunning conflict. The other plot focuses on the romantic life of Portia, the beautiful heiress of Belmont. Only Portia's true love will solve the mystery and win her hand.