Merchant of Venice

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Will Bullock
12/7/12
Period 5

Gambling with Love
In life, gambling can appear in several different forms. You can gamble money or items, and in some cases things much more important. In the play The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, gambling appears in the form of money, marriage, physical life, and a soul. These different wagers are used to represent debt, loss, and greed, but Shakespeare also associates gambling with love. Gambling is usually not linked with the word love, however, in The Merchant of Venice, gambling takes a certain form of love. Gambling acts like a measure for ones love and you can base you love of the kind of gamble that you make. Shakespeare uses these several different types of gambling to show the limits of one’s love because in The Merchant of Venice, value of a gamble reflects the amount of one’s love and trust. Risking your marriage is a gamble in The Merchant of Venice that Bassanio and the two princes take to express their love for Portia. In order to marry Portia a suitor needs to guess the correct of three caskets, however, if he guesses incorrectly he will never be able to marry anyone for the rest of his life. Essentially, when someone decides to pick one of the caskets they are putting not only their chance at marriage with Portia on the line, but also just their chance at marriage in general. Bassanio, the Prince of Morocco, and the Prince of Arragon all risk their marriage by attempting to guess the correct casket. All three of them understood that the consequence for an incorrect guess would be the loss of marriage. However, all three of them were so intensely in love with Portia and her wealth that they disregarded this consequence and still guessed any way. While all three of them were not able to marry Portia, there love for her was still unquestionable because of the risk they took for her hand in marriage. The Prince of Morocco’s love can be understood from his statement before he guessed a casket, “I would not change this hue/ Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen” (II. i. 11-2). He says that he would change his color for the queen. This is a clear representation of love because he is willing to change who he is and how he looks just for Portia. Bassanio also expresses his love for Portia when he explains to Bassanio, “she is fair, and, fairer than that word/ Of wondrous virtues” (I. i. 169-70). Bassanio speaking so highly of Portia say that he is completely in love with her, and he really wants to convince Bassanio to give him money for her hand in marriage. Bassanio and the two princes display their love through their charming words about Portia, but the love expressed in these two statements from Bassanio and the Prince of Morocco is overshadowed by the love they imply when gambling their marriage for her. * Wagering money is another form of gambling that is used in The Merchant of Venice to represent love. While money is not the riskiest thing to gamble, it is still a wager that is difficult to make, and probably a bigger gamble than your marriage because the consequences of losing are much greater. There has to be certain level of affection to risk your money for someone. Antonio and Bassanio’s relationship reflects how gambling portrays love. Antonio decides to risk 3000 ducats for Bassanio to show that their friendship is worth more than his money. On a scale of gambles, money is not at the top, but Antonio clearly has to love Bassanio to give him money especially when the last time Antonio lent him money, he lost all of it. Antonio does not even hesitate to offer the money because his love for Bassanio is so great. When Bassanio tries asking indirectly for money, Antonio replies with, “And out of doubt you do me now ore wrong/ In making question of my uttermost/ Then if you had made waste of all I have” (I. i. 162-4). Antonio basically says it would insult him if Bassanio tried to ask indirectly. He would rather lend Bassanio money because...
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