"The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare is a captivating play about revenge, justice, deception and friendship. Held within the brutal time of the 16th century, the play is about a pronounced character known as Shylock, who is a reasonably wealthy Jew, lending one of his enemies, Antonio, three thousand ducats. The play gives you a glance of how bad and unbearable life was for non-Christians, especially Jews. Shakespeare does an impeccable job of conveying the hatred of Jews by using techniques such as characterisation and setting to allow the reader to understand the situation and his emotions of Shylock towards the Christians in beautiful city of Venice. We also witness how money and wealth was overruled by love, relationships and family.
In that time, everything was about trade and gaining in life. If you have lost a ship or such then you have been brought to another/ lower level. It’s also quite racial that the colour of your skin or the religion your in could change and decide which trades and deals you make “between thy flesh and he is than between jet and ivory.”
Antonio is a rich merchant all his resources are in his ships, trading too distant countries, but because he wants to help out his friend, Bassanio, he has no choice but to ask Shylock for a loan, not to know it could lead to his death. Clearly this play puts many friendships and relationships to test and some go further than intended too.
We have the understanding that Bassanio needs money from his good friend Antonio, but we also question that he may only be using him or keeping him as a “close friend”, just for the money. To you, Antonio, I owe the most, in money and in love;
And from your love I have warranty
To unburden all my plots and purposes
How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
Here Bassanio reveals that he is in serious debt and isn't managing with his expenses seriously and is living more luxuriously than he can afford. It’s noticeable that Bassanio enjoys the fact that Antonio has money and that he always feels obliged to help him out when wanted, “the most, in money and in love” tells us that he clearly doesn’t really mind taking advantage of his “close friend” and “borrow” as much money as he wants, even though we as the reader, know that there is probably a small chance that he will pay back Antonio every penny owed. Antonio believes that the more you risk the more you gain but with Bassanio he could easily lose everything and surprisingly 1
he is willing to do it. It is also argued that Antonio could have had “different” feelings for Bassanio. However, Bassanio’s scheme is to woo Portia, who is “a lady richly left, and she is fair, and, fairer than that word,” and the plan is to marry her, even with the casket barrier to pass. Nevertheless, no matter how juvenile the scheme is, it’ll still give Bassanio what he wants which is the money to pay of all his debts. He needs this money from Antonio, as back in that time, it was very pricy to date so this is why he turns to Antonio, to get money to pay of his debts which is ironic considering he is getting himself into more debt and trouble. By creating this relationship between the two characters, Shakespeare makes the reader want to continue reading to discover more about where the money will take them and how it will affect their relationship.
Bassanio is so convinced that he will pay marry Portia, even when he knows there is still the caskets to get past and Antonio is being supportive in his decision. O my Antonio, had I but the means
To hold a rival place with one of them
The descriptions indicates that Bassanio probably doesn’t even care for Portia, he just wants her money. Portia is a very strong and demanding character. She is also considered to be relatively stubborn and picky too. “O me, the word 'choose!' I may neither choose whom I would nor refuse whom I dislike” lets us know, that she is being forced to marry to someone that she...