The Merchant of Venice - Money Cannot Represent Everything

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In Elizabethian times – money meant power, and a person’s status in the society. Money was one of the most important factors that society could not live without. However, there are things which money itself cannot buy or represent, such as the true value of a person, friendship, and revenge. In the play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ by William Shakespeare, we explore the important idea that money cannot represent everything, through the bond between Shylock and Antonio, Bassanio’s choice of caskets, and the sacrifice Antonio makes for his best friend Bassanio.

Shakespeare portrays this message to us through the bond between Shylock, a Jew, and Antonio, a Christian. The bond is if Antonio fails to pay 3000 ducats he borrowed, Shylock can have a pound of his flesh. During the trial of Antonio for failing to repay his debt to Shylock in time, Shylock is confronted with Bassanio’s offer of twice the amount of ducats. Surprisingly however, the money-obsessed Shylock declines this offer and insists on keeping his pound of flesh. “If every ducat in six thousand ducats were in six parts and every part a ducat, I would not draw them. I would have my bond.” This shows that above money, what Shylock wants is his revenge on Antonio for humiliating and spitting on him due to his Jewish roots. Shylock is determined on getting his pound of flesh as revenge from Antonio. This sends us the important idea that sometimes money is not always able to replace the things that people want. When people are truly intent and firm on getting what they want, it can overrule what may seem to be the most important thing to them. Shylock was intent on his pound of flesh, so much that it overruled his love for money.

We understand the message about money not being able to represent everything through Bassanio’s choice of caskets. When Bassanio makes the difficult decision of choosing the caskets which determine if he will obtain Portia, Portia worries as all the other suitors have made the...
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