In Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, more than two dozen actors play the the love between Bassanio and Portia and the bitter hatred Shylock and Antonio have for each other. To understand the relationship between Bassanio and Antonio, one must . These are the questions raised by the incident with the ring. In each love relationship, Shakespeare introduces a friendship to intrigue the viewer In fact, Bassanio and Portia had just discovered their mutual love for each. Portia and Bassanio in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Words 4 Pages Bassanio is in terrible debt and he sees marriage to Portia as a .
What other agenda she has in keeping Bassanio as her husband remains uncertain until her passion ceases in line 9, at which point the enjambed lines give way finally to a marked pause.
Pedestal Magazine » The Merchant of Venice: For Love or Money
Here, self-seeking rationality and business take over as she starts using the mercantile, money-filled language of Venice: Portia, a rich heiress, seems to see herself as the treasure for a deserving, worthy young knight, whom she judges to be Bassanio. Linked to the confusion of money and love is the concept of contracts or obligations of flesh and money in both business and love; here, again, Venice and Belmont may seem to represent the extremes of depravity and justice respectively, but closer analysis reveals that the two worlds are similar beneath their outward ornamentation.
Principally, the confusion in these contracts stem from Christian ideas concerning capitalism and especially usury that figure prominently in Venice and equally, though less obviously, in Belmont. Though Antonio speaks of Christian principles that forbid usury, he cannot escape the heritage of trade and the money breeding values of the Rialto; that is, by its very nature, his own capitalistic trading is usury.
Merchants use money to purchase goods, sell those goods at a profit, and accrue interest from the profitable sale of goods; now, money has bred money. Additionally, as The Bible dictates in Deuteronomy Ironically, his lending of money is not really free of interest or usury; instead of money, he charges love and friendship. Thus, Antonio not only is a usurer in capitalistic trade, but also in the friendship contract.
Contracts of interest also pervade the wonderland of Belmont, particularly that of the marriage contract. Yet, in these contracts of flesh, money, and love, there is also the forfeiture of that business agreement or marital vow that raises disturbing questions of morality, true justice, and Christian mercy in Venice as well as in Belmont.
Though the scene begins with the Christians pleading with a cruel Shylock to forgive and dismiss the debt in gentle mercy, the arrival of Portia from Belmont in disguise as a young male lawyer soon turns the judgment against Shylock. Since Venice has remained a foggy moral conundrum where love and money still intertwine and where justice is a matter of technicalities in contracts of law, it seems natural for the characters to seek a sanctuary in moonlit, exotic Belmont.
Yet, in the end, Belmont has remained an ornament without true substance, a dream world that cannot effect moral change in Christians who refuse to shed their hypocrisy or immorality.
There is a judgment in Belmont at the end of the play as there was in Veniceas Portia censures Bassanio for giving his wedding ring as payment to the young lawyer a disguised Portia who saves Antonio form Shylock.
Thus, she renews the confusion of the flesh her body and the material a gold ring and reemphasizes that marriage is more a contract of money and flesh than of love. Thus, Shakespeare suggests that the facade of goodness in the invocation of religion without its effective practice cannot make everything right; one cannot escape the reality of inner corruption through outer fantasy.
The Merchant of Venice: For Love or Money
Though Belmont wears the garments of Eden and underneath bears the burdens of human vice equal to that in Venice, there does seem to be an underlying if faint thread of hope of possible future redemption in Belmont; moments of inner reflection and meditation in which the characters briefly reveal an honest assessment of themselves and the materialistic world that they live in.
Some sort of understanding, an admittance of folly seems present in Belmont when characters are reflecting to themselves rather than to the outside world, a reminder of human fallibility. The relationship between Antonio and Bassanio may be homosocial, and support for this stand comes from the actions of both Antonio and Bassanio.
Antonio lends Bassanio 3, ducats and puts his own life at risk so Bassanio can pay his debts and go to Belmont. Three thousand ducats was a large sum of money during that age, and the penalty for failing to pay it would be even harsher.
Shylock, whom they borrowed the money from, demanded a pound of flesh from Antonio if he failed to repay the money. Antonio willingly agrees to these terms, and Bassanio heads off to Belmont to woo Portia.
After Bassanio has left, Antonio becomes somewhat upset, almost as if he misses his friend more than he should. Antonio cannot pay these debts because his ships have wrecked, costing him much of his money. Bassanio learns this and leaves Belmont to return to Venice in the hopes that he might save Antonio.
Kinsmen or "Cousins"
He could have just sent Shylock 3, ducats to pay the debt, as Bassanio would now have the means to do so. Also supporting the homosocial argument is the issue of the ring. Portia gives Bassanio a ring before he leaves Belmont.
She tells him that the ring symbolizes all the love she has for him and that he should never give it up, for if he does, he has forsaken her for another.
In this age, unlike modern times, the man usually gave the woman a ring, but not vice versa. Portia giving Bassanio the ring is more a symbol of her dominance in the relationship, but it becomes important to the argument for a homosocial relationship between Antonio and Bassanio.
Bassanio left Belmont for the purpose of saving Antonio, but his efforts seem futile. In this act, Portia also hands Antonio his revenge on Shylock, whom she proves has planned the death of Antonio. Portia declines the money, but demands the ring she gave to Bassanio. Bassanio at first refuses to give up the ring, but Antonio convinces him to give it up. Playgoers must ask themselves the question: Does he love Portia at all? These are the questions raised by the incident with the ring.
One also wonders if Antonio is jealous of Portia. One must wonder, however, if the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio is just friendship.
The pair seem to roam within the same social circles and have many of the same friends. Further, if the relationship was homosocial, would Bassanio have married Portia in the first place? By his marriage, Bassanio cuts off any chance of his relationship with Antonio growing into the realm of the sexual. The few things that refute this argument are the same things that lend themselves to a homosocial relationship between Bassanio and Antonio.
There is, however, one last argument, and its roots are in an anomaly. There is one line in The Merchant of Venice that could possibly destroy either of these two arguments, and that line reads: The term kinsman in Shakespeare often refers to a cousin.
This means that the line could further bolster the homosocial argument. William Shakespeare has been dead for centuries, thus one cannot ask him what the nature of the relationship was.
In truth, it should be left up to the playgoer to decide what they think the true nature of the relationship is, because it will cause the play to mean more to them if they decide for themselves. If a play causes the viewer to think for themselves about the play, to try to fathom the facets of the story, then the play is far more effective. The relationship, however, whatever its true form may be, is important to the play as a whole. Without the relationship between Bassanio and Antonio, there would have two stories in the play, neither of them having any bearing on the other.
In truth, neither of the stories could have occurred without the relationship. This is because the one of the acts that sets both stories in motion is Bassanio asking Antonio for money.