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The Three Plots of The Merchant of Venice Essay

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Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is a simple story line with three distinct plot lines incorporated into each other intricately. These three plot lines are the bond plot, the casket plot, and the ring plot, each equally vital to the meaning and conclusion of the play. In this essay, I will discuss the roles of the characters in the plot, the symbols, images, and rhetorical figures central to each plot, and finally how the events of the three plots are intertwined.
The first sign that the three plot lines are intertwined is that the characters involved in each plot overlap. However, each of these characters plays a different role in each plot line. The characters involved in the bond plot are Antonio, Bassanio, and Shylock, although Bassanio is not as involved in this plot as Antonio and Shylock are. It is for Bassanio that Antonio takes out a loan from Shylock so that Bassanio is able to have enough money to win Portia’s hand in marriage. In the next main plot line that arises, the casket plot, Bassanio plays a much more major role as Portia’s suitor. He and Portia are the central characters of this plot. Bassanio and Portia are also two of the central characters in the ring plot along with Nerissa and Gratiano, whose relationship acts as a parallel to the relationship between Bassanio and Portia.
Bassanio has one of the major roles in all three of the main plot lines of the play, but his role in each is different. In the bond plot, Bassanio is dependent on Antonio; he needs money to pay off his debts, and Antonio has the means to get that money. However, in asking Antonio for this loan, instead of becoming more indebted to him, Bassanio hopes to end his dependence on Antonio by marrying Portia, whose wealth could pay off ...


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...s the rings themselves.



Works Cited

Freud, Sigmund. "The Theme of the Three Caskets." The Merchant of Venice: Authoritative Text, Sources and Contexts, Criticism, Rewritings and Appropriations. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. 152-60. Print.
Holmer, Joan O. "Loving Wisely and the Casket Test: Symbolic and Structural Unity in The Merchant of Venice." Shakespeare Studies 11 (1978): 53-76. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.
Newman, Karen. “Portia’s Ring: Unruly Women and Structures of Exchange in The Merchant of Venice.” The Merchant of Venice: Authoritative Text, Sources and Contexts, Criticism, Rewritings and Appropriations. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. 252-70. Print.
Shakespeare, William, and Leah S. Marcus. The Merchant of Venice: Authoritative Text, Sources and Contexts, Criticism, Rewritings and Appropriations. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. Print.



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