William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1172 Words5 Pages
William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice “The Merchant of Venice” is a Shakespeare play about Bassanio, an ambitious young man of Venice, asking his friend Antonio, a merchant of Venice, for a loan in order to enable him to woo Portia, a rich heiress in style. Antonio approach Shylock, a Jewish money-lender, who agrees to the loan only if Antonio undertakes to give him a pound of his flesh if he is unable to repay the money. Each character plays an important role in bringing out the various themes of the play. Antonio’s opening lines “In sooth I know not why I am so sad./ It wearies me; You say it wearies you--/ But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,/What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,/ I am to learn” immediately gives me an idea that he is a sober, serious and rather somber character. Antonio is a very successful businessman and extremely rich compared to the other merchants. “Or as it were the pageants of the sea/ Do overpeer the petty traffickers/ That curtsy to them.” Although he is rich, he lacks any interest in women and has no serious relationship with any. His frequent travel as a career-minded merchant does not help. On the other hand, his friendship with Bassinio was intense and probably is the only close relationship of his busy life. His other relationships are those of a leading businessman with his trade acquaintances and hangers-on. Beside from Bassinio, Antonio seems to be leading an isolated and solitary life. Antonio’s friendship for Bassanio is noble, self-sacrificing, generous and brave. He even gave Bassanio permission to borrow money from anyone, on credit for friendship’s sake. ... ... middle of paper ... ...ess, cruelty and vindictiveness. This could explain his cynicism, spitefulness and obsession with money—he feels insecure, embattled and embittered. On top of that, Shylock is also vehemently anti-Christian. Hence, we see that prejudice breeds prejudice. Generally, the three of them have very different characteristics but share one thing in common - prejudice. Both Antonio and Bassanio are loyal friends and Antonio “only loves the world for him” (Bassanio). On the other hand, essentially audience sympathy is turned away from Shylock by his hatred of Antonio (to the extent of murder) and his ruthless pursuit of profit, but his eloquent description of Antonio’s abusive language and behaviour redresses the balance a little in his favour. Nevertheless, “The Merchant of Venice” is an interesting play with a rich plot.
Open Document