Essay on Death and Love in The Merchant of Venice

Essay on Death and Love in The Merchant of Venice

Length: 1654 words (4.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Death and Love in The Merchant of Venice

     Everyone loves a martyr. He's that guy who not only suffered but died for his cause, his passion, his love. Bassanio may not be the most worthy cause to die for, but in Act IV of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Antonio is resigned to do so. In his final words before Shylock is set to extract his pound of flesh, Antonio has abandoned efforts to prevent his punishment and assures Bassanio that the deed must be done for the benefit of all. Despite the grisly and morbid nature of the procedure, Antonio has many reasons to die under such circumstances.


This is the only way out. Antonio devotedly loves a man who cannot return the affections with the same intensity. Bassanio's love which rightfully belongs to Antonio is shared with Portia, the wife. And who is to compete with the love a man has for his wife? Antonio tells Bassanio, "I am arm'd and well prepar'd," in speaking of his impending death (IV.1.264). He has known that eventually someone would have to be removed from this triangle and he is ready to be the one. In dying he need not take part in conflicts for Bassanio's affections. As the third wheel in a marriage, Antonio would be the source of strife for Portia, seeing as she would have to vie for her husband's love and eventually, the unhappiness of his marriage would cause Bassanio to resent Antonio. But dying ensures him the affections he wants without the pain and bitterness of rejection.


While Antonio is able to see the advantages of martyrdom, he must convince Bassanio that as such a gracious and extraordinary friend, he is willing, even happy to die for him. Humility, is the natural and subtle way to impress, so Antonio speaks of how he is not...

... middle of paper ...

...s reassuring to Bassanio, but he also uses it to reassure himself. He is doing this because the pain of watching Bassanio with another love is unbearable. His life is wholeheartedly offered in order to spare himself the torment of observing the happy couple he will never be a part of.


Death is but a small price to pay for eternal love and admiration Antonio has to gain from Bassanio. Antonio wins when he dies. He wins the battle against Portia for Bassanio's love and he wins an escape from a long and lonely life of jealousy. The martyr is the most extreme illustration of devotion. He cannot be changed and is forever remembered for his selfless devotion.


Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. The Riverside Shakespeare. Eds. G. Blakemore Evans and J. J. M. Tobin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997. 228-317.




Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Religion in The Merchant of Venice Essay

- Religion was a major factor in a number of Shakespeare’s plays. Religion motivated action and reasoning. In Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” religion was more than a belief in a higher being; it reflected moral standards and ways of living. In the “Merchant of Venice,” “a Christian ethic of generosity, love, and risk-taking friendship is set in pointed contrast with a non-Christian ethic that is seen, from a Christian point of view, as grudging, resentful, and self-calculating.” (Bevington, pg....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Powerful Essays
1944 words (5.6 pages)

Essay about The Merchant of Venice: Is Shylock a Villain or a Victim?

- In this essay I will try to discover is Shylock a villain or a victim, in the William Shakespeare play “The Merchant of Venice” It is difficult to say if Shylock is a complete villain or a victim, as his character is complex and ambiguous. However, it is difficult to view Shylock as anything other than a devious, bloodthirsty and heartless villain in the majority of the play. There are a few points in the story where he can be viewed as victimised, as most Jews were at that time, but Shakespeare has purposely portrayed Shylock as a stereotypical Jew, greedy, and obsessed with money....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Powerful Essays
862 words (2.5 pages)

The Merchant of Venice Essay

- "The Merchant of Venice" by WIlliam Shakespeare. "The Merchant of Venice" is a play about revenge, justice, deseption and friendship. The story is about, Shylock a wealth Jew, lending one of his enemies, Antonoi, three thousand ducats. Although 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. In this play there is a big difference between the Christian charaters and Shylock, the main difference being Shylock seems to be more interested in his money and business rather than human relationships, which the C...   [tags: Free Merchant of Venice Essays]

Free Essays
471 words (1.3 pages)

The Nature of Contracts in The Merchant of Venice Essays

- The Nature of Contracts in The Merchant of Venice In Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice there are two major contract’s made, a contract is any promise or set of promises made by one party to another for the breach of which the law provides a remedy. The promise or promises may be express (either written or oral) or may be implied from circumstances. The first contract in the play that I discovered is one between Portia and her father. Nerissa telling Portia : “Your father was ever virtuous; and holy men at their death have good inspirations: therefore the lottery, that he hath devised in these three chests of gold, silver and lead, whereof who chooses his...   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Powerful Essays
511 words (1.5 pages)

Essay on Antonio in The Merchant Of Venice

- The Character of Antonio in The Merchant Of Venice Antonio is a wealthy merchant in the city of Venice. Although central to the play, Antonio is portrayed by Shakespeare as an 'outcast'. It seems that Antonio is chronically depressed and is not involved in the social atmosphere that is thriving in Venice. "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:"1 Along with Shylock, both men seem bitter and have difficulty in expressing their emotions....   [tags: Merchant Venice Essays]

Powerful Essays
1085 words (3.1 pages)

Love Plot in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay examples

- Love Plot in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice The Merchant of Venice is a play of both love and hate. The love plot begins to develop in Acts 1 and 2, as we are introduced to the leading characters of the play. Bassanio is a friend of Antonio, who is the merchant of the play’s title. Bassanio is a young man, and in the beginning of the play we are introduced his infantile character. We learn that he has spent all of his own money and aspires to regain his fortune by marrying the heiress, Portia....   [tags: Free Merchant of Venice Essays]

Free Essays
900 words (2.6 pages)

William Shakespeare'sThe Merchant Of Venice Essay

- William Shakespeare'sThe Merchant Of Venice “The Merchant of Venice” written in the 16th century in 1596 and originally a comedy. The play is about Antonio who lends money to his friend, Bassanio, because he wants to marry a rich heiress, Portia. Although Antonio’s money is tied up in his ships, Bassanio still allows him to borrow some on his behalf. Portia cannot choose her own husband. In his will, her father requires suitors to choose one of three caskets, whoever chooses the right one wins Portia....   [tags: Free Merchant of Venice Essays]

Free Essays
911 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Review of The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

- Review of The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare Shakespeare wrote the Merchant of Venice, it is one of Shakespeare's less known plays because the original manuscripts were lost but the play did re-surface in the 1600s. In Shakespeare's time there was only one Jew in England, he name was Rodrigo Lopez....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Powerful Essays
1578 words (4.5 pages)

The Aspects of Shylock in Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' Essay

- The Aspects of Shylock in Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' There are many aspects of Shylock; in Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ he is seen in many different forms. In Medieval Venice Shylock the Jewish banker is persuaded to lend three thousand ducats to Antonio a Venetian merchant who had cursed and ridiculed Shylock for years. The condition for the loan is that if Antonio did not pay back the three thousand ducats he would forfeit, ‘a pound of flesh, to by him cut off nearest the merchant’s heart.’ Through the course of the play Shylock is portrayed in many different ways....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Powerful Essays
931 words (2.7 pages)

Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essays

- Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice The play begins in Venice where the wealthy merchant Antonio is talking to his young friends about the reasons for the depression. Antonio claims not to understand himself his sad nature. Bassanio arrives with the news that he wishes to court a wealthy, beautiful heiress named Portia. In order to present himself to Portia he wants to borrow 3000 ducats. Bassanio is in terrible debt and he sees marriage to Portia as a way out of financial problem....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Powerful Essays
1385 words (4 pages)