William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay

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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
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However, it is this devotion which leads him to accept the ill-considered death bond with Shylock later on in the play. He was confident that some of his investments would bear fruit before the appointed day for repayment of the loan though. No doubt his love for Bassanio and a desire to help him clouded his judgement in this matter.

While some critics have argued that it is unnatural that Antonio has an unhealthy obsession for Bassanio, I truly admire the way he treats his friend. Personally, I feel that their relationship is a touching example of a pure and selfless friendship.

However, no man is perfect. We see an uglier side pf him in act one, scene three, quite a contrast to my initial impression of Antonio. He is prejudiced and looks down on the Jews, who are mostly money-lenders. He regards charging high interest as exploiting the poor, and he is self-righteous in some sense. However, he fails to recognize his own prejudice by thinking that he, being an Italian is superior to the Jews.

We are able to see arrogance and his rather impersonal distaste turn into open expressions of insulting prejudiced in the way he talks to Shylock. “I am as like to call thee so again. / To

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