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The Merchant of Venice Summary. In The Merchant of Venice, Bassanio has some financial troubles. His friend borrows money from Shylock, a Jewish.

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the web page (below) provides: Bassanio Character Analysis Bassanio is Antonio s best pal and the lucky guy who lands Portia, the richest and cutest girl in Belmont. The thing to know about Bassanio is that he loves his lavish lifestyle, but he s really bad with money, which is why he ends up borrowing from Shylock. When we meet Bassanio, one of the first things out of his mouth is: Tis not unknown to you, Antonio, How much I have disabled mine estate By something showing a more swelling port Than my faint means would grant continuance (1.1.4) Translation: "Everyone knows I live way beyond my means and have blown all my money." Not only that, but Bassanio s spending has buried him under a big pile of debt and he s hoping to pay it all off. When he says "To you, Antonio, / I owe the most in money and in love" (1.1.4), it becomes pretty clear that Bassanio has been sponging off his rich BFF. And even though Bassanio says he loves Antonio, Bassanio looks, sounds, and smells like a big user, the kind of guy willing to take as much as his generous friend has to offer. (The 90s R&B girl group TLC had a name for this kind of guy – Bassanio is a classic "scrub.") So how does Bassanio plan to get out of debt? By borrowing even more money so he can hook up with a rich heiress, Portia, who will pay off all his loans and continue to float his rap-star lifestyle. He s even willing to let his best friend risk his life by putting up a "pound of flesh" as collateral so he can take out a personal loan from Shylock. What kind of a person does that? If you thought Bassanio was bad for using Antonio, check out how he talks about Portia: "In Belmont is a lady richly left, / And she is fair [.] Her name is Portia, nothing undervalued [.] Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth" (1.1.6). Hmm. Notice how Bassanio uses words like "value" and "worth" to describe his future wife? It s clear that Bassanio sees Portia as a meal ticket. We re not saying Bassanio doesn t care about Portia. There does seem to be some real affection between the two when they re hanging out in Belmont. What we are saying is this: even after he gets hitched to Portia, Bassanio s loyalty to his new wife is questionable and he seems to value his bromance with Antonio more than anything else. Our evidence? Well, Bassanio admits that Antonio is his number one priority when he rushes from Portia s house to Antonio s trial. "Antonio," he says. "I am married to a wife / Which is as dear to me as life itself, But life itself, my wife, and all the world / Are not with me esteemed above thy life" (4.1.8). Bassanio seems to float through life, reaping the benefits of his rich friends. In the end, Bassanio gets everything he ever wanted: he snags a rich wife who is devoted to his happiness and his best friend is saved from Shylock s vengeful lawsuit.

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I feel that another significant symbol in this play is Portia''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s ring. Although it is not mentioned in the symbols as given above, it is definitely an important symbol. A ring was given to Bassanio by Portia in Act III, Scene II, when Bassanio passes the casket test and is authorized to marry her. Portia gives Bassanio a ring stating that this ring signified their love and that she is handing over herself and her worldly possessions to Bassanio when she gave him that ring. However she lays the condition that the day that he loses, sells or gi. Read more

No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today.

Well, he also wrote The Merchant of Venice , a play that is kind of none of the above. It''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s also kind of all of the above.

If it''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s a comedy, it''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s a pitch-black, deeply problematic comedy. If it''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s a tragedy, it''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s still pretty dang happy for most of the characters. And if it''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s a history… well, it''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s one of the better-known and better-liked.

In The Merchant of Venice , Bassanio has some financial troubles. His friend borrows money from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, but is imprisoned when he can''''''''t pay his debt. At the end of the play, that friend is released, and Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity.

Portia’s father’s will states that whoever wishes to marry her must solve a series of riddles or agree to remain a bachelor. Bassanio manages to solve them, much to Portia’s delight.

The choice of Venice can hardly have been arbitrary. The Venice of Shakespeare s day was renowned for its wealth and diversity of cultures, for it was a cosmopolitan market where Eastern goods made their way into the West. Since Shakespeare s interactions with Jews in England would have been limited, if at all, Venice provided him with the example of tolerance and heterogeneity that he needed.

Perhaps the moment of strongest contrast between Shylock and the Christians ideals concerns the contract of a pound of flesh. Shylock directly links money and flesh as being equal, something which any Christian would consider taboo. Antonio is unable to see this link, thinking instead that the contract is some form of game for Shylock. He makes the crucial mistake of believing that the contract cannot be for real, and that Shylock must somehow have grown kind.

I feel that another significant symbol in this play is Portia''s ring. Although it is not mentioned in the symbols as given above, it is definitely an important symbol. A ring was given to Bassanio by Portia in Act III, Scene II, when Bassanio passes the casket test and is authorized to marry her. Portia gives Bassanio a ring stating that this ring signified their love and that she is handing over herself and her worldly possessions to Bassanio when she gave him that ring. However she lays the condition that the day that he loses, sells or gi. Read more

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

I feel that another significant symbol in this play is Portia''''''''s ring. Although it is not mentioned in the symbols as given above, it is definitely an important symbol. A ring was given to Bassanio by Portia in Act III, Scene II, when Bassanio passes the casket test and is authorized to marry her. Portia gives Bassanio a ring stating that this ring signified their love and that she is handing over herself and her worldly possessions to Bassanio when she gave him that ring. However she lays the condition that the day that he loses, sells or gi. Read more

No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare''s language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today.

Well, he also wrote The Merchant of Venice , a play that is kind of none of the above. It's also kind of all of the above.

If it's a comedy, it's a pitch-black, deeply problematic comedy. If it's a tragedy, it's still pretty dang happy for most of the characters. And if it's a history… well, it's one of the better-known and better-liked.

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The Merchant of Venice Summary. In The Merchant of Venice, Bassanio has some financial troubles. His friend borrows money from Shylock, a Jewish.

Although critics tend to agree that Shylock is The Merchant of Venice’s most noteworthy figure, no consensus has been reached on whether to read him as a bloodthirsty bogeyman, a clownish Jewish stereotype, or a tragic figure whose sense of decency has been fractured by the persecution he endures. Certainly, Shylock is the play’s antagonist, and he is menacing enough to seriously imperil the -happiness of Venice’s businessmen and young lovers alike. Shylock is also, however, a creation of circumstance; even in his single-minded pursuit of a pound of flesh, his frequent mentions of the cruelty he has endured at Christian hands make it hard for us to label him a natural born monster. In one of Shakespeare’s most famous monologues, for example, Shylock argues that Jews are humans and calls his quest for vengeance the product of lessons taught to him by the cruelty of Venetian citizens. On the other hand, Shylock’s coldly calculated attempt to revenge the wrongs done to him by murdering his persecutor, Antonio, prevents us from viewing him in a primarily positive light. Shakespeare gives us unmistakably human moments, but he often steers us against Shylock as well, painting him as a miserly, cruel, and prosaic figure.

I feel that another significant symbol in this play is Portia''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s ring. Although it is not mentioned in the symbols as given above, it is definitely an important symbol. A ring was given to Bassanio by Portia in Act III, Scene II, when Bassanio passes the casket test and is authorized to marry her. Portia gives Bassanio a ring stating that this ring signified their love and that she is handing over herself and her worldly possessions to Bassanio when she gave him that ring. However she lays the condition that the day that he loses, sells or gi. Read more

No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today.

Well, he also wrote The Merchant of Venice , a play that is kind of none of the above. It''''''''''''''''s also kind of all of the above.

If it''''''''''''''''s a comedy, it''''''''''''''''s a pitch-black, deeply problematic comedy. If it''''''''''''''''s a tragedy, it''''''''''''''''s still pretty dang happy for most of the characters. And if it''''''''''''''''s a history… well, it''''''''''''''''s one of the better-known and better-liked.

In The Merchant of Venice , Bassanio has some financial troubles. His friend borrows money from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, but is imprisoned when he can''''t pay his debt. At the end of the play, that friend is released, and Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity.

Portia’s father’s will states that whoever wishes to marry her must solve a series of riddles or agree to remain a bachelor. Bassanio manages to solve them, much to Portia’s delight.

The choice of Venice can hardly have been arbitrary. The Venice of Shakespeare s day was renowned for its wealth and diversity of cultures, for it was a cosmopolitan market where Eastern goods made their way into the West. Since Shakespeare s interactions with Jews in England would have been limited, if at all, Venice provided him with the example of tolerance and heterogeneity that he needed.

Perhaps the moment of strongest contrast between Shylock and the Christians ideals concerns the contract of a pound of flesh. Shylock directly links money and flesh as being equal, something which any Christian would consider taboo. Antonio is unable to see this link, thinking instead that the contract is some form of game for Shylock. He makes the crucial mistake of believing that the contract cannot be for real, and that Shylock must somehow have grown kind.

I feel that another significant symbol in this play is Portia's ring. Although it is not mentioned in the symbols as given above, it is definitely an important symbol. A ring was given to Bassanio by Portia in Act III, Scene II, when Bassanio passes the casket test and is authorized to marry her. Portia gives Bassanio a ring stating that this ring signified their love and that she is handing over herself and her worldly possessions to Bassanio when she gave him that ring. However she lays the condition that the day that he loses, sells or gi. Read more

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I feel that another significant symbol in this play is Portia''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s ring. Although it is not mentioned in the symbols as given above, it is definitely an important symbol. A ring was given to Bassanio by Portia in Act III, Scene II, when Bassanio passes the casket test and is authorized to marry her. Portia gives Bassanio a ring stating that this ring signified their love and that she is handing over herself and her worldly possessions to Bassanio when she gave him that ring. However she lays the condition that the day that he loses, sells or gi. Read more

No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare''''''''s language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today.

Well, he also wrote The Merchant of Venice , a play that is kind of none of the above. It''''s also kind of all of the above.

If it''''s a comedy, it''''s a pitch-black, deeply problematic comedy. If it''''s a tragedy, it''''s still pretty dang happy for most of the characters. And if it''''s a history… well, it''''s one of the better-known and better-liked.

In The Merchant of Venice , Bassanio has some financial troubles. His friend borrows money from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, but is imprisoned when he can't pay his debt. At the end of the play, that friend is released, and Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity.

Portia’s father’s will states that whoever wishes to marry her must solve a series of riddles or agree to remain a bachelor. Bassanio manages to solve them, much to Portia’s delight.

I feel that another significant symbol in this play is Portia''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s ring. Although it is not mentioned in the symbols as given above, it is definitely an important symbol. A ring was given to Bassanio by Portia in Act III, Scene II, when Bassanio passes the casket test and is authorized to marry her. Portia gives Bassanio a ring stating that this ring signified their love and that she is handing over herself and her worldly possessions to Bassanio when she gave him that ring. However she lays the condition that the day that he loses, sells or gi. Read more

No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare''''''''''''''''s language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today.

Well, he also wrote The Merchant of Venice , a play that is kind of none of the above. It''''''''s also kind of all of the above.

If it''''''''s a comedy, it''''''''s a pitch-black, deeply problematic comedy. If it''''''''s a tragedy, it''''''''s still pretty dang happy for most of the characters. And if it''''''''s a history… well, it''''''''s one of the better-known and better-liked.

In The Merchant of Venice , Bassanio has some financial troubles. His friend borrows money from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, but is imprisoned when he can''t pay his debt. At the end of the play, that friend is released, and Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity.

Portia’s father’s will states that whoever wishes to marry her must solve a series of riddles or agree to remain a bachelor. Bassanio manages to solve them, much to Portia’s delight.

The choice of Venice can hardly have been arbitrary. The Venice of Shakespeare s day was renowned for its wealth and diversity of cultures, for it was a cosmopolitan market where Eastern goods made their way into the West. Since Shakespeare s interactions with Jews in England would have been limited, if at all, Venice provided him with the example of tolerance and heterogeneity that he needed.

Perhaps the moment of strongest contrast between Shylock and the Christians ideals concerns the contract of a pound of flesh. Shylock directly links money and flesh as being equal, something which any Christian would consider taboo. Antonio is unable to see this link, thinking instead that the contract is some form of game for Shylock. He makes the crucial mistake of believing that the contract cannot be for real, and that Shylock must somehow have grown kind.

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I feel that another significant symbol in this play is Portia''''''''''''''''s ring. Although it is not mentioned in the symbols as given above, it is definitely an important symbol. A ring was given to Bassanio by Portia in Act III, Scene II, when Bassanio passes the casket test and is authorized to marry her. Portia gives Bassanio a ring stating that this ring signified their love and that she is handing over herself and her worldly possessions to Bassanio when she gave him that ring. However she lays the condition that the day that he loses, sells or gi. Read more

No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare''''s language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today.

Well, he also wrote The Merchant of Venice , a play that is kind of none of the above. It''s also kind of all of the above.

If it''s a comedy, it''s a pitch-black, deeply problematic comedy. If it''s a tragedy, it''s still pretty dang happy for most of the characters. And if it''s a history… well, it''s one of the better-known and better-liked.

I feel that another significant symbol in this play is Portia''s ring. Although it is not mentioned in the symbols as given above, it is definitely an important symbol. A ring was given to Bassanio by Portia in Act III, Scene II, when Bassanio passes the casket test and is authorized to marry her. Portia gives Bassanio a ring stating that this ring signified their love and that she is handing over herself and her worldly possessions to Bassanio when she gave him that ring. However she lays the condition that the day that he loses, sells or gi. Read more

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HERE IS THE ANSWER FOR YOU Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is neither comedy, romance, nor tragedy, and consequently defies easy classification. Although it dates to between 1595 and 1600 and thus belongs to that period of enormous productivity during which time Shakespeare composed, in addition, to this play, six romantic comedies, three histories, and two tragedies, The Merchant of Venice is more properly a “problem play,” one that raises far more questions than it answers. With its intricate triple plot—the Shylock-Antonio bond, the Portia-Bassanio romance, and the ring trick—this play is an already complicated story which turns on our understanding of the relationships of mercy to justice and love to honesty. Thus, at the outset of this play, we are introduced to the melancholic Antonio, who “hold[s] the world but as the world,... / A stage where every man must play a part, / And [his] a sad one,” to Gratiano, who “speaks an infinite deal of nothing,” and to Bassanio, who has “much disabled [his] estate” by running up extraordinary debt. Into this world steps Shylock who hates Antonio “for he is Christian” and resents that he “lends out money gratis and brings down / the rate of usance here with us in Venice.” Here then we have the material for one plot: Bassanio needs money; Antonio has tied all his money up in his ventures at sea, and Shylock has money to lend. Up to this point, the plot seems straightforward enough. But it is not, and what complicates the plot is simply the moral bankruptcy of the citizenry of Venice. Bassanio thinks little of the consequences of his indebtedness; in fact, he intends to borrow more money in order to pay back what he owes. Antonio thinks little of doing business—borrowing money—from his avowed enemy and even less of the moral consequences of his providing Shylock with business. After all, Shylock is in clear violation of the letter of the law by loaning money with advantage, and Antonio is in clear violation of the spirit of the law by providing this “sinner” with the opportunity to “sin” by borrowing money from him. Thus the play raises the old questions of the nature of sin and the relationship of the tempted to the tempter. MORALLY SMUG. Furthermore, the apparently “holy” Antonio is so morally smug that he cannot fathom the possibility of nature conspiring against him by preventing the return of his three ships. So, while Antonio fancies himself the universal exception to the ordinary rules which govern man in the world, Shylock sees an opportunity to revenge himself on those complacent Christians in Venice who have, by their own definition, made all Jews unworthy “sinners.” Bassanio, in the meantime, is so self-absorbed that he allows his friend Antonio to enter into a potentially deadly bond with Shylock in order that Bassanio might woo the wealthy Portia and end both his unrequited romantic longings and his long-standing indebtedness. In apparent direct contrast to the corrupt world of Venice is the world of Belmont, which on the surface seems pure and elegant. But even here, lurking beneath the hope of moral consistency, is a world of potential chaos. We are told, when we first meet Portia, that she “can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow [her] own teaching.” Further, it is she who gives shelter to Jessica, Shylock’s thieving and dishonest daughter, and her lover Lorenzo. If we do not see the world of Belmont as a world of potential tragedy, at least one person does—Portia’s father, who, though dead at the outset of the play, has conspired to control his daughter’s choice in marriage even from the grave. Clearly, Portia’s father understands the lack of congruence in this world between appearance and reality, between words and deeds, between thought and performance. And thus we have the material for a second plot. But Portia and Bassanio do genuinely love one another, and so she manages to guide her suitors in their choices of the caskets. Bassanio, while clearly a flawed individual who is willing to risk the life of a friend for the love of Portia, seems to understand the nature of real romantic love. He chooses the casket bearing the inscription to “give and hazard all” because he seems to understand that the only love that can be guaranteed is that in which the lovers are prepared to do just that—to give and hazard all. Of course, it may be argued that Bassanio isn’t “hazarding” much, at least financially, as his presence in Belmont is the direct result of Antonio’s generosity. But he is, nevertheless, willing to “give and hazard all” in more than merely monetary ways. So while Bassanio may succeed in alienating us in the first act, he redeems himself, at least in part, with us and with Portia when he demonstrates that he understands the nature of lasting love. (This season’s Utah Shakespearean Festival production of The Merchant of Venice, directed by Eli Simon, offers a different, and interesting, interpretation of Bassanio. —Editor) LACKS MORAL SOPHISTICATION. Still, the worlds of Venice and Belmont are doomed to collide, and they do this through both Shylock and Portia. When Antonio’s ships do not return and he is incapable of paying the debt he owes to Shylock, the Jew demands justice—a pound of Antonio’s flesh. As in nearly all of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies and romances, it is the heroine—here Portia—who is intellectually sophisticated enough to solve the problem, a problem which is typically a male invention and which the heroine must be in male guise to solve. But, unlike Shakespeare’s other romantic heroines, Portia lacks moral sophistication. When, in the guise of a man, she cautions Shylock to show mercy, she reminds both him and us that “earthly power doth then show likest God’s / When mercy seasons justice.” And yet, having caught Shylock in a bind—he is due his pound of flesh, but not one drop of blood—she proceeds in her humiliation and destruction of Shylock, seasoning none of hers or Christian Venice’s justice with mercy. Apparently, for the citizens of Venice and Belmont, that mercy which “is an / attribute to God himself” is the just due only of those who are like them in appearance, behavior, beliefs, and values. But, of course, Shylock is like them, and like us. He asks: “Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?” (3.1.62+) And our answer must be “yes.” For we see Shylock suffer—at the hands of his daughter who betrays him by stealing the only thing of sentimental value to Shylock and by eloping with a Christian and turning her back on all that her father has valued; at the hands of Antonio, who is so completely able to separate his public and private selves that he will do business with Shylock but will not respect him; at the hands of Portia and the court of Venice, which will commend mercy to Shylock as a way of handling Antonio but which will show him none themselves; and at the hands of a system of Christian justice which teaches us on the one hand to love our enemy and on the other to strip him of his faith. Furthermore, for all her intellectual sophistication, Portia lacks a certain softness of nature where love is concerned. While it may be amusing to her to trick Bassanio and Gratiano into parting with their wedding rings, it is certainly not amusing to the gentlemen. Here we have the material for the third plot. For even if only for a brief time, Portia and Nerissa have mercilessly trapped their husbands in a lie and made the men think that they might have been cuckolded. Thus, The Merchant of Venice ends in a final collision of the worlds of Venice and Belmont. For all that we may have hoped otherwise, we must conclude that Venice and Belmont have at least one thing in common: things are not as they seem. Once again, Shakespeare has reminded us of the perpetual incongruence, where people are concerned, between appearance and reality and of our capacity to be better at knowing what is good to do than we are at doing it

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I feel that another significant symbol in this play is Portia''''s ring. Although it is not mentioned in the symbols as given above, it is definitely an important symbol. A ring was given to Bassanio by Portia in Act III, Scene II, when Bassanio passes the casket test and is authorized to marry her. Portia gives Bassanio a ring stating that this ring signified their love and that she is handing over herself and her worldly possessions to Bassanio when she gave him that ring. However she lays the condition that the day that he loses, sells or gi. Read more

No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare's language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today.

14

I feel that another significant symbol in this play is Portia's ring. Although it is not mentioned in the symbols as given above, it is definitely an important symbol. A ring was given to Bassanio by Portia in Act III, Scene II, when Bassanio passes the casket test and is authorized to marry her. Portia gives Bassanio a ring stating that this ring signified their love and that she is handing over herself and her worldly possessions to Bassanio when she gave him that ring. However she lays the condition that the day that he loses, sells or gi. Read more

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