The strained relationship of Venetian moneylender Shylock and his daughter Jessica, as well as the nonexistent association between Portia and her deceased father, lead the two young women to act as they do, in turn affecting the entire cast of characters.
As a common theme in the works of William Shakespeare, suffering in the name of love also applies to the two heroines of The Merchant of Venice. The delicate subject of love is further complicated by the demanding, unwavering standards set by the respective fathers of Jessica and Portia.
It is these strict rules, decreed by the two powerful patriarchs, which bring Jessica and Portia together as sympathetic characters in the eyes of the reader; two women deeply in love, unable to consummate their feelings with the men they care for because of the iron rule of their fathers.
However, as the play progresses, it becomes apparent that the two women are quite different. While love consumes Jessica, clouding her judgement and eventually bringing harm upon Shylock, Portia chooses to respect the dying wish of her father, letting the situation work itself out correctly. It is these choices, along with others, which play an important role in the conclusion of the play. Throughout the play, Shylock is portrayed as a selfish man, concerned only with monetary gain, often at the sacrifice of others.
The moneylender takes his love of money to such an extreme, it permeates his daily life, as well as the lives of his family. O my ducats! O my daughter! Fled with a Christian!
Relationship Dynamics in The Merchant of Venice | readwithamy
O my Christian ducats! The law! The reader has no way of knowing what Shylock is more upset about: Is he upset because his daughter has escaped his rule, to be wed to a Christian? Or is he more perturbed about the loss of a portion of his great fortune, the one thing he loves more than life itself?
Shakespeare never really answers this question, leaving the reader to decide themselves. In addition to this apparent apathy towards his daughter, Shylock sees Jessica, his only female offspring, as a commodity, vital to continuing the family name. She becomes just like the jewels and gold he owns, another possession he can keep locked away. In fact, he does just that, exiling her inside the house, assuring she will not be sullied by Christian suitors.
However, Jessica will not be imprisoned while her true love is waiting for her. He has lost gold, jewels, his daughter, and finally, the ability to continue the family name in the form of a grandchild. As we see later in the play, this decision, perhaps unavoidable, will have a great affect on Shylock and the entire story. At first glance, it appears Jessica and Portia are in similar situations, two women in love, their desires being withheld because of the demands of their fathers.
However, after closer examination, there are glaring differences between both the situations and the two characters themselves. However, Shylock seems to show that maybe money is every thing, Shylock is only interested in money and the creation of money. Portia is a young beautiful heiress, her father sets up a casket system to make sure that Portia is married to some one that loves her and not just for her wealth.
Bassanio acknowledges that he has been living above his income, and Antonio always bails him out. Secondly we see the theme of love Portia is a wealthy heiress and many men want to marry her for her money. There is one suitor who picks the gold casket, believing that beauty is on the out side the men think that the lead casket cannot be the right one as it is so unattractive.
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Lorenzo and Jessica represent forbidden love, as their religions do not allow them to love each other. Jessica a Jew should have nothing to do with Lorenzo a Christian. Showing how Shylock is worried for his belongings, as he fears that there will be bad luck. Bassanio picks the right casket; he chooses the unassuming leaden casket. Nerissa and Gratiano are to in love. Friendship is another strong theme in the Merchant of Venice. Bassanio and Antonio are very good friends as he lends money to Bassanio when he needs help.
Although Bassanio has more than once borrowed money from Antonio, Antonio is still willing to help his friend in any possible way that he can. Showing that he is more than happy to help his friend and Bassanio knows that he will not have to ask twice. Bassanio is worried for his friend and is uncomfortable about the deal. Portia and Nerissa show qualities of friend ship, as they are close friends.
Nerissa and Portia will have a joined marriage this shows that they are willing to share their personal lives with each other. Nerissa is a reliable friend and supports for Portia when the suitors come to try and defeat the three caskets and receive Portias hand. Here Portia is showing Nerissa that she trusts her and is able to confide in her. So in conclusion friendship in the Merchant of Venice is shown and proved throughout with the trust and loyalty that Antonio and Bassanio share.
This shows how two friends are willing to help each other and stand by each other whenever they can. Showing how everything Antonio has is available to meet the needs of his great friend Bassanio. Also friend ship is a very strong theme used as it shows how much we are willing to do for our friends and how loyal we can be. The caskets ensure that Portia will get a man who will love her for who she is and not her wealth. It is ironic that every other suitor does not choose the least likely leaden casket, and Bassanio does.
The other suitors are portrayed as being arrogant and they believe that beauty is on the outside, and that what the person is truly like does not matter. Bassanio sees that beauty and wealth are less important than what is on the inside of a person, nd this is how Bassanio wins Portias hand in marriage. We can see through out the play that in most cases money, religion and social class do not matter when you are truly in love.
- Bassanio chooses the lead casket, which contains.
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As we see Jessica and Lorenzo in love, Portia and Bassanio are in love it does not matter to Portia that Bassanio is in a lower social class to her. At the end of the play the two rings that are give to Bassanio and Gratanio. The point of this is to show how easy Bassanio will give up the ring after he has promised that he will never part with it.
Bassanio says that the only time when the ring will be removed is when he is dead. This also shows the friendship coming in with love and marriage.
The Concept Love and Its Depiction
As Bassanio is persuaded to give up his ring even though he loves Portia so much, he does it for his friend Antonio, who helped him pervasively. So I think that the rings are used to show all of the themes in one situation and how they are each portrayed and how they overlap.
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Nerissa and Gratanio are too in love and will get married at a double wedding this to shows marriage and friendship overlapping. Lastly there are the stereotypes; Jews during the were banned from England if they practised their own religion.
Throughout the centuries Jews have suffered for there religion and Shylock to is taunted for his religion. Shylock is shown as an uncaring, money orientated Jew. He is shown to care more about his ducats than his daughter. Women are below men and are told and expected to do what they are told, in most cases they did not have a say in whom they would marry. Both Antonio and Portia love Bassanio but in two different ways.
She offers to pay off his debt to Shylock three times more the amount he had bound himself, then she saves his life and finally teaches Bassanio that she can use her womanly powers to refuse him the consummating power in marriage, through the ring saga. Portia subjugates both Antonio and Bassanio.
This paper will also dismiss the notion that Antonio and Bassanio have a homoerotic relationship with each other. There are two reasons why this paper dismisses the notion of homosexuality between Antonio and Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice. First, throughout the play there is no evidence that Antonio and Bassanio have had an intimate physical relationship. For the purpose of this discussion, the word love will be defined in terms of two Greek words, both of which mean love, but in two different senses.
The two that are relevant to this paper are agape and eros. Agape means to choose to seek the best for others. This is a love based in the mind. Agape love is characterized by actively thinking about, and deciding how we act toward other people.