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The Merchant of Venice

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Introduction

The Merchant of Venice The Merchant of Venice is a play full of different relationships ranging from love and friendships to hate. These relationships are affected by gossips and rumours, which due to the close community are flying around all the time. Money is involved in everything in the play; it is at the centre of work, relationships and rumours. It also holds together and makes the main tension of the play. There are many relationships in The Merchant of Venice. The most common one is friendship. The friendships cross sex, age, race, and class boundaries. And range from very strong ones such as between Antonio and Bassanio to mere acquantancies such as the one between Solanio and Antonio. There are many friendships, which link all of the characters together. The one between Bassanio and Antonio is the most obvious, and you feel that they are so close, they could be brothers. This is how Antonio was described when Bassanio left to find Portia. "And even there, his eye being big with tears, turning his face he put his hand behind him" But even in such a close relationship, money is still involved, as Antonio lends money to Bassanio, which has to be paid back. ...read more.

Middle

"Let him look to his bond... He was wont to lend money for a Christian courtesy, let him look to his bond". From this you can see that Shylock is very stressed with Antonio, and it seems that for the first time he seriously considers the "bond". We are left wondering if he would be so angry if it was not for the gossiping and rumours that abound. Shylock is an interesting character, because you seem to think that he is bad, but there is also a distinct feeling that his bad traits are forced upon him by his situations. Shakespeare has a great talent for making the reader change sides and feel many different things for one character. We naturally always assume there is a "good" person and a "bad" person in plays. In the merchant of Venice, it is easy to assume that Antonio is the good man and Shylock the villain. If you look deeper though, there are many suggestions otherwise. "He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million... heated mine enemies, and what is his reason? I am a Jew..." In this passage you really feel sorry for Shylock and feel that Antonio has been unfair in his assessment. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even though they got married, I believe they could not possibly have the same love as Jessica and Lorenzo. Despite the proposal of love from Bassanio to Portia, when asked to confess the truth, "Confess and love had been the very sum of my confession". I do not believe you can practice love at first sight, so even though Portia promises him many ducats to help Antonio, this shows no real commitment, just wealth and generosity. In this play I feel that everything has a price tag, and largely human relationships can be bought and sold for financial gain. Friends, enemies, lovers, all evolve through financial activities. Venice back in Shakespeare's day was a busy, bustling, buoyant commercial centre. Change was inevitable with people coming and going, money swapping hands, and huge risks involved in day to day life. Merchants chanced their fortunes being tied up in the ships and the goods they carried. A constant uncertainty being the fear that they might lose everything if the ships ran into stormy seas or rocks. Despite much talk and action revolving around finance I still feel that passion manages to emerge in the form of love, hatred, friendship and selflessness. These act to enrich the lives of the characters and to add depth to the story line. ...read more.

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