The Merchant of Venice - Wikipedia
Antonio and Bassanio are the closest of friends, and it is their relationship in leads Antonio into the fateful arrangement with Shylock, the Jewish moneylender: . That Antonio and Bassanio are true friends gets clear right from the initial scenes. Their love and trust for each other are evident at every stage of the drama. in scene 3 of Act 1 when the two are before Shylock for a loan. The character of Shylock is so large and the themes of prejudice and justice and of faith in Portia's good sense—he doesn't trust her to make a wise choice on.
What does their friendship reveal about their characters? Whatever slight doubt is there gets cleared by the end. Throughout the drama, the two friends are more dear than life to each other. Their love and trust for each other are evident at every stage of the drama.
He does not differentiate between himself and his friend. Bassanio has no money and he has been living in debts which he plans to repay. It is evident that Bassanio has to do little to persuade his friend for money. Antonio is already more than willing to lend him. Antonio knows that his friend needs the money and clearly tells the Jew that had it not been so, he would have treated him just as he always does. This shows his stubbornness and proves that at his heart Antonio is innocent and a little childish.
One interpretation of the play's structure is that Shakespeare meant to contrast the mercy of the main Christian characters with the vengefulness of a Jew, who lacks the religious grace to comprehend mercy. Similarly, it is possible that Shakespeare meant Shylock's forced conversion to Christianity to be a " happy ending " for the character, as, to a Christian audience, it saves his soul and allows him to enter Heaven.
The Nazis used the usurious Shylock for their propaganda. Shortly after Kristallnacht inThe Merchant of Venice was broadcast for propagandistic ends over the German airwaves.
This was the first known attempt by a dramatist to reverse the negative stereotype that Shylock personified. With slight variations much of English literature up until the 20th century depicts the Jew as "a monied, cruel, lecherous, avaricious outsider tolerated only because of his golden hoard".
Many modern readers and theatregoers have read the play as a plea for tolerance, noting that Shylock is a sympathetic character. They cite as evidence that Shylock's "trial" at the end of the play is a mockery of justice, with Portia acting as a judge when she has no right to do so. The characters who berated Shylock for dishonesty resort to trickery in order to win. In addition, Shakespeare gives Shylock one of his most eloquent speeches: Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh.
What's that good for? To bait fish withal; if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies — and what's his reason?
I am a Jew. 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? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example?
The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. One of the reasons for this interpretation is that Shylock's painful status in Venetian society is emphasised. To some critics, Shylock's celebrated "Hath not a Jew eyes? The Christians in the courtroom urge Shylock to love his enemies, although they themselves have failed in the past. Jewish critic Harold Bloom suggests that, although the play gives merit to both cases, the portraits are not even-handed: In his plays and poetry Shakespeare often depicted strong male bonds of varying homosocialitywhich has led some critics to infer that Bassanio returns Antonio's affections despite his obligation to marry: Commend me to your honourable wife: Tell her the process of Antonio's end, Say how I lov'd you, speak me fair in death; And, when the tale is told, bid her be judge Whether Bassanio had not once a love.
Stage History | The Merchant of Venice | Royal Shakespeare Company
But life itself, my wife, and all the world Are not with me esteemed above thy life; I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all Here to this devil, to deliver you.
Auden describes Antonio as "a man whose emotional life, though his conduct may be chaste, is concentrated upon a member of his own sex. Antonio's frustrated devotion is a form of idolatry: There is one other such idolator in the play: There was, states Auden, a traditional "association of sodomy with usury", reaching back at least as far as Dantewith which Shakespeare was likely familiar.
Auden sees the theme of usury in the play as a comment on human relations in a mercantile society. Other interpreters of the play regard Auden's conception of Antonio's sexual desire for Bassanio as questionable.
Villain or victim, Shakespeare’s Shylock is a character to celebrate | Books | The Guardian
Michael Radford, director of the film version starring Al Pacinoexplained that, although the film contains a scene where Antonio and Bassanio actually kiss, the friendship between the two is platonic, in line with the prevailing view of male friendship at the time. Jeremy Ironsin an interview, concurs with the director's view and states that he did not "play Antonio as gay".
Joseph Fienneshowever, who plays Bassanio, encouraged a homoerotic interpretation and, in fact, surprised Irons with the kiss on set, which was filmed in one take. Fiennes defended his choice, saying "I would never invent something before doing my detective work in the text.
Would he have made life easier for himself had he relented? They speak of love and think of money.
- Villain or victim, Shakespeare’s Shylock is a character to celebrate
- What does Antonio and Bassanio’s friendship reveal about their characters?
They speak of mercy and show none. They are only not more dangerous because they are indolent and forget to be. All my books are apocalyptic. I intend no ill to Cheshire by doing that.
Shylock and Portia — now Plurabelle — meet again up there. I never saw it as my function to give Shylock a second chance. Where things ended for him, they end forever.