Antonio and Bassanio went together to Shylock, and Antonio asked the Jew At last, against the advice of Bassanio, who, notwithstanding all the Jew our wedding-feast shall be much honoured by your marriage, Gratiano. 1 - Antonio & Bassanio's Relationship – the love of a friend: What's the Launcelot is so blinded by his prejudice that he takes the devil's advice over Shylock's. To understand the relationship between Bassanio and Antonio, one must first When this happened, Shylock, a moneylender, lost most of his income because.
Gratiano and Nerissa, Portia's waiting-maid, were in attendance upon their lord and lady, when Portia so gracefully promised to become the obedient wife of Bassanio; and Gratiano, wishing Bassanio and the generous lady joy, desired permission to be married at the same time. Portia asked Nerissa if this was true. When Bassanio read Antonio's letter, Portia feared it was to tell him of the death of some dear friend, he looked so pale; and inquiring what was the news which had so distressed him, he said: Sweet Bassanio, my ships are all lost, my bond to the Jew is forfeited, and since in paying it is impossible I should live, I could wish to see you at my death; notwithstanding use your pleasure; if your love for me do not persuade you to come, let not my letter.
The day of payment being past, the cruel Jew would not accept of the money which Bassanio offered him, but insisted upon having a pound of Antonio's flesh. A day was appointed to try this shocking cause before the duke of Venice, and Bassanio awaited in dreadful suspense the event of the trial. When Portia parted with her husband, she spoke cheeringly to him, and bade him bring his dear friend along with him when he returned; yet she feared it would go hard with Antonio, and when she was left alone, she began to think and consider within herself, if she could by any means be instrumental in saving the life of her dear Bassanio's friend; and notwithstanding when she wished to honour her Bassanio, she had said to him with such a meek and wifelike grace, that she would submit in all things to be governed by his superior wisdom, yet being now called forth into action by the peril of her honoured husband's friend, she did nothing doubt her own powers, and by the sole guidance of her own true and perfect judgement, at once resolved to go herself to Venice, and speak in Antonio's defence.
Portia had a relation who was a counsellor in the law; to this gentleman, whose name was Bellario, she wrote, and stating the case to him, desired his opinion, and that with his advice he would also send her the dress worn by a counsellor.
When the messenger returned, he brought letters from Bellario of advice how to proceed, and also everything necessary for her equipment. Portia dressed herself and her maid Nerissa in men's apparel, and putting on the robes of a counsellor, she took Nerissa along with her as her clerk; and setting out immediately, they arrived at Venice on the very day of the trial. The cause was just going to be heard before the duke and senators of Venice in the senatehouse, when Portia entered this high court of justice, and presented a letter from Bellario, in which that learned counsellor wrote to the duke, saying, he would have come himself to plead for Antonio, but that he was prevented by sickness, and he requested that the learned young doctor Balthasar so he called Portia might be permitted to plead in his stead.
This the duke granted, much wondering at the youthful appearance of the stranger, who was prettily disguised by her counsellor's robes and her large wig. And now began this important trial.
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Portia looked around her, and she knew the merciless Jew; and she saw Bassanio, but he knew her not in her disguise. He was standing beside Antonio, in an agony of distress and fear for his friend. The importance of the arduous task Portia had engaged in gave this tender lady courage, and she boldly proceeded in the duty she had undertaken to perform: Shylock only answered her by desiring to have the penalty forfeited in the bond.
Bassanio then offered the Jew the payment of the three thousand ducats as many times over as he should desire; which Shylock refusing, and still insisting upon having a pound of Antonio's flesh, Bassanio begged the learned young counsellor would endeavour to wrest the law a little, to save Antonio's life.
But Portia gravely answered, that laws once established must never be altered. Shylock hearing Portia say that the law might not be altered, it seemed to him that she was pleading in his favour, and he said: O wise young judge, how I do honour you!
How much elder are you than your looks! Then he said to Bassanio: Grieve not that I am fallen into this misfortune for you. Commend me to your honourable wife, and tell her how I have loved you! Shylock now cried out impatiently: I pray pronounce the sentence.
Tales from Shakespeare/The Merchant of Venice
Portia asked if the scales were ready to weigh the flesh; and she said to the Jew: It were good you did so much for charity. The law allows it, and the court awards it.
And you may cut this flesh from off his breast. The law allows it and the court awards it. A Daniel is come to judgement! This bond here gives you no drop of blood; the words expressly are "a pound of flesh". If in the cutting off the pound of flesh you shed one drop of Christian blood, your lands and goods are by the law to be confiscated to the state of Venice. By the laws of Venice, your wealth is forfeited to the state, for having conspired against the life of one of its citizens, and your life lies at the mercy of the duke; therefore, down on your knees, and ask him to pardon you.
The Jew agreed to this: Let me go home; send the deed after me, and I will sign over half my riches to my daughter. He then highly praised the wisdom and ingenuity of the young counsellor, and invited him home to dinner.
Portia, who meant to return to Belmont before her husband, replied: On this Portia affected to be affronted, and left the court, saying: Also supporting the homosocial argument is the issue of the ring. Portia gives Bassanio a ring before he leaves Belmont.
She tells him that the ring symbolizes all the love she has for him and that he should never give it up, for if he does, he has forsaken her for another. In this age, unlike modern times, the man usually gave the woman a ring, but not vice versa.
Portia giving Bassanio the ring is more a symbol of her dominance in the relationship, but it becomes important to the argument for a homosocial relationship between Antonio and Bassanio.
Bassanio left Belmont for the purpose of saving Antonio, but his efforts seem futile. In this act, Portia also hands Antonio his revenge on Shylock, whom she proves has planned the death of Antonio.
Portia declines the money, but demands the ring she gave to Bassanio. Bassanio at first refuses to give up the ring, but Antonio convinces him to give it up. Playgoers must ask themselves the question: Does he love Portia at all? These are the questions raised by the incident with the ring. One also wonders if Antonio is jealous of Portia. One must wonder, however, if the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio is just friendship.
The pair seem to roam within the same social circles and have many of the same friends.
Further, if the relationship was homosocial, would Bassanio have married Portia in the first place? By his marriage, Bassanio cuts off any chance of his relationship with Antonio growing into the realm of the sexual. The few things that refute this argument are the same things that lend themselves to a homosocial relationship between Bassanio and Antonio.
There is, however, one last argument, and its roots are in an anomaly. There is one line in The Merchant of Venice that could possibly destroy either of these two arguments, and that line reads: The term kinsman in Shakespeare often refers to a cousin. This means that the line could further bolster the homosocial argument. William Shakespeare has been dead for centuries, thus one cannot ask him what the nature of the relationship was.
In truth, it should be left up to the playgoer to decide what they think the true nature of the relationship is, because it will cause the play to mean more to them if they decide for themselves. If a play causes the viewer to think for themselves about the play, to try to fathom the facets of the story, then the play is far more effective.
The relationship, however, whatever its true form may be, is important to the play as a whole. Without the relationship between Bassanio and Antonio, there would have two stories in the play, neither of them having any bearing on the other. In truth, neither of the stories could have occurred without the relationship. This is because the one of the acts that sets both stories in motion is Bassanio asking Antonio for money.
If Antonio had not lent Bassanio the 3, ducats, Bassanio would not have been able to go to Belmont to win Portia. In essence, the play would not have occurred without whatever sort of relationship Bassanio and Antonio had.
Shakespeare left the playgoer or the reader so many clues to the nature of the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio that it is impossible for one to fathom exactly what the nature of the relationship was. There are three clear arguments for the nature of the relationship, the first that the relationship was homosocial, the second that it was just friendship, and the third that they truly were kin.
Without whatever relationship they had, the major conflicts in The Merchant of Venice never would have been possible because the underlying force behind the play was the relationship between Bassanio and Antonio. Although one cannot prove which stand is true, the fact will always remain that the relationship was important to the story, as well as know that there would not be a story without the relationship of Bassanio and Antonio.
The answers are up to the one who watches or reads the play, and when one believes something and figures that something out for themselves, it is very hard to convince them that they are wrong. Works Cited Shakespeare, William.Conan Takes Jordan Schlansky To Couples Counseling - CONAN on TBS
The Merchant of Venice.